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Ticket to Ride chugs onto Android

All aboard! Already one of CNET's top 30 iPad games, the popular strategy title has finally pulled into Android Station. Is it just as good?

Woo, woo! The award-winning board game Ticket to Ride is now available for Android.
Woo, woo! The award-winning board game Ticket to Ride is now available for Android. Days of Wonder

My awesome brother-in-law Steve introduced me to Ticket to Ride a couple years ago, and I've been hooked ever since. As board games go, it offers a near-perfect blend of strategy and luck-of-the-draw, on par with old classics like Risk and newer ones like Carcassonne.

Then came the iOS version, which CNET ranked among the 30 best iPad games -- and rightly so. It affords a decent single-player experience (something the board version can't) and moves the game along at a much speedier clip (meaning you can play alone or with others without investing quite so much time).

Finally, Ticket to Ride has arrived for Android. And I'm happy to report it's nearly as good as its iOS counterpart, though there's one immediate hitch: It's for tablets only.

Well, sort of. Although it requires a screen resolution of 1,024x600 pixels, and the developer recommends at least 1,280x800, you can indeed play it on a smartphone -- provided it has sufficient resolution. Just keep in mind it'll feel a little cramped. It does when I play it on my iPhone 4S, though that version is optimized for smaller screens.

For those unfamiliar with the game, the goal is to score the most points by establishing the most and longest train routes on a map. (The default is a U.S. map with a little Canada thrown in, but there are others available for purchase.) You do this by playing train cards collected during your turn; the strategic element lies in blocking your opponents' routes while simultaneously working to complete your own.

That's the gist of it. The first time you play, Ticket to Ride runs you through an in-game tutorial so you can learn the ropes. (There's also a separate video tutorial if you'd rather watch before actually starting to play.)

Now for the bad news: Ticket to Ride for Android lacks the local-multiplayer and pass-to-play options found in the iOS version. Thankfully, there's an online-multiplayer option that lets you compete with up to four other live humans. That's certainly the most fun way to play, but my family really enjoys being able to play together (in the same room) via our respective iDevices. Here's hoping Days of Wonder will add that option in an update.

Ticket to Ride for Android costs $6.99, making it one of the pricier games in the Play store -- but I'm of the opinion it's worth it. (And to put that in some perspective, the board game sells for $50.) All aboard!