Recommendation: Ticket To Ride

Discussing board games with folks that read my BLOG and it occurs to me that the best recommendation I can make when answering the question of which game to buy, is Ticket To Ride. It’s an excellent introduction to Euro style games and is a middle weight but highly rated board game. I recommend this game over it’s recent new variation Ticket To Ride Europe. The Europe version is very very similar but not as direct and approachable as the original.

We Love Playing “Power Grid”

I have been so busy with work, family in Cincinnati, work, my birthday (July 17th) and did I mention work?

All finger pointing aside there’s no real excuse for not updating this BLOG in a long time. Mostly the topics on my BLOG center around Squeak, OS X, iPods and board games. Well, we’ve been playing a lot of board games in the past month.

Over my birthday weekend my wife and I played marathon sessions of Puerto Rico (the 2-player scenario), two new games, Mexica,

  and Ingenious, 

and we played some Carcassonne, 




Power Grid,

and Ticket To Ride.

But I have to share about how much fun we had with the Power Grid game we played tonight. This is going to be a little difficult to follow if you do not know the game, but here goes.

We had all three of us playing, my wife, son and me. For kicks we decided to select some of the more western US regions to play in so the building costs were a bit higher than typical. The game went on as they usually do when the three of us play this one together; my wife was out in front pretty early on. For the 3 player game, the winner is decided when someone reaches 17 connected and powered cities in their network.

When we reached 13 and 14 cities for each player, the strategy of the game took an interesting turn. My wife had enough power plants to power 17 cities, although she hadn’t actually connected more than 14 yet. The rest of us had less power plant capacity. But not by much, and we also were a few connections short of 17. I then realized that if she could build another 3 networked cities and power them, the game would be lost. I still had to buy additional power plant capacity since I was at a total capacity of 16.

But then I realized something. One of her power plants needed coal to operate. I had two power plants that needed coal. The way the turns went I was positioned to purchase resources before her. It was obvious what to do. I purchased all of the coal that I could. For each plant you can purchase twice the capacity in resources. I realized that if I purchased twice as much coal as I actually needed, it would not be entirely depleted but the cost would go very high for her. When she took her turn to purchase coal she had to spent so much money that she was unable to build the required network connections to win that turn.

That was the break. In my turn I upgraded my power plants so that I could reach 17. The totally fun thing about Power Grid is that every time we play it the winner always comes down to the last turn. And in this game it was uncertain how it would turn out. In fact, for tonight’s game what was so cool was that in the final turn all 3 players had 17 powered cities. In this “tie” situation the winner is determined by how much money you have left over. I won that game by $13.00. When we went back and analyzed what happened we realized it was the high cost of the coal resources that turned the game. Amazing.

I highly recommend this game. My wife exclaimed during the last turn how much she loved the game because of the close endings we experience. It really is fun and works out for us with both 2 and 3 players. I have read reviews that it’s great fun with 5 and 6 players. Imagine the competition. The only “house rules” we use when playing Power Grid is that we don’t auction power plants when they are for sale. We just pay the “sticker price” and avoid the bidding. We also don’t actually use the paper money that comes with the game and use standard plastic poker chips for money designations. The chips make the management of money go so much faster than the paper bills.