Manufacturer Days of Wonder
Year 2004
Designer Alan R. Moon
Ticket To Ride Box

Ticket To Ride

Connect the cities of North America with your trains in this beautifully produced game from designer Alan Moon and Days of Wonder. Winner 2004 Spiel de Jahres award.


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Another Alan Moon game with connections/route planning and card drafting/set collection mechanics? Hasn't he done this before? Well yes, he has, (Union Pacific, Get the Goods, Airlines, Elfenland, Santa Fe Rails/Clippers, Freight Train, etc.), and yet, there was still room for another, and Ticket to Ride may in fact be one of his best.

The Gameplay

Each player begins the game with a pile of 45 trains, a handful of "train cards", and two or three destination tickets. The board shows the United States, and a bit of Canada. Between the cities on the board are between one and 6 rectangular boxes, either in one of eight colors which match the train cards, or grey, (which are usable with any color of train card). The destination tickets show two cites and a point value. At the end of the game, if you have a connection between the two cities, you will get the points shown on the ticket. If you do not have a connected set of trains between them, you will LOSE the number of points shown on the card.

Five train cards are placed face up, and the game begins. On a player's turn, the player must perform one of three possible actions. These are: 1) Draw new train cards - A player may draw two train cards, either from the visible cards or from the face down train cards still in the deck. 2) Claim a route - To claim a route, a player must have the appropriate number of cards in the proper color for the section of track being claimed. So if a player wants to claim the four length red route between Denver and Oklahoma City, four red cards would have to be played. The cards are played, and the player puts four of their trains onto the route. Whenever a route is claimed, the claiming player gets victory points for doing so, ranging from 1 point for a 1 length route to 15 points for a 6 length route. 3) Draw new destination tickets - A player may draw three new tickets, and must keep at least one, (but may keep all three).

When one player has only two or fewer trains left at the end of their turn, each player gets one more turn, and the game ends. Each player then adds or subtracts points for their destination tickets, and the player that has the longest connected, un-branching set of trains gets an additional 10 points.

And that's it. Very straightforward and simple.

Why this game is so great

So what could possibly make this simple quick game of recycled mechanics so great? The simple answer is that it just works. The decisions are primarily "do I go for some more cards, or do I need to claim that route NOW, because if I don't someone else will, and then I'm going to have a really hard time making that 14 point ticket". And this type of decision makes for good turn angst. The game plays quickly, and as with all of the Days of Wonder published games, the components are of very high quality. Many people are saying that this is now their first thought for a game to introduce non-gamers to designer games, and I have to agree with that sentiment. Many of those same people, (myself included here as well), feel that Ticket to Ride is the odds on favorite to win the Spiel de Jahres, (game of the year in Germany), as the game is fun, fast and family friendly. And it did in fact win this award.

Why others don't agree

Praise for Ticket to Tide has been pretty uniform across the board, although there are those that feel that the destination tickets create too much "luck of the draw". There certainly is luck involved, as if you are about halfway through the game, decide to draw tickets and get a couple you've already gotten, or can easily get, you are going to be looking good. Conversely, if you draw Seattle-New York, and have been building trains in the Southeast the whole game, you probably aren't going to win. However, the fact that when you draw tickets you draw three, and only have to keep one keeps this from being too devastating. The ""lucky draw" is far more likely to occur than the unlucky one. Some other people feel that the game is too simple, and that there really isn't all that much going on. I personally cannot refute that, having not played as many times as some others. Those that have played quite a bit more feel that defensive, blocking plays are a valid part of a winning strategy. There has also been talk of an "unbeatable" strategy, although repeated play has shown that while it is a strong strategy, it won't always win the game.


Strategy:  6
Complexity: 2
Fun: 8
Overall:  8

Buy/Read about Ticket To Ride now at Funagain

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