Posts tagged ‘ticket to ride’

Thurn and Taxis: The Next Step Up From “Ticket to Ride”?

Thurn and Taxis is a  game about building a postal-route and it is set in Germany and surrounding lands.  The exact time-period is somewhat unclear – looking at the beautiful art work used in the game one imagines this is the eighteenth or nineteenth century.   However, the game does come with a colorful sheet that explains the history of the house of Thurn and Taxis.  The family originally came from Italy, and the tower (Italian: torre) in their coat of arms became “Thurn,” while the badger (Italian: tasso) became the name Taxis.  This reference sheet also explains all the historical buildings depicted on the game board.  For example, let’s say you’re looking at the art work of Inssbruck – when you compare the detailed sketch with the reference sheet you’ll find that the church in the picture is St. Jacob’s cathedral.  The same is true for all the other 21 cities.  Such detail is quite remarkable, and shows the care and research that went into this game.  However, you might ask whether there is actually a good game in all of this.  It may look nice, but what’s the game like?  Let’s find out.

Components

Once we open the box we find a nice sturdy board, a rule book and reference sheet, and underneath we discover a sturdy plastic insert to hold the various cards, chits, and wooden postal houses.  This kind of quality is typical of Rio Grande Games, by the way, and it allows for easy organizing and storage.   The wooden postal houses (of which there are 20 for each color) are sturdy enough, but the cards are perhaps a bit small.

There are two types of cards: there are 66 city cards (three for each city) and 20 carriage cards (cards that give bonus points and trigger the end of the game).

In addition we get some nice cardboard chits that indicate what points we have scored – they are a bit of a pain to lie out at the start of each game, but this gets easier with repeated play.  And lastly, we get some nice player aids and a few (unnecessary) cards that remind us what color we are playing with.

So that’s it – for a relatively low price you get lovely components – the board is really a piece of art – and a nice way to store it all after each game.

The Essential Rules

We will only cover a number of essential rules to give you a rough idea of how the game works.  To learn more you’ll have to look elsewhere or buy the game and find out!

So the point, as you may have guessed, is to build a postal system.  To do so you need to build a network of postal offices that stretches through the various provinces and countries.  On your turn you will take the following actions in the order shown:

1. You must add a city card to your hand – from the 6 displayed on the board (which you can see) or from the top of the deck of cards (which you can not see)

2. You must play a city card from your hand (to a route in front of you that you’re trying to build)

3. You may close and score your current route (now you can build it on the board by putting postal houses in some of the cities your route traverses).

4. At any point during your turn you may use the support of one official (Postal Carrier, Postmaster, Administrator, or Cartwright), who will give you a bonus action to perform.

So let’s look at these rules a bit more closely.

To build a route in front of you, put down a card from your hand.  However, after the first city card is down, you now have to add new city cards (which are linked to the first on the board) on either side.   The catch is that you can’t close a route until you have at least 3 city cards.  This means that since you “must” place a city card during your turn. Yes, you simply may not have the required card.  Then you are forced to get rid of the cards you’ve already played and start a new route.  What’s even worse (but good in a gaming sense!)  is that this can even happen if you have more than 3 cards in your route.  If you don’t have another card to add you may be forced to get rid of the whole route.  This means that there is always a risk to building long routes, especially if you’re not saving up cards for future turns.  Since your hand-size is limited to three cards (at the end of your turn), this game requires very careful hand management!

However, the game has yet another innovative mechanic.  When you close a route you have two options:

1. You may place a postal house in one city that the route went through in each province of the route

2. You may place a postal house in every city that the route went through in one province of the route

Does that make sense to you?  This is the most confusing part of the game – and it sounds a bit convoluted – so read that again if it didn’t make sense the first time.  Once you catch on to this you’ll see that this mechanic makes choosing where to build a very difficult choice.

There are few other factors to keep in mind when you build.  If you’re the first one to have a postal house in each city of a province you will score additional points, you can score points for having longer routes, and you can earn postal carriage cards (worth points) for building successively longer routes.

Conclusion

So now you have some idea of what it’s like, but you may still ask whether it’s fun.  The answer is certainly “yes.”  There are a lot of decisions to be made in this game, particularly since you can earn points in a variety of different ways.  This is what sets this game apart other travel games like Ticket to Ride.  In fact, if you like those types of games, but you want a step up in terms of strategy and complexity, then this may be what you’re looking for.

