My interest in transport and cities emerged from a very young age.

As a child, I always loved playing with cars, trucks, trains, planes, ships, and building cities out of sand or wooden blocks. At the beach I’d rarely go into the water, but instead preferred to spend my time building “sand metropolises” replete with elaborate (and wholly ineffective) defences against oncoming waves.

As a nerdy child of the 1980s, physical toys and outdoor activities were quickly swamped by the computer tsunami. Legendary games such as Pirates, Ports of Call, Dune II, Civilization II, Transport Tycoon, SimCity, Theme Park, and Age of Empires soaked up years of my life. (NB: FIFA95 was about the only computer game that I played which was not related to transport and/or cities, although my interest in it quickly waned once I learned how to lob the keeper from halfway).

After the age 16, however, the time I spent playing computer games ebbed in response to increased competition from homework, parties, and girlfriends. Until recently that is, when my girlfriend’s mother mailed us a special board game that they use to get through the long, cold, and beautiful, Norwegian winter.


The game? “Ticket to Ride”. The goal? To develop an efficient rail network linking cities in Germany (there’s other versions for different continents). The catch? All the other players are trying to do the same and amount of space available to build tracks is limited. As an aside, this pretty much captures both the advantages and disadvantages of private rail operators – i.e. the benefits of competition but the disadvantage of a fragmented network .

There’s lots of other details, most of which relate to the multitude of different ways that you can score points. In some ways it’s like a transport version of “Risk”, but quicker and generally more fun – especially when you’re playing with several people, but the chances of “your route” being disrupted by another player increases exponentially.

Anyway, all I intended to do with this post was pay homage to the transport and city computer games that shaped my childhood, while also highlighting another game that has emerged to dominate my more recent idle moments. Maybe we should have an Auckland Transport Blog “Ticket to ride” board game evening at my house sometime soon?

P.s. Results so far? Girlfriend 8; Stuart 2. Lucky I don’t do this for a day job … ah fudge.


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  1. I played this in the states recently (US version) and I agree it is a great game. Plus I won and bet the owners and there friends which was amusing, biginners luck. If you are going to play in Auckland I would be keen 🙂

    1. I need some of that “luck” – let me think about the board game evening. We may actually be able to work something out here …

    1. Yes we’ve got Carcassonne too. Is that German or French? Ticket to Ride is, I think, originally from the U.S. but I could be wrong.

      1. Both Carcasonne and Ticket to Ride are German – fun to hear you like it, I got the European Edition as a Christmas gift. And I agree, nice game to play with girlfriends too – transport planning made accessible for the masses 😉

  2. The iPad versions of both Ticket to Ride and Settlers of Catan are excellent. Carcassonne is also available but I have not yet played it. Cheers.

  3. I was looking for something similar recently and found an ipad version, the only problem is it cost $10 which is pretty steep for a game on such a platform.

  4. This looks very similar to Powergrid, which is about building an electricity supply network in competition with your fellow players.

    The new Simcity is released in March, hello time wasting.

      1. There’s a new Sim City coming out? Can’t wait for that either, that‘s my favourite game together with Civ 3, Caesar, Open TTD and Football Manager 🙂 By the way, the CRL has done wonders for SimAuckland.

  5. when I was working at North Shore City I tried to build the Shore as a map in Sim City 2000, but only managed to do Devonport before running out of space,

    we were encouraged the planning manager to get work copies of Sim City so the planners could try out ideas

    1. I have wondered too many times if Planners have ever played SimCity.

      At a Unitary Plan “something something” meeting I asked our table (Penny P and another council planner included) if they’d played it.

      They’d all “seen it”…

  6. OTTD (Opensource Transport Tycoon Deluxe) remains one of my favourite games – every game can be played differently, even if you’re to replay the same map. Third party mods/custom content have totally extended the shelf life of SimCity 4, and I still play it – unsatsifyingly difficult to get everything working just the way you want it though!
    ‘Ticket to Ride’ looks like great fun. Maybe I’ll buy a copy! 😀

  7. we just played a version of Ticket To Ride that covered the whole European continent. Not sure if it is from Germany originally but my German-Kiwi friend brought it over.

  8. There are a whole raft of railway games out there: the “1829”/”1830″/”1825″/”18..” etc series are all similar but different, where share buying and manipulation of the share market is important but so is building a decent railway. There’s “Age of Steam” which is about building railways to match supply with demand (and operating at the edge of going bankrupt all the time). There’s “Underground” wich has a similar feel to “Ticket to Ride” but based on the London Underground network, with the potential rewards of meeting the demands of whimsical customers competing with the rewards from building your long term strategic network. Then there’s “Chicago Express” / “German Railways” which I have not played enough to pass comment on, but reading others’ comments, there is subtlety in how you participate in the shares auctions and that side of it is probably more important than the railway building

  9. Talking of rail & games – who here played the computer versions of Railroad Tycoon? Transport planning and a lesson in capitalism at the same time…

  10. At least Sim City doesn’t have RoNS, Brownlee or Joyce to deal with otherwise it would just be a game about building roads…..

  11. Railway Tycoon II is very good, mix of rail building and network planning with business overlay (share price etc). Still one of my favourite games, reinstall every year or so. Now, let me remember, grain -> cattle -> food, iron + coal -> steel … just don’t forget to put those passenger trains on high priority …

    Never played RT3 but my son has and does not recommend, IIRC he thinks was too simple. OTTD is his thing.

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