This is one of those games that is loads of fun and fairly flexible for all level of players. It has a decent amount of strategy and luck, yet maintains a casual gaming atmosphere to it along the lines of Catan or Clue. The game is one that can be learned in under 15 minutes. The strategy used will change as the game progresses and often based upon decisions by other players. Once you feel you’ve played this game out, there are plenty of expansions that add additional difficulties or flavors to the game such as: Europe, USA 1910, Switzerland, Mystery Train Expansion, and over a dozen fan expansions.
# of Players: 2-5 players, though best with 4
General Mechanics: Players collect cards displaying various train types/colors, which are then exchanged to claim railway routes in the U.S. Longer routes earn more points, but are more difficult to complete. When you complete a destination ticket, meaning you have made a route from one particular city to another, you gain additional points. What makes the game tricky is the competition for establishing routes. If someone takes the route from Miami to Atlanta, other players may not have any way to establish the same route as you can’t place routes that have already been claimed. This makes for a balance between being an aggressive player & wanting more points, and the fear of losing routes to someone else. Players can also gain points for having the Longest Continuous Path (10 points). The game takes about a couple of hours to play, depending upon experience level and luck, but is pretty enjoyable.
How to Win/Lose: The game ends when someone has fewer than 2 trains left at the end of his turn. Destination Tickets get scored at the end (the routes get scored along the way). If a destination ticket wasn’t completed, the player will lose that number of points rather than gaining it. The player with the most points wins. If two or more players tied for the most points, the player who has completed the most Destination Tickets will win.
What I Liked: I love the flavor of this game and its expansions. I also love that it’s a great “gateway game,” in that you can get casual gamers who are stuck on boring games like Monopoly and Clue to jump ship to a game of a higher caliber. Then you can hook them into playing games like Munchkin or Pandemic!
What I Didn’t Like: The base game can get a tad bit repetitive after you’ve played it a hundred times or so. It’s a great game for kids/families and casual gamers. If you’ve played a lot of tabletop, it may not have a high repeat-play value. However, the expansions and variations do help with this.
Overall Rating/Impression: 7/10. It’s a decent and fun game. It’s not rocket science in its complexity or too simple either. Just a decent tabletop game.