A Complete Overview of Ticket to Ride

I remember when my family and I first got Ticket to Ride. I was eleven years old, and back then, it was just another game that we added to our family game nights. I didn’t realize then that it would be a game that my whole family would continue to play well into adulthood.

Ticket to ride is a path-building game where you must complete more railways than your competitors. In this strategic game, you must connect cities, complete cross-country destinations, and keep others from fulfilling their destination tickets. Can you join the proper railways to beat your opponents?

A Quick Overview of Ticket to Ride Up Front

Players: 2-5

Time to play: 30-60 minutes

Age: 8+

What is Included

  • One board map
  • 225 colored train pieces
  • 144 cards (110 train cards, 30 destination ticket cards, one summary card, one longest continuous path bonus card)
  • Five scoring markers
  • A rule book

Ticket to ride is a strategy game to build railroads across North America. The goal is to complete railways between destination cities and create the longest railroad. The longer the railway is between destinations, the more points you earn.

What is Ticket to Ride


  • Easy to learn
  • Very competitive
  • Quickplay for a board game
  • Appeals to all ages


  • A lot of small pieces and cards
  • Not much opportunity for expansion of the original


Ticket to Ride was released in 2004 by the game publisher Days of Wonder. It was designed by Alen R. Moon, whose goal was to combine a path-building game and railroads in the simplest way possible. Since its release, Ticket to Ride has sold more than eight million copies worldwide and won dozens of awards.

The Back Story

Five friends from university meet every year to make a wager on a daring adventure. The first was a bottle of Claret to the first person that makes it to Le Procope in Paris. Each year the bet became more and more daring. The lastest stake is one million dollars to the one traveling the furthest across North America by rail in just seven days!

Make your way across North America by connecting railways in this cross-country train journey. Connect new cities, outwit your competitors, and complete a railway across North America. The person connecting the most cities and destination tickets comes out the winner.

How to Play Ticket to Ride


Give each player a set of colored train cars and a matching score marker. Place all the score markers on the start of the scoring track around the game board’s border.

Shuffle and deal four train cards to each player. Place the remaining train cards in a draw pile and turn the top 5 cards face up near it. Place the longest path bonus card face up next to the draw pile.

Shuffle and deal three of the destination ticket cards to each player. The players look at their destination tickets and choose which ones they want to keep. Remember, you lose points for any tickets you do not complete. You must possess at least two but can keep all three if you wish. Keep your destination tickets secret until the end of the game. Place the discarded destination tickets at the bottom of the deck and place this deck next to the board.

How to Win

To win, you must collect the most points by the end of the game. You can make points by completing a railway between two cities, completing a path between two cities on your destination tickets, and having the longest continuous path. You can also lose points for not meeting any destination tickets you possess by the end of the game.

Ticket to Ride

On Your Turn

Choose a starting player to go first. Players take turns clockwise around the game board, and players can then do one of three things in their turn:

Draw train cards: You can draw two train car cards from the five face-up cards or the draw pile. If you draw a card from the face-up pile, you must immediately return a card to this spot from the draw pile. You can then draw your second card from the face-up cards or the draw pile.

Claim a railway: You can claim a railway by laying down the same number and color of train cards as the railway on the board. Lay the same amount of your train pieces into the railway spaces on the board. You can fill Grey railways with any color train cards.

Your railways do not need to connect to any existing railways. During your turn, you can only claim one railway at a time. You then add up your score according to the summary card provided and move your score marker to the appropriate number around the border of the board.

Draw destination tickets: You can draw three destination tickets from the draw pile. Keep at least one of these, but you can keep two or three as well. Place your discarded cards on the bottom of the draw pile. If you connect the two cities on the ticket with a series of railways, you add the number of points to your total score at the end of the game.

Locomotive Cards

Multi-colored train car cards are locomotives and act as a “wild.” You can play this card with any set of matching colors to complete a railway. If you draw a locomotive from the face-up pile, you can not draw any more cards that turn. The drawer may not take the locomotive if the replacement card drawn for the face-up cards is a locomotive.

