Ticket to Ride: Legends of the West is the perfect Christmas board game

These days, Ticket to Ride is the perennial choice for many families who play board games infrequently. With Monopoly less popular than it used to be, a new generation of gateway-level games has long since been established. But what if you’ve been dragging your copy out for a few years and you’re looking to challenge your close friends and family with something a little more? If that sounds familiar, let me tell you why Ticket to Ride: Legends of the West is the best game you can buy this Christmas. 

**Please note that this is a spoiler-free walkthrough of what to expect from Ticket to Ride: Legends of the West and both the content and pictures include only content that is obvious during the first playthrough.””

Ticket to Ride: Legends of the West is a campaign game. For the uninitiated, this means that each game, new rules and features will be added, and you’ll build a unique set of components across 12 individual games. When you set Ticket to Ride: Legends of the West up for the first time, a very clear guide will tell you what you should or should not open, and as long as you follow those instructions, you’ll have a quick, simple game up and running in no time.

Like other versions of Ticket to Ride, each copy of Ticket to Ride: Legends of the West includes five sets of plastic trains in bright colours, a board (this time made up of jigsaw-like pieces), some train cards and a set of tickets. For each colour of train there is also a box to contain various “company” materials and track the progress of that colour, and then there are the campaign components.

Without giving anything away, Ticket to Ride: Legends of the West includes box after box of new content, as well as a packet of board pieces that you will add to the jigsaw to expand the map. There are also a few other surprises and tweaks that I don’t want to spoil — but let me just say that there is a certain physical component that helps ensure you’ll be punching more and more new journey tickets than in any other version of the game.

Based on what I have seen and read so far, the players will be adding a new box of components and a piece of the jigsaw with each game, but exactly which piece is generally left up to the winner of the previous game. The map builds out from the East Coast to the West Coast (as indicated by the name of the game) and there’s a real sense of exploration here both in respect to the components in the box, and to the new board pieces and rules that are introduced as a result of opening them.

In the very first game you’ll play, Ticket to Ride: Legends of the West is actually simpler than the classic version of the game — and complexity builds until it is “just a bit beyond” that point within about three or four games. This makes Ticket to Ride: Legends of the West an absolutely superb game to play with people who you see often and want to spend lots of time with – and what better time is there to do that than at Christmas.

At roughly an hour per game, Ticket to Ride: Legends of the West will be fantastic with a few drinks on Christmas Eve, even better after Christmas Dinner and probably good for two or three games with the Boxing Day movie in the background. With everyone developing their own train company, adding rules of their choice and building an exciting, personalised narrative — I really can’t think of any game that could bring multiple generations together over repeated playthroughs. 

To add to the excitement of the game itself, I should also say that Ticket to Ride: Legends of the West offers remarkably good value considering the size of the box and the absolutely wondrous contents within it. There is both a huge amount of game here in terms of systems, mechanics and features (all of which have clearly been well-tested) and a lot of unexpectedly lovely physical components.

I am not personally a fan of Ticket to Ride in its basic format — I find it boring and simplistic, with too much luck. Some of these features remain in Ticket to Ride: Legends of the West because it is still a card-driven system, but as the new rules are introduced, players will feel as if they have more and more agency. I have also read (but not experienced) how some rules and features will come in and then phase out over several games, which is a brilliant want to ensure that the game never becomes too bloated.

I wish I could tell you more about Ticket to Ride: Legends of the West, but I don’t want to spoil the fun. All I want to add is that this is easily one of the most impressive board games that I’ve seen all year, especially for the price. If you are planning multiple game nights this Christmas with people who matter to you and can commit to the task, you really must have Ticket to Ride: Legends of the West under your Christmas tree!

The best place to buy Ticket to Ride: Legends of the West is from your local game store, and you can find yours via this handy tool.

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