How To Win Ticket To Ride

Ticket To Ride is a fun, modern-day classic, train-themed game for all ages. Since its 2004 release, it has won over 20 awards and received multiple nominations. The game is based on the luck of the draw, keeping each game fresh with a diverse range of strategies to utilize.

Here are 10 tips and strategies I use for railway domination.

  1. Draw From The Deck Early On
  2. Pick Destination Tickets You Can Complete
  3. Claim Critical Routes ASAP
  4. Pay Attention To Your Opponents
  5. Keep Them Guessing
  6. Be Flexible
  7. Draw From The Deck
  8. Don’t Underestimate Destination Tickets
  9. Go For 6 Train Routes
  10. End The Game
Ticket to Ride Board Game

1. Draw From The Deck Early On

Draw from the deck for the first few rounds. This will allow you to rack up different color cars for more options when it comes to completing tickets. This also allows you time to see what your opponents are up to and plan accordingly.

2. Pick Destination Tickets You Can Complete

At the end of the game, the points from incomplete tickets get deducted from your score which can take you from first place to loser real quick. 

Ideally, you’ll want at least one long route as they are worth more points, but you don’t want too many, because you’re less likely to complete them all. 

If there’s a short ticket that can connect to the longer one, keep it.

If there are two short routes that can easily connect or two short routes that are part of a longer route, keep them. (You’ll be lucky if all three of your initial destination tickets are doable) 

If you start out with nothing that connects well then you’ll definitely want to draw more cards from the deck for a few rounds to open up your route options that will connect the tickets you have or for any new tickets you draw. 

3. Claim Critical Routes ASAP

Claim the routes most critical to your ticket completion first before anyone else does. Like the beginning and ending destinations for long routes or single route destinations; Las Vegas for example. 

If your tickets have short grey routes, quickly claim those, as they’re easy targets for your opponents to block you once they figure out which routes you’re aiming for.

If you’re playing a two or three-player game, there are no double routes, so all routes can be critical. 

4. Pay Attention To Your Opponents

Where are they looking on the board? What color cars are they selecting? Have they mentioned any cities? Are they visibly distraught when a route is taken? Keeping a keen eye on your opponents will help reveal their strategies and which routes they’re going for. 

When you know what they’re up to, block them! This doesn’t do much towards gaining points, but it certainly helps hinder them from doing so.

Keep an eye out for concentrated activity. If there’s a lot of action going on in a certain part of the board, claim a critical track route. This usually happens around the main central cities on the board.

Controlling these chokepoints essentially blocks your opponents, causing them to detour and spend more trains getting around you. It also opens up more options for connecting routes and gives you an upper hand on completing your destination tickets.  

Be sure to also keep track of how many trains everyone has. The final round begins as soon as a player has 2 or fewer trains. The game can go by quickly, so this is harder than it steams. (ha!)

5. Keep Them Guessing

Do things to throw your opponents off. It’s always fun to yank their trains. If you notice someone watching you closely, pretend to focus on a city/route that you aren’t actually interested in.

Pretend to get upset when a route you don’t need is claimed.

Don’t place your trains in geographical order. Switch it up, otherwise, you’ll make it too easy for your opponents to derail your plans.

6. Be Flexible

Don’t plan too far ahead. This game is based on luck of the draw and players can be unpredictable. Opponents can easily block you, causing your plans to go down the train. Let the luck of the draw help formulate your strategies.

Don’t get hung up on one specific car color. Adapting accordingly will help keep you on track. 

7. Draw From The Deck

As tempting as it may be to grab a face-up locomotive, draw from the deck. Instead of one card, you’ll be drawing two and may be pleasantly surprised to find two locomotives. Even if you don’t draw any, the two new colored car cards will give you more options.

Drawing from the deck also keeps your opponents in the dark. Picking from the revealed cards shows everyone which colors you need and will help them figure out which routes you’re trying to complete. 

8. Don’t Underestimate Destination Tickets

If you initially started out with less than ideal tickets, draw ticket cards early to find better connecting routes.

If you’ve fallen behind score-wise, draw ticket cards. By taking advantage of this tram-endous opportunity, you’ll most likely draw tickets for routes you’ve already completed.

9. Go For 6 Train Routes

A six-train route is worth 15 points; more points than completing 23 out of the 30 ticket cards, so one strategy is to rack up these routes and inconvenience everyone you’re playing. 

Aim for these routes first if they’re part of your tickets; you’ll get bonus points!

10. End The Game

If you’re far enough in the lead and want to keep it that way, discard tickets you know you can’t complete and play the rest of your trains before someone else plays all of theirs. Ending the game as soon as you can also prevent your opponents from completing their tickets; more points for you and even less for them. 

With the amount of strategical flexibility in this game, your options are indefinite. You may not need to utilize all of the above, but even implementing a few of them each time you play will have a solid impact at the end of the line.

Keep calm and carriage on!

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