Looking for new games to play with just 2 players (unfortunately Clue requires 3), Amy & I have recently been enthralled with the boardgame Ticket to Ride. Thankfully, some friends have shared this game with us and we're hooked. Thus, it was time for us to pick up our own copy.

Amy displays our hard-fought Ticket to Ride game

As we've written before, we have a Toys R Us MasterCard that earns us rewards based on purchases. These rewards come in the form of Toys R Us gift cards. While I originally fed my LEGO habit with these gift cards, we've used them to pick up other stuff as well, like our Nintendo Wii.

First game on "our" board

Video: Learn more about "Ticket to Ride"

Thus, when we looked at picking up Ticket to Ride, we decided to start saving with our gift cards to enable the purchase. While it's a fun game, it is a bit more pricey when compared to your off-the-shelf Monopoly or Sorry installment. (Then again, it was the 2004 Spiel des Jahres winner and is German-style, so I guess it's worth merit!)

Ah, ToysRUs.com, how I curse you!

Checking the Toys R Us website, it was indicated that the game was available, but only online. We called a Chicago location to see if they could order the game for pickup, thus saving us money on shipping, but we were told "we can't do that."

Um, why is Chicago in Indiana?

So, we resorted to ordering via the website. Retail was $49.99, plus $7.27 shipping and $3.58 sales tax (why they were charging sales tax when the online and physical locations weren't linked is beyond me). Thus, in the end, the cost was going to be $60.84.

When we get paid in rewards gift cards, they come in $10 increments. Thus we figured we needed 6 gift cards and some change to purchase the game online. After finally saving up, last week I attempted to order Ticket to Ride.

Seriously, a 5 Gift Card limit?

It's at this point that I discovered a rather peculiar limitation on ToysRUs.com… they only let you redeem 5 gift cards per order. You can't enter more than that. This, in effect, meant we could only redeem $50 worth of cards, still being on the hook for $10.84. That didn't make any sense to me.

I then called Toys R Us customer service and talked to a human. I asked if I could place the order over the phone in order to redeem all the gift cards; he proceeded to tell me that he just enters the order into the website himself, so "no", he couldn't help me. I asked him why the limit was at 5, and he gave me some lame answer like "our programming limits it, I guess." Hey, look idiot, I work in the Web world… and that's a stupid answer.

So Amy & I were rather frustrated at this point. I mean, sure, we could pay the small amount of money to make up the difference, but it was more a matter of principle. Here we have these gift cards and we couldn't use them.

Wondering what to do next, we tried a crazy idea. I took 5 gift cards equaling $50 (the max allowed to be used on ToysRUs.com) and bought myself an e-mail gift card worth $50. In effect, I just reduced the number of cards I needed to redeem if it worked, thus allowing me to work with the stupid "5 cards or less" threshold.

Surprisingly, this worked. Oddly, however, it took ToysRUs.com close to 24 hours to actually issue me an e-mail gift card. Dude, it's just an e-mail, how hard can it possibly be to do this quickly? To have to wait that long for a virtual product is ridiculous. We issue download-based products all the time on Kidology and the typical wait is 10-15 minutes tops. Amazing.

When I got the e-mail gift card, I then proceeded to enter my order for the game again, using the $50 gift code along with the remainder made up of my $10 cards, finally successful in purchasing. 3 days later, and it showed up at our front door. We had pulled off this painful process just to get a boardgame! Yeah, we felt pretty good having "worked the system" a bit, but we really shouldn't have had to do that. There's no reason for the artificial limit on gift card redemption.

2004's Mystery Train expansion

Anyway, we played our copy of the game for the first time tonight, complete with the optional Mystery Train Expansion that was first released in 2004. Much of that expansion was included in the USA 1910 Expansion, but it lacked some "Character" cards which apparently were phased out over time (probably due to questionable value-added to the game, per discussions at BoardGameGeek.com). Mystery Train was a free PDF download, so we figured, why not?

Amy's victorious score of 146 points

In the end, Amy defeated me tonight (146-140), thanks in large part to some of the elements introduced in Mystery Train. I'm looking forward to our rematch. Here's to many nights of fun gaming! (And ToysRUs.com… we hate you! )