# Games with the Family

I received "Ticket to Ride" for Christmas, and played it for the first time today, with my family (Mom, , , her husband Jeff.) It's a fun and (I think) fairly deep game. You collect railroad car cards which then you trade in, in sets, to claim routes on the map. (Some routes have a specific type of car, other can be filled by any matching set.) You score more points for longer routes, and bonuses if you connect cities for which you hold a "destination card".

Initially the other four claimed a lot of small routes, while I saved up cards to get some of the longer routes necessary for the destination cards I'd started with. I quickly jumped ahead after playing my first two long routes. Jeff won in the end by saving up to claim some of the remaining 5- and 6-car routes--- also collecting a lot of bonuses for destinations and the longest contiguous route.

In addition to collecting cards and claiming routes, you may also draw new destination cards. You draw three and keep one or more of them. But, any unsatisfied destination pairs count against you on the end. I wasn't sure how to fit this into my strategy--- everybody else managed to profit by this but I drew more rather late and didn't have sufficient cars left to reach the necessary endpoints (even if there had been routes and time left.) There is an interesting tradeoff between claiming short but key routes and long, profitable ones.

The other game we played during the visit was "Quiddler". This is a card game based on making words. The problem (?) we've encountered is that when playing with 5 or 6 people, somebody can ususally lay down all their cards on their first turn. So there is not a lot of play, merely a single decision (draw or take the discard) followed by trying to maximize your score given whatever you were dealt. Admittedly, this helps move the game along, but I wonder if it might not be better strategy in some cases to decline to go out first in hopes of improving to a better set of words.

Example: if you have TEE this scores only 3+2+2=7 points. But if you draw a V (11 points), P (7 points?), G (7 points), J (11-12 points?) or Z (14 points) you are much better off. If you could go out but hold a word such as this perhaps it is better to try to improve. There is no bonus to going out first, except the hope of catching other players with unused cards. Our experience seems to be that you are unlikely to catch somebody too badly--- although when it happens it can be decisive. But generally the winners are the ones who are able to use high-value letters.

I won this game by going out first (before anybody else had a chance to draw) on the last, 10-card round when I drawing a perfect U to make FUZZ + two decent three-letter words.

Here are a few ideas we threw out about adding more play to each round: Require 3-letter words minimum. Require a specified number of letters or cards or points in a word to lay down first. Start with fewer cards in a round and draw two cards and discard one until the required number has been achieved.
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