How To Play Ticket To Ride

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Ticket To Ride is my new favorite board game for many good reasons. It is easy to learn, games play is fast, and can appeal to players 13+.  Both kids and adults have fun trying to become the next railroad baron providing players with strategic and tactical decisions on every move.  The creators of famous Settler’s of Catan created another hit with ticket to ride.

The goal of Ticket to Ride is pretty simple, yet complicated. Players collect and play matching train cards to claim railway routes connecting cities throughout North America. The longer the routes, the more points they earn. 

You have all of the instructions on your gameplay, but these are the summarized rules that you should read first to understand how to play ticket to ride.  I really enjoy playing this with my girlfriend one-on-one, but is best played with 4 or 5 players. How To Play Ticket To Ride 1How To Play Ticket To Ride 2ticket to ride game

Highlights of Ticket To Ride Board Game

  • Fun the more times you play! Not one you will get tired of
  • Faster paced game. Each game takes about an hour, so you can test out different strategies.
  • Strategic, but not too complicated. After the first time you will want to keep playing
  • This is age 13+ realistically.  For the kiddies, get the ticket to ride: first journey
  • Not too complicated, but key strategy will always win.

What is Included In Your Board Game Set

  • 1 Board Map
  • 240 Colored Train Cars
    • 45 x Blue
    • 45 x Red
    • 45 x Green
    • 45 x Yellow
    • 45 x Black
    • 15 x Extra Train Cars (3 x 5 Colors)
      • 1 Longest Continuous Path Bonus Card
      • 2 Days of Wonder Promotional Cards
      • 110 Train Cards (with different colours)

    30 Destination Ticket Cards

  • 5 Wooden Scoring Markers (1 x 5 Colors)
  • 1 Rules Booklet

Ticket to Ride Versions

Ticket to Ride doesn’t have only has one expansion pack but they do have different geographic areas.  Why play Europe or India when you can play North America and vice versa.  There’s fundamentally not a lot of different between the versions, just the countries.  Click here for all the ticket to ride versions.

How to Play Ticket To Ride

The creator of Ticket To Ride Said it best when describing it with:

“The rules are simple enough to write on a train ticket – each turn you either draw more cards, claim a route, or get additional destination tickets. The tension comes from being forced to balance greed – adding more cards to your hand, and fear – losing critical route to a competitor.” 

You can view the official game rules with the video below, but I wanted to summarize the rules in the fastest format to understand.

Your goal is to connect the routes from all of your cities and get the most points. Additional points come to those who fulfill Destination Tickets – goal cards that connect distant cities; and to the player who builds the longest continuous route.

If you pickup a card, and do not get the route, it is deducted so make sure that you only keep the ones you have the most chance of getting. The longest track gets an additional 10 points.

Before the Game Begins

You start off with your 40 trains, and time to strategize.

The person who has visited the most countries in real life starts first.

1. Deal 3 Destination cards to each player.

You must keep at least 1 destination card before your play begins, so can put 2 (if you want) back. It is important, that with your destination cards to try to keep them as close as possible (perhaps even on the same track) to maximize your routes.

2. Place five of the colored trains face up alongside the board.  Deal 3 Rail Cards.

Each track is colour coded, this is not your individual colour but the rail cards that you will need to pick up to fill. Notice, how the longer tracks you move more spaces on the outside (15 spots for a 6 track) and is a great way to build up more points. I always look at these longer outside routes when playing (my strategy).

The Basics: How to Start your Turn

Each turn, you have 3 different choices, and you can only make 1 choice.  You can do 1 of these three things:

1. Pick up a 3 train cards – you must keep at least 1 of them. Even though you start off with cards, I think it is a powerful move to do this again (early) so that you can find high scoring routes close to each other.

2. Pickup 2 different train cards – You can choose from 1 of the 5 showing, or pulling from the top of the pile. On your first card, if you choose from the wild card (multi coloured) that is shown, this counts as 2 choices. However, it is from the top of the deck and you get this, it gets a second turn.

3. Play a track – If you have the colour combination you are able to do this. The greys, are allowed to play any colour track (but they must all be the same colour). The wild colour can be played on any type of track. 

Once you play a track, don’t forget to move up your colored circle piece around the outside of the board.  The person with the most points wins!

How to Win Ticket to Ride

Once a player has only 2 trains (or fewer left), this signals the end of the game and the rest of the players have one last move.

The person with the most points wins.  To figure out which player has won, do a couple things:

As you play the game, make sure to advance your colored piece along the points score board after each train played.  Some people allow you to recount (official rules allow for this).  Others will stipulate you cannot recount those points.

Tally up the destination tickets of each player.  For each destination ticket in your hand that you claimed the train route on the board, you get the points shown at the bottom right of the destination card.  But here’s the tricky part.  For each destination card that you didn’t claim the route, those points are deducted from your total.

Determine the winner of the longest railroad ticket (worth 10 points).  This is the longest train that is fully connected.  Count the connecting tracks to find the longest railroad.  In the event of a tie, both players receive 10 points.  You can loop through cities but you cannot use the same train twice to form the longest railroad.

The player at the end of this with the most points, wins the game!  

Strategy for Ticket to Ride to Win

Here’s a couple ideas, strategies and suggestions to implement to win ticket to ride:

– On 1vs1 player games, you can save up cards in your hand longer and build your track at once.

– If you are far behind points, then draw 3 tickets. Hopefully, you pull a ticket that you already completed.

– Play trains on longer routes to the same destination if possible.

– Draw from the top of the deck unless you need trains for a specific route. You don’t want that your opponents know what you are doing because else they will block you.

– Don’t be afraid to draw destination cards early in the game (especially the first few turns).

– Once your route is complete, consider to start on a new one. With fewer trains remaining, the better play is to go for long links of opportunity.

– A 6-train link is 15 points even if it doesn’t connect any city.

– Choose tickets you think you can finish. Remember also that big routes are much harder to complete in a 4-5 player game.

– Avoid telegraphing where your routes are going because others can block you easily.

– Block other players if you can. Spending your turn to block someone don’t gain much points, but else your opponent scores much more points if he can complete his route.

– Follow the eyes of your opponent to see which route he is planning.

– When you have a long route through the center of the board and you are waiting on cards of a certain color to finish a short route, it’s better to give up on it and draw new routes.

– Place trains on the less optional routes first and save locomotive cards until you absolutely need to play them.

– Focus on completing connection that require a certain color rather than gray (any color) connections.

– Collect colors that no one else wants.

– Concentrate your routes on the main cities that appear in a lot of routes. 


In Summary

– The player with the most points wins the game.

– Each turn, choose one of 3 actions.  Pick up 3 destination cards, pick up 2 colored railroads, or play a train on the board.  You can only do 1 of these actions each turn.

– Pick up colored trains to play a train on the board.  Rainbow locomotives are wild.

– Strategize to get the most destination ticket routes completed.

– At the end of the game, receive points indicated for each destination ticket. If the route is not claimed, the points are deducted.

– The player with the longest train receives an extra 10 points at the end of the game.

*Note, if you are playing with only 2 players, try this twist.  Only 1 set of trains can be claimed per route.  So if there is green and pink routes between Los Angeles and Portland, only one of those can be used. 

Click here to get the price of ticket to ride if you don’t have this awesome game already.

Would love to hear if you use a different strategy. The likelihood of us playing together is pretty small so comment below!

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