All aboard the fun train

Recently, the wonderful TableTop hosted by Wil Wheaton on the Geek & Sundry channel on YouTube featured Ticket to Ride. Watch it Now, your life will be better!

I enjoyed the premise of the game and watching it being played so much that I went out over the weekend and bought a copy from my local games store. Since then, I have played the board game five times and have bought the digital version on steam with all the DLC and played it in solo mode a couple of dozen times.

What can I say? It is really, REALLY good!

What is Ticket to Ride?

The Board

Ticket to Ride is a cross-country train adventure in which players collect and play matching train cards to claim railway routes connecting cities throughout North America. The longer the routes, the more points. If you complete specific routes according to ticket cards you get bonuses; be warned, however. If you have a ticket and do not complete the required route, that bonus will turn into a penalty.

In more detail

For 2-5 players, Ticket to Ride has possibly the simplest / shortest rules book I have ever seen for a board game. Standing in at a measly 4 sides of A4, at least a page and a half are cover artwork and advertising. Ticket to ride is quicker to pick up than an Essex girl after a litre of White Lightning.

Players take it in turns to perform one of three simple actions.

  1. Drawing cards from the carriage deck, there are 8 different coloured carriages in the deck and a multi-coloured card which acts as a wild card in place of any of the others. A player may take up to 2 cards from the face up row of 5 carriages or the top card of the face down deck. The only exception to this is the multi-coloured locomotive, if you take this from the face up cards you may not draw another card, before or after.
  2. Claim a route. On the board are a series of routes connecting cities together, ranging from 1 to 6 units in length and each of these with a colour, any 1 of the 8 primary colours or grey. To claim a route, a player must play a set of cards matching the colour of the route, or in the case of grey routes any single colour, with the number of cards equal to the route’s length: So, a length 5 orange route requires 5 orange cards and multi-coloured locomotives can count as any colour in this role. When the route is claimed the player places an appropriate number of their 45 starting train carriages onto the route and moves their score counter along by however much the route is worth.
  3. Ticket cardsGet more tickets. Players start the game with 3 tickets, a ticket lists 2 cities on the board and a number value. If at the end of the game a player has an unbroken route from city A to city B, they score the number value as bonus points, however if they fail to do this the number is subtracted from their total. On a player’s turn they may, if they wish, draw 3 tickets and then may discard up to 2 of the tickets drawn, thus increasing the gamble of routes for more points.

Play continues like this until a player only has 0, 1 or 2 of their 45 trains remaining, at which point the end game is triggered. Once this happens, each player (including the player who triggered it) gets one final train to play in order to maximise their points.

Once concluded, all scores are adjusted for tickets accordingly and the person who has the longest unbroken route on the board receives a bonus 10 points for the accomplishment.

In closing

Ticket to ride has won countless awards, and I can see why. My other half enjoys board games but it is hard to get her to play the same one more than once a month. Ticket to Ride as I said before has been played five times in less than a week, and every game except the first was her idea. I love it, and if you’re a fan of spending an evening with friends around a table with a solid game, it’s more than likely you will love this, too.

2 thoughts on “All aboard the fun train”

  1. I’ve been playing Ticket To Ride for several years now, probably starting the year it was first published in the US (2004). There are two standalone “expansions” (Europe, Märklin), an expansion for the US map that replaces the ticket and wagon cards (1910), a map-ticket-only expansion (Nordic Countries) that uses the Europe set of pieces and wagons, and a couple of other additive expansions (unusual mechanics thrown in) for Europe.

    Personally, I find Ticket to Ride to be just a hair on the easy/lucky side and less on the strategy/tactics side of where I prefer my game design to land. However, it’s a good enough game that I can play it without really getting too bored until we’ve gone through 2-3 games in a row, or 5-6 games within a month. It’s a great way to pull new people into tabletop gaming and turn them into players. It certainly did a great job of doing that to my daughter. :)

    1. I have pretty much all the versions of ticket to ride via the Steam acquired game, with all the DLC, so I know of what you speak on the weird Europe mechanics, and I think you summed it up perfectly. For me Ticket to Ride will be my go to game for new players or if we are playing a whole day of games crack this out first to get everyone’s juices flowing

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