A feather-light gateway game that neatly unhorses Catan as the premier intro to hobby boardgaming.* Surprisingly tense for such a simple setup. You get to play tactically in the now, maneuver for mid-range goals as well as nurture an overall strategy. Can be taught and grokked in moments; bright colors and beautiful art design make it a sensual pleasure to play. Rating is probably slightly higher for newbies and dramatically lower for hardcore gamers. Still, an excellent way for veterans of the psychic wars to disengage, drop the intellect into neutral and just coast pleasantly along as a warm-up, a night-ender or as a relaxing activity when otherwise impaired.
*I realize that today this notion is hideously out of date: "Settlers of huh-what?" But at the time it was all the rage, along with terror alerts and Nickelback.
UPDATE: Okay, it's just Rummy with scoring sets on a board, and secret scoring goals on the Ticket cards. And like Rummy it's a mild social game. An "eat, drink & be merry with good friends" game. Played seriously or in silence it's stupid. It's for chillin' while counting cards.
UP-UPDATE: The only way I can play this game and maintain my sanity anymore is to pretend the board is the yarn map at FBI headquarters where they're tracking all those random railway murders. Why did I have to get to Little Rock so damn bad?
Great for playing with light gamers or folks in the mood for something a bit easier. You can play nice with no intentional blocking or cut throat. Having memorized a lot of the destination cards has given me an unfair (and usually unfun) advantage playing against casual gamers, but what're ya gonna do? Get the expansion? I think I'd like to...
This is a very well-presented game of Rummy, with a sliiiiiight chance at screwage. The player interaction is almost completely an afterthought in the two-person game, so I would recommend this strictly for three to five players unless you have the TTR:Switzerland expansion. Four players is probably ideal, as it gives a decent chance at player interaction with minimal downtime. If folks agonize on their turns for more than say, five seconds, a five player game can be kind of a drag.
The game looks great, and it's a great example of a board game with a map that is not Risk. This matter more than you think when you're playing with someone whose most exotic gaming experience has been Yahtzee or Phase 10. The little plastic trains give all the OCD folks something to play with, and the scoring track looks nice and is easy to work with, now that current editions have it going to 100--the original was 80, because the designer is an idiot.