One of the most successful board games of all time, Ticket to Ride is a family favourite and, if that's the way you like to play, a fiendish and tactical experience. There are loads of Ticket to Ride game versions out there, a ton of Ticket to Ride expansions, even a free print-and-play extra map, and we've rounded them up here. While some Ticket to Ride versions that you might find on eBay and so on are no longer available, the rest each have their own distinct qualities.
Some versions of Ticket to Ride are better suited as kids' board games, one is a perfect two-player board game, and some fit in our list of the best cheap board games while others are bigger and more expensive. The good news is that there'll be the perfect version for everyone, and we'll help you find it.
We've broken this guide into two sections: Full games; and Expansions. You'll need to start with a full game version, since expansions are only designed to add extra options and won't come with everything you need. The different versions of the full game vary by offering different rules and maps – they're all unique.
The expansions tend to offer two new maps to play on and two sets of special rules to explore in one box, but bear in mind that you'll need to own either Ticket to Ride or Ticket to Ride: Europe to play them. (The expansions won't work with the other versions of the full games.)
How Ticket to Ride works
In the basic version of Ticket to Ride, you'll all aim to become the owner of railway routes between different cities across a board. At the start of the game, you'll receive Destination cards telling you two cities, and challenging you with connecting those two via a continuous route that you own. If you achieve it, you get the points on the card; if you don't, you lose the points on the card. You can actually pick up more Destination cards during the game, adding a risk/reward element.
To claim a route, you need to have some coloured Locomotive card in your hands that match the colour of the route you want to claim, and then you can lay down some of your stock of train cars on it. It takes time to collect the cards in the right colour, and there are a finite number of routes, which means you need to make sure that someone doesn't claim a nice direct route between two cities that you need, otherwise you'll be taking the long way around.
It's really easy to understand, it's super fast-paced because you can only do one thing on your turn (draw new cards or claim a route), and it still gives the brain a nice workout if you like to play tactically.
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Ticket to Ride: Full game versions
The classic, the daddy, the gold standard. There's absolutely nothing wrong with the standard version of Ticket to Ride, and it's a great jumping off point if you're just getting started. Its map is based on the 1900s railroads of the United States and southern Canada, and you get enough plastic train components to start playing with up to five players. If you're just starting out with Ticket to Ride this is probably the version to get.
The rules aren't complex, even if you later add in the 'USA 1910' expansion, which gives you a bunch more options if you've started to become seasoned. Other versions are interesting for adding new ways to play, but this original came is kind of the purest version of a true modern classic.
Another standalone game, Ticket to Ride Europe adds a few new features to the original – tunnels, ferries and train stations make their first appearance here, putting extra demands on your locomotives and route cards. While they don't vastly increase the complexity, they do offer up a few more things to think about, and make Europe a much more gamery game – the original is probably preferable for beginners overall.
Many players consider Europe's map to be the best of the bunch, and we're inclined to agree overall – there's a lot of potential strategy to it, particularly if you're snatching up routes around Paris. The Europa 1912 expansion does similar things for Ticket to Ride Europe as 1910 does for the US edition: more routes, a big cities mode, and an all-in cardfest.
While other variants of Ticket to Ride are perfectly playable (and really rather good) at two or three players, Nordic Countries is specifically built for that player count, with a tight map and some much more aggressive blocking to be done. If you have a small, passionate play group, they'll love it.
There are slight changes to locomotives here – you can take two on a turn, but only to use on ferries, tunnels or the extra-long route between Murmansk and Lieksa. For players who like a close, tactical knife-fight, this is the Ticket to Ride version to get.
Smaller boards and fewer pieces make Ticket to Ride's three Cities versions (also known as Ticket to Ride: Express) feel rather different from the main-line train editions.
In the New York map you get 15 taxi pieces per player, and earn bonuses for connecting your routes to tourist attractions; London gives you 16 London buses each (despite London's rather convenient tube network) and offers district bonuses if you manage to connect all routes in a certain region; Amsterdam goes back in time, with 16 merchant carts per player and goods to ferry around.
The idea is that you get the core tactics of a Ticket to Ride game, but it plays in 20 minutes instead of 40 mins to an hour, even with the maximum of four players. It's so fast, but still a lot of fun – and is so cheap that it makes a perfect gift. It also takes up much less space than the full game.
