The Winning Ticket Review

  • Play (Mechanics)
  • Presentation (Art/Quality)
  • Plan (Rules)

The Winning Ticket was made by the legendary game guru Sid Sackson in 1977 and published by Ideal. It’s a simple sweepstakes and lottery game that almost feels like a Monopoly spin-off. But its straightforward mechanics can be considered an advantage, as it’s easier to enjoy without having to learn lots of rules.

While being cunning and possessing the ability to haggle can give players an edge over their competition, a lot of the game is based on luck. The fun lies not in individual skill, but in waiting for the lottery machine to work in your favor.

The package contains the following:

  • Retro-looking game board
  • Die
  • Six game tokens and six rabbit’s feet markers
  • 16 good luck gazette cards
  • Three stacks of 27 lottery tickets (red, white and blue)
  • Two ‘Hold Lottery’ tickets
  • Money in different denominations ($2 to $1000)
  • Plinko-style green lottery machine

Each player rolls the dice and moves their token across the board clockwise. Each space contains specific directions and suggestions. There are spaces for Lottery Offices where the player can purchase either a red, white, or blue ticket. The payment for the ticket is placed on the Lottery Poll of the same color.

When a player draws a Hold ticket, gameplay is halted and a lottery is held. During the lottery, the players will drop three numbered triangles into the green lottery machine, revealing the three numbers of the winning ticket. The player with the most money by the end of the lottery draws is the winner.

The ‘roll die and move’ mechanic helps in providing rhythm to the game. Every once in a while, this rhythm is broken in the form of a Hold ticket, where the real action lies. When the lottery machine reveals the winning number combination, the celebration can be satisfying.

(Image credit: Board Game Geek)

The gameplay is reminiscent of another board game called Pay Day, which was created two years before The Winning Ticket. Although money management skills are crucial in it, Blogcritics describes the game as “widely luck-based”. This helps in leveling the playing field, making it enjoyable even if the players are from different age groups.

Similarly, That’s Not Lemonade is another game that has been reviewed here on Pawn’s Perspective, and it largely revolves around simple mechanics and luck as well. These two qualities seem to be absent in many modern tabletop games, which focus on complex rules and hardcore strategies.

It’s interesting to note that The Winning Ticket was created seven years after scratch cards were introduced in the US. The mechanics for these are fairly simple: Scratch cards promise instant winnings and a drastic change in the course of a lucky player’s life if they pick the lucky one. Looking back, it was what catapulted lotteries into being an national pastime and paved the way for chance-based board games like Sackson’s invention.

The combination of simplicity and luck is an ongoing theme in lotteries, whether in the form of fun board games or real-life national and regional lotteries. The difference is that tabletop games offer simple fun and very little prize money, if any, while national lotteries can actually win you millions in cash. Behavioral expert Dr. Wendy Walsh argues that our being “in love with hope” is the reason we continue to use our spare change to buy lottery tickets. Compared to holding down a job, lotteries don’t require special skills or resources to completely turn your life around.

Indeed, this effect has been consistent throughout the years. In the ’70s, the nation was swept up by the opportunity that national lotteries made possible, and we haven’t stopped playing since. In fact, it’s only got bigger. The famous Mega Millions is one of the most popular lotteries around, and its jackpots reach unparalleled levels, as Lottoland notes that the record jackpot even reached $1.6 billion. The reward is massive and it attracts players all over the US every Tuesday and Friday. Almost anyone can afford tickets and they are sold on almost every street corner. But unlike the real thing, The Winning Ticket isn’t as easy to get hold of as a standard lottery ticket, as only collectors have the game in their possession. However, if you manage to get hold of one, it’s a really fun and wholesome board game suitable for the entire family.

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