Probably the most approachable of the new generation of board games, Ticket to Ride is a simple game about placing plastic train carriages on a map board to fill in routes and complete tickets from one city to another. The challenge lies in the fact that there are a limited number of times a route can be claimed (usually only one or two). If the route you need has been taken you’ll have to find another way around as you can complete your ticket using any combination of routes. Once you’ve completed your starting tickets, you can take some more.
Ticket to Ride
The original game and the easiest to learn and play, and is suitable for 2-5 players. The map is of the USA and isn't the easiest to find your way around when you don't live there. However this is made up by the fact that this version only has the basic rules and doesn’t suffer quite so much from route-contention that the later versions make use of.
Ticket to Ride: Europe
Also designed for 2-5 players, this version uses a map of Europe, and does add a couple of extra rules. Players have the option of starting with a long route ticket – these are worth more points when completed and can form the backbone for subsequent tickets. The mountainous terrain of Europe is reflected by the introduction of tunnels – these can require extra cards to be played in order to complete them. This version also introduces ferries – routes across the water that require a locomotive card to be included in the cards use to claim the route.
The map of Europe can get a little crowded on the western side and building opportunities become scare. Ticket to Ride: Europe gives each player three plastic stations that can be used to ‘borrow’ a route section from another player in order to make a necessary connection.
Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries
Designed for just 2 or 3 players, this version has a map of Scandinavia and features a smaller number of routes to the earlier versions. There are a limited number of ways to get across country, so there is a focus on blocking your opponent and more aggressive play. Like the Europe version, Nordic Countries features ferries and tunnels. It also has a spectacular nine-car route in the north east corner. The winter theme of the box artwork makes this game an ideal Christmas gift.
Ticket to Ride: Märklin
Here, the map board is based on Germany and each individual card in the deck depicts a different Märklin Trains model. This is a more strategic game with several new additions. Some tickets allow routes to be claimed from a city to a neighbouring country. Passenger and Merchandise tokens are placed on cities on the board as part of the setup and these can be collected for extra points when a connection to the city is made. The highest value token are claimed first and as the game progresses the token are worth fewer points.
Ticket to Ride: Rails and Sails
Players collect cards of various types for both trains and ships, that enable them to claim railway and sea routes in a map of the whole world.
These are game expansions and only contain a map board (usually double-sided), route tickets and any extra components needed. A copy of one of the base games like Ticket to Ride or Ticket to Ride: Europe is required to supply the train cards and plastic passenger cars.This game has a longer playing time than all the other games in this series (1-2 hours).
The map board also features the great lakes of North America on the reverse side.
Map Collection Volume 1: Team Asia and Legendary Asia
This expansion has a double-sided map board and a set of ticket card for each side. On one side is Legendary Asia, a more competitive map, similar to the Europe game, except the stations cannot be used. This map is particularly cutthroat with 3 or 5 players. It also has an additional rule that extra carriages must be spent for dangerous mountain pass routes. These carriages do earn some points but they also reduce a player’s carriage stock.
On the other side is Team Asia – a unique variant where player work in teams of two. Teams can share some tickets and train cards (wooden card racks are provided for this) but the players are not allowed to discuss specific game information. In the early stage, this can be quite a tense game as each team member is trying to guess their partners routes.
Map Collection Volume 2: India and Switzerland
Another double-sided map board expansion. Switzerland is a crowded map of short routes and many tunnels. It is designed for 2-3 players and suits this number very well. It also has the city-to-country and country-to-country route cards introduced in the Märklin version.
The India map was designing to reflect the colour and variety of the country. The map works a little like a grid as routes criss-cross the board, so a lot of unintentional blocking takes place It also introduces the concept of circular routes or ‘mandala’ that earn extra points at the end of the game.
Map Collection Volume 3: The Heart of Africa
The map of Africa is divided into terrain types - mountain, desert and jungle, matched by the colour of the routes. This means that for some areas a lot of train cards of just one or two colours are going to be needed. In addition, Terrain Cards are available to be collected like train cards. By playing terrain cards when a route is completed, the score value is doubled.
Map Collection Volume 3: Nederland
The Nederland variant twists the standard game in two ways. First, nearly every route on the game board is a double-route, with two tracks connecting cities. Both of these routes are in play no matter how many players are in the game.
Second, every route - whether double or single - has a bridge toll that a player must pay when building on that route. Players are giving a starting float of tokens. The player that builds the first first track of a double route pays this toll to the bank; on the second track of a double route, the player pays this toll to the player who built the first track. If you can't pay a toll, you must take a loan card to cover the fare, with each loan costing you 5 points at the end of the game.
In addition to helping you avoid loans, toll tokens matter because at the end of the game, players receive a bonus based on how many coins they hold relative to everyone else. This bonus can be as much as 55 points. Some of the route card are worth over 30 points, so this tends to be a high-scoring game with winning scores of over 250 points.
Map Collection Volume 4: United Kingdom and Pennsylvania
Another double-sided map board expansion. On the United Kingdom map, players start in England and must purchase permits to build in Scotland, Wales Ireland and across to France. This map also introduces the concept of technologies that must be bought in order to build routes that would be taken for granted in other Ticket to Ride game e.g. 3-carriage routes, ferries. Players can also buy technology upgrades that provide additional scoring at the end.
The Pennsylvania has many longer routes, and introduces share, which are collected on completion of a ticket. Share provide additional scoring at the end.