Not that Ticket to Ride ever feels like a grind, as such, but you absolutely get your money's worth with Rails & Sails: the double-sided map covers the Great Lakes on one side, and the entire world on the other, with the average game taking you between 90 minutes and two hours. Too long? That's for you and your group to decide.
Strategically, you'll find some unique mechanics here. At the start of the game, after picking your Destination cards, you'll need to decide how to split your stock between trains and ships – once that's done, you can't change your choice. There are also tours to complete, covering multiple locations. Hefty bonuses are on offer if you manage it, but penalties loom if you don't.
Although we've found children as young as six can start getting to grips with the core Ticket to Ride box, you can foster slightly younger kids' game obsessions with these stripped back versions – there's one with a USA map, and another with a Europe map. The art is simplified, the rules cut down, but some of the additions – including the concrete rule that you must slam any completed tickets down on the table and yell 'TICKET' as loudly as possible – add a silly edge that can make First Journey fun even for adults just looking for a shorter diversion.
What does a good railway need? It needs passengers, and you'll find them in this version, congregated in their greatest numbers within cities like Munich and Berlin. This makes a rush for those key cities a big part of the early game. Of course, that means you'll have more tickets, too – which means you'll need to balance your train numbers. A big headache-inducing juggling act, then, but the Destination piles are split between short and long routes, so you do get a little more control in that respect.
This expansion works with Ticket to Ride or Ticket to Ride: Europe. You get two very distinct game types here. On the Asia side of the board up to six players can compete in teams of two, which is sure to test the odd friendship; on the Legendary Asia side, tricky Himalayan mountain passes demand that you sacrifice train pieces in order to make it across. Possibly best if you don't think about the implications too hard, but it makes for an interesting tactical addition.
This expansion works with Ticket to Ride or Ticket to Ride: Europe. India is widely regarded as the best 2-3 player map there is for Ticket To Ride, with a growing bonus available for those who can string their routes together to complete a continuous loop. On the other side you'll find the Switzerland map, probably the tightest out of all the Ticket to Ride maps, which offers hefty bonuses if you can connect any of the neighbouring countries.
This expansion works with Ticket to Ride or Ticket to Ride: Europe. On the UK map (2-4 players) Ticket to Ride's formula is turned on its head perhaps more than anywhere else. You'll be fighting to research technology at the start, meaning your expansion opportunities will be limited, but the late game can take any number of paths. On the flip side is Pennsylvania (2-5 players), which doesn't mix up much but does introduce stocks and shares, adding a little wheeling and dealing action.
This expansion works with Ticket to Ride or Ticket to Ride: Europe. What if the board didn't already have the routes mapped out? On the France board that's precisely the gimmick, with each card draw forcing you to lay a route on the board – one which could be beneficial for you, beneficial to your opponent, or a straight up bluff. The Old West map, also included, supports six individual players and forces you to build logically, starting at your home city and working outwards from there.
This expansion works with Ticket to Ride or Ticket to Ride: Europe. The Bullet Train makes an appearance here (how could it not?) but it's not something you'll just be able to snatch up: it's a shared project that helps all players complete their destinations. Contribute to it and you might aid someone else in winning, but if you don't put the effort in you'll be penalised at the end. Also included is Italy, which includes loads of long routes and a new kind of ferry.
This expansion works with Ticket to Ride or Ticket to Ride: Europe. One of the earliest expansion maps for Ticket to Ride, The Heart of Africa offers only one map in the box– but its terrain card deck makes a big difference to the way the game plays, and its map is deliberately one of the more connected maps in the series with a lot of colour options available for linking up multiple sites.
This expansion works with Ticket to Ride or Ticket to Ride: Europe. Canals and waterways are handled differently in this version, with money coming into play. Double-track bridges cost a toll to build on the first time, and earn you a bonus if you're snapping up the second track, with the amount of tokens you have left at the end of the game affecting the final score.
A printable bonus from the guys at Days of Wonder, which can be played with the pieces either from the original, Germany, Europe or Nordic Countries. Stay at Home sees you building routes around a family home, cooperating on certain paths and competing for others, with a collection of special tickets to print and change the game. Head here to download it.