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Games To Play If You Like Ticket To Ride


While this feature does exactly what it says on the tin and is going to suggest some games that you might like if you enjoy Ticket to Ride (TTR) you may find that the talented, creative minds of the ZATU bloggers have come up with a list of alternatives that you may not have thought of. Read on and hopefully find the suggestions inspirational.

The Quest for El Dorado – Pete Bartlam

My first thoughts were train related games such as Orient Express by Rio Grande Games with a very TTR Europe vibe building train routes across all of Europe. Then there’s Isle of Trains by Dandra Games where you collect cards to build trains on a tiny six zone fictional island where your train cards double up as money to buy upgrades!

In Pacific Rails Inc from Iello you compete to link East and West US whilst building up your own rail empire with rail cars and stations etc. Not forgetting Alan R. Moon’s own predecessor to Ticket to Ride – Union Pacific, again by Rio Grande games, where the focus is on buying stock in the rail companies. This is now long out of print and the ebay prices make me glad I picked up a 2nd hand copy for a tenner at a model rail show!

But then taking the title literally I thought of my friend who I taught TTR to and he absolutely loves it and now has his own copy and what he also totally loves is The Quest for El Dorado. This absolute gem by Reiner Knizia from Ravensburger sets you on an Indiana Jones-esque adventure through the South American jungle in search of the fabled lost city.

In truth you know where it is, despite the variable layout hex boards having literally millions of possible combinations, but you have to hack your way through the vegetation, cross mighty waterways and negotiate with local tribes people to get there. All this is done by manipulating a small hand of cards.

Great fun, easy to learn and lots of little decisions to make without the dreaded analysis paralysis. So put on that battered fedora and go get ‘em.


Pandemic Iberia – Sophie Jones

There’s a lot to like in Ticket to Ride. There’s card collecting, rail building, and travelling. However, there’s lots of competition, and someone always tries to destroy your route. If you love Ticket to Ride but are looking for something less competitive, Pandemic will be right up your street.

In Pandemic, players work together to stop the world from being taken over by disease. Each turn, players will move around the board, pick up cards and use a variety of actions to cure or slow the disease spread. Its card collecting mechanics are similar to Ticket to Ride but you can combat the luck element by working together. Pandemic allows players to meet and swap cards another may desperately need. Each player also has a unique ability, so you can choose characters that work well together. Do you choose the Dispatcher, who can move others during your turn, or the Medic, who can remove all cubes from a city? There’s lots of choice and ways to play.

My favourite version of Pandemic is Pandemic:Iberia. It has a beautiful board and focuses on Spain and Portugal. It also introduces new characters, abilities and train tracks. If you choose the Railwayman you get to build more rails on the board. These tracks will help everyone travel to cities in fewer moves, which is crucial in this game. It has all the greatness of Pandemic and also includes that rail building component that I love so much in Ticket to Ride.

If you are a fan of Ticket to Ride and love collecting cards, strategising your next move and globetrotting, Pandemic is a great game to try next. Just like the train building giant, Pandemic also has lots of fun variations to suit your playstyle and aesthetic tastes. So put the trains down, pick up the disease cubes, and go save the world.

Catan – Favouritefoe

Okay, so there are no trains in Catan and there’s no huge board to unfold. On that basis, I get that the immediate similarity with Ticket to Ride could be missed. But it’s definitely there!

Ticket to Ride has been hailed as a masterpiece of gateway gaming: light on rules but full of interesting mechanisms that teach new gamers the tools they need to fall headfirst into our hobby. And when I look at the list, many of them cross over with Catan: Euro style gaming, hand management, resource management, route building…..

Using a modular board, Catan is a strategy game about collecting resources to build, villages, cities, and roads. You will need to manage the cards you have in hand to settle in different territories and build your network of roads in order to reach new lands.

There’s even a whisper of tactical meanness in each – blocking routes will mess with your opponents’ plans in both games. Plus there’s the Robber in Catan to contend with. An engine cranking experience with no player elimination, Catan definitely gives me Ticket to Ride vibes.

And Catan not only shares familiarities in terms of gameplay. Its reputation as a modern classic rivals that of the train game! Enjoyed by experienced players as well as those new to the hobby, there are multiple variants of each game. And whilst the settings change and there are minor rules variants depending on which versions you choose, there’s a Catan to suit everyone. Plus it came out almost 10 years before so who knows? Maybe Alan Moon was inspired by the sheep trading and road building in Catan to go on and design Ticket to Ride!

