The post regarding Catan Junior discussed the ideas of getting children into board gaming from an early age. And I’m not talking about Monopoly or Clue. Like I said in the previous post, I genuinely wish I would have had some of the board games for kids that exist today when I was younger. The first post was about Catan Junior, a kid-friendly version of Settlers of Catan. For this post, I want to discuss the first kid’s game we bought for our six-year-old, Ticket to Ride: First Journey, a much simpler version of the original Ticket to Ride.
Ticket to Ride: First Journey is for 2-4 players, has no approximation of game time, and is for ages 6 and older.
Setup for the game is very similar to the original game with some small, minute differences. Place the board in the center of the table. Each player should take a set of train colors (there should be 20 per player). Shuffle the Train Deck and deal each player four cards. Put the deck within reach of all players. Shuffle the Ticket Deck and deal two cards to each player. Put the Coast-to-Coast cards and Golden Ticket off to the side of the board. The youngest player will go first, and you’re ready to begin the game.
First Journey follows the same path as the original game for adults, however things are relatively simpler in this game. In the original game, it’s all about putting together a good enough strategy to get the most points. This game, however, has a different objective where the first player to complete 6 of the tickets from the Ticket Deck is the winner and receives the Golden Ticket!
Much like the original game, the object of the game is to draw cards from the Train Deck, play matching colors to the train tracks on the board, and place your trains to build routes. Your goal is to complete routes listed on the Ticket Cards.
Unlike the original game, the board is about half the size and contains large pictures along with the names of the cities. This is to help children learn the locations if they can’t read yet.
On your turn, you can either draw two cards from the Train Deck or claim a route on the board. You claim a route by looking to see how many cards of one color you need and discarding them. If we use the picture above, it takes two yellow cards to go from Helena to Denver. Discard two yellow cards from your hand and put train cards on those two yellow spots. Nobody else can claim this route.
Train cards come in six colors: Black, White, Blue, Red, Yellow, and Green.
You’ll also notice a few spots on the board with double routes (examples would include Miami to Washington and Los Angeles to Albuquerque). One player is not allowed to claim both routes between two cities.
Once you have completed a ticket, flip it face up to show everybody that you’ve completed it. Immediately draw a new card from the Ticket Deck. Remember, you need to complete six of them in order to win.
The Coast-to-Coast bonus cards from earlier are awarded to a player that has trains ranging in a connected line from coast to coast. These routes can come from Seattle/San Francisco/Los Angeles and end up at New York/Washington/Miami in order to get the bonus. The Coast-to-Coast card counts as a completed ticket toward your six needed for victory.
If you’re the first player to finish six tickets, grab that Golden Ticket and enjoy your victory!
Ticket to Ride: First Journey is a fun little game that helps introduce your child to strategy and planning. Catan Junior is slightly more complicated than this game, so I would recommend using this game as an introduction to more complicated board gaming. Our child looks at her ticket and does everything in her power to collect the proper colors to complete only the route listed on one ticket at a time. It’s not the best strategy, but she does win at least every other game, which means that she has come up with a way to play and win, which is the ideal outcome. First Journey is an amazing introduction to board gaming, and even though it’s a very simple game, you’ll find yourself enjoying it immensely as well.