The two games I reviewed this time last year are very different from one another – One is probably the most successful player vs. player gateway game ever, and the other is a lovely ‘choose your own adventure’ graphic novel, good for a few hours solo play.
So, one year on – what do I think now?
Ticket to Ride
The ever-popular Ticket to Ride goes from strength to strength, or rather from version to version!
A quick look at the game’s BGG page and we see that there are currently over 144 expansions, many of which were created by fans, and that the original has been reimplemented by 11 other versions, with 2019’s, London, being the most recent.
Each new version isn’t just a straight re-hash of the former though, but includes new rules and game mechanisms, and this keeps it fresh and in the public eye.
The latest versions of Ticket to Ride are great games in their own right, and some are even better for introducing people to the hobby, as they reduce game time, and in some cases even the complexity.
For me though, as good as these new versions are, I still think the origins of the game are the best place to jump aboard – Ticket to ride; Ticket to ride: Europe; Ticket to ride: Nordic Countries.
The gameplay is simple to learn, and yet there is a hidden depth to the game that emerges bit by bit every time you play. Over the last year this has become more and more apparent as I’ve gained a greater understanding of the game.
The variance in gameplay is what keeps people interested, and everyone always seems happy to play. Some people just enjoy placing down their trains and joining one city to another; others get a thrill from creating the longest chain, worming around the board and cutting everyone else off from their destinations.
For me though, I prefer the hard fought battles where everyone is out to win; the ones in which nobody goes down early, but keeps their destinations close to their chest. Drawing extra destination cards and working them into an overall strategy is a skill in itself, and all the while you have to gather a large hand of train cards, ready pounce when everyone starts laying down trains, go after go, feinting here, building a station there – it all leads to a frenzied end game that is full of tension and excitement.
Unfortunately, getting a group together that all want to play in this cutthroat manner has proved difficult, most of my fellow gamers prefer the sedate, relaxing, way of playing the game, and that’s just fine, as I adjust my play to match theirs, and we all have a great time.
Buying Ticket to ride is an investment, it’s a game that you’ll keep on your shelf indefinitely, and it’ll be one of the first games you reach for when someone says, ‘Hey, I’m interested in playing a game; where do I start?’
One year on – Ticket to Ride is still a firm favourite, and one I’d recommend to anyone entering the hobby. At its simplest it is a sedate and leisurely set collecting and route building game, but as you spend more time with it you realise there’s more here than meets the eye!
Graphic Novel Adventures – Sherlock Holmes
Graphic Novel Adventures – Sherlock Holmes: Four Investigations, to give it its full title, has not left my shelf since I reviewed it; is this a bad thing? Well, not in so many words!
Being the type of adventure it is, a ‘choose your own path’ game, once you’ve completed it then it isn’t going to be returned to in quick succession. So, it is no surprise really that I haven’t picked it up since, but then neither have I voluntarily offered it to anyone else to play either.
The book is a beautifully crafted thing, as are the rest in the series, but unfortunately this also proves to be its undoing. As good as they look they just aren’t physically up to constant use, in fact they barely hold up to a single game!
So far I’ve had one novel fall apart, which was kindly replaced by Van Ryder Games, and two others showing signs of doing the same. Hence I prefer to keep them on my shelf as something to occasionally admire rather than play; hoping to saviour the moment of the game at some point in the future.
Reading through the forums and watching/reading a few reviews on the series of novels, I’m certainly not the only one to be plagued by this, and as VRG have recently released series two in the Graphic Novel range, I do hope they’ve addressed the issue.
Would I recommend these books? At the asking price of £18.80 ($22.99), it has to be a no, not for something that you’ll only probably play once or twice, and that’s if you’re lucky and it stays in one piece!
If money is no object, and you like this kind of thing, then this is an entertaining, and at times challenging, solo game. Everything about its presentation shouts quality (if not robustness) and the artwork is lovely, though at first, I wasn’t too keen on the cartoony representation of my favourite literary detective, but by the end of the adventure it had grown on me.
One year on – I haven’t played it since I reviewed it, and am unlikely to in the near future, however, it is something I would keep, along with the rest of the set, as it looks beautiful, and maybe one day I’ll play it again!