Ticket to Ride is one of the most popular board games in the board game hobby around the world, for good reason. This easy to learn, attractive, and well-themed game has been enjoyed by every person I introduce it to, and it is my go-to game for introducing people to the hobby.
How to Play
At the start of the game, three Destination cards are dealt out to each player. Each player must keep at least two of them. Two cities are on each card, and you need to place trains on the board to connect them.
To connect these cities you need to make smaller city to city connections called routes. For example, to complete the Kansas City – Houston ticket above you would need to finish at least three routes.
Two of Many Possible Paths
- 1) Kansas City to Oklahoma City
2) Oklahoma City to Dallas
3) Dallas to Houston
The yellow player has completed these routes
- 1) Kansas City to Denver
2) Denver to Santa Fe
3) Santa Fe to El Paso
4) El Paso to Houston
The paths do not need to be short or direct. You just need to be able to trace a continuous path between the cities on your ticket.
In order to complete these short routes, you need to collect and turn in train cards of the same color. For instance, to complete the route from El Paso to Oklahoma city, you need 5 yellow cards. Each card also has a specific symbol in its corners and on the board to differentiate themselves for colorblind players. The first player to collect and then spend 5 yellows to complete this route would put 5 of their trains along that route. No other player will be able to complete that route this game.
For colorless connections such as Santa Fe to El Paso, a player could turn in any two cards of the same color. For double routes such as Denver to Kansas City, one player could claim the orange route, and a different player could claim the black route. Wild cards can be used as any color.
On a player’s turn they can either:
- Take Train Cards
Take 1 face up wild card
Take a combination of 2 face up non-wild cards and/or cards from the top of the deck.
For instance, I could take the blue train card. Another card is immediately turned face up to replace it, another white for instance. Since I cannot take the wild and do not want white or orange I draw the top card of the deck. Luckily, I pull a wild card. Cards drawn from the deck are not shown to other players
- Play Train Cards
Play up to 6 train cards of one color to claim a single route. A player may only claim one route a turn. You score points based on the size of the route. Keep track of the score on the score track around the board.
For a 1-train route: 1 point For a 2-train route: 2 points For a 3-train route: 4 points For a 4-train route: 7 points For a 5-train route: 10 points For a 6-train route: 15 points
- Take Destination Tickets
If you have completed all your destination tickets or just want more, you can draw 3 new destination tickets. You must keep at least 1 of them.
Game End and Scoring
Once any player has 2 or less train pieces remaining, everyone gets one final turn (including the player with 2 or less train pieces).
For each person, check to see which of their tickets they completed. Completed tickets add the number of points shown. Uncompleted tickets subtract the number of points shown.
10 points are then awarded to the player with the longest continuous path without branching. For example, black’s longest route would be Houston to Raleigh, 14 trains. Green’s longest route would be 12 since all are connected without branches. Yellow’s is 7.
Play this game at least once.
The basic rules are very simple and fun. It feels great when the color you have been waiting for is turned face up, you get it, and then you play a critical route on your next turn. Drawing a wild from the top of the deck is a similarly awesome feeling.
Throughout the game the scores remain fairly close, and it never feels like you cannot win. Longer routes award more points and can put someone in the lead early, but if someone has completed a lot of tickets, they can shoot right past the leader at the end of the game.
The game also looks great, especially at the end with everyone’s train pieces sprawling across the board.
I cannot emphasize this enough: even if your only experiences with board games have been Monopoly, Risk, and other similar games that might not have appealed to you years ago, try Ticket to Ride. If you know someone who is into “Board Games”, there is a good chance they have a copy. This game is the tip of the iceberg of all the new great hobby board games. Even if you do not like it, you will know what people are talking about when they talk about board games today. (I sincerely expect you will like it though.)