FTW Staff Picks - Ticket to Ride

For The Win Board Game Cafe's Staff Picks is a weekly series where we take a quick look at some of the staff's favourite games, old and new. 

Ticket to Ride

Genre: Family

Designer: Alan R. Moon

Player Size: 2 to 5 Players

Game Length: 60 minutes

For fans of: Monopoly, CATAN, Splendor

If you were to choose one game that you think would be recognizable by everyone, from all over the world you would probably choose Monopoly. Whether you think it's a title worthy of its reputation and prominence, there's no arguing that it is the most popular board game of all-time. Like most creative spaces, we can divide board games into different eras. First there were abstract games like Chess and Checkers, followed by the 1900's introducing more heavily themed games such as Monopoly and Clue. And now the 2000's have given us another distinct period of games led by titles such as CATAN and Ticket To Ride. And whenever I think of what game is the closest to replicating the magic of Monopoly, I always look towards Ticket To Ride.


In Ticket To Ride, players compete to build connecting train routes in an effort to complete tickets for passengers to travel along. The board contains many North American Cities and different routes connecting them. Players are given random Destination Tickets which contain 2 cities and a point value. If the player is able to complete the Ticket, they are awarded the points on the card. If they are not able to complete it before the end of the game, those points are deducted from their total score. Players collect different coloured Train Cards in order to claim the various routes on the board. Once one player claims a route, it is permanently their route and no other player can use that same route (unless there is a double route shown). Points are awarded for claiming routes, with higher points given to larger routes. The game concludes when one player reaches 2 or less trains remaining, and everyone is given one final turn. The player with the longest connecting route gains 10 bonus points. After the tickets are calculated, the player with the highest point total is declared the winner!

Ticket To Ride is one of those games that initially feels overly simplistic. There's quite a few choices to make at the beginning, and the map is very open. It's not until that first moment where one player inadvertently blocks another, that the game begins to show its true colours. While Ticket To Ride is an excellent family game, it is also one that allows for some real cutthroat play. If you've ever gotten into an argument over trading properties in Monopoly, you'll know just how familiar this idea is. Sometimes blocking another player is too enticing to pass up, and that's a part of the game. But convincing someone else to do it instead of yourself is also key.

When people think board games, they often think literal. People who haven't played much games since Monopoly or Snakes & Ladders are looking for a game with a board, where you move along it as you play. Ticket To Ride is one of the few modern games that keeps tradition with tactile components that are set on a large board. That's a big part of why newbies love it. It's familiar, but the game itself is far superior. It's one of the first games that opens the eyes to what tabletop gaming has become. It's the quintessential gateway game to the modern era of gaming. Ticket To Ride is this generation's Monopoly.

Earl OliverosComment