Ticket to Ride Game Review

Ticket to Ride Description

The horns of locomotion screech in chorus to the new age. Plumes of smoke streak across the sky as the United States rival train companies vie for dominance in this land of endless potential. Will you fulfill your tickets, or fall under the crushing weight of progress?

Ticket to Ride is a game where each player takes the role of a train company. Here they will be put to task on a number of hidden, individual routes to complete, at a heavy cost should they fail. You and your friends will navigate each other’s hidden agendas, gaining as many points as possible before time runs out.

The Review

Do you like riding trains? Do you like owning trains in Monopoly? Have you ever wanted to singlehandedly develop the entire trans-continental train network of the United States during its Industrial Revolution? Now you can, in Ticket to Ride!

This game is a race for points acquired by fulfilling painstaking missions and building the biggest, bulkiest train routes. Each player takes turns either drawing cards, testing their luck for new missions, or by simply building the trains themselves.

Turns are swift once players grasp the flow of it. What makes this game interesting is the delicate balance of attaining the cards you need while they’re available and laying claim to the routes you want before they’re unwittingly claimed by one of your opponents.

Your “missions”, known as “Destination Tickets” (DT), will compel you to build a train network that connects two points on the board. These range from minor inconvenience to extraordinary difficulty that demands your turns for most of the game to have the chance of success. Every DT you fail to complete by the end of the game will actually count AGAINST your score equal to its point value. This staggering difference from other point races gives Ticket to Ride its unique flair. Instead of complex turns or strange mechanics, the game’s difficulty comes in the balance of risk versus reward that each player is comfortable with.

You should be able to complete your missions for the most part, but your ability to do so efficiently is determined by whomever claims the routes you need first. This can lead to a lot of “stepping on toes” , which is a source of great enjoyment. Some players, purely by accident, will completely derail another’s plans as the latter failed to determine their priorities appropriately.

Players largely will ignore one another if they can, preferring to make as many points as possible instead of taking a side road to screw over an opponent. But if you happen to claim that last route to Vancouver? Don’t be surprised if an opponent or two happen to… accidentally claim that two-length route you wanted, making you waste time with the long way around.

Once players are able to get a read on each other’s plans, they can start negotiating for routes. This is when Ticket to Ride really shines, as the wacky intermingling of everyone’s hidden agendas stirs true political chaos.

The name of the game is risk versus reward. What do you need to complete your DTs? How many points are they worth? How long will it take to complete them? These questions you constantly ask yourself, mulling them over with each move you make.

In general, if the extremely high risk (long route, BIG Destinations) player is able to achieve their goals, they will tend to emerge victorious. IF they meet their goals. Low-risk players wanting easy points will need to be crafty, swift, and cruel if they want to beat the gamblers of the group.

Group dynamics that naturally emerge from mechanics like this are part of the reason I love board games.

Ticket to Ride is a relatively simple educated risk game. I rate it a Rainbow out of a Rainbow train car, among my highest scores. It’s a fun “dessert” game that winds down complexity of a game night. You’ll want to play a few rounds for a main course, and for the chance to get back at a few opponents.

Game Raiders Rating Scale

Patsy Evans
Author: Patsy Evans