Family board game night might sound like something out of an 80’s Sitcom, but it is the highlight of my week. Every Thursday, my husband sneaks away from work a little early and we join two other couples and their kids to play board games. This may sound weird, but playing games together has been great for finding new friends, learning to be better parents, and strengthening our marriage.
Finding a community can be hard. It seems people move in and out of my subdivision faster than I can learn their names. Even as I put forth an effort to know my neighbors, I’ve also worked to build friendships based on interests and not geography. So today I’m going to introduce you to Ticket to Ride.
My husband is the one who originally got involved in playing board games. At the time we were living hours apart and he had moved to a new town and didn’t know anyone. He went to a meet up out of boredom and found a community. He loves board games. He is a hardcore gamer who with his gaming buddies spent a weekend playing Die Macher, a simulation of German politics from 1986. It took half a day to make it through the rules. Nothing could convince me that this is fun, but he thinks so. Nor am I going to suggest you pull out Monopoly and start World War III at your family reunion.
The thing is, there has been a recent explosion in board games that are fun for people who want to play with their families but can’t take one more game of Sorry!, for people who have played Settlers of Catan and want to know what else is out there, and for people who just want something to do on a Tuesday night beside turn on a television. These games are relatively simple to learn and many can be played with children as young as five while still being fun for adults.Edit
If you find board games are for you, I’d like to suggest that you look for a local game store or game group. Our local store holds weekly game nights where they will teach you to play new games! Not only do you get to try a lot of stuff for free in order to figure out what you like, but it’s a great way to start building your own community. Friends we made at the game shop are now people we call family.
So if you are still with me, let me introduce you to our first game: Ticket To Ride.
Ticket To Ride is a simple game to learn. You are trying to connect cities via train. You can only do three things on your turn: lay down trains, pick up the cards that let you lay down trains, or get new routes, a card that tells you which cities to connect via train. You earn points for connecting the cities on your route cards, for having the longest continuous route, and for each train car on the board.
There are multiple expansions and additional game boards that allow you to change up the game, but the original version of Ticket to Ride stands up all in its own. In fact, my copy is currently out on loan, so all the pictures are of the Tenth Anniversary Edition of Ticket to Ride. Nor am I just saying that because I hold the local Ticket to Ride tournament championship (I really do love this game).
Age range: The youngest person I’ve successfully played Ticket to Ride with is my little brother when he was 7. There is no reading involved except city names and color matching is the basic skill needed to play.
Who might have problems: The person who had the most problems with Ticket to Ride was a friend of mine who is color blind. Each color is associated with a different symbol so that you can match by symbol instead of color. The symbols are small, however, and a bit difficult to distinguish.
This is my first recommendation for people who ask me what game to play with their families, and over five or six years of holiday giving I’ve sent this game to almost twenty people. It’s my rock solid go to game when playing with kids and non-gamers and I hope you will love it, too. The little train pieces are plastic, but the rest of the game is compostable for my zero-waste readers (but there is a thriving second hand game market, so you can get these games pre-loved and sell them on when you are done).
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