I may have squealed out loud when we opened our latest Blogger Board Game Club parcel from Esdevium Games this month. That’s because literally the day before it arrived we had been in our local friendly board games shop, with this game in our hand, on the verge of buying it! In the end we’d talked ourselves out of the purchase, so it seemed like fate when it was delivered to us the next day. The game in question? Ticket to Ride: First Journey. And you know what? Ticket To Ride: First Journey is the best kids adaptation of a grown up board game I’ve played, and that’s for one very simple reason – it’s so much like its big brother!
There are a set of modern board games that are a step up from Monopoly, Cluedo and the The Game Of Life. These aren’t mere roll the dice and move the counter affairs. They have elegant and sometimes complex rules. Often they have lots of interesting cards or counters and usually they require a little thinking to win. You might have encountered Settlers of Catan or Carcasonne which are two of the leading lights in this market. Then there are the “gateway” games which lead people into the modern board gaming market. They are fast to play and simple to explain while retaining that sophistication and strategy. One such game is, “Ticket To Ride”, which is beautiful to look at, requires some basic planning and thought but can be explained in only a couple of minutes. It’s been a huge hit and deservedly so because it’s a LOT of fun.
Into this market of modern board games have emerged a set of kids versions designed to help board gaming parents like us introduce our younger family members to our favourite pastime. Kids of Carcasonne, Catan Junior and My First Stone Age are all good examples that are aimed at giving the flavour of the main game in a format that kids can understand and enjoy. Some succeed well at this goal while others end up being quite different games that rely mainly on the branding of the parent game. I’m very happy to say that Ticket To Ride: First Journey is the best kids conversion I’ve played. Even better than my former favourite – Catan Junior. Very little of the parent game has been changed – it retains the same basic turn structure and strategy. It will be instantly familiar to anyone who has played the original and I think that’s very important because as an adult playing a game with kids you want to feel like there’s a *real* game there that exercises the brain and makes you plan ahead a little.
Your aim with Ticket To Ride: First Journey is to build a railroad spanning europe by constructing train lines from city to city. You are given a bag full of train carriages that you’ll use to mark your routes on the map and you receive ticket cards that give you places you need to build routes from and to. You then collect train cards of various colours and when you’ve collected enough cards of one colour you can spend them to buy a route of that colour on the board. Players take turns either drawing train cards or claiming routes. First person to complete 6 ticket cards wins. Simple as that. At its most basic level it’s merely a race to see who can build the routes on the tickets first. But very quickly kids will come to realise that they can block mum and dad from going where they need to. A single route can only be claimed by one person. Some routes are double and can be claimed by two. But once a route is owned that’s it you must find another way around. And there is NOTHING more fun than taking a route that Daddy needed and making him go the long way round!
I’ve played it now with my own kids and some others and all of us have had a quite wonderful time with it. The duration and speed of play are just right to keep the kids interested. The strategy isn’t too difficult for them. Even our youngest at only 7 years old was more than able to see what he needed to do and had a lot of fun with it.
I enthusiastically recommend Ticket To Ride: First Journey. I have been *LOVING* this game. If you’ve played and enjoyed Ticket To Ride and you have kids I urge you to buy this one too.
Disclosure: As a member of the Blogger Board Game Club I was sent this title for review purposes. All words and opinions are my own.