Guide to Ticket to Ride

The modern board game Ticket to Ride aims to build the longest rail route and score the most points by the game’s finish. Fun gameplay that’s unlike anything else in the board game genre helped propel Ticket to Ride to the top of the bestseller list. The game has since spawned many versions with fresh board designs. Before we can go into how to play Ticket to Ride, we must look at the game’s origins and meteoric ascent to fame.

History of the Board Game “Ticket to Ride”

Ticket to Ride was created in 2003 by board game designer Alan R. Moon while he was taking a stroll in Beverly, Massachusetts. The previous day, he got the seed of an idea for a train-themed board game, but he wasn’t able to develop it until the following day.

Moon made three copies of the board game and sent them out to publishers, but only one of them ended up being interested. Eric Hautemont, co-creator of the Days of Wonder publishing house, expressed interest.

After its debut in 2004, Ticket to Ride was an instant financial and critical triumph for Days of Wonder. The German board game industry has a famous prize called the Spiel des Jahres, and in 2004 it was awarded to the creators and publishers of Ticket to Ride.

There are now more than ten localized versions of Ticket to Ride, each with its own rules and expansions. The game has also been translated into dozens of other languages.

Latest version of Ticket to Ride Box facing in English

Starting the Gameplay of Ticket to Ride

To begin, a player will shuffle two decks of cards: the Train Car and Destination Ticket decks. The player will then deal four Train Car cards and three Destination Ticket cards to each player.

The players would then examine their hand, with the option to discard one Destination Ticket card before the round begins. However, they are free to keep all three if they like.

The player who shuffled the decks must set the Train Car deck next to the board and arrange five face-up cards to the right of the deck.

After deciding whether to keep or throw their Destination Ticket cards, each player would select a single color of game pieces from the box. After deciding on a color, they would move the round piece to the first scoring tile on the side of the board.

A three-player game of Ticket to Ride at the end of play

Starting a Player’s Turn

Each player has the choice of three moves at the start of their round.

  1. Get two Train Car cards from the deck or the face-up cards on the side of the board. Drawing the Locomotive card, which features many colors, precludes drawing any other cards. Once a player picks up a face-up card, another player must draw from the deck and place it where the original one was.
  2. Draw three Destination Ticket Cards and pick one to keep.
  3. Use your train pieces to claim train tiles on the board by discarding one or more identical-colored Train Car cards. You can only occupy one tile at a time with one card, and you can only connect two stations or cities by building an entire railway.

The third option allows you to discard a locomotive card with the other cards. In this case, the locomotive card will serve as a Train Car card of the same color as the cards thrown out. Additionally, players are only permitted to occupy one color on railways that connect cities and stations and feature two parallel tiles of different colors. 

A game of Ticket to Ride: Europe at the end of a two-player game

The Point System

Every finished railway will grant players points, and the overall points earned will depend on the number of tiles that each completed railway contains. Each tile is equivalent to a certain number of points:

  • One tile = 1 point
  • Two tiles = 2 points
  • Three tiles = 4 points
  • Four tiles = 7 points
  • Five tiles = 10 points
  • Six tiles = 15 points

Other Ways of Earning Points

Players may earn points on the cards by building a railway network that connects the two cities or stations listed on the Destination Ticket cards. The card also displays the player’s expected points. The player will lose points in the amount shown on the card if they cannot link the two stations.

The game’s scoring phase will start when one player has just two unused train pieces left. A player wins when they accumulate the most points by constructing railways and completing Destination Ticket cards.

Ticket to Ride cards in hand with the board game being played at the background

Strategies to Win in Ticket to Ride

Like any other game, several strategies are employed to win Ticket to Ride. Knowing these strategies will give you an edge in winning a game of Ticket to Ride.

  • Select the tickets you believe you can complete. Also, remember that huge routes are significantly more challenging to complete in a game with 4-5 players.
  • If you have the option, blocking other players is a good strategy. Blocking an opponent on your turn results in little benefit, but preventing them from completing their path results in a considerably lower score for your opponent. Determine your opponent’s intended action by watching where their eyes go.
  • Refrain from making your routes obvious where they will be headed; your opponents will easily block them.
  • Take control of the vital routes first. Get a one-train leg as soon as you get the card if you need one.
  • Consider beginning a new path after your current one is finished. Going for lengthy links of opportunity is the superior move as fewer trains are left.
  • Draw from the top of the deck unless you require trains for a particular route. Your adversaries should not be aware of what you are doing because else, they would attempt to block you.
  • To maximize your score, it is recommended to use Locomotive cards only when necessary and to prioritize putting trains on the more crucial routes first.
  • If you are far behind in points, draw three tickets. It will be an advantage if you draw a finished ticket.
  • It is preferable to forego a long route through the middle of the board and draw new ones if you are awaiting cards of a particular color to finish a short route.
  • Concentrate on the key cities that appear on many of your routes.

Close-up photo of trains and Destination Ticket cards on Ticket to Ride Europe board game

Ticket to Ride is a game where players take control of rail lines between cities throughout the country by amassing and playing train cards that match. More points are awarded for longer routes. Currently, there is a handful among the dozens of editions of Ticket to Ride to pick from. As long as you’re playing with your friends, loved ones and even people you just met, Ticket to Ride will always be a good time, no matter which version you choose.