Point Salad – Hannah Blacknell

Who loves salad? Very few of us but then that is real testament to how good a game this must therefore be if I'm choosing to highlight it to you! Point Salad is a game about collecting vegetables for points. On your turn you can either take one of the point scoring cards or you can take two of the face up vegetables from the market. That's all your turn is, so it's really easy to pick up and teach to anyone.

What you're trying to do is collect sets of veggies that work with the scoring cards you've collected. You can either collect vegetables first and hope for the right scoring cards to come up or you can collect more scoring cards first to give your vegetable collecting direction from the off. The scoring cards will be things like score 7 points for having the least onions. Or score two points for every lettuce and pepper but minus three points for a cabbage. You will be dallying with negative points as you collect more and more cards and just trying to create the best score you can with your efforts.

Point Salad is a relatively easy to pick up set collection game that has two levels of comprehension really. You can be the person who just shoots from the hip and plays fast and loose and works out the points at the end. Or you can be the person who calculates each turn carefully. There is merit and enjoyment in both modes of play, and it means that people who are at different places on their gaming journey can enjoy the game equally.

If you're looking for a quick card game with layers then give this one a punt.

Hansa Teutonica – John H

As not the greatest TTR fan, I was surprised when I found something with common DNA which I not only like but is in my top 10.

Hansa Teutonica is route building but no trains. It has the driest of themes - a German trading consortium in the Middle Ages – and the dullest of boards but the gameplay is phenomenal. I’ve yet to introduce it to someone who didn’t want to play it again, often straight away.

What makes it so good? Well, two things in particular. Firstly the balance between engine building and point scoring. Some routes give the option to improve your actions: the number you take, the number of pieces you retrieve from supply; the number you can relocate on the board etc. Early game you will want to do some of these, but there is some strategy behind what you choose as it won’t score you points, and you won’t get to do them all. Somewhere in the mid-game you need to choose when to pivot to sustained route building as this is what earns the big points. This makes the difference between victory and defeat.

But the real joy is the player interaction. To complete a route, you first need to place cubes on all the spaces between two towns. Others may put a cube in one of the spaces and you can choose to bump them. The genius mechanic is that when you do so, not only does it cost you more cubes but they get to freely relocate the bumped cube to an adjacent route and add one or two cubes to that or another adjacent route for free.

Simple and so elegant. It sets up for all kinds of blocking moves and crunchy decisions on whether to go where you actually want to or somewhere you might get bumped.

Together these two aspects take a simple premise and elevate it to something special. Tricky decisions, elegant interaction and bags of space for exploring different approaches. It feeds that post game thinking of what to do next time you play.

Want to take route building games to the next level? Buy this in a heartbeat!

Sagrada – Callum-NorthernDice

Ticket To Ride is a staple of gaming on the tabletop, but a game of similar weight, engagement, time length and player count is one with a wholly different theme but an equally as captivating table presence. Sagrada is a dice drafting game for 1-4 players that utilises translucent dice and player-built window frames. You compete to place dice to make simple stain glass windows - the Sagrada Familia. Players take template windows to match dice to and follow simple placement rules whilst working towards public objectives and a single private one. It’s simple in its concept but hard to master in its application!

What makes Sagrada such a superb game – equally on par with Ticket To Ride – is both its beautiful aesthetics and its wonderful gameplay! Any game with a ‘puzzly’ feel can be associated with the coined “easy to learn, hard to master” vibe, but Sagrada takes it a step further by having players compete against each other with limited dice availability. Because dice are drafted from a bag and rolled each round, it’s very easy for resources to become quickly limited. Further players can utilise ‘Artisan Tools’ to manipulate their dice, making them key in enabling players to work around unlucky drafts or impossible placements. All window templates include both coloured and blank spaces for tiles – coloured spaces must be matched with the associated dice, but blanks are wild. However, placement is key in this game for both public objectives and for meeting placement criteria. No dice of the same value can be placed adjacent meaning those tools can really get you out of a pinch!

Ticket To Ride holds a silent vibe to the game until someone makes a big play, and Sagrada takes that feel and holds it at its core for interaction. You can play wholly silently until someone takes that single dice you needed. Then you’ll be explaining, discussing and utilising tools to ensure you can best work your way around the unfortunate circumstances you find yourself in.

Sagrada is a gorgeous gem of a game that needs more love as a gateway game to the mechanics of dice drafting and placement, much like Ticket to Ride and its set collection and route building. And for that reason, this is my go to for “if you like Ticket To Ride”, you absolutely must try Sagrada!

So, there we have it, six alternatives to try if you are a big fan of Ticket to Ride and not one railway game amongst the lot of them!