Monday, July 26, 2010

Let's Talk Boardgames: Ticket To Ride

For today's installment, I'll be talking about the most recent addition to my collection, Ticket To Ride. I own the Europe version, but I've also played the American one. There is a Märklin and Nordic Countries version as well, but I haven't played those.

The objective is to earn the most points by the end of the game. You earn points by completing destination tickets (a route from one city to another, there's a deck of cards so they're like quests) and by building lines from city to city. The longer the route/line the more points it is worth. Once a line is filled, no one else can take it so the strategy comes in choosing which routes to build and getting the priority lines first. There's also bonus points for whoever has the longest total route.

You build routes by using train cards, which you can draw. The Europe version has ferries and tunnels which make building lines rather tricky in some areas, especially around Switzerland. That's pretty much all there is to it. The game is about making choices with a bit of luck thrown in which cards you draw, though five are always face up so you do have some choice in the matter.

As for the American version versus the European version, it's really a matter of personal preference. The American map is more open and the gameplay is more simple while the Europe version gets rather crowded in western Europe, and the tunnels and ferries can make building a bit difficult at times. I like looking at the European map and seeing the names in their original languages, as they were in 1910 (the year the game takes place). I also like the added challenge of the tunnels and ferries, and if you want you can ignore those extra rules. The game plays just fine without them. There's also rules for Stations, which help you connect your routes so you don't lose points on them, especially when western Europe gets crowded.

This game is great for your non-gamer friends and family. While games like Dominion and Agricola are off-putting to my wife she loves to play Ticket To Ride. The gameplay is simple to learn but with enough challenge for seasoned veterans.

Finally, here's my ultimate strategy tip. Look at the destination tickets you are dealt, and find which ones you can complete together with the least amount of effort. Don't try and make your line like a snake, make it like a hydra, a long body to connect distant routes but with many heads to get as many cities as possible for your route cards.


  1. I'll agree that this is a great board game (probably my personal favorite), though I've never played the European version. Do ferries and tunnels have special rules in game, or are they just limited routes between two cities? Is it that different than the US version?

    The Marklin version is based in Germany, has larger (and prettier) train cards, and adds another dimension in passengers who can ride your rails. It's a fun game, but I really prefer the US version (simply because it's easier for me to remember where LA is than Frankfurt).

  2. A bit late in commenting, but...

    Ticket to Ride Europe: the tunnels and ferries do have new rules. Ferries are grey routes that require one or more engine cards to be played (as an alternative to, or as well as train cards of any single colour). Tunnels are a gamble. You play your cards, then draw 3 cards from the top of the deck (no matter how long the tunnel is). If any of them match the colour you've played, it increases the cost of the route and you have to match it with additional cards or train cards. If any of them are trains, you have to match with a train card!

    I've played the US version a few times, and since then only the European version. I do like the extra rules/possibilities, but I also like playing in my home continent! I'm lucky not to have the dilemma. I don't know what I'd do if I had to choose between the continent and the extra rules.

    Anyway - I love the game. Everyone I introduce it to loves it too.


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