Sunday, January 10, 2016

Ticket to Ride

Ticket To Ride

No Ticket to Ride collection is complete without Pumpkin trains and every map ever made

I first played Ticket to Ride at a local meet-up, shortly after moving to Somerville.  We also played Puerto Rico which I liked better, though my wife preferred Ticket to Ride.  Since then, we have bought about half a dozen Ticket to Ride games, and played them probably in excess of one hundred times.  I recently played Puerto Rico for the 2nd time.   You can tell whose opinions matter more here.


Days of Wonder


Alan Moon

Elevator Pitch:

You are collecting colored sets of train cards in order to play trains between cities on a map.  Your main goal is to connect between destinations specified on the tickets that you have drawn

Personal Impression:

I find the connecting of routes in Ticket to Ride quite satisfying, particularly if it can be done in completely illogical ways.  You probably didn’t think Calgary was on the way between New York and Chicago, but you my friend would be mistaken.   As long as I have am able to do my thing, I don’t tend to care too much about my relative placement.  Of course it helps to play with players who share that mindset.  While I’m fine with games in general being merciless, I’m not sure I’d enjoy a Ticket to Ride game where my opponents were going out of their way to block me.

Good for People who Grew up Playing:

Rummy style games.  Or with trains
Ease of Learning:

Your options of what to do one a turn are very simple, generally either take two train cards or lay train, so new players should have no difficulty getting into the flow.  There are more rules than that, but you should be able to teach and remind new players of other rules throughout the game.

Fidgety Index

Everyone likes playing with trains!  You have 45 to arrange in any manner you like.  Unfortunately you will have to put them on the board throughout the game taking away from your timeless design.

Universal Theme:

Unless you are the homiest of homebodies, traveling across the country is relate-able

Player Count and Length:

            Works okay with any count, though the game can be markedly different depending on the number. Factors like whether double routes are allowed can make the map feel incredibly tight, or fairly wide open.  The game should take somewhere in the hour – hour and half range,


USA 1910 is the only direct expansion and is pretty much a must get for anyone who has played the base Ticket Ride more than a handful of times.  It adds full size cards that are easier to use than the original mini-cards, additional ways to play, and, most importantly, increases the diversity of routes.

The Dice Game:  We own the dice game, but haven’t used it yet, mostly on the universal thought that it is a terrible addition to the game.  The game replaces the train cards from the base game with dice, but doesn’t appear to improve things in any way.

Alvin & Dexter:  Sometimes expansions are logical extension of games.  Alvin & Dexter is not one of those expansions.  An offshoot of an aborted Japan map, Alvin & Dexter are an attempt to bring Godzilla type monsters to your Ticket to Ride game.  I haven’t tried them, nor do I have any intention of changing that.

The rest of these items come with a map(s) and destination cards.  You need to use the tokens, trains and train cards from the base game or the Europe version to play them.

Switzerland is a smaller map only playable with 2 or 3.  There is a clear best path on the map, so you need to be aggressive in keeping your opponent(s) from getting it. 

Map Collection 1:  Team Asia and Legendary Asia:  Team Asia adds a partnership element to the game.  You share tickets with your partner, but only know some of the tickets and train cards your partner has.  You must anticipate where your partner is going or risk the wrath of dirty looks and elbow jabs.  Legendary Asia was designed by a contest winner.  Its main challenge is difficult mountain routes that require trains to be sacrificed along with train cards.     

Map Collection 2:  India and Switzerland (Reprint):  India rewards connected tickets via multiple different routes, which changes the game play quite a bit.  You end up spending a lot of time working on making loops instead of getting more tickets.

Map Collection 3: Heart of Africa: Africa eschews the balance that most Ticket to Ride games shoot for in favor of segregation.  Double routes congregate on the coast leaving the “heart” of the maps a cluster of easily blocked single routes.  The colors are assembled by region as well with red, yellow, and orange in the north and south, green, blue, and purple across the middle, and black, white, and gray along the coasts.  Added to the new color focus are terrain cards that can double your route cards if played with the corresponding color.  All this leads to a more focused game where you have a better idea of you and your opponents want, but have to somehow figure out how to get a lot more of the colors you need.