Thurn and Taxis plays well with 2-4 players, although with more, players have less control over what cards are available for them to pick up.  By the time your turn comes around, the visible cards may have changed significantly.  Nevertheless, this game scales well and is a strong family game.  It will take a bit to figure out the rules (even though there are only four pages, they can seem counter-intuitive for new gamers), but it’s definitely worth the time.

It’s a sign of success that this game also has a few expansions.  So if you find out that it really suits your gaming tastes you may like to try out a new map or get some new options for game-play.

Here is an important tip you may miss in the rules:

In your first turn of the game, you must use the Post Master’s assistance. This means you will pull an extra card into your hand.

Get your copy of Thurn & Taxis.

January 23, 2009 at 3:03 am 2 comments

Thurn And Taxis Strategy Board Game Video Posted

If you like the board game Ticket To Ride, you will probably want to take a look at Thurn & Taxis, a strategy board game published by Rio Grande Games. This game won the German Spiel Des Jahres award several years back, so that alone is a stamp of quality.

The theme of this game is the postal service in Italy. This was the first real postal service and it was run by the Taxis family. This postal service is still in operation today and it is the basis of the US Postal Service. So, alone, this game has a historical setting and some good background information is provided with the instructions.

The point of Thurn and Taxis is to strategically connect cities to create postal routes. Like Ticket To Ride, you draw hands of cards and then use the cards available to build these routes. From there, it becomes Ticket to Ride on steroids. There are bonuses for putting routes in different provinces, you can lose the routes you are building because of a bad card draw, you need to strategically upgrade your postal cart with longer routes, and you gain or lose points based on your wooden houses and how you use them or don’t use them. Many of the point tokens are hidden, so you really don’t know the final score until the end. There is a beginning game, middle game, and end game.

This video is not designed to teach you everything you need to know to play, nor is it a review video. The goal is for you to be familair with the basic mechanics of the game and to assist you in determining if this is a game you want in your game library. It should have enough information in it for you to start enjoying your first game, while referencing the rules.

Buy your copy of Thurn & Taxis here.

November 12, 2008 at 10:54 pm 1 comment

Days of Wonder Signs Exclusive Distributor Deal

Late last week, I got a call from my game distributor. They told me some unfortunate information. They were no longer going to be able to sell Days of Wonder games due to an exclusive agreement that had been signed.

This may sound like a trivial event, but for many of you, it may mean that you are not able to get the games you like or the expansions to them for a period of time. For example, it means that I need to get a retailer account with a new distributor so I can provide you with the best games in the world.

The games made by Days of Wonder include:

  • BattleLore and its expansions
  • Memoir ’44 and its expansions
  • Ticket to Ride and its expansions and new card game
  • Shadows Over Camelot and the upcoming Merlin’s Company expansion
  • Pirate’s Cove

As you can see, these are some very popular games and for a retail stores to not carry them would be a disservice to gamers. So, a retailer must do a couple of things -1) buy up a bunch of inventory from our current supplier and hope to not sell out until the new distributor agreement is settled and 2) set up a new distributor agreement with the new distributor.

This can affect pricing do to shipping options or exclusive rights, which is essentially a sales monopoly. Days Of Wonder also recently raised their prices. So essentially this turns out to be a negative for the consumer. However, I have played many of their games and I can say they are great games, so it is worth the wait and the price increase.

At www.bestdanggames.com, we have two games of theirs available due to larger retailers buying out inventory at the distributor level. These games are: Ticket to Ride Europe and Ticket to Ride Card Game. All other Days of Wonder games are not available for sale until we set up our new distributor account.

If you are considering any of these games in the near future, please check with your retailer of choice to confirm game availability.

When we have access to these games again, I will post a new blog about the availability. Until then, try a great game from Z-Man games. Our Game of the Month is 1960: The Making of a President. Another game you may consider is the new Catan expansion game: Traders and Barbarians.

July 6, 2008 at 7:40 pm Leave a comment

The New Breed of Gamer

I think I am considered a new breed of gamer. I have not always been a fan of strategy board games. As a matter of fact, for most of my 38 years of life I was not even aware they existed.

Like many of you, I was raised on Risk, Monopoly, Sorry, Life, Clue, and Trivial Pursuit. I played Dungeons and Dragons as a kid and was aware of Magic, the card game while I was in college (but never played).

But, I do have a healthy love for PC games. My favorite, by far are strategy games. We are talking about games like Age of Empires, Warcraft, Starcraft, Rise of Empires, Civilization,  Rollercoaster Tycoon, Sim City, Sid Meyer’s Pirates, etc. Does this sound familar to anyone? I knew the game companies, I knew who the developers were, and I read the magazines. I would snap up the next ones as they came out. I still find myself wandering those isles at Best Buy and WalMart.