There are a few exceptions with locomotives as well. If you happen to draw a locomotive from the blind draw pile, you may still draw your second card. If three face-up cards are locomotives, you must discard the five cards and layout new cards from the draw pile.

Ending the Game

Ticket to Ride

Once any player has equal to or less than two train car pieces left, each player gets one last turn, including that player. You can then calculate your final scores, and this is where you can add on or subtract any points collected from completed destination tickets. Each player should also double-check that they have moved their scoring markers for all completed railways.

You can also add the longest path bonus (ten points) to the player with the longest continuous railway of pieces. The longest path can include any loops made by passing through a particular city multiple times. If a tie happens, both players accumulate ten bonus points.

Ticket to Ride Strategies

There are many different ways to win this strategic game. You probably won’t know if you’ve chosen the right strategy until you’re already playing and you start to realize others’ strategies. Here are some of the most popular strategies you and others can use to win Ticket to Ride.

Complete the Most Destination Tickets

Destination tickets are where you get the most amount of points. Each ticket has a set amount of points worth, and the harder they are to complete, the more points you can receive. If you decide your strategy is to complete as many destination tickets as possible, the best bet is to choose tickets with shorter, easier paths. Even though they are worth fewer points, the points build up, and you don’t run as much of a risk of having incomplete tickets at the end of the game.

Keep Long Destination Tickets

Destination tickets with a longer path between the two cities are worth more points. Another benefit of choosing longer tickets is that you could take multiple railways to get there if another player blocks your original planned path. You could also end up with the longest railway bonus by completing a long destination ticket. If you do decide to use this strategy, it is best to keep as few destination tickets in your hand as possible and add more as you finish them.

Ticket to Ride

Receive the Longest Railway Bonus

The longest railway bonus is worth ten points, and that is as much and sometimes even a little more points as some destination tickets. The best way to ensure that you get this bonus is to keep destination tickets where you could easily connect the two to create a continuous path. For example, having a Seattle to New York ticket paired with a Seattle to Los Angeles ticket would create a continuous path if both tickets are completed.

Chose Destination Tickets Near Each Other

Having all of your destination tickets connect in some way can be beneficial in many ways. First, it will make it more likely to receive the longest railway bonus, as mentioned above. It will also make it easier to complete new destination tickets as you may have already completed railways on the way to that destination. Keep this in mind if you pick up new destination tickets throughout the game.

See our other article, “Best Ticket to Ride Strategies,” to read more about a few Ticket to Ride strategies.

Ticket to Ride Struggles and Fixes

Railways Taken

The thing about the Ticket to Ride map is there are always at least two railways going to each city. That means that there are multiple paths that you can take to get to each city.  I would start a new path as soon as possible if my planned path is taken. Even so, you may still need to reevaluate your strategy part of the way through.

Unable to Complete Destination Tickets

There is a small chance that every railway going to your destination city is taken by other players, and this usually only happens when you have more than two or three players. If this happens, you are not allowed to discard that destination ticket at any point during the game. The best advice I have to overcome this is to balance out the negative points by choosing a new destination ticket worth the same or more points.

Ticket to Ride Expansion-1910

There is only one expansion pack for the original Ticket to Ride game, an expansion of cards. Even though one card expansion does not seem like much, this pack includes:

  • 35 new destination tickets
  • Globe-Trotter bonus for completing the most destination tickets
  • A rulebook that has three new ways to play Ticket to Ride

You will get the chance to change up your strategies with these new destination tickets, bonuses, and ways to play. This expansion requires the original Ticket to Ride board, score markers, and rail car pieces.

Where to Buy Ticket to Ride


If you prefer not to search for Ticket to Ride, it is available on Amazon, and you can even get it the next day with Prime one-day shipping. Amazon also runs deals every so often on Ticket to Ride that you won’t find elsewhere.


Some Targets have Ticket to Ride available in their games section. To make sure that the Target near you has it available, you can go gon on their website and check the availability for your location. You can even have it ready for pick up through the website.

