Players take turns drawing train cards of various colors, which correspond to different-colored routes on the board. Once a player has collected enough of one color to complete a route, he or she can play those cards to claim that route, placing plastic train pieces on the board, and earning an amount of points based on the route's length.
Players can also earn points by connecting several routes together in order to connect one city to another. These paths are dictated by special Destination Tickets, which players have the option of taking every turn. The longer the route described on a card, the more points a player can earn by completing it.
Ticket to Ride is basically a points game. Once all players have exhausted their train pieces, the player with the most points wins. Players are therefore always trying to claim as many routes as possible on the board, but the biggest points come from the Destination Ticket cards, which each player keeps secret until the end of the game. The more Destination Tickets a player has, the more points that player can earn by completing those routes. That same player, however, takes a risk with every additional Destination Ticket collected, as any left uncompleted by the end of the game detract from that player's score. This gives the game a nice risk-taking element, as players must be cautious not to take too many Destination Ticket cards, for fear of heavy penalizations at the game's conclusion.
It's this balance that allows Ticket to Ride to succeed as a board game. As fewer and fewer spaces become available on the map, the tension increases, as players' options become more and more limited, and the uncompleted Destination Tickets in their hands become harder and harder to complete.
Unlike a lot of designer games, Ticket to Ride succeeds in its approachability, making it as appealing as classic titles like Monopoly or Sorry, while still being as compelling as Settlers of Catan or Carcassonne. In other words, it's a "gateway game" -- fantastic for new players, and equally fantastic for hardened veterans of the non-digital fare.
Final Verdict: Like games? You'll like this. I mean, come on. It's Ticket to Ride.
Scott Jon Siegel is an fledgling game designer, a professional blogger, and a mediocre cook. His words and games can be found at numberless, and he fully intends on reviewing another zombie game next week.