Who is he?
The man who created the juggernaut success that is Ticket to Ride. He was born in the UK in 1951, but has US Nationality. He has won gaming’s top prize (Spiel des Jahres) twice with Elfenland in 1998 and Ticket to Ride in 2004.
He started designing games for various companies (Avalon Hill, Ravensburger, Parker Bros) in the early 80’s. Initially he made war games and moonlighted as a waiter to help pay the bills. The success he had in the late 90’s onward allowed him to finally become a full time designer, one of the very few. Ticket to Ride has now sold over 3,000,000 copies with revenue well over $150,000,000!
Many of his games follow a similar theme, that of trying to create an efficient route between specific points aka the Travelling Salesman problem. In fact Ticket to Ride was a streamlined version of an earlier game he made called Union Pacific.
He has been very important in building a network of game designers with his annual ‘Gathering of Friends.’ Designers and big wigs meet for up to week to test, pitch games and generally get to know each other in Niagara. It been going on for over 25 years now.
Other games of his you should try:
Incan Gold – an excellent push your luck game about trying to get loot from Temples. Players simultaneously decide to carry on to get more loot or leave and bank what they have. Dangers can cause you to lose everything you collected, but the less people in the temple the less you have to share…what to do? Plays up to 8 as well….and you each get a tent!
San Marco – An area majority game that only really works with 3 players. It uses a ‘split the pie’ mechanic. Where one player gets some cards and divides them up into 3 piles and the other two pick which pile they want first. They then use those cards to try and get the most of their doges in the different parts of Venice. Cut throat and brilliant game.
Airlines Europe – Ticket to Ride with shares and planes. In this game players build rail company networks on a board similar to a TTR one, while also obtaining shares in said companies to earn money. The value of the company depends on how big a network it builds which must be done by all players with interest in said company.
10 Days in… – A great rummy style game, that uses connecting countries instead of suits or numbers. Few rules, but tough, tough decisions. Really helps you learn where places are as well!