Ticket to Ride: A Great Training Game

All Aboard the Review Train!

Choo Choo! Welcome to Ticket to Ride (and my first review)! Set in America, 1910 to be exact, players aim to be the best locomotive magnate of the table. Produced by Days of Wonder, Ticket to Ride is a route-connecting, train-placement game that has players vying to connect America though strategy and guile. Winner of both Germany’s and Japan’s game of the year award in 2004 (among numerous other awards), Days of Wonder has expanded their tracks to other continents including Europe, Asia, and Africa as well.

Will you create the longest route and connect a thriving America? All aboard the review train, this is Ticket to Ride.

Pre-game (5/5)

Before the game begins, each player chooses a color and takes the associated trains and wooden marker. Then, the train cards are shuffled and four are dealt to each player. Once all the players have cards, the top five cards of the deck are revealed and placed beside the trains deck. Next, the destination cards are shuffled and each player is dealt three. Players may keep all three, but may discard down to two if they wish. Finally, determine who goes first! In Ticket to Ride, the first player is the most experienced traveler, but if you play with the same group, you can decide using an alternate method.

Now that the game is set up, let’s roll with it.

Gameplay (5/5)

Each turn a player can do one of three actions. They can claim a route; they can draw train cards; or they can draw destination cards. Once they have completed their chosen action, play goes to the next player in order. For a full breakdown of the rules, take a look here.

The object of the game is to have the most points. Players earn points through connecting different routes on destination cards. These cards name two locations on the board that the player has to connect using their trains. They are also kept secret from the other players so no-one knows exactly how many points you have. To show progression though, the trains you place also count for points which are immediately scored. Be careful though, when the game ends, you will lose points for incomplete destinations!

What I enjoy most about Ticket to Ride is that it is incredibly simple. Because a player only has three actions, it can be easily picked up by anyone. It also allows for massive replay  value because you likely won’t get the same routes twice. It’s easy to pick up, but requires flexibility in planning if someone takes your route. You have to think a few steps ahead, and that sort of challenge is what I look for in a game.

Component Quality (5/5)

The quality of the game is exceptional. The five colors of trains are all molded in vibrantly-colored plastics and the board is of sturdy stock. The only qualm I have is with the size of the cards. In the base game, the train and route cards that are provided are about 3” x 2”. While this may not be as large a problem for most, I’m not used to holding such tiny cards. However, the 1912 expansion rectifies this by providing full-sized train and route cards.

Experience (5/5)

I was fortunate to play host to a recent board games night and was able to document a full five-player match. The game itself is great fun, having to not only worry about your own routes, but also the routes other players may take. About halfway through the game, I took a one-train route that my opponent needed because it was the only way to access Atlanta. This was the beginning of the end of my game as the player then spent much of the rest of the game blocking me wherever she could. Managing your available trains is also something to keep in mind, as it was what ultimately led to my downfall in that match. Ticket to Ride is a staple in my household and I happily give it a 5/5.

Useful Links

Wil Wheaton and friends play Ticket to Ride

Board Game Geek’s page with reviews.

Review from The Opinionated Gamers.

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