Ticket to Ride

App review by
Liz Panarelli, Common Sense Media
Ticket to Ride App Poster Image
Good version of board game pushes online play, maps to buy.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn to apply their math skills to strategic choices about the best way to connect cities on a historical U.S. map with Ticket to Ride. Kids learn about the railroad expansion by becoming train barons, competing against others to lay train tracks to their goal destinations. On each turn, kids have to assess the board and make strategic decisions: Should they draw a new destination card, acquire more trains, or lay tracks? The maps only contain certain cities, and extensions to play on other maps require purchases. Ticket to Ride brings a historical era to life with fun, competitive play, but better feedback would give it a boost.

Ease of Play

For players already familiar with the board game, the menu and controls are very easy to navigate. For those new to the game, there is a five minute video followed by an interactive tutorial. The rules are a bit complicated, so this practice is necessary. To increase the difficulty, players can choose to compete against multiple computer players. 

Violence
Sex

A few of the women are wearing tight-fitting tops, but they are cartoon figures.

Language

Language is not an issue in the game, but there is an unmoderated chat when playing online so there is a risk that kids hear inappropriate language if they opt to play that way.

Consumerism

Each time players start a new game, they see several map options that require purchase. These options are also shown for online play and in the candy store in the train station. The store also has links to buy other games by the developer.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Two of the avatars representing players are smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Ticket to Ride is an adaptation of the board game with options to play online and purchase more maps. Players collect trains of various colors, which they then use to connect points on a map, such as Houston to Chicago. When one player runs out of trains, points are allocated based on the success and length of the connections. The standard U.S. map is included; Europe and other maps are available for purchase. Players are encouraged to play online against strangers (with open chat) or with Game Center friends. Users can share high scores via the Game Center social network, but participation is optional. Also, all characters in the game appear to be white, so the game doesn't offer diverse role models.

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What's it about?

Kids start with a certain number of wagons and two cities to connect using the wagons. Through their turns, kids collect trains of various colors, which they can lay on tracks of the matching colors. Through a variety of short and long routes, these tracks connect cities on a map. On each turn, kids choose whether to get a new ticket with two destinations to connect, get more trains, or lay down tracks. When a player runs out of trains, points are allocated based on the success and length of each player's railroad connections.

Is it any good?

Kids who enjoyed the board game TICKET TO RIDE will like playing it on the iPad, which speeds play and scoring. Newcomers may be less enthralled. The rules are complicated but the objective is relatively simple, so the challenge and interest comes mostly from trying to outsmart other players. This makes the frequent encouragement to play online and/or buy additional maps hard to resist.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Pass-and-Play against your child and share aloud your reasoning and decision-making process on each turn, to help kids consider their own play.

  • Track their scores in the Hall of Fame, and challenge them to set a goal score.

  • Learn more about the cities on the map with a neat app like U.S. Geography by Discovery Education.

App details

For kids who love board and card games

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