Ticket to Ride: First Journey
Updated: Nov 25, 2020
Ticket to Ride: First Journey is a game where players are laying down trains to connect cities and complete tickets. There are two versions: US (left) and Europe (right). The game play is the same for each, only the board (map) and the train card designs are different. Ticket to Ride: First Journey is great for both geography and learning how to plan strategically. No reading is required to play.
You start the game with four train cards and two tickets. Your goal is to use your trains to connect the two cities on your tickets.
On your turn, you can either draw two train cards or turn in train cards to play your trains on the board. For example, you can turn in two black cards in order to put your trains on the two black spaces connecting Albuquerque to Dallas. You have to have both green or both black to play your trains here. That would be your turn. The colors each have a corresponding symbol, to aid anyone who might be color blind.
Alternatively, you can choose to draw more train cards. You get two cards. The rules state that you are to draw two cards from the draw pile. This is one rule I have changed. I set out the draw pile and then put three face-up cards next to it. The player can then choose two cards from the face-up cards and/or the draw pile. This adds more strategic planning to the game without making it any more complicated. If ever all three face-up cards are the same color, discard them all and put out three new ones.
Once you have laid enough trains down on the board to connect the two cities on your ticket, you declare it completed, set it aside, and immediately receive a new ticket to replace it. You should always have two tickets you are working on. Additionally, you can be working towards the Coast to Coast ticket. There is one available per player and they get it once they have laid trains from coast to coast. First person to complete six tickets receives the Golden Ticket and wins the game! If someone runs out of trains before this happens, the person with the most completed tickets wins. We really enjoy this game in my Game School! You can purchase Ticket to Ride: First Journey here: U.S. | Europe
A NOTE ON JUNIOR VERSIONS:
I have seen it said a lot that you shouldn't waste your money on junior versions of games, because your kids are going to outgrow them too fast. Their point being that you should just skip straight to the original version of the game. I completely disagree in this case.
The reality is that Ticket to Ride: First Journey is beautifully designed for this age range. The gameplay is shorter and there is no reading required. This enables the kids to be able to play independently, without having to rely on an adult to help. It's also more colorful, less crowded, and less complicated, with trains and cards that aren't so tiny. And kids love playing it!
The original Ticket to Ride, on the other hand, is not remotely designed for this age range. Yes, your children will outgrow First Journey. That's what kids do; they outgrow things. But that doesn't mean you should just skip it.