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All aboard!

The 1950s began the Cold War Years. In the Post WWII era board games took on a new character of cooperation, eliminating the violence and Winner Take All mentality of American styled games like Monopoly. The Depression Era fantasies of quick riches and the games of chance gave way to society building games that evened the playing odds of winning. A global trend in games came in the 1990s, reviving game night. My own personal experience with German Style board games began with the Ravensburger brand of games.

One of the things that I appreciated the most with these games is the quality of the materials, the package-feel. The visuals are stunning as well. Moreover, the game mechanics are simple enough to learn quickly but keep things interesting with the interaction of players. 1995’s Settlers of Cataan has taken the world by storm. It is the gateway game to others of its genre.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAEnter Ticket to Ride. Designed by Alan R. Moon, an Englishman based in the States, for Days of Wonder. Tabletop, a Youtube production by Wil Wheaton demonstrates game play in this face paced and riveting episode. I’ve been dying to get this game ever since. And for Easter weekend I did.  We played at a friend’s house. It was a lot of fun; everything that one expects from these kinds of games.

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Game of the Year 2004, Germany

Your cross-country quest involves claiming routes between specific destinations as well as trying to claim the longest chain of rail cars. The mechanics are simple; collect sets of cards in numbers which correspond with the length of a route, block your opponents to prevent them from making long routes and try not to gain too much attention when you do it. There are a few different strategies for success. The one that you chose actually depends on the character of those you play with. Some people will be distracted by table talk or manipulated facial expressions.Others will be very methodical in their progress across the board and forget that there is anyone else on the board. Due to the nature of the game, team play is actually possible. When one player gets a clear lead the others can stymie the leader’s advance with coordinated efforts to block routes.

A game of Ticket to Ride goes pretty quickly, usually about a half an hour to 45 minutes. Because things change with each player’s turn there is little chance to be bored or distracted. As players have more experience with the game, play is quicker and the margins for winning shorten. The tension among experienced players creates a dynamic game. I am looking forward to the next game night.

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