Ticket to Ride is set in the early 1900s as five travelers try to traverse as many North American cities by train as they can. Players race to fill routes across a color-coded map of the United States and the southern part of Canada.
Each turn players can do one of three things.
- First, they can complete a route by playing the number of required cards. For example, one route might require four red cards and another might require six blue. The rainbow colored engines work as wild cards, counting as whatever color you need them to be. Players must play all of the necessary cards in one turn. The longer the route, the more points it is worth and it goes up fast. One-train routes are worth one point. Six-train routes are worth fifteen!
- Players can draw new cards. There is a row of five cards to choose from and players may take two colored cards, one wild card, or two blind cards off the top of the deck.
- Players can draw new destination tickets. These are cards that say something like “New York to Los Angeles.” If players complete these routes, they get bonus points. If they fail to complete them, they lose points.
Players continue around the table until one player has zero, one, or two trains left in their pile. That starts the final round and the game ends once it gets back to that player.
- This game has wide appeal. This is a great choice for family board game night. This is a good game for varying ages and skill levels. Recently I played this with a friend who doesn’t especially like board games and even he had a good time.
- Related to the first, this game is simple to learn. I have taught this game to many of my friends and family. Not only have they gotten the hang of it, but they have even managed to get good at it pretty quickly.
- Get ready to learn some geography. Do you know where Duluth was? I didn’t before playing Ticket to Ride.
- Ticket to Ride is not very competitive. Unless you are playing with some vindictive friends or you are racing another player to the same city, it can often feel like you are playing this game alongside other players rather than with them.
- This is a minor gripe, but it’s relevant for a game that is so reliant on cards. The cards are really small. They are about half the size of a standard deck of cards and this makes them rather difficult to shuffle. And be prepared – you will shuffle cards a lot. You will go through the deck multiple times before the game is over, so be sure to spread the work around the table or it might sour your experience.
I like Ticket to Ride a lot. This is a go-to game for me when I want to play something relaxing with friends. It won’t satisfy that competitive urge, but it’s a wonderful way to gather people around the table. If you’re looking for a fun way to unwind or get some intergenerational play, Ticket to Ride is a strong choice.