As mentioned previously, Ticket to Ride was the second game we ever purchased and has a fond place in our hearts. I’ve covered the base game and the app but now we take a look at the even more family friendly version of the Alan Moon classic.
First Journey (Android/iOS) takes Ticket to Ride and transforms it from a full-size Snickers into a bite-size treat that plays up to four players. This game is clearly designed for younger audiences as the mechanics, game board and route making are simplified.
So what’s the differences between First Journey and the base version of Ticket to Ride?
- All route tickets are worth one point instead of a variable amount dependent on length. The game also features a one point bonus for connecting a route that spans from the East coast to the West coast.
- Routes are scored once they’re completed and are public knowledge once scored.
- With the new route scoring mechanic, the game will end when the first player completes six tickets. If six tickets are not completed, whoever has completed the most tickets (including the bonus) when a players trains run out will be the winner.
- Two routes are automatically assigned at the beginning of the game and one is assigned after completing or discarding a route.
- If a player does not complete their route, they do not lose any points.
- When taking the action to draw train cards, the only option is to draw two off the top of the deck. There is no face up market in First Journey.
- Players only have twenty trains to play.
- The map is smaller. The longest route is four trains long.
- Players can discard a route on their turn.
- Double routes can be played no matter the player count.
That seems like a lot but honestly it just makes the game even more streamlined as it tries to attract kids under ten. The only change I’m not a fan of is just drawing two cards for your turn. It takes some of the strategy away when choosing your cards but I get the decision for simplicity sake.
The app is colorful and highly animated as each city is assigned an icon that’s important to the city. Chicago has a baseball mitt and New York has the Statue of Liberty for example. The sounds help immerse players in the theme and it is definitely more kid-friendly than anything else. It’s easy to see and navigate the cards that you have and the routes are color-coded and highlighted for players to see. In addition, laying routes can be done either by dragging and dropping or by clicking on the route. When you click on the route, the app highlights the options you have to complete that route. Unlike other apps I’ve mentioned, I think First Journey is perfect on a small screen as the game utilizes this zoom in option each time a player wants to complete a route.
First Journey comes with the base United States map but if players have an Asmodee account (which is free), they will unlock the Europe map as well. There is no gameplay difference between the United States and the Europe map, unlike the physical editions which include different mechanics.
The game features three AI characters (that can be renamed) and the ability to choose their difficulty: Easy, Normal and Expert. The difficulties do feel different and I’m sure the Expert option would give children a fit but it’s not terribly hard to beat as an adult.
There is no online option for players to compete against one another but the app does support pass-and-play. I find this perplexing as while not every child will have a smart device, many do and this actively excludes them from playing with friends that aren’t in the same room as them. It’s just a curious decision to me.
Overall, the game is fine. As a thirty-one year old, the novelty wore off almost immediately and I would rather play the full version of Ticket to Ride but when it’s time to introduce my daughter to games, I’d love to add this to the inaugural list as it provides a little more thinking than a traditional Candyland. The game offers a lot of charm and would be an excellent gateway to the full ‘adult’ version of Ticket to Ride.