Board Game


Ticket to Ride Review - Have Adventures on a Cross-Country Train Trip!

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Use your strategy and have fun connecting different cities and claiming train routes in North America in the 20th century!

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translated by Joey Sticks

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revised by Tabata Marques

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Game Flavor

The game is set on October 2nd, 1900, exactly 28 years after Phileas Fogg, the eccentric Londoner, accepted and conquered the challenge of going around the world in 80 days.

This year, to pay homage to Fogg, we, the players, have made a bet to find out which one of us can travel by train to the highest number of North American cities in just 7 days. The journey starts right away! Are you ready?

Game Info

Ticket to Ride is played with 2 to 5 players, has an age recommendation of 8 years and up, and was created by the renowned designer Alan R. Moon, the creator of many other games, such as Airlines Europe and Elfenland, besides, of course, all other Ticket to Ride versions. The ones responsible for the artworks are Julien Delval and Cyrille Daujean, who is also responsible for other very cool games.


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Ticket to Ride came out in 2004, published by Days of Wonder; in a few other countries, such as Brazil, the release would only come out much later. Ticket to Ride is a classic and is well positioned at the BoardGameGeek (BGG) forum - and I confess I don't understand why it took so long for it to be released in other countries.

The game explores mechanics such as hand tracking, construction of networks and routes. It is a family game, an entry-point, really, and what's even cooler: it can be played regardless of the language you speak.

The Game and its Turn Cycle

The game is really quite simple, has a quick setup and is even quicker to explain. In your turn, just choose 1 out of the 3 available options and then end it.

Basically, you'll have route tickets (Destination Ticket Cards) which you need to go through and which will give you points, you'll have to collect Train Car Cards with the colors of the routes that connect your destinations, use these cards to claim routes and score according to the number of cars you use.

Let's see how simple it is with images:

After placing the board on the table, each player gets Train Cars with their respective color, and 4 Train Car Cards are given to each player.

Train Car Cards
Train Car Cards

After that, each player gets 3 Destination Ticket Cards and should keep at least 2 of them in their initial hand as starting goals to accomplish.

Destination Ticket Cards: Route Tickets
Destination Ticket Cards: Route Tickets

That done, now you need to choose between one of the 3 available options: Drawing Train Car Cards, Claiming a Route or Drawing more Destination Ticket Cards.

But where is the fun in all of that? Let's go! The first action, drawing Train Car Cards, will give you more possibilities and route options to fill, as the cards have colors that match the colors of the routes that connect cities.

Available Train Car Cards
Available Train Car Cards

You can choose to draw 2 cards out of the 5 available cards (you can also get the deck's "face down" cards) or just get 1 card, the wildcard, if it's available among the 5 cards.

The second available option is to Claim a Route, which means you'll play Train Car Cards in the exact number and color of the route claimed, place your cards on the route and get points as a result (the scoring board is printed on the board, so it is quite accessible to all.)

Claiming a Route
Claiming a Route

The third and last action possible to take in your turn is to get new Destination Ticket Cards, which means you'll get 3 new Destination Ticket Cards and keep at least 1 of them. It is that simple! But I must inform you that you can't be greedy here. For each unfulfilled Destination Ticket Card, you get negative points, which means, you'll go back on the scoring track. So, be very careful!


Destination Ticket Cards
Destination Ticket Cards

Choosing one out of the 3 actions listed above will be your turn. I'll be honest: you'll always itch to do all 3 actions in a single turn... Because sometimes you'll be missing just one Train Car Card to Claim a Route and you can get it with the 1st action - so obviously you'll be dying to claim a route straight away, but, when you have to wait for the turn to go back to you to be able to claim it, it's agonizing!

When you don't have cards enough to Claim a Route, and you have Train Car Cards, but none of them are on par with your Destination Ticket Cards, it is time to get more Destination Ticket Cards. It seems obvious to choose this option, but, particularly, it makes me feel impotent to spend a whole turn choosing new Destination Ticket Cards when you know you'll soon need to Claim a Route and score before anyone claims the route you were hoping to get.

Check out the board map below to understand why I'm so annoyed by this topic:

Board: map with the routes
Board: map with the routes

Most routes that connect cities are unique, which means, players' routes will collide sooner or later; that is a certainty - and that's where the fun comes in, because, you either claim them fast, or someone can take that route before you can, and then you'll have to spend a lot of time going around it to reach your destination. That happens more frequently than I'd like it to.

As an alternative, there are double-routes, but they are scarce and popular. The competition is so fierce that at times we don't know if it's best to try the shortest route or go around it straightaway and escape everything and everyone. These are strategic decisions that impact everything: the number of Train Car Cards used, Destination Ticket Cards used, cars used, etc..., but this is what makes Ticket to Ride a beloved classic in many players and collectors' eyes.

Game End and Scoring

The end of the game is declared when, at the end of a player's turn, they only have up to 2 cards available to place on the board. Everyone, including the player who set off the end of the game, will have an extra turn.

