Not Your Typical Train Ride
A lot of people who are interested in modern board gaming are usually quick to react negatively to a board game’s retail price, and Ticket to Ride is no exception.
This is especially noticeable because of how Monopoly and other mass produced board games seem to have the same box dimensions but cost way cheaper than most of the other newer board games currently on the market. Why is that?
Fortunately, modern board games are more than worth your money in terms of innovative mechanics and top-notch component quality, especially in comparison with board games that have existed in circulation for so long.
Ticket to Ride is expensive in comparison to older board games mainly because of its numerous high quality components.
Let’s get things straight: board games being cheaper before the sudden influx of new titles is kind of a persistent myth, because while it may be true that Monopoly is basically around 15 pounds these days, when it was first released, it would be valued for around 27 pounds today, inflation and all.
The main reason for that price point it once had is that when Monopoly first saw the light of day, the playing pieces were made out of wood instead of cheap plastic, and since board games was more of a want than a need, the luxurious wooden pieces made sense, because who would buy such a fancy way to pass the time except people who would want to play it?
And while this may sound expensive, it’s not actually far off from the prices of most modern board games, like Ticket to Ride, which is priced at around 29 pounds.
Wait, hold on, Ticket to Ride also has plastic playing pieces, so why is it almost at the same price point as the old Monopoly print runs with wooden pieces?
The Plastic Life
Unlike Monopoly, which has 8 plastic playing pieces, two dice, one board, 44 plastic houses and hotels, 60 cards, and a boatload of paper money, Ticket to Ride actually has 225 plastic trains, 144 cards with beautiful illustrations, one board, five wooden scoring markers, and a high quality rules booklet.
With a quick comparison, while both games use almost the same materials, the sheer difference in terms of plastic more than makes up for that price point, and if you factor in that Monopoly uses paper money as opposed to cards, you’d actually see where the huge difference in retail prices lie.
If you’re not someone who puts value in quantity, you’ll find that even the difference in the quality of components is noticeable, especially with how Ticket to Ride’s cards are made of thicker stock despite them being smaller, and with the added value of each card having such wonderfully detailed artwork.
Most of the people I introduced modern board gaming to, often found it hard to return to playing the old mass produced classics, and not because of the deeper mechanical interactions of the newer board games, but simply due to how much nicer the components felt in their hands.
The Wooden Interlude
Now, remember when I mentioned that older versions of Monopoly actually had wooden components which made it more expensive?
There’s a whole lot of other board games today that use wood in their components, and they’re a whole lot more expensive than Ticket to Ride, and among all these games, one game stands above the rest, and that would be Terra Mystica, because while it probably doesn’t have the highest number of wooden components, it sure is notable for being one of the more popular ones that use that much wood.
For comparison’s sake, Terra Mystica is priced at around 50 pounds these days, and in it comes a staggering amount of 368 wooden components of various shapes and sizes, 9 different boards, 121 tiles and tokens, 85 cardboard coins, and 5 cards.
While you’d probably think that all of these components would add up to a wonderful sensation in your hands, you’d also probably picture this as a complicated beast, that needs plenty of teaching and you’d feel like this is something that would be best introduced to people who have been in the hobby for quite a while.
And in that sense, you’d be right, because Terra Mystica is the kind of game you schedule your weekend around, but not all games with a lot of wood are complicated beasts, because we also have something like The Climbers, which is a very light game intended for families but currently runs for around 40 pounds but has less components than Ticket to Ride due to all of the pieces being made out of wood: 55 wooden pieces of various shapes and sizes, to be accurate.
This is the primary reason why the classic board games have moved away from using wooden pieces, because they are in constant circulation, using wood over and over again would just keep the prices at such a high point, which would then prevent more people from going in the hobby, so even though Ticket to Ride seems expensive, it’s actually at its lowest price point these days while also keeping the player count and length of the game the same.
There are shorter versions of Ticket to Ride intended for smaller player counts, namely Ticket to Ride: New York, Ticket to Ride: London, and Ticket to Ride: Amsterdam, and all three of these are all priced at around 20 pounds, so if you’re hesitant about jumping on the train, you could dip your toes into any of these three games to see if you’d enjoy the core gameplay loop of the original game.
Rhyme and Resin
If you thought board games with wooden components are simply the most expensive ones, you haven’t had a chance to see a board game with a whole lot of molded plastic miniatures in them.
While the prospect of plastic miniatures should sound like they would be cheaper than wooden pieces, the difference is that most of the games that utilise plastic miniatures use them to depict unique monsters or characters within the game, which would easily translate to the game needing multiple molds for characters that sometimes only has one copy in the entire board game, which elevates the price point to an extremely expensive amount.
For a better look into this side of the hobby, let’s take a look at one of the more popular board games with plastic miniatures: Rising Sun.
Currently ranked the 82nd most popular board game on boardgamegeek.com, has a total of 58 plastic miniatures, which is a number that, at first glance, seems like an okay amount of plastic.
That is before you consider that there are 23 uniquely molded figures within the game, which of course would significantly ratchet up the prices to almost 67 pounds, which would put Rising Sun as the most expensive board game in our list so far.
If you’re thinking how expensive that is, and how you’re a little bit thankful that Rising Sun is at least a fairly complex game, and Ticket to Ride at least doesn’t have a version that is somewhere around that price point, you’d be quite mistaken, because there was a special version of Ticket to Ride released in time for its tenth anniversary, aptly titled Ticket to Ride: 10th Anniversary.
This special edition now has a larger board and cards, both with all new artwork, and most importantly, five tin cans with new plastic trains in them, which are now bigger than the original’s and now have unique sculpts for each player, with each individual train also being painted.
And while this is an absolute beauty and is something that I’ve been looking for myself, it’s absurdly overproduced and is now out of print, which brings the price point to at least 63 pounds upwards to somewhere along 339 pounds!
The Price Is Right
What we got from all of this is that, while Ticket to Ride is definitely more expensive than all of the classic board games that have never been out of print, both the quantity and quality of the components play a huge part on why the price point for Ticket to Ride is just the right amount.
If you’re looking to simply try and see if Ticket to Ride is for you, there are cheaper versions of the same game.
Still, if you think that 29 pounds is too expensive for a board game, there’s a whole lot of modern board games you can get that are actually up to par with today’s modern design sensibilities.
Targi, Jaipur, Patchwork, Codenames: Duet, Lost Cities, Hanamikoji, and 7 Wonders Duel are all priced at below 20 pounds, but all of these are two player games only, so if you’re looking for a higher player count, The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine, Kingdomino, and Arboretum would be great additions to your collection.
Player counts greater than two tend to need a bigger number of components, which leads to a higher price tag.
Still, Ticket to Ride remains an excellent board game that you should at least try once, and there are multiple entry points to this beloved game that you would have a slew of options no matter what amount is printed on the price tag.