Ticket to Ride is a cross-country train adventure game by Days of Wonder, where the aim of the game is to score the highest number of points. You do this by claiming routes on the map between beautiful cities of the USA and then by completing a continuous route between two cities indicated on your destination cards.
You also get bonus points at the end of the game if you manage the feat of longest train! Ticket to Ride is a gorgeous game to look at and is a lot of fun! It is a great game to get people into the board gaming hobby and is a great game to play with people of all ages.
So let’s take a closer look at how this gem is played.
Ticket to Ride Set-Up
The board for Ticket to Ride is a gorgeous map of the USA. Place this in the middle of your table and then each player needs to take a coloured marker token and the matching set of 45 coloured trains. Everyone should place their marker at the start of the scoring track that runs around the edge of the game board. The game contains 110 train cards and are made up of 12 of each train car type and 14 locomotive cards. These need to be shuffled and then you deal four train cards to each player.
Place the remaining cards face down at the side of the board and then turn over the top five cards and lay them out next to the deck so that everyone can see them. There are 30 destination cards in the game. These need to be shuffled and three cards should be dealt to each player. All cards should be kept secret so that other players do not know where you are heading!
You must look at your destination cards before you begin your first turn and decide which you are going to keep and which you are going to discard. You must keep at least two, you can keep all three if you would like to. Any discarded cards must be returned to the bottom of the destination card deck. It is worth noting that the points indicated of the destination cards are added on to your score at the end of the game if you complete the indicated route. However, the points are taken away from your score if you fail to complete that route.
So let’s play!
Ticket to Ride Gameplay
A game of Ticket to Ride begins with the player who is the most experienced traveller and continues in a clockwise manner around the board. On your turn you must complete one of the following actions:
Draw Train Cards
You can take two cards from the top of the deck or you may take cards from the five face-up cards from the table. If you take a card from the face-up selection you must immediately replace it with a card turned face-up from the deck. You may then take another card from the face-up selection or you can take the top card from the deck. This does not apply to the locomotive cards however, if you take one of those from the face-up cards you may only take that one. If you draw a locomotive from the deck then you are very lucky and can still take a second card! The rule only applies to the face-up cards. If there are three locomotive cards in the five face-up cards you must discard all of these cards and turn over a fresh set of five.
There are eight different types of train cards. As you look at the board you will notice that there are different coloured routes running across it between the various cities. These match with the train cards in the deck - Red, Orange, Yellow, Black, Green, Blue, White and Purple. In the deck there are also locomotive cards. These are mutli-coloured wild cards and can be used as any one of the colours needed to complete a route. Once you have gone through the deck you shuffle your discard pile and this becomes your new deck.
Claim a Route
You can claim a route on the board by playing a set of train cards that match the colour and length of the desired route. You then place your coloured trains on that route and move your marker accordingly along the scoring track around the outside of the board.
In order to claim a route you must have the correct number of coloured train cards that match the colour route you are going for. For example, if you wanted to go from Miami to New Orleans you would need to play six red train cards. Once you have played the cards needed you may then place your coloured trains over that route. On the board there are also some grey routes. These can be claimed using any colour train card as long as you play the same number of that colour card as the length of the route you are claiming. For example, you can claim a grey route three trains long with three red train cards.
Once you have used your cards to claim a route they must be placed in the discard pile. You can claim any open route on the board, so any route that has not been claimed by anyone else. You do not have to claim your routes in any particular order and you do not need to connect it to any of your previously claimed routes. You can keep an air of mystery to what you are doing and keep the other players guessing where you are heading.
You just need to be aware that if cities are connected by a double route you cannot claim both routes! However, if you are playing with only two or three players then the double routes are not used. Once one of the routes of any colour has been claimed then the other route cannot be used. The route scoring table is on the game board and there are also some cards in the game that show you how many points you score for each route length. These should be recorded by moving your scoring marker each time you claim a route.
Draw Destination Cards
If you wish to you can draw more Destination cards. You take the top three from the deck and you must keep at least one of these. Any discarded cards must be placed at the bottom of the deck. As I mentioned earlier you just need to be aware when taking extra destination cards that if you do not make the route then you lose the points indicated on the card.
When taking extra destination cards you also need to consider where you are in the game. If you or one of your opponents are getting down to your last few trains then it might not be worth you taking extra destination cards because the game will likely end in the next couple of turns around the board. So timing is important with taking destination cards. Destination cards are kept secret until the end of the game and there is no limit to how many destination cards you can draw - just remember that you get points deducted for any that are unfinished!
When one player gets down to two or fewer trains left at the end of their turn, each player, including that player, gets one final turn. The game then ends and it is time to see who has won!
Players should, in turn, reveal their destination cards and add or subtract the points indicated according to whether or not that route was made. Then it is time to see who has made the longest continuous path which is worth an additional 10 points. When looking at who has the longest continuous path you should look at each colour in turn. Trains can pass through the same city more than once but each train can only be counted once. If two (or more) players are tied for longest train then they would each score 10 points.
The player with the most points wins the game. In the unlikely event that two or more players are tied for first place then the player who has completed the most destination tickets is the winner. If this doesn’t break the tie then it is the player with the longest continuous path.
And that’s how you play the wonderful Ticket to Ride! It is a great game for people exploring the board gaming hobby and one that we love getting out to play with family and friends.