Ticket to Ride is a board gaming classic, along with Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne and even Pandemic - these are the games we use to lure new people into our world.
Each is simple to learn for new players but also has the depth to keep us veterans on our toes. Today however we will just be dealing with Ticket to Ride. Currently the game has 11 maps, not including the new Rails and Sails, and each of these maps are quite different, ranging from tight three players to the larger 'core' maps like Europe and the USA.
With so many options how do you know which to play? Well we here at Zatu are going to try and help you out, as we present our top 5 Rails to Ride.
5. Asia - Ticket to Ride's largest map comes in at number five on our list. Taking between two and six players Asia is a great double sided board which contains two different scenarios. The first is Team Asia. This mode is for four to six players and has everyone playing in teams of two. This has some interesting new mechanics such as when you draw cards you will be placing some into a communal cardholder allowing your team mate to draw from them if so desired, however you cannot show your team mate your cards so there is a degree of intuition required in this game.
The Second is Legendary Asia. This is more akin to standard Ticket to Ride but adds a new element to the core mechanics, this being mountainous routes. These routes will cost you an additional train but do also score you two additional points. Asia, being a larger map, is more akin to Europe and the USA as it is quite open as opposed to the tight routes found in many of the expansions. As such this is a great starting map having minimal new rules in the Legendary version. Why this was not released as a standalone is a mystery to me.
4. Europe - The map that started it all for me, Europe is a two to five player map spanning well you guessed it all of Europe. Compared to the USA map it does have quite a few more concepts, however these are very easy to learn and for me these extra rules are what makes Europe a much more engaging game, when compared to its other 'core' counterpart. The map is quite open, being tight only around the boards extremities such as Russia and Northern Europe making this map the perfect starting place for any budding board gamer.
3. Switzerland - 2007 was a good year for Ticket to Ride maps seeing the release of my two personal favourites, the first of which is Switzerland. Released as a standalone before begin combined with another great map, Switzerland takes between two and three players and is a real gem. Introducing the concept of country destinations, which means that a card may score differently depending on which country you connect it, as well as bringing back tunnels from the Europe version. Switzerland is a really tight map and I mean tight, this is far more confrontational than many of the maps and for me this additional element of scuppering people's plans was a real bonus to the game.
2. Nordic - My all time favourite map, Nordic has a special place in my heart. A tight map that takes two or three players, Nordic introduces very few new rules and instead concentrates on the game's core concepts, making you really plan ahead as it is very easy in this version to have your destinations cut off. Not only is this map fantastic for veterans but it also comes with its own unique card art sure to inspire any Ticket to Ride enthusiast. Having the trains and locomotives depicted covered in snow was a really great touch. Nordic also happens to be a standalone edition of Ticket to Ride, so for an experienced gamer who is new to franchise this would be a great place to start.
1. India - Our top spot goes to Switzerland's map collection partner India. Taking between two and four players, this map features few double routes and has an interesting new scoring feature. You can score on this map in the traditional way but you can also earn points for building two distinct routes, connecting cities on one or more tickets. This adds another option to consider and on this small map, options are certainly what you will need.
It is also important to mention that India is the only four player map that has made our top three as even at a higher player count it still retains a great level of player interaction.
So map collection two is the real winner here, containing two of our favourite maps, however remember that you will need a copy of Europe or the USA in order to be able to play these. There are a few more maps that I found to be particularly engaging such as the UK map, which adds a technology tree, and the Netherlands which is covered in double routes but introduces a new toll system.
Ticket to Ride Rails and Sails, Days of Wonder's newest edition to the collection is quite different to the standard game and as such I made the decision to not include it, however if you are looking for a different challenge with some familiar rules Rails and Sails should most certainly be your port of call.