Ticket To Ride Legacy: Legends of the West Review: A Must Play Legacy Game

Ticket To Ride Legacy: Legends of the West Review: A Must Play Legacy Game

Ticket To Ride is known as one of the “gateway” board games. It’s the game that you play to find out that there’s more to the world than Monopoly, Risk, and other games that led to your parents’ divorce. It’s the game you bring out at a dinner party when you want to play with your less gamer-pilled friends because it’s so easy to pick up, but requires some strategy and concentration to win without going over the top. Ticket To Ride Legacy: Legends of the West is a legacy game that is basically “what if Ticket to Ride, but more?”

I love Ticket To Ride a lot, I haven’t yet played a version I didn’t like, and I really enjoy playing the same board game over and over to wring out every last drop of enjoyment. So, to say that I enjoyed the idea of playing a Ticket To Ride campaign of a minimum 12 games with friends was an understatement.

If you’re not familiar with legacy games, they’re games where how you play and the choices you make effect the rules for future games. There are updates to the rules, the board changes, and different mechanics can come and go.

In this game, you and your friends are rail barons, competing to wrest control of the country away from the notorious Mama O’Connell. What you do in each game will determine who wins overall.

For the most part, I’m going to keep the spoilers in this review to a minimum, and I will clearly mark sections that will have more meaningful spoilers.

Unboxing and set up

Image: Alice Clarke

The box of Ticket To Ride Legacy: Legends of the West was really nicely set up. It’s also massive. You can really see why it costs $199.99, there is a lot going on in here. You start with the rule book, each player getting the box for their “company” along with their trains, and a few pieces of the map.  Unlike regular Ticket To Ride, where you start with the whole map of the US, here you start with just a chunk – after all, it’s the 1800s and the golden time for rail barons. The rest of the map is hidden in a sealed section of the box, only to be revealed as you unlock that part of the story. Other things in the box are the coins (the points system has been completely overhauled for Legends of the West), boxes for each expansion, and a long box of cards which includes tickets, train cards and postcards which are unlocked when you retire a ticket. My favourite item in the box is the hole punch, it takes me back to being a very little kid and seeing the tram conductors punching people’s tickets, and it’s just a really nice addition to the game.

Overall, not only does the box contain an interesting array of nicely designed items, but the box itself had been carefully thought out to make it easy to find everything and be easy to use. It’s a good box. Though, it was frustrating that there wasn’t a little caddy to keep the different values of coins organised. One of the people in our group had to 3D print a solution for that (shout out to Prospect for his contribution).

(There is a very mild spoiler in this next paragraph)

kotaku spoiler warning
Image: Kotaku Australia

Editor’s note: I got you, fam. Spoiler warning banner activated. — David

There is a theme in legacy games: stickers. They love a sticker, and I love that for them. This box contains so many. There are rules stickers, stickers you’ll place on the board in later parts of the game to claim a route, and several other far more whimsical stickers for other mechanics. You will want to practice your sticker placement techniques.


Ticket to ride legacy: Legends of the west scoring cards
Image: Alice Clarke

If you haven’t played regular Ticket To Ride before, first of all you’re missing out. Secondly, it’s a train-themed game where you draw tickets to give you destinations to aim for, and then you draw train cards (which come in a variety of colours) and then spend those cards to place little plastic trains. If you complete a ticket, you get the number of points listed on the ticket, and if you fail the ticket you lose that many points. In the regular game, there are also bonus points for things like getting the longest continuous train line, and points for placing trains are dependant on the length of the route claimed, but that’s not in the Legacy version.

The first game of the Ticket To Ride Legacy: Legends of the West campaign will be extremely familiar to long time Ticket To Ride fans. It’s basically vanilla US Ticket To Ride, but much, much shorter (because you have fewer trains to begin with and you have much less of the map to play with) and with the addition of money. Our first game took less than half an hour, which was a big contrast to our last game which was closer to 90 minutes. Another difference from the vanilla version is the inclusion of events, which can change how you place trains, how many points you get, force you to give up money, give you money, or give you a little bit of story.

After each game’s housekeeping (punching tickets, tallying scores, getting postcards, etc) you get a morsel of story about whatever Mama O’Connell was up to, and you can usually select a new expansion which gives you more board to play with, and often a new mechanic to learn and enjoy.

If the idea of adding a bunch of new mechanics seems daunting, then the good news is that they come and go. You’ll get a new mechanic that’ll stick around for a game or two and then be phased out, often overlapping with one or two others. But they’re introduced pretty gradually, so if you’re playing frequently it’s easy to grasp everything. Ramping up the number of trains used in each game also slowly makes the games longer, which is a great way to ease people into the campaign, too.

The new mechanics and mini-games all add some interesting extra flavour to the game, and can change up your strategy significantly. There were one or two more aggressive mechanics that I could have done without, but given their negative implications, I don’t think players are supposed to enjoy those ones so much as strategies around them. There were some that I thought should be introduced into the base game, they were that enjoyable. Some of them really opened up the games to different kinds of play and thinking that I think could translate more broadly. It is difficult to talk about them so vaguely, but I think you’ll know what I mean when you play (and you should).

We had a big break in the middle of our 12-game campaign, due to a holiday, Christmas, Covid, and the challenges of trying to get four people in their 30s who live up to an hour apart to all meet in the same room. We usually only had 1-2 week breaks between game sessions, but the two-month break came at the worst moment – it was the time when there was the most fiddly mechanics were all in play at the same time. Getting the hang of all of them again was a bit of a challenge, particularly for the most pregnant and (at the time) least patient member of our group. So, I recommend trying not to have big breaks when you get to that point. The last two games were much quieter on the mechanic front, and the first few only had a few things going on, so if you have to take a game break, I would try schedule it for those times.

-Spoilers in the next 2 paragraphs-

kotaku spoiler warning
Image: Kotaku Australia

Editor’s note: The rare double spoiler warning. — David.

One thing that I didn’t love about the game was the random timing on the postcards. After each game, if you completed a ticket that had a postcard attached, you could get one postcard. After the first game I got a postcard that referred to a mechanic that didn’t roll around until our second last game. Like, it’s fine, and it didn’t ruin anything, but it meant that I spent the whole campaign on alert for something that ended up being less exciting than what got build in my head over 10 games. Don’t get me wrong, the postcards are a great idea, and I really enjoyed them, and I can’t imagine a way to change this mechanic foreshadowing without mandating which expansion comes next (whereas currently the players get the choose where they go next). It just didn’t quite land for me.

On a more positive and slightly more spoilery note, I will just say that some of the later mini games and mechanics include scratchie-style cards. That alone is enough to justify buying and playing this game.

Who is Ticket To Ride Legacy: Legends of the West for?

Image: Alice Clarke

Most legacy games can seem a bit daunting, and perhaps are more for seasoned board gamers. What I love about this one is that anyone familiar with Ticket To Ride would have a good time with it. If you have kids who are proficient with the US board of Ticket To Ride, then this would be fun for the whole family. If you have friends you have a lot of dinner parties with, this is a good weight for that, too. I played it with a group of board game nerds, and my board game nerd adjacent wife, and we had a ball. But I could also imagine playing it with my parents, or cousins, or anyone over the age of 13, really.

In conclusion

Ticket To Ride Legacy: Legends of the West is the most fun I have ever had with a legacy game. It takes everything people love about an absolute classic board game, and then makes it more. It’s a real triumph. If you enjoy Ticket To Ride, or want a nice and slightly familiar game to make a campaign with friends or family, I cannot recommend it enough. When I first got it, I thought PRICE was a bit much, but having played it and seen all that’s included, I get it now. It’s worth it.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *