[The Gentleman Nerd is a weekly column written by Jason McMaster and is dedicated to the more discerning tastes of the refined dork. Due to Jason's extreme nature, most of his columns will be subtitled 'Why I Love...' or 'Why I Hate...' - in case you were wondering.]

Ticket to RideYou know all that stuff I usually write about? All that stuff about the drinking and debauchery. I think I found a cure for that. There's this one company that is pretty popular in the board game world - I've talked about them before - called Days of Wonder. They make kid-friendly games that the whole family can enjoy, and I frankly find that disturbing. Memoir '44, one of their games I've mentioned before, is at least about our finest hour, but the one I'm going to discuss today is just too damned happy. I'm referring to Ticket to Ride: Märklin.

I think the first warning sign, other than the fact that the game is about taking trains, is that the player who goes first is chosen by either who is the youngest or who owns the most Märklin trains. I don't know about you guys, but model trains and hard drinking don't usually mix. Then again, who am I to talk?

Even though Ticket to Ride is about trains, building train routes and, well, liking trains, it's a pretty good time. The way the game works is that each player has a set amount of trains in their color and three passengers. These items are used to make lines between cities in, depending on the version, the U.S., Germany or Europe(in Märklin's case it's Germany). Every time you make a line, you are allowed to place a passenger on one of the two cities you connected. This passenger, on one of your turns, can travel the line you've created (or jump on other people's lines via "ticket" cards that you can draw) and pick up cargo for extra points. These passengers can only be used once each, so it’s wise to not go crazy with them right at the beginning.

In Ticket to Ride, you score points by building train routes. The length of your train determines how many points you get when you complete it - the longer the better. At the beginning of the game, every player draws four route cards and has to keep at least two. These routes give you extra points if you complete them, but they're also much more complex than just completing a line between two cities. There are always multiple stops when the route cards are involved.

Ticket to RideTo place trains on a line in the first place, you need to have cards. The way this works is that every player is dealt four cards from the deck at the beginning of the game and then the next five on top are flipped over face up so you can see them. For the rest of the game, players can choose to draw two cards from the deck, the face up cards, or a combination of the two. The face-up cards are replenished immediately, so there's a little bit of luck and gambling in it. Do you want to draw blind or do you see something you need on the table?

Each line on the board has a color, and these colors correspond to card choices with the exception of gray which is wild card; you can use any color card, as long as you make sure it's all that color, to claim the line. The card part of the game is fairly reminiscent of UNO in that there are wild cards can be used to represent any color, and also wild card +4s out there which act as four cards for the purpose of creating lines.

The game ends when one player gets down to his last trains. After that, everyone else is allowed to take one more turn before calculating points. The points that have been counted up are then added to by people's route completions. Of course, the player with the most points wins. That's how the game goes.

Now, usually this column would be full of me talking about all manner of skullduggery and murder, but I just couldn't manage to muscle it up this time. I really like the game, but it's just so… wholesome. For the most part, I only play games that involve killing, otherworldly beings, dungeons or all three, but it's nice to play something that's not so dour from time to time. Hell, I guess it doesn't hurt to not get drunk and angry every now and then.

This is a game that I plan to play with my kids one day.

Ticket to RideI usually like to have three game pictures per column, but I came up a little short this time. Here's a bonus picture of my current collection as of Sunday. My wife saw me looking at this and asked me why I just didn't go stand in front of the shelf and stare at it instead. That's a pretty good question. I guess I'll go stare at my games now.

[Jason McMaster is a freelance writer who has written for Gamasutra, GameSpy and several other publications. He’s currently working on a few small projects and updating his blog, Lamethrower, as often as he can.]