Regarding scoring, at each route claimed, you count points according to the number of cards used on that route. Besides that, at the end of the game, you count points for each Destination Ticket Card you fulfilled, subtract unfulfilled Destination Ticket Cards, and, finally, you count points for the longest continuous route. If there is a draw, the players involved get the card's total in points.

Longest Continuous Path Bonus Card
Longest Continuous Path Bonus Card

At the end, the player with the highest total points wins. If there is a draw, the player who has fulfilled the highest number of Destination Ticket Cards wins.

Strategic Tips that Can Help You Reach Victory


My tips come from all my experience playing Ticket to Ride, so here it goes!

  • The first tip is: get Destination Ticket Cards at the beginning of the game to, at most, the middle of the game. That is because routes can collide, so if you do it like this, you'll take more advantage of your routes, fulfilling more than one goal at a time and preventing other players from getting routes that collide with yours. I, myself, have said that getting Destination Ticket Cards makes you feel like you've lost a turn, because you didn't get Train Car Cards or Claimed a Route, but it is necessary. Take my word for it!

  • If you get these Destination Ticket Cards at the middle of the game or the end, you might not have enough time to complete that route, be it because there really isn't that much time left or because all routes are already occupied by your opponents. Or worse, if they realize that now you desperately want a route, an opponent, purely out of spite, can fill the only path that was left for you to close out your route. Yeah, I regret informing you that my own wife has done that with me...!

  • Another important tip is the choice of Destination Ticket Cards that score more - they are obviously the longest ones, but getting these routes as fast as possible is the better play. Because, the best routes, at times, when you acquire them, can even come half-filled, considering how the game developed and how many long routes you have filled. That happened to me a few times. It is a very pleasant surprise!

    Consequently, by filling longer routes, the points for placing cards on the board map will only stack up and increase rapidly: it is a cascade effect. A great effect, by the way!

  • Early on, don't focus on Train Car Cards of only one color, because that will limit your options when you're about to Claim a Route. Early turns are the perfect time to fill your hands with Train Car Cards options. When you look down later on, there'll be just one Train Car Card missing to claim that route that everyone was trying to get. You'll thank me later!

  • Now here's a very important tip that is a strategy at the same time: Check your Destination Ticket Cards and see if there's a route that is connected to another route that has a lot of Train Car Cards of the same color. Save these cards, and, every time it is your turn and these Train Car Cards with that specific color are available, get them, even if you're not using them right away. This way, you'll hold on to them and prevent another player from claiming that route.

  • Use the face-down Train Car Cards. This is a good move for those times when there's nothing interesting among the available Train Car Cards, and, furthermore, it will confuse your opponents and prevent them from knowing what your plans are and what do you need to win the game. Additionally, you'll have the opportunity to get 2 wildcards (keep in mind that, if you opt for a wildcard among the 5 available Train Car Cards, you can only get 1).

    Well, if you're crazy about strategies, you can just count cards: there are 12 cards of each color and 14 wildcards. Count them and your chances will increase exponentially. There are countless folks that really enjoy that, trust me!


  • Another important thing is to get important routes before anyone else. And which are the most important routes? Obviously, they are the ones that are in your Destination Ticket Cards, but it is more than that. There are routes that connect several points, so it is always nice to have cards there to guarantee you'll have good connections before anyone blocks them.

    Just check the board map, and you'll notice there are towns with 7 routes available to get to. On the other hand, there are towns with only 2 routes. So, my friend, I don't even need to say anything else - you can either guarantee one of these routes, or give up on them entirely.

  • Do you want to confuse your opponents even further? Claim routes in random places (which are obviously part of your route), but don't get them in a straight sequence but rather in different sections, so no one knows which route you truly want, which means: zigzag through the routes. They'll be completely lost.

  • Another important tip is that you should claim straight away the starting and ending destination cities in your longest Destination Ticket Cards, so you'll be free to, if another opponent blocks you, use alternative route options.

  • And, finally, monitor how many cards your opponents have, because that's the endgame trigger, more particularly the last turn trigger. Always keep an eye on that!


    Teaching Tips

    Ticket to Ride is a lesson in geography and history at the same time. Discovering the North American map has never been more fun, with real locations of the towns and even routes that still exist, by the way. Playing this game is finding out that a timezone in a certain North American city is different from yours, and that a certain team or historical place is in a certain town, or that a movie in particular explores the history of a certain town, etc.

    Parents and teachers can thoroughly use Ticket to Ride. The sky is the limit!

    Mathematically speaking, the constant sum of how many cars are used in a certain route practices addition. Keeping track of scores per car and the value of your Destination Ticket Cards will allow players to predict or anticipate how many points are left to reach or overcome a certain opponent.

    You can also work on spacial awareness, because cars score according to the route's length. And knowing where you should start is essential; knowing where you should invest to boost your score is very important, and demands caution and strategy.

    Anyway, this game can be thoroughly enjoyed, I'm sure. I recommend you bring Ticket to Ride to your home collection!