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Ticket to Ride

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Ticket to Ride, from Days of Wonder, is one of the ultimately simple yet deep gateway games that continues to prove its place in the world of gaming. In Ticket to Ride two to five players compete against each other to earn the most victory points, by placing train routes across the United States of America. Points depend on the length of the train route played, the longer the better…
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Spiel de jahres
Pick-Up & Play
Golden Pear


  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • A great entry level game for modern board gaming.
  • A perfect strategy game.
  • Different scoring elements during the game and at the game's end.
  • Fun for all ages.
  • Beautifully designed board and cards.

Might Not Like

  • Tiny cards in the original base game.
  • As strange as it sounds this is the only negative we had about the game!
Find out more about our blog & how to become a member of the blogging team by clicking here

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Ticket to Ride, from Days of Wonder, is one of those ultimately simple yet compelling gateway games that continues to prove its place in the world of board gaming. 

In Ticket to Ride, 2-5 players compete against each other to earn the most victory points by placing train routes across the United States of America. Points depend on the length of the train route, the longer the better. Routes are claimed by collecting and playing coloured cards that match the colour of the routes across the map. As the game progresses, the map starts to become crowded and the game can become more cutthroat as players start to cut each other off - or try to.

Players get tickets that link two cities on the map. If the player with the ticket gets to link them together, they win more points at the end of the game. However, if the player cannot link them together they will lose points. Players can't discard the tickets that they decide to keep. So, keeping a watchful eye on your opponents to see where you can head them off or where they might head you off is key to victory.

Ticket to Ride is already a classic in gaming that has won endless awards and sold millions of copies worldwide. It's suitable for newcomers to the hobby and gaming veterans alike.

Player Count: 2-5
Time: 60 Minutes
Age: 8+

Ticket to Ride Review

As a couple who had been together for almost eight years we loved spending time together, but also started to have our own hobbies and interests to keep us busy. We had collected the usual suspects of gaming. Namely games like Monopoly, Scrabble, Pass the Pigs, etc. We loved playing a good game now and again, but I could see that there was a different level of board games out there to be played.

One game I saw time and time again looked big, complicated, expensive, and yet beautifully illustrated and interesting. Ticket to Ride came in a large box, decorated in awards, and was a game about…trains??

About Ticket To Ride

At a Comic-Con we visited a vendor’s stand, asked about the game and we were directed towards a sales assistant who loved Ticket To Ride. He explained the concept and we were sold.

The board itself is a good size. The map of the USA is a thing of beauty, highlighting main cities from Montreal and Vancouver to Los Angeles and Miami, with everywhere in between all connected by rail. The concept of the gameplay is complicated at first but satisfyingly simple once you grasp the mechanics of the game.

Taking two to five players and coming in at around 60 minutes per game, Ticket to Ride is the perfect strategy game.

Playing Ticket To Ride

Starting with three destination tickets, each player keeps at least two. The destination tickets are the object of the game, awarding much-needed points at the game’s end. Each ticket has a point value and will be added to your end score should you successfully complete it.

The score for each completed ticket is on the card and they vary depending on how long and complicated the journey is. You could choose to keep the longer, more complicated tickets or, as there is no maximum number of tickets you can attempt, build up a handful of shorter, potentially easier journeys.

How to Play Ticket to Ride - Game board

Extra scoring at the end of the game may influence which tickets you attempt, as 10 points are awarded to the player with the longest continuous path of trains. You may choose a longer ticket and over the course of the game try to complete shorter tickets along the same route. But beware! Your planned route may be blocked by your opponent(s) also trying to complete their tickets, taking a route you need.

Some routes between two cities benefit from two train lines, however, these only come into play when there are three to five players. When there are just two players these double routes are not in play, and you will need to find another way around.

Scoring happens during the game and also at the end. When you connect two cities you score depending on how many trains you placed, and there is a handy scoring guide on the board. Once a player is down to their last two trains or less, everyone takes their last turn and the end game scoring takes place. You score for the completed tickets and deduct points for incomplete tickets. A final 10 points are given to the player with the longest continuous route.

We get great satisfaction at the end of Ticket to Ride; discussing what our initial tactics were, what was going on in our minds at the crucial moment, and where a player blocked you off and how you overcame it.

Final Thoughts

Ticket to Ride looks stunning, plays really well and has so much replayability, it really is just a great way to spend an evening. For a great introduction to European style board gaming this is certainly the best way for you and your friends to start.

With any game, there is usually a fly in the ointment. One little thing that impedes the gameplay, or makes it repetitive or even one-sided towards one player. I can honestly say that Ticket to Ride is one of the only games where we cannot actually find anything wrong with it.

Oh ok, the cards were too small and fiddly in the first game. However, Days of Wonder ironed this out very quickly in the subsequent game. The cards are almost a standard playing card size. This was even rectified in the expansion to the original game. Not only did they add more routes to include cities that weren’t played in the original, but they included all of the original cards from the first game in a more manageable size.

