Ticket to Ride: A Big Faker in the Educational Arena.

Ticket To Ride
Several years ago I worked in a small board game store in Minnetonka, Minnesota.  I was a clerk there; helping people choose games and check out. Nothing super exciting, but I enjoyed it.

One day I approached a customer to greet them and see if they needed any help.  He was a clean cut looking middle aged man, think Mr. Rogers but minus a few years.   He was holding a copy of “Ticket To Ride” and exclaimed how he loved the game, because not only was it a great game, but it also helped teach his kids geography!  What’s not to love?

Ticket to Ride Board

A "Ticket to Ride" board.

Sometime after that I picked up a copy of TtR, and it was a fun game.  Not overly complicated, but enough so that adults stay entertained.  You could definitely play it with kids though.  However, I was horrified when I remembered the praise that father had offered.

Close up on Indiana and Minnesota
I’ve lived in two states throughout my life, and thus inaccuracies in both of these are what jumped out at me, although I have little doubt that others existed on the board.  Firstly, Chicago is not a part of Indiana.  I know they are close on a map, but Chicago is, and always will be, in Illinois.   Secondly, the spot that clearly would be Minneapolis, Minnesota, was not so.  It was labeled as “Duluth”, a town much much farther north in the state.  How could this game get it so wrong?  An accurate map doesn’t seem like a hard thing to come by.

I guess the moral of the story is, don’t count on a board game to be accurate enough to teach your kids anything.  They are great tools to use, but unless you, as a parent, check the facts you might wind up with kids who will swear that Chicago is the biggest city in Indiana.  And, frankly, that kind of taught ignorance seems unacceptable.

This entry was posted by The_Null_Entry on Monday, June 28th, 2010 at 12:23 am and is filed under Board Game Reviews, Resource Management Games . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.


  1. zaipaiz says:

    I understand, from the artist’s perspective, the difficulty of drawing this map. The little distance dashes between cities are set lengths, which is going to screw around with one’s ability to place cities exactly where they should be. Instead of drawing the connections between cities to scale, the artist has to work with predetermined lengths. Arranging these little dashes so that they are always spaced neatly around their connecting cities was probably a pain, and I can forgive the fact that Omaha is on the Iowa side of the line.

    …you’re right about Duluth, though. That’s just ignorant.

  2. I can appreciate the difficulty it would have been to get the track to line up perfectly, but other things could have been done to help make the map more accurate. The designers could have relabeled “Duluth” as “Minneapolis”, or even better “Saint Paul” given that it is the capital city of Minnesota. They could have also relabeled “Chicago” as “Gary”, that would have been a very easy fix to that problem as well.

    Of course none of that excuses a problem that I had pointed out to me. And I’m kinda ashamed I didn’t notice it at first myself. Take a look at the map on the board, specifically take a look at the northeast. Where did Maine go!?

  3. Tyler says:

    I love Ticket To Ride!! It is definetly one of my favorite board games. However, as you mentioned the map is not to scale nor are half the cities on there listed correctly. I also noticed that the eastern side of the U.S. is all scrunched up and isnt as seperated as it would be on a normal map. But I can forgive the makers of the game for this because technically it isnt about where the cities are in reality as much as it is the fact that you are trying to make your route from city to city. I think most players of this game really don’t care where the city is in reality as long as they find it on the map and can make their routes. I definetly would not use this as any kind of geography educational tool but I could use it for other educational stuff. This kind of game can teach kids how to think and plan and maybe even a bit of math of adding up your points in the end as we play it or during the game as the rules play it.

  4. Looking at this game purely from the average gamer’s perspective, it’s a good game. In fact it’s *the* heavy hitter from “Days of Wonder” (who’s other games include Memoir ’44, Shadows Over Camelot, Mystery of the Abby, Pirate’s Cove, and many others), but Ticket to Ride is their money maker, and this is for good reason. Even though we have a large collection of games, this is one that still routinely gets played and is well liked by most.

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