Last year, as a birthday present, I was given the board game Ticket To Ride by my Sister and Brother in Law. We played the European version while on summer vacation the year before and I loved the game. It is an easy to learn strategy game that can be played with two to five people and depending on the way the cards fall anyone can win. Those with the better strategies do better in the long run but the same person doesn’t win every game. After getting the game for my birthday we hadn’t had a chance to play it until this Christmas when we dusted off the box and taught my family how to play. Over the week that my brother and his family were here we played ten to fifteen games. Beautiful won more than anyone else but everyone had at least one win to call their own. After the holidays ended Primo asked to play the game that we were all having so much fun with so I set up a modified version of the game to play with both boys.
Segundo does not have the patience to play even a toddlered down version of the game so we let him do his own thing, placing trains down willy nilly. Primo on the other hand took to the game like daddy takes to a fresh hop IPA. He was quickly able to figure out where he needed to go to get his trains from Duluth to El Paso, and after a couple of games even started to pick up some secondary strategy. He knew to grab cards he would need later if the card he needed now wasn’t available. Ticket To Ride turns out to be a great game, with some minor rule changes, for a five and half-year old to pick up some critical thinking in a fun environment. I worked it so he won his first couple of games but as he got better I started to play it straight up, trying to win. There are still times when he comes out on top but we no longer let him win. He threw a fit last night when I beat him pretty bad but we took the opportunity to talk about sportsmanship, winning and losing, and playing the game for the fun of it and not just to win. He rallied and we played again today he was much better when he lost. He told me that he knew that my Seattle to New york route is what won the game for me and he was right. I’m under no misgivings that my kid is super smart but I love seeing these clear signs of his development as he picks up strategy and cause and effect. Soon I will get him working on card counting and keeping a poker face for our father son trips to the casino.