Once you have been bitten by the Ticket to Ride bug there is no going back. The game has now developed so many new titles covering Europe, Asia, Nordic Countries, and many, many more. You can find the whole collection here.

No matter which new board games we buy and play, we will always come back to this amazing game that started our current obsession.

If you’d like to read more about Ticket to Ride, we have a how to play blog available here.

Editors note: This blog was originally published on September 4th, 2017. Updated on January 5th, 2022 to improve the information available.

Ticket to Ride is a cross-country train adventure game by Days of Wonder. The aim of the game is to score the highest number of points, which you do by claiming routes between the beautiful cities of the USA. Then you complete 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 the longest train!

Ticket to Ride is a gorgeous game 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. Every player takes a coloured marker token and the matching set of 45 coloured trains. Everyone places their marker at the start of the scoring track that runs around the edge of the board. The game contains 110 train cards, is made up of 12 of each train car type, and 14 locomotive cards. Shuffle the cards and deal four train cards to each player.

Place the remaining cards face down at the side of the board. 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. Shuffle these and deal three to each player. All cards should be kept secret so other players don’t know where you’re heading.

You must look at your destination cards before you begin your first turn, to decide which you are going to keep and which you are going to discard. You must keep at least two, and you can keep all three if you would like to. Any discarded cards must be returned to the bottom of the destination card deck. Each destination card has a number of points assigned to it, which you can earn by completing the route. However, the points are deducted from your score if you fail to complete that route during the game.

So, let’s play!

Ticket to Ride Gameplay

A game of Ticket to Ride begins with the player who is the most experienced traveller, continuing clockwise around the board. During your turn you must complete one of the following actions:

Draw Train Cards

Take two cards from the top of the deck, or 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 from the deck. You may then take another card from the face-up selection, or you can take the top card from the deck.

If you take a locomotive card from the face-up cards then you may only take the one. If you draw a locomotive from the deck, 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 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 multi-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, shuffle your discard pile. 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.

In order to claim a route, you must have the correct number of train cards that match the 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.

There are also some grey routes on the board. These can be claimed using any colour train card, as long as you play the right amount. For example, you can claim a grey route three trains long with three red train cards, or three green 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 them 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! If you are playing with only two or three players, the double routes don’t count. 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. 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 must keep at least one. Any discarded cards must be placed at the bottom of the deck. As I mentioned earlier, 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. 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!

Game End

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 the longest train, then they 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, 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.

Don’t forget to read our review for this game and to see the full range of the Ticket to Ride series.

Editors note: This blog was originally published on May 8th, 2018. Updated on January 18th, 2022 to improve the information available.

In another of our regular board game spotlights, Zatu peruses the CD rack for the music that adequately captures the cavernous hole in its soul, but where teen-centric angst-synth should be there’s only Ticket to Ride, the 2004 release from publisher Days of Wonder and Designer Alan R. Moon.

The Game

Ticket to Ride has players competing to take control of the railways of North America, which is actually considered illegal. To do so, they collect cards and train cars, hoping to claim longer routes than their opponents and fulfil Destination tickets.

Players have limited actions each turn. They may draw more cards; take additional destination tickets; or claim a coveted route. Destination cards act as goals, tasking players with connecting certain cities or constructing routes that exceed a certain length.

Ticket to Ride, in its infinite popularity, has become known as the cannabis of tabletops, the ultimate gateway game. This is down to the simplicity of its rules alongside the risk-reward tension that, as designer Alan R. Moon himself says, stems ‘from being forced to balance freed – adding more cards to your hand, and fear – losing a critical route to a competitor.

Since winning the coveted Spiel des Jahres in 2004, Ticket to Ride has sprogged numerous sequels allowing players to locomotively dominate in a more global sense.

The Publisher

Days of Wonder takes its name from the childhood fascination many feel when they first play games. In 2004 it became the youngest publisher ever to win the Spiel des Jahres, just 2 years after it was founded.

They distribute across 25 countries and their popular titles include Quadropolis, The Battlelore series and, of course, Ticket to Ride.

The Designer

Alan R. Moon is an English board game designer who grew up in the USA. He has been designing games for over three decades. Two of his designs have won the Spiel des Jahres: 1998’s Elfenland and 2004’s Ticket to Ride.

Since the year 2000 Alan has been a full-time freelance game designer and now has a huge catalogue of board games to his name. The first game that he published was Black Spy, which was released all the way back in 1981.

Start building those rail roads

Zatu Score


  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • A great entry level game for modern board gaming.
  • A perfect strategy game.
  • Different scoring elements during the game and at the game's end.
  • Fun for all ages.
  • Beautifully designed board and cards.

Might not like

  • Tiny cards in the original base game.
  • As strange as it sounds this is the only negative we had about the game!