Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Ticket to Ride: First and Last Journeys

A few days ago, in a fit of ludomania I tweeted this message.

Out of all the current titles under the Asmodee NA board game octopus (aka Bogactopus), the best game I could come up with was First Journeys, essentially Ticket to Ride "Junior".


There is a certain psychosis that pervades the hobby of board game collecting (and occasionally playing).

It goes like this:

If I buy the right game, people will play with me.

So you end up spending 50% of your board game budget trying to get inside the heads of your family members and friends, trying to figure out what would be an attractive sell to get them in the hot seat on the other side of the table.

It can be a pitfall. A real pitfall. Especially if you're not good at understanding other people, or if those other people just aren't very interested in board games.

Ticket to Ride: First Journeys wasn't for me. It was for my kids. One kid actually liked it, which makes it a roaring success. It might not just be the First Journey, but the Best Journey.
Are you ready to ride this train?
Reducing Train Paralysis

First Journeys junior-izes Ticket to Ride by removing the selection of face up train cards. Now you can only draw from the face-down discard pile. It also removes victory points, making each route worth exactly one "point" when it is completed. Both of these changes together turn a 60 minute game into a 15 minute game.

Do they reduce complexity? They do.

Do they make the decisions uninteresting? No, no they do not.

I was inspired to think about the face-down cards because of a comment made by another designer, Thomas Lehmann. In designing Race for the Galaxy, Lehmann made the unusual choice to have players discard face-down. This removes some strategy, because people aren't able to see what cards other people are discarding. But according to the designer diary I read (and I have no idea which one, because it was a long time ago) discarding cards face down also speeds up the game, since people no longer have to process that information every turn.

I'm wondering just how fast the Ticket to Ride might go if you discard face-down as well.

Settlers of Routes

Making each route worth a single point is another decision I keep thinking about. Settlers of Catan did this, making each Settlement worth a single victory point. The trick in Catan was of course finding the most efficient and quickest way to build that settlement.

Doesn't it seem like the same considerations should be made for a train route? Maybe train route builders shouldn't get MORE points just because a route took more effort and resources to build. Maybe they should be trying to build the quickest routes, and use those routes to daisy chain together the larger routes.

I'll tell you one thing, it's wonderful (especially playing with kids) to not have a scoring phase at the end of the game. When you place the last winning route in First Journeys you win. The game ends. And it moves right into let's play again.

I would happily play the "adult" (giggity) Ticket to Ride with the same rules. There might be some necessary modifications I'm not predicting, but I certainly don't see any less-interesting gameplay on the horizon.

As for Last Journeys, the only thing that would make this game better would be a space theme. Maybe I need to make a Martian board? Only time will tell.

No comments:

Post a Comment