Map Collection 4: Netherlands: This is the map to play if you enjoy score inflation.  There are many routes available between cities, but players have to play tolls to the bank or other players when they build track.  Having the most coins left at the end of game is worth a bucket full of points, which are partially balanced to greatly enhanced ticket values.

Map Collection 5: UK and Pennsylvania:  The newest Ticket to Ride arrived in Late 2015.  The UK side adds a tech tree; you start by only being able to build short routes in England proper and have to buy tech with locomotives (wild cards) to do more.   It is a pretty map, and a fascinating concept, but it feels like it could have used more playtesting and development.  Initial play seems to show there is a lack of balance with the routes, tickets, and tech, and worse, the winning strategies, like always take cards off the top of the deck to maximize wilds, are boring.  I was less excited to try the Pennsylvania map, but now find it to be the more interesting one.  The map layout is similar to that of the U.S., but there isn’t a best train path, so routes can be more varied.  Stocks add a nice little wrinkle. They don’t drastically effect game play, but can help guide decisions. 
Spin Offs:

Europe, Marklin, and Nordic are full Ticket to Ride games that are playable out of the box

Europe:  Like the USA, Europe makes a good introductory Ticket to Ride if the players are familiar with the geography.  It is a little more complex than the base game adding tunnels, ferries, and train stations to the core mechanics.   However the train stations allow players to reach blocked routes making it a bit more forgiving then its predecessor.  I think I prefer Europe to the original as the tickets are better balanced and there isn’t a best path. The 1912 expansion adds additional material to the Europe Game making players long routes less predictable.

Marklin (Germany):  One of the more complicated Ticket to Ride versions, Marklin, which is a type of train, adds passengers to the game.  Three times during a game you can run a passenger along your trains grabbing available scoring tokens at some of the cities along the way. Traveling early ensuring higher point tokens, while late travel allow for longer paths. It’s a good version for players who would otherwise find Ticket to Ride too light. 

Nordic: The most distinguishing feature of Nordic is the snowcapped train cards.  It is a smaller map, only playable with two or three players, but it has an interesting vertical design.  Lots of ways traverse the map with varying degrees of difficulty.  It can be frustrating not to get the color train card you are shooting for, as in this version locomotives aren’t useable as wilds in most circumstances.  Still it is one my favorite maps.

The Card Game:  Ticket to Ride without the map.  If you’re wondering why you should bother, it is a good thought, so run with it.

10th Anniversary Edition:   A decked out anniversary edition of the base game.

Introducing the Game to New Gamers: 

Do not go out of your way to block opponents particularly by taking key routes that have long work rounds.  In fact, I have altered my own trajectory when I thought an alternate route would be a minor harm, but a major disruption for my opposition.  Don’t rush the end game and ensure players have enough turns to finish what they were working on.


There are actually a few Ticket to Ride Apps which makes things a little complicated.  The main Ticket to Ride app was recently revamped and now allows asynchronous play across all ios devices, android, and steam.  It starts with the U.S. map while allowing several other maps and expansions to be purchased.  The ai is weak, but that is just about the only flaw.  It has a great interface, including some features like finding your ticket locations on the map that improve upon playing the game in person.  Ticket to Ride Pocket was made as a cheap ios phone only version of the U.S. map.  It is no longer necessary given the universal nature of the other app, but is popular enough that Days of Wonder will continue to support it.  My wife has played it hundreds of time, and has enjoyed trying to accomplish achievements like scoring 400 points in a game.  There were also Ticket to Europe, and Ticket to Ride Europe Pocket versions of the game that were discontinued when the revamp occurred.



  1. Glad you agree about getting every map ever made. Now that you've admitted it, you can stop suggesting we get rid of Switzerland!

  2. India is not about spending most of the game getting circles. It's about spending most of the game stopping people from getting circles. Which is easier to do and then brings back everybody to the ticket race.

    Like Nordic, it is the map you want to play if you are horrible people. So obviously, those are my two favorite maps (As well as dubdub's)