Ticket to Ride is a cross country train adventure board game where cards are used to claim railyway routes. You start out the game with 'tickets' - routes you need to complete. Each turn, you draw new train cards or form routes to connect cities. The longer the route, the more points you earn. Bonuses are given for especially long routes that connect distant cities.
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Pro Easy to learn
The core mechanics of the game are pretty simple to learn in under 15 minutes.
Each player is given a destination ticket with the route they are tasked to build. Each turn they simply decide whether to draw a train card that represents the train cars, claim a section of a route using one of their train cards, or get another destination ticket to begin a new route. Whoever builds the longest route wins.
Pro No direct conflict
Most players will be solely focused on building their own train routes, and as such, there is no direct conflict against opponents. This makes it a good game not only for beginners, but also players who do not like the cutthroat tactics of games like Monopoly. It also makes for a good game for couples to play as there will be no arguments or moves that may slight another player.
Pro Satisfying to build routes, regardless of winning
Even if you don't win the game, it's often satisfying to watch your train routes slowly get bigger as you connect cities. There are also bonus points you can achieve for connecting especially long or tricky routes, which you gives you additional goals to work towards aside from the main victory.
Pro Great presentation
The board, train pieces, and cards all come together to create a pleasing and functional experience. The game board is a colorful, thick cardboard map of North America. It's large enough so the game board never feels crowded with game pieces. There are also 225 custom-molded train car game pieces of various solid colors. The game cards themselves are nicely illustrated and feature pictures of trains that take front and center - they contain no text overlay.
Pro A great gateway game
Thanks to its intuitive nature and easy to grasp rules, Ticket to Ride is great for newcomers to the game or those unfamiliar with board games in general, or even kids. It is widely considered to be an excellent gateway game.
Pro Tense gameplay each turn
Each turn, you will have to decide whether you want to draw another train card or connect more routes on the board. Since you can only choose one of these options, this is a highly important decision that may have you on the edge of your seat. By drawing more cards, you'll have more trains to place later, but you may be leaving an empty route open up for your opponent to steal.
Pro High detail design
Both the game board and playing cards have a very distinct style. The game board has an almost faded background of the landscape featuring mountains, rivers, and forests with the routes intertwining around the map in colorful patterns. This strong contrast really gives the board an intricate appearance. The game cards come in a variety of colors and all feature hand drawn artwork of all sorts of train parts - engines, locomotives, coal carts, storage carts, and more.
Pro Great expansions
Ticket to Ride offers numerous expansion packs that build on the base game in fun new ways. For starters, there's all new maps for places such as Europe, Asia, India, Africa, and more. This means you can play the game you enjoy on an a fresh board with new routes to learn. Each expansion also adds its fair share of new gameplay elements (such as tunnels, boats, and train stations) and has new train cards.
Con Very luck-based
The original destination ticket and the cards you draw during game play are random. This can make some routes easier or harder to connect, and it boils down to literally just being the luck of the draw.
Con Sometimes blocking routes for opponents hurts you instead
When preventing an opponent from completing their train route, you have to use your own trains to block them. This means less trains to complete your own route. It seems like this design is self-defeating at times.
Con Very basic
The "North American" Ticket to Ride (original game) is fun but has very low complexity. Regular players will tire quickly from this lack of depth. The variants like Europe or India bring some new maps and more gameplay elements, which is sorely needed after the first few games.
The game generally retails for $50, which is quite high for a cardboard board game.