When comparing Splendor vs Ticket to Ride, the Slant community recommends Ticket to Ride for most people. In the question“What are the best board games for beginners?” Ticket to Ride is ranked 2nd while Splendor is ranked 4th. The most important reason people chose Ticket to Ride is:
The core mechanics of the game are pretty simple to learn in under 15 minutes. Each player is given a destination ticket with the route they are tasked to build. Each turn they simply decide whether to draw a train card that represents the train cars, claim a section of a route using one of their train cards, or get another destination ticket to begin a new route. Whoever builds the longest route wins.
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Pro Easy to learn
The basics of the game are very straightforward and easy. You can start playing in a matter of minutes, which is great for absolutely everyone – young and old, experienced and new.
The game begins from the youngest player and continues clockwise. In their turn the players can perform one of three actions: take three different gems, take two gems of the same color, reserve a development card and take a gold gem, or purchase a development card. All development cards give permanent gem bonuses for later buys and some cards give prestige, which is required to win. Prestige is also gained from nobles, which can be attracted if specific conditions are met.
The game enters the last round when a player reaches 15 points. The game is won by the player with the most points after this round.
Pro Fine-looking artwork
Splendor’s artwork is follows a Renaissance theme and is quite detailed and beautiful. The cards of the game feature depictions of ships, gem mines, and shops from the era. The coins are colorful and have stickers on them representing the type. There are also portraits of historical figures on the noble cards, for example, Henry VIII, Isabel of Castile, and Elisabeth of Austria.
Pro Good for beginners
The game’s rules are easy to grasp, but Splendor also features quite a bit of depth and strategy, which makes this a great gateway option for people just getting into board games, even children.
Pro Can be played aggressively or peacefully
The game is suited for both playstyles mostly due to the card reserving mechanic. This is great because you can adjust to the company you are playing with, whether they want to be fully competitive and try to deny each other’s plays or laid back and just watch the empires grow without interfering.
You can reserve a card to use it later or, even better, so your opponents can’t use it. You also get a “wild” gold piece, which can substitute any color required in buildings. You can have a maximum of three cards reserved at once.
Pro Scales well
The game plays very well in the designated 2-4 player range. It has some nuances that depend on the number of players, for example, the amount of coins and nobles in play.
It’s possible to go past the 4-player maximum by getting another copy for more coins. Another solution would be to add something like poker chips or other types of coins to the game.
Pro Satisfying to see progression
It’s enjoyable to watch your trading empire grow. The game starts slowly with you gathering gems to create some basic buildings and futureproofing yourself, by the end of the game there’s quite a lot of cards on the playing surface. You can also get points for attracting nobles to your side by getting a specific combination of gem cards, which gives you a building direction and a goal to work towards.
Pro Easy to learn
The core mechanics of the game are pretty simple to learn in under 15 minutes.
Each player is given a destination ticket with the route they are tasked to build. Each turn they simply decide whether to draw a train card that represents the train cars, claim a section of a route using one of their train cards, or get another destination ticket to begin a new route. Whoever builds the longest route wins.
Pro No direct conflict
Most players will be solely focused on building their own train routes, and as such, there is no direct conflict against opponents. This makes it a good game not only for beginners, but also players who do not like the cutthroat tactics of games like Monopoly. It also makes for a good game for couples to play as there will be no arguments or moves that may slight another player.
Pro Great presentation
The board, train pieces, and cards all come together to create a pleasing and functional experience. The game board is a colorful, thick cardboard map of North America. It's large enough so the game board never feels crowded with game pieces. There are also 225 custom-molded train car game pieces of various solid colors. The game cards themselves are nicely illustrated and feature pictures of trains that take front and center - they contain no text overlay.
Pro A great gateway game
Thanks to its intuitive nature and easy to grasp rules, Ticket to Ride is great for newcomers to the game or those unfamiliar with board games in general, or even kids. It is widely considered to be an excellent gateway game.
Pro Satisfying to build routes, regardless of winning
Even if you don't win the game, it's often satisfying to watch your train routes slowly get bigger as you connect cities. There are also bonus points you can achieve for connecting especially long or tricky routes, which you gives you additional goals to work towards aside from the main victory.
Pro Tense gameplay each turn
Each turn, you will have to decide whether you want to draw another train card or connect more routes on the board. Since you can only choose one of these options, this is a highly important decision that may have you on the edge of your seat. By drawing more cards, you'll have more trains to place later, but you may be leaving an empty route open up for your opponent to steal.
Pro High detail design
Both the game board and playing cards have a very distinct style. The game board has an almost faded background of the landscape featuring mountains, rivers, and forests with the routes intertwining around the map in colorful patterns. This strong contrast really gives the board an intricate appearance. The game cards come in a variety of colors and all feature hand drawn artwork of all sorts of train parts - engines, locomotives, coal carts, storage carts, and more.
Pro Great expansions
Ticket to Ride offers numerous expansion packs that build on the base game in fun new ways. For starters, there's all new maps for places such as Europe, Asia, India, Africa, and more. This means you can play the game you enjoy on an a fresh board with new routes to learn. Each expansion also adds its fair share of new gameplay elements (such as tunnels, boats, and train stations) and has new train cards.
Con Very poor component quality in newer editions
The game used to be widely complimented on the great overall quality of the coins and other pieces, but the materials changed in 2014. All the printings since then have reduced quality – chips are very lightweight and sometimes the color seems off, and all the components have a cheap feel to them.
Con Luck of the draw
The building cards that are drawn from the decks are random, which means that the game can often boil down to top-decking a building that’s either very valuable or completely worthless to you or an opponent. The nobles are random as well, but they won’t impact the game as critically – they are there just to direct you to a goal.
Con Very basic
The "North American" Ticket to Ride (original game) is fun but has very low complexity. Regular players will tire quickly from this lack of depth. The variants like Europe or India bring some new maps and more gameplay elements, which is sorely needed after the first few games.
Con Very luck-based
The original destination ticket and the cards you draw during game play are random. This can make some routes easier or harder to connect, and it boils down to literally just being the luck of the draw.
Con Sometimes blocking routes for opponents hurts you instead
When preventing an opponent from completing their train route, you have to use your own trains to block them. This means less trains to complete your own route. It seems like this design is self-defeating at times.
The game generally retails for $50, which is quite high for a cardboard board game.