The Original Ticket to Ride Game Review
One of the most recommended geography board games of all time, Ticket to Ride, also happens to be one of the best spatial reasoning exercises out there. Did you know that? I didn’t, not until we played it anyhow. This is why I love gameschooling so much, the skills you learn through play go so far beyond face value.
Disclaimer: This review was unsolicited and I received no compensation for it.
About Ticket to Ride Game
Ticket to Ride, The Cross-Country Train Adventure Game, is a classic in gaming circles. The year is 1900 and the eccentric Phileas Fogg has just completed his outrageous journey circumnavigating the Earth by train. A group of friends gathers to celebrate Fogg’s accomplishment and a new wager is born: which one of these friends can travel by train to the most cities in North America? The contest will last seven days, they who visits the most cities and connects the most train routes, wins.
Scroll to the bottom of this post for an up-close video look at Ticket to Ride!
How to Play Ticket to Ride Game
The idea of Ticket to Ride is to connect two points on the map by train. Bonus points are given based on train length both during play and as a game-end bonus. Players start with 4 randomly dealt cards and three destination cards.
The Original Ticket to Ride Game includes:
1 game board
45 blue train cars
45 red train cars
45 yellow train cars
45 green train cars
45 black train cars
15 extra train cars (in case you misplace a few, brilliant!)
144 cards (colored Train Car Cards, rainbow Locomotive Cards, & Destination Cards)
To claim a train route players must match the number, color, and subject of their dealt Train Car Cards to the route’s requirements; some routes require a specific color of train car whereas others don’t. To switch things up a bit you can also draw a rainbow Locomotive Card, which can be substituted for any color of Train Car Card.
Players also get three randomly drawn Destination Cards, of which they can keep one or all. Destination Cards feature a route with a designated start and end point. When completed the Destination Cards can earn the player major points – but select your Destination Cards wisely because if the route isn’t completed the player LOSES those points.
Players earn points by:
-Claiming train routes between any two cities. Players do this by saving up Train Car Cards that match the required color and number of a specific route, and placing them down during their turn.
-Finishing a Destination Card route. You start with three randomly selected Destination Cards, of which you can keep one, two, or all three. Once your Destination Cards are completed you may draw three more. Completed Destination Cards earn big points, incomplete Destination Cards cost big points.
-Having the longest consecutive train route. The player with the longest route earns an extra 10 points at the end of the game. In the event of a tie both players get the bonus.
Links You Might Find Helpful
If you prefer to hear or see how to play Ticket to Ride, CLICK HERE
If you want to read directions for the game, CLICK HERE
To buy Ticket to Ride on Amazon, CLICK HERE
Skills Learned in Ticket to Ride Game
Geography- Ticket to Ride is usually recommended as a geography game, but I don’t think geography is the game’s strength. It is a fair introduction to the major transportation hubs in the United States, however. There are a few Canadian destinations as well.
Spatial Reasoning- Players get a good spatial reasoning workout by matching train car cards to physical train pieces and placing them in routes that they then match to other routes to complete a Destination Card.
Strategy- Ticket to Ride is a solid strategy game. Players must decide how to use their cards to the best advantage, which can be difficult to determine. Players also have to determine the strategy used by other players so they can beat them to claim crucial routes.
Probability- Most card games involve some aspect of probability and Ticket to Ride is no exception. Is it better to play your cards on a small route now or wait and see if a rainbow card will pop up to make the journey easier? What are the odds of a Locomotive Card being drawn vs a regular Train Car Card? As you familiarize yourself with the game you’ll find yourself learning more and more about probability.
Adaptability and Accessibility of Ticket to Ride
Ticket to Ride doesn’t offer much in the way of adaptability.
Reading: Players don’t need reading skills as long as they understand the directions and can recognize the city names. You can use matching stickers applied to the destination cards and cities, however there are quite a few cities on the board so you’ll need a large selection of stickers.
Math: Requirements are low but for scoring purposes at least one player should be able to count and add to 100.
Movement: Players need to have moderate to good motor skills to place the trains, especially once the game board is full, therefore this isn’t a good game for children who have significant fine motor delays (Ticket to Ride First Journey, however, would be a good choice! Gameplay is very similar but there are fewer routes and trains to place on the board.)
Attention: Ticket to Ride is a long game. The publishers list the game as taking 30-60 minutes, but we’ve found that 60-90 minutes is more realistic for games with more than 2 players. The game can easily be stopped an re-started at a later time if necessary.
Ticket to Ride Game Playability
Ticket to Ride is one of the most playable games we have. The mechanics of playing aren’t overly difficult to grasp but I recommend a few rounds of playing cooperatively to get the hang of the game. The only drawback for my family, which of course won’t be the same for all families and is super minor, is game length. The long play time pushes the boundaries of how long my family can stay focused, but it doesn’t stop us!
For those who don’t enjoy long games you have a few options: 1. Go for Ticket to Ride First Journey instead (it doubles as a quick play version of the original game), 2. Play a two player game, 3. Break it up into multiple play sessions, 4. Alter gameplay to have all routes be independent of train card color (pretend all routes are grey).
Is There Anything I Don’t Love About Ticket to Ride?
I am not terribly impressed with game board quality. The materials used are high quality, the problem is with how the board is cut. The board doesn’t sit flat on the table, which isn’t really a problem so much as an inconvenience. Initially I chalked it up to being a dud but the Europe version of the game we bought recently has the exact same board cut issue, leading me to believe it’s a manufacturing problem common among multiple editions.
The only change I would make, aside from how the game board is cut, would be to change the player tokens and plastic train car colors. The player’s train car colors match the same colors as the routes on the game board, it can be very difficult to distinguish that the colors aren’t related at all. No matter what color you are as a player, you can claim any color train route. Again, not a problem so much as an inconvenience.
Fast Facts About Ticket to Ride
Publisher: Days of Wonder
Buy It: Ticket to Ride
Cost: Moderate, but average for board games of this quality
Time to Play: 45-90 minutes
Reading Skills: None to play
Adaptability: Moderately adaptable
Skills learned: Spatial reasoning, geography, strategy, probability
Worldview: Safe secular choice
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Meg Grooms (she/her) is a decades-long secular homeschooler, mother of many, writer, Florida ex-pat, and all-around swell gal. Meg & her partner have raised their kids all over the USA, finally settling on Southern California. For now, anyhow.
Meg blogs about secular homeschooling and gameschooling at Homeschool Gameschool. Meg is available for speaking engagements, workshops, and gameschooling classes, please see the About Us/Contact Meg page for more information.