Publisher: Days of Wonder
Designer: Alan R. Moon
Artist: Cyrille Daujean and Julien Delval
Release date: 2019
2 – 4 Players
Favouritefoe #favouritefoefunlearning score: 7.5/10
Click below to watch a visual scan of Ticket To Ride London!
On The Buses!
Ticket to Ride Europe has a special place in my heart. It was my gateway game into our hobby proper and I am always happy to play it. We have most of the Expansion Map Collections, and the digital app gets some action at least once or twice a week.
And whilst Mini-meeple loves getting out the trains and laying them along the routes to make connections, the board is a little bit intimidating for him. Plus, at around the 45 minute mark for a full game, his attention starts to waver. I have no doubt that in a year or two, he will be shunting me into a siding when it comes to victory points. But, for now, we need something with the same mechanics, the same feel. Just more Mini-meeple sized.
Well, Days of Wonder and Alan. R. Moon to the rescue, for we have Ticket to Ride London!
Ticket to Ride……the Bus?
Now I know it sounds strange to start a review of a game which is part of much bigger veteran series of train games, and yet has no actual trains, but bear with me. Because, what it lacks in carriages, it makes up for in buses. Lots and lots of little double decker buses.
And why not? In a game where the theme centres on our capital city, there was a high probability that it would feature either telephone boxes or buses.
And as telephone boxes aren’t that good at actually transporting people from place to place (the awesome Tardis excluded!), buses were the obvious choice.
Where the original has a large sprawling board, cards so numerous you could wallpaper walls with them, and more routes than an AA road map, this little box still contains a sprinkling of all these things, just on a much smaller scale.
With 17 buses, transportation cards, and destinations you need to link between, the game plays like the Ticket To Ride many of us already know and love. Claiming routes is still dependent on having the right combination of matching coloured transport cards (and a clear path!), and you are still competing to connect the most routes before the first player drops down to their last two buses.
Mini-meeple gets this game. I can see him working the options through in his mind – does he lay his three yellow cards now and secure Regents Park – British Museum, or does he start blocking the single bus spaces to scupper mummy’s chances? Alternatively, does he keep collecting cards so that he can lay needed routes on successive turns? These are exactly the same choices more experienced players face, and yet they seem more approachable and achievable in Ticket to Ride London.
Reducing the size of the cards and number of routes, jazzing up the styling, and limiting the buses and routes not only makes it a more appealing game for younger players, but the tweaks also make it a more versatile one. No longer will you need to set aside an hour to get your Ticket To Ride fix or discard the idea entirely in favour of a digital hit. Route building can now be bashed out in less time than it takes for your coffee to cool.
Mini-meeple likes to play Ticket to Ride London before school. Over tea and toast, we trundle our way between Buckingham Palace and Brick Lane, Trafalgar Square and the Tower of London. He works on collecting the right cards needed to complete his routes, and practices his number skills counting out his points. The wild buses make his eyes light up, as does the fun styling on all the Transport Cards.
He also asks questions about the famous stops which I try to answer as fully as possible, but usually resort to Alexa as Mini-meeple is all about the cold, hard facts. This curiosity and desire to know more about the world around him is joyful.
And, although I am a fan of the bigger Ticket To Ride maps (Switzerland particularly), I do find some enjoyment in the smaller, tighter, faster game. Importantly, the push-your-luck element (in the form of risking additional routes is still present, and actually feels higher stakes at times with a much more reduced number of buses available. The extra district scoring element is also a novel addition.
When time and gamer age are not factors to consider, however, I admit that I will always prefer the larger Ticket to Ride experience. I like the sprawling maps, exotic place names, and big piles of trains – securing spaghetti length routes and blocking my opponents is very fulfilling. And something about Ticket to Ride London leaves me feeling just a little unsatisfied personally. But, when trying to fit in a little gaming before the day starts properly, and particularly as this is #favouritefoefunlearning time, Ticket to Ride London is a game that works well for Mini-meeple and us as a family. And, on that basis, it is just the ticket!