Your Local Board Game Store

Most cities and towns have some board game store. A simple google search should take you right to one. Ticket to Ride is well known enough that any board game store should have a few Ticket to Ride games in stock.

Other Ticket to Ride Games

Ticket to Ride Europe


  • Includes new elements
  • It doesn’t require the original to play
  • A new map and new, larger cards


  • It may not be for younger kids due to its complexity

Ticket to Ride Europe took the original game and added more elements to its complexity. While this may make it slightly more challenging to play for younger players, it adds challenges that the original lacks. This Europe addition includes tunnels, ferries, and train stations with their own rules to acquire.

Ticket to Ride Rails and Sails


  • Longer gameplay
  • More complex
  • Double-sided board with two different maps


  • It may not be for younger kids due to its complexity

Ticket to Ride Rails and Sails gives you the chance to travel the world rather than one continent or country. This game has almost the same rules as the original but includes boats and harbors. Due to these added pieces, the game can take longer and be too complex for younger children. However, the Great Lakes side of the board takes less time.

Ticket to Ride First Journey


  • Made for younger kids
  • Shorter gameplay
  • Even simpler rules


  • Not appealing to all age groups

This version is strictly for the kids. There is really only one goal to this game: complete six destination tickets. Instead of these destination tickets going through multiple cities, they connect two cities with one railway. The railways are also shorter than in the original Ticket to Ride.

Ticket to Ride Card Game


  • Not as many pieces (only cards)
  • Rules are the same as the original
  • Great for traveling


  • Nobody can see what railways are complete until the end.

If you love the original board game, you will most likely love this card game. It is nearly the same game as the original, except without a board and small pieces. These aspects make it an excellent travel version of the original. The only difference is that the goal is to complete destination tickets with railway instructions on them, and you must hide your completed railways from everyone, including yourself.


Question: How many versions of the game Ticket to Ride are there?

Answer: There are 16 different board versions in the Ticket to Ride series. Some of these include Europe, Nordic Countries, London, and Asia. You could play Ticket to Ride your whole life with all these variations without ever getting bored of it.

Question: Is Ticket to Ride a good game?

Answer: Ticket to ride has proven to be a fun game for anybody. It’s easy to learn yet has the competition and complexity you need to be a challenging game. You can play this game with your whole family or at any game night party, and everyone is sure to have fun.

Question: How do you play Ticket to Ride?

Answer: In short, the goal is to end up with the most points before someone runs out of train cars. You do this by finishing railways between cities, completing destination tickets, and having the longest continuous railway. Be careful while collecting destination tickets because any uncompleted tickets are negative points.

Question: Is Ticket to Ride difficult?

Answer: Ticket to ride is a straightforward game. Most people can learn the game in 5 minutes or less. There aren’t very many complex rules, and the only goal is to build as many railways as possible. While it is easy, it is still competitive enough to keep you on the edge of your seat.

Question: How long does it take to play Ticket to Ride?

Answer: Ticket to ride can take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes to play. The more players you have, the longer the game will take, and this game also goes quicker the more you have played.

Overall Impression of Ticket to Ride

If you are someone who does not like spending a ton of time learning to play a game and want to jump right into a competitive game, Ticket to Ride is excellent. There aren’t many complex rules making it easy to play with the whole family.

I also find it challenging enough to appeal to older ages. Players can block your railways or steal pathways you originally wanted to take. In turn, you must also try to figure out other players’ goals while also trying to complete your own goal.

The only downside that I’ve found with Ticket to Ride is it can become repetitive after playing many games. There are only so many railways you can take and destination tickets to choose from. Ticket to Ride also has only one expansion pack, so the only way to get more out of the game is to buy a completely new Ticket to Ride board game variation.

However, if you do love the game and want to keep it interesting for an extended period, there are many other boards to choose from. These include but are not limited to Europe, India, Rails and Sails, and Japan. With the number of board variations, you could play Ticket to Ride for a lifetime without getting bored.

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