Home > review > Over(re)view: Ticket To Ride

Over(re)view: Ticket To Ride

December 8, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

This is the first of a series of reviews I plan to do that are 70% overview, 10% review, 10% strategy guide, and 10% teaching aid. They will all be (relatively) short, and they’ll all be posted on BGG.

When I am trying to decide if I want to buy a game, I want to read a brief overview of the theme, goals, and rules. I want to know what I’ll be doing in the game; I want to know how the game makes people feel. I want, in other words, a bird’s-eye view of the gaming experience: more detail than the back of the box; less detail than the rules.

The Over(re)view series of reviews (why isn’t there an “overview” category on BGG?) attempts to be this kind of review. I welcome comments and feedback, and I welcome any suggestions you might have for improving the series. Ó¿Ò

Ticket to ride is a train-themed connection game with handsome components, played on a map of the United States. You collect train cards of different colors, then play those cards down to claim various routes on the board: these routes connect two adjacent cities and vary in length, but if you string enough of them together, you can connect even far-flung cities with train markers of your own color.

You start the game with three or more “destination” cards. Each destination card has two cities on it and a point value: if you connect those two cities by the end of the game, you get that many points; if, however, you fail to connect those two cities by the end of the game, you lose that many points. Once you have chosen to keep a given destination card, you must keep it until the end of the game.

On your turn, you can do one of three things: (1) draw two train cards (only one if it’s wild), (2) claim a route by playing down a set of cards matching the color of the route, or (3) draw additional destination cards, keeping at least one. Anytime you claim a route, you also earn points — the longer the route you claim, the more points you earn for it.

That’s it! The game ends when one player has zero, one, or two train markers left — then everybody gets one more turn. Players reveal all of their destination cards, earning points for some and losing points for others. There’s also a bonus for having the longest continuous stretch of track. After all the points are counted, the player with the most points wins.


Ticket to Ride is my favorite game to teach to newbies: it’s easy to teach and relatively quick to play. It is, as many have said, the perfect gateway game. The rules are simple, it’s fun, and the board is bright and colorful. Everyone I’ve taught this to has enjoyed it.

There’s a nice push-your-luck element in TTR: you want to draw cards of the right color when you have the chance, but you also want to claim certain routes before someone else does. This makes for a somewhat tense game, but it’s a good kind of tension. In my experience, games that aren’t at least a little bit tense also aren’t all that much fun.

When teaching the game, I like to stress two things when it comes to strategy. First, don’t be afraid of the long-distance destination cards — they may seem daunting at first, but they’re not that hard to complete and they get you a lot of points. Second, it’s more efficient to claim longer routes than it is to claim shorter ones.

Never stop playing. Ó¿Ò

  1. December 8, 2010 at 3:53 am

    The push your luck element is great. I wish I was a little more aggressive with that, but usually I find a good balance.

  2. December 8, 2010 at 4:05 am

    I usually hold a lot of cards and try to play so no one can tell where I’m headed, and this works fairly well. Whenever I draw new destination cards toward the end of the game, however, I tend to draw cards I can’t use. More than once this has cost me a game I would have otherwise won. :-(

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