November 9, 2011

Ticket to Ride and Leviathan: Book and Board Game Match-Up

The Game (from Days of Wonder):With elegantly simple gameplay, Ticket to Ride can be learned in 3 minutes, while providing players with intense strategic and tactical decisions every turn. Players collect cards of various types of train cars they then use to claim railway routes in North America. The longer the routes, the more points they earn. Additional points come to those who fulfill Destination Tickets – goal cards that connect distant cities; and to the player who builds the longest continuous route.

"The rules are simple enough to write on a train ticket – each turn you either draw more cards, claim a route, or get additional Destination Tickets," says Ticket to Ride author, Alan R. Moon. "The tension comes from being forced to balance greed – adding more cards to your hand, and fear – losing a critical route to a competitor." --BoardGameGeek Description

The Book (by Scott Westerfeld): It is the cusp of World War I. The Austro-Hungarians and Germans have their Clankers, steam-driven iron machines loaded with guns and ammunition. The British Darwinists employ genetically fabricated animals as their weaponry. Their Leviathan is a whale airship, and the most masterful beast in the British fleet.

Aleksandar Ferdinand, a Clanker, and Deryn Sharp, a Darwinist, are on opposite sides of the war. But their paths cross in the most unexpected way, taking them both aboard the Leviathan on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure….One that will change both their lives forever. --Amazon Book Description

Trains and steampunk.  I feel like I could end this post with those three words, but I'll elaborate.  Ticket to Ride is one of those games I can't count how many times I've played.  It's incredibly easy to learn, but still engaging to play, making it a all-around favorite.  It works for families, for gaming groups, and for people who are wary of complicated games.  Set-up is even easy.

Leviathan drips with that steampunk adventure feel, from the cover to the worldbuilding to the clothes.  Simply put, it's fun.

Pacing makes these two similar.  In Ticket to Ride, turns are short and fast.  There's no long, torturous pause and someone completes their fifty-seventh action.  One turn, one action.  Turns whip around the table, which is part of the fun.  This easy-to-learn game keeps me leaned over the board, mind racing along.

Leviathan, likewise, has tight, YA-pacing.  Worldbuilding details are scattered in the text, never slowing it.  Westerfeld unfold an adventure -- and he does it in a strange-but-nostalgic setting.  Wherever the boring parts are, they're not in these books.

Trains and steampunk.  Fast and fun.


  1. My sister in law loves Ticket to Ride, and my husband loves Leviathan! I've never played/read either, but maybe I should. :)

  2. Leviathan was great. For my money, Behemoth was even more fun--rare in a sequel. And Goliath is a satisfying conclusion.

  3. I did love Behemoth, especially getting to run around in a new setting. I haven't had a chance to read Goliath yet, but I'm glad to hear that it's good!