First Journey is the junior version of the popular, multi-award winning game Ticket to Ride. We’ve been road-testing it – or should that be rail-testing?
I was provided with a copy of this game for review purposes.
We were keen to try out this latest edition in the series. Our children are already familiar with the original version, so we wanted to see what they would think of this.
In a nutshell: they loved it.
What’s good about it?
It’s easy to see why. Firstly, it’s simple to learn. Players collect coloured train cards to claim routes on a map of Europe by connecting pairs of cities as shown on their tickets. Some routes are short, requiring a single card of a specific colour. Others require a set of two or three cards to complete.
The first to complete six tickets is the winner. Or, if someone plays all 20 of their trains, whoever has completed most tickets. Simple.
Opening up the box yields a positive first impression. The sturdy playing board is large, colourful and well illustrated. Familiar landmarks such as Big Ben and the Colosseum represent London and Rome, while a jolly leprechaun signifies Dublin. The train cards and tickets are colourful and designed to appeal to kids. Each player has a set of 20 coloured plastic trains, which are pleasingly chunky and easy to handle. There are even a couple of spares of each colour for when pieces inevitably get lost. A nice touch.
Even relatively inexperienced players will quickly pick up the basics. The gameplay has been simplified enough that it doesn’t require a keen strategic mind to be competitive. Our kids certainly won as many games as they lost against us.
It’s also quick to play. Games should last no longer than half an hour but once you have played a couple of games you will find the speed increases significantly. As we were already familiar with the original, we were soon rattling through even four-player games in 15 minutes.
The game can be played by two to four players, although it’s much better with four than two.
Normally with a new game I would have at least one or two minor quibbles or areas for improvement. However, I really couldn’t find any fault with this. It helps that it comes from a well established platform. But this adaptation also finds the right balance between retaining the spirit of the original while making the game accessible for young players. As junior versions go, this is pretty much perfect.
Should I buy this or the full version?
That depends on your children’s age and how experienced and patient they are.
If you’re not sure, it’s probably better to start with First Journey. The recommended minimum age for this junior edition is six. Nonetheless I would say that even a four or five-year-old would be able to play with minimal adult support. While the rules and scoring are greatly simplified in this version, the essence of the original remains. Ticket to Ride players will immediately recognise the aesthetic and gameplay of this variant.
If your kids are experienced game-players, they may prefer the grown-up edition instead. This is aimed at ages eight and over. If they have a basic grasp of strategy and have the patience to play for an hour or more, this may be a better option. It’s a natural step up from First Journey but the greater complexity allows for more variations in strategy and gameplay.
Our children have all been playing the original US-based version of the game since the age of five. Nonetheless, they greatly enjoyed this junior edition. It was perfect for squeezing in shorter games when they don’t have the time or patience for longer sessions, or for playing with grandparents who prefer a simple, more accessible game.
Like its parent, Ticket to Ride: First Journey will provide hours of fun for both younger and older family members. It’s a perfect introduction for children who don’t yet have the patience for a longer, more complex game. I’ve been playing the original for seven years and I cannot recommend this new version highly enough.
Ticket to Ride: First Journey sells at a recommended retail price of £25.99.
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