Does Ticket to Ride Legacy: Legends of the West Play Well at 2 Players?
I’ve played Ticket to Ride with my wife on numerous occasions, and I’ve never felt that Ticket to Ride was a good two-player game. The small box games, like Ticket to Ride Berlin and Ticket to Ride Amsterdam are great with two, but the larger games just don’t work as well, especially if someone is on one side of the board, and the other person on the other.
When Asmodee Canada reached out about reviewing Ticket to Ride Legacy: Legends of the West, I almost sent back a response that ultimately ended in me turning down the opportunity.
I have a very dedicated gaming group who helps with reviews on the website, but we currently have two ongoing legacy games that need to be completed, plus a few more waiting in the wings. As not wanting to monopolize our legacy game time with games I need to review, I decided to play through this one with just my wife.
I’m not one to keep the cat in the bag, so I’ll lead with this: Ticket to Ride Legacy: Legends of the West plays VERY well with two players, and I would recommend it if it was your only option. I do believe the game will be much more competitive and strategic with more, so if you have a dedicated group ready to play, I’d opt for more than 2 players. That being said, if playing with two players is your only option, I still highly recommend this game.
There are spoilers ahead, so turn away if you don’t want anything ruined!
There are a few things that make this game work well even with two players: the fact that tickets are removed from the game in certain situations; with two players, company towns will make more strategic path choices, and getting tracks put onto track beds is likely less chaotic. Ultimately, I think it’s easier to balance the experience for all players in a 2-Player game than if playing with more players.
Tickets Are Removed
As the game expands – you will add pieces to the board as you play to represent the growing movement into the West – you will be adding brand new ticket cards to the game that will showcase new routes in brand new regions. You might wonder how big the ticket deck could possibly get, but there is a new rule in Ticket to Ride Legacy that actually removes tickets from the game.
My concern with this game, playing with two players, is that by the time the map gets fully built, there would be less interaction and potentially less “clashes” for key train routes. I’ve quickly learned this is not the case. Each train ticket has a number of circles printed on the side for each colour. So far we’ve seen one-punch tickets and two-punch tickets. After each game, players will punch their ticket cards on their colour slot, and when all the slots of your colour have been punched on a ticket, it is removed from the game forever.
This feature is key in keeping routes competitive. All the small routes from the eastern seaboard were long gone before my wife and I unlocked our second region, which meant the routes we were choosing from continued to be intertwined with each other, keeping the game competitive. I absolutely love this feature, and it is important for this entire legacy system to work!
Less Company Towns, More Strategic Planning
Another thing you unlock early into Ticket to Ride Legacy are company towns. Each player will have at least one company town on the board – which is a sticker you place on a small town – and anytime a player builds into our out of your company town, they are required to pay you $1.00 OR one train card from their hand.
With 4-5 players, there will be company towns all over the map, and likely nearly impossible to bypass them in any way. I feel that in larger player games, everyone will just resign themselves to the costs they need to pay, and assume it will work out to be even over the course of a game.
With two players, there is a lot more strategy in how you plan your routes. I worked hard in the first game after unlocking company towns to bypass my wife’s town to complete my routes.
We both chose very strategic company town locations, which made planning routes even more difficult. WIth limited trains in the early games, it is easier said than done. I still had to pay my wife a small fee, but that paled in comparison to the fees I would have paid in a 4-5 player game.
Ultimately, in a 2 player game I cared about where I placed my routes, and loved that strategic element. In a 4-5 player game, I don’t think anyone would care, with everyone assuming it would be all equal in the end. I could be wrong, but it’s how I view this specific game mechanic.
Building on Track Beds
Rail beds come early in Ticket to Ride Legacy. They are routes that don’t yet have tracks built on them. When you build a track bed, depending on which colour train cards you use, you will place stickers on the board on that track bed that match the cards you are playing.
With the company rule that you will receive $2.00 for building on your own route, getting to these routes with your coloured train cards is fairly important. This issue actually feeds into my last thought, that a 2-Player game can be more balanced than 4-5 players.
If you miss placing your coloured trains on track beds, it could be a pretty big blow to your game long term, and in a 4-5 player game, not everyone is going to get preferred track placement.
Easier to Balance a 2-Player Game
All the games between my wife and I have been fairly balanced. After 4 games, outside of the secret points we have both shoved into our boxes, the game-to-game score is at a difference of $8.00 or $9.00. While I understand that even at a higher player count, everyone will have good and bad games, there are certain in-game elements that make coming back if you fall too far behind nearly impossible.
The track beds I spoke about earlier are a good example of this. While the stickers for your specific colour are limited, there is a possibility that a few players will get all of their coloured stickers on the board, while others players only get a few. $2.00 per route doesn’t sound like a lot, and yes you still need to build on your own route to reap the benefits, but the possibility is there for some, and potentially not for others.
I think a 3-Player game could also be very balanced, but based on my time with the game and the various mechanics, I could see a player or 2 falling off early in a 4-5 player game. Now, I have only played 4 games and there is a ton more to come (and perhaps some great catch-up mechanics).
I will reiterate here that despite all of what I said above, I think this would still be MORE enjoyable at 3-4 players. That being said, this is a very good 2-Player legacy game, and based on what I’ve seen so far, I think it will continue to be a great 2-Player legacy game!