However, there is a problem with this addiction…it is very time consuming. It is very hard to have any kind of family life and actually finish a game. It becomes even harder when you have a family (I have two children). So, I needed to find something new.

My daughter is 10 years old and fairly bright. I figured I would try to get her into some board games. Where do you think I started? With the standards…Clue, Monopoly Jr., and Disney Trivial Pursuit. She got the hang of them and it was great. We had something to do, and I had games to play.

I thought about pushing the envelope and while I was at Toys ‘R Us, I saw a few games by Avalon Hill that looked interesting, but had never heard of them. One was about monsters that take over America (could be interesting), another was about a constantly changing house that was haunted (again promising – but for a 10 year old?), and a third was a pirate adventure (now you are talking my game). So, before I bought it, I went home and researched it on Amazon – they have great reviews. While doing that, I kept seeing a game called Settlers of Catan. What was this game that had everyone so enthralled? I had never heard of it – but I seemed to be the only one. It was in everyone’s Favorite Family Board Game list.

I figured I would come back to it, and ended up buying the Pirate game (Sword & Skull). It was alright, but not the big hit I had hoped it would be.

Now, about a year or so later, I get around to checking out Settlers of Catan and find that it completely feeds the strategy game addiction I have and we can play it in about 1-2 hours. HOME RUN!

Now I am hooked on this genre of gaming, so much so that I started an online store hoping to introduce everyone I can to these great games. They are currently in an underground sort of state (at least they seem to be in the US), but I believe they are going to become extremely popular. If you have not checked out these games, you owe it to yourself and your friends to give them a shot.

Two funny and related stories…

My manager at my last job is a big gaming fan. He was not in the day that I announced to our graphic artist that I was going to sell strategy board games online. My manager came to me and said I needed to sell a game called Siedler. I said “OK, but what is that in English?” He says “Settlers”. I gave him a blank stare and said “…of Catan?” It was the same game. He said his family had been playing it for years and they had all the expansions and versions.

Shortly after that, I went to lunch with several old friends…one of which had recently gone to Germany. When I mentioned that I was selling games online, she asked which ones. I said “Designer board games like Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne, and Settlers of Catan”. She screamed in the restaurant and said “Oh my god! We played that when I was in Germany! I LOVE THAT GAME!”

This leads me to believe that you need to try these games out for yourself. If you don’t you are missing some of the best games around. 

By the way, we had a hit. My daughter totally loves Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne, and Settlers of Catan…

May 11, 2008 at 9:38 pm 2 comments

North Orlando Family Board Game Club

For anyone in the North Orlando, Florida area, we are starting a monthly game day.

The Orlando areas we expect to pull from include (but are not limited to):

  • Longwood
  • Lake Mary
  • Sanford
  • Deltona
  • Debary
  • Deland
  • Orange City
  • Daytona

In looking at options in the general area, there seem to be two places to the southern part of town where people go to play – one over by Aloma, and another down off of Colonial. This is extremely inconvienient for those of us at the north end of town. So, I said “Hey, why don’t we try and set one up for the north end of town?”. And with that, I spoke to the Volusia County Library System.

The good folks at the Debary Library, on 17-92 have offered us a room to play board games on the last Saturday of the month. I have reserved the room for us for the next four months. I will expand it as long as gamers keep coming out to play.

Here is their contact information and address.

200 N. Charles R. Beall Blvd.
DeBary FL 32713
(386) 668-3835

The dates are:

  • May 31
  • June 28
  • July 26
  • August 30

The times for each Saturday are the same: 1:00 – 4:45. We have to be out and cleaned up by then because the library closes at 5:00 SHARP!

My plan is to use the first hour to teach folks how to play some new games and then the rest of the time, we can just roll it old school like.

I think it would be good for the first week, May 31, to teach the standard gateway games.

  • Settlers of Catan
  • Ticket to Ride
  • Carcassonne 

I have one copy of each game for the club to use. I also have Starcraft, Memoir 44, Shadows Over Camelot, Arkham Horror, and Last Night On Earth – The Zombie Game available for play. If you want to bring some of your own games, feel free.

If you plan to come out or have any questions, please RSVP to bcbcbusiness@hotmail.com so we know to expect you. I am looking forward to meeting you and playing some games with you all. See you then.

By the way, if you are a local coffee shop/pizzaria/book store…or know of one that would like to sponsor the club, we can meet there at other times as well. Just contact us at the same e-mail and we can work it out.

May 11, 2008 at 9:21 pm 2 comments


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