It’s not very original, or being a hip Euro gamer, if I say that Ticket to Ride is my favorite game. But it is. It’s a wonderfully streamlined game that is easy to teach, but still has satisfying strategic decisions to make. And all of the different maps that have come out for it add layers of depth to the game. I just love it!
When I first heard that this latest standalone game, Rails & Sails, was debuting at Gen Con, I got super pumped. I mean, Ticket to Ride with trains AND boats??? Sign me up! We picked this one up, but didn’t get to play it until much later. And on top of that, the reviews for this have not been kind, saying it makes the game twice as long and not as fun. I was worried when I finally sat down to play, but still optimistic.
Now it’s finally being released today. What did I think? Is it really the worst edition of Ticket to Ride? Do I still consider this series to be my favorite? Let’s find out!
TICKET TO RIDE: RAILS & SAILS (2016) Designed by Alan Moon; Published by Days of Wonder/Asmodee – Plays 2-5 players and takes about 60-90 minutes.
I’m going to give a basic overview, but still assuming that most people reading this have an understanding on how Ticket to Ride already works.
Rails & Sails is pretty much what it says it is. It’s Ticket to Ride, but now you have to complete boat routes as well as train routes. There’s a couple of other rule additions, but nothing that significantly changes the game (at least not like the United Kingdom map).
The board is double-sided, containing 2 different maps. The World Map, and the map of the Great Lakes. Each map is slightly different, but besides 2 little details, they pretty much have the same rules.
The object of Rails & Sails is still the same. Complete your destination tickets by placing trains (and in this game, also boats) along the map, completing various routes. Each player will start with 3-5 Destination Tickets. Instead of starting with 4 train cards, each player starts with a certain amount of ships and train cards.
On their turn, players can take 2 cards from either the train deck or ship deck, or 1 from each. The game starts with 3 train cards and 3 ship cards being available to take, but when you take a card, you can choose from which deck to replace it with . So it’s possible there could be all train cards or all ship cards out at one time. And of course, you can still draw blindly.
Players can also complete routes and draw new destination tickets.
And for this game there are 2 new actions you can do. And these are pretty much the only major changes in the game.
Players start the game with a certain amount of trains and ships, depending on the map. There will be some of each left over, which for an action, you can exchange any amount of trains for ships, and vice versa. The catch is, you will lose 1 point for each exchange. At the beginning of the game, after picking your destination tickets, you get to decide how many trains and ships to start with.
The other major change is the addition of building harbors. Each player begins the game with 3 harbors. You must build them on a port, which is indicated on the map by an anchor symbol.
To build a harbor, you must have 2 ship cards with a harbor symbol, AND 2 train cards with a harbor symbol. You can use wilds as either or. At the end of the game, you count how many tickets you have going into each harbor. If you have 1 you get 10 points. 20 points for 2 and 30 points for 3 tickets going into the harbor. For each harbor you don’t build it will cost you 4 points at the end of the game.
3 minor new things:
On the world map, there are a couple of “pair routes”. For each space, you must lay 2 cards out instead of one.
On the world map, there are some tour tickets. These tickets show 4 or 5 cities that must be connected in the exact order. If they are, you will get a huge bonus. If not, you score the card regularly. If they’re not connected at all, you will lose a lot of points.
And finally, there are some ship cards that are “double ship” cards, which show 2 ship symbols on it, and count as 2 ships.
And that’s about it. The game ends a little differently though. Once a player has 6 pieces (trains and ships) or less, each player (including them) get 2 more turns.
SO HOW IS IT?
I was super excited about this addition of the game. But a couple of weeks after Gen Con, a few negative reviews began coming out. Saying that it doubles the time, but doesn’t really add anything to the game. Well, I finally played it. Both maps. Do I agree with the negative press? Simple answer is….. NO!
I don’t really see why anyone would have a problem with this version. I thought it was just fine! In fact, I think it’s really fun!
You now have to manage 2 hands instead of 1, trying to keep track of your ship and train cards, but I liked that. I liked to figure out if I can complete my route without exchanging pieces. It’s even more crucial when choosing your destination tickets. I liked that too.
At first, I wasn’t sure if building harbors were all that important, but holy cow! They can be game changing. If you build all 3 of your harbors, and manage to get multiple tickets into them, you’re talking 100 plus points! That’s huge!
I like both maps. The World has more ships than the Great Lakes. I probably like the World slightly better, but I love the artwork and graphic design on the Great Lakes map. Also, I’m in Minnesota, so I think it’s cool seeing cities and lakes that I’m familiar with.
The game IS a bit longer, but that didn’t bother me. In a 2 player game, I would say it’s about 15-20 minutes longer. But if you’re playing 4 or 5 players, I can see the game taking over 2 hours, which could be a deal breaker for some people. Not for me. I hardly ever play games with that many people anyway.
Ticket to Ride is still my favorite game, and this one is another solid addition to a great game franchise. Is it my favorite version? No. And that’s okay. Not every new addition is going to be my favorite. But I like it a lot and is consistent with the rest of the series. If you’re a die-hard fan, I don’t see why you wouldn’t like this. Ticket to Ride with ships! That’s cool! More Ticket to Ride, means more awesome!