First published in 2004, Ticket to Ride has grown into a modern tabletop classic. It is one that I only discovered last year and finally picked up for myself within recent memory. Since then, it’s become a favourite at Steff and I’s tabletop nights.
It’s premise is simple. Your goal is to score the most points by building train routes. This is achieved by spending your colour-coded train cards on corresponding routes on the map. On top of that, you can earn bonus points by completing your destination tickets and/or by creating the single longest sequence of trains. Like most great games, getting a hang of the basics can be done very quickly, though there’s enough cool mechanics to keep things interesting.
Most of its depth comes from the destination cards. Each player starts out with three different destination cards, though you can discard down to one if you so choose. Successfully building these specific routes will earn you bonus points, though any missed ones will be deducted from your score, which makes these routes a constant risk/reward. Worse yet, other players may need the same cities or similar routes. This means that you’re constantly racing to secure your ideal routes, though you may need to improvise if someone gets in the way. Most catastrophic are scenarios when a player blocks off a specific route that will cost you dozens of lost bonus points. If you do complete your routes, you can collect more, though you’re once again putting yourself at risk of taking on a route that could cost you points. This mechanic is the crux of the game, though I wish there were more destination cards to keep things fresh after playing the game multiple times.
The game touts itself as working for 2-5 players. In a 2-player game, certain double routes are converted to single routes to accommodate for the smaller player count. I found that unless both players have similar routes that there’s very little drama in the action. With 3-5 players, the game really shines, as every move can potentially screw someone else over. Because routes are kept secret until the end of the game, it’s also unclear as to who is winning until it’s all said and done.
Ticket to Ride is deceptively simple and wildly fun. Once you get things going with an experienced group of players, the game can move at a brisk pace as well. If you have any sort of interest in tabletop gaming, this is one that you must try.