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Ticket to Ride review: we put the Mumsnet-favourite to the test

You can’t ask for a recommendation for the best family board game on the Mumsnet forums without someone mentioning Ticket to Ride. We decided to see if it was worth the hype.

By Jenny Wonnacott | Last updated Aug 30, 2023


Overall star rating: 4/5

Price on writing: £38 | Buy now from Amazon

As a family we are fairly keen on board games (we own most of the games on the Mumsnet guide to the best family board games and quite a few more besides) but despite its popularity, we’d never played the number one game, Ticket to Ride. Fortunately, a few rainy days and the ongoing battle to limit screen time during the school holidays provided an ideal scenario to put it to the test.

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Key specs

No. of players: 2-5 | Ages: 8+ | Difficulty: Moderate | Game duration: 30-60 minutes | Set-up time: Under 5 minutes

What we love

  • Fast-paced gameplay once you get going

  • Fun to play whilst encouraging strategic thinking

  • Expansion packs available to extend game play

What we don't love

  • Pace can be a little slow as you’re learning the rules

  • Not as replayable as games such as Carcassonne

Another vote for Ticket to Ride. It's actually a great game, I love playing it!

-tried and tested by Mumsnetter daretodenim

How do you play Ticket to Ride?

Ticket to Ride is a relatively simple game to play once you get your head around the rules. Players collect train cards to try and claim railway routes on the game board. The longer the routes, the more points they end up scoring. You also score points for completing your destination tickets.

On your turn you either draw train cards to use later, build your route if you have enough matching train cards or draw new destination cards. 

The game continues until one player has three or less trains left, then you each take one last turn before totting up the points.

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Our verdict

While not quite compact enough to include in the best travel games stock, Ticket to Ride is a relatively simple board game set up and you don’t need masses of space to be able to play it. And, while it’s a little daunting to get your head around the rules at first (mostly because you have to choose one of three actions to take and at first it can be tricky to know where to begin!) it’s actually a really fun game to play with kids.

The recommended age is eight plus which I think is about right for independent play. We initially played with open hands and our eldest (9) was able to grasp the rules very swiftly. I would say that if it’s your first time playing, don’t be too ambitious with the initial destination card draw (you initially draw three and can choose to discard one - our first game we kept all three and ended up getting a bit muddled!) 

The beauty of the game is that once you get going, it’s really quite easy. You only do one action on your turn so it moves quite quickly - the trickiest thing is trying to remember where you’re heading and which train cards you need to get there!

The downside is that there isn’t a whole lot of variation in the gameplay so while it’s a nice, easy game to play, it may get a little repetitive. Still, I think it’s a great entry level game to teach strategic thinking (though this is limited as you lose points by not completing destination cards, so it’s best not to waste resource trying to mess up other players’ routes!)

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Ticket to Ride is a brilliantly game! We play in teams when the [children] play. Buy the property one in five years, you won’t regret it.

-recommended by Mumsnet user MeJane

Related: Don't miss our dedicate age-related toy guides for four-year-olds, five-year-olds, six-year-olds, seven-year-olds, eight-year-olds, nine-year-olds and ten-year-olds.

Is Ticket to Ride a good family game?

Yes, but players should be over eight ideally. Two to five players can take part (making it great for larger families) and the game doesn’t usually take longer than an hour to play. It’s simple to play once you understand the rules and it’s easy enough to help younger players get the hang of it. It’s also simple in terms of playability, a bit like Monopoly, once you’ve played it once you know fairly well how it’s going to go. There are also expansion packs available to keep things interesting!

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What is the original Ticket to Ride game? 

The original Ticket to Ride game is the one depicted above, based on a map of the USA and Canada. It was designed by Alan R. Moon and published by Days of Wonder in 2004. There are different versions with larger maps, different country maps and different train colours. From 2011, Days of Wonder also began releasing different map expansions - there was even a special ‘Stay at Home’ edition released in 2020 to mark the pandemic!

Why is Ticket to Ride so expensive?

This board game is admittedly a bit pricier than others, usually retailing around the £35 to £40 mark. According to the manufacturer, this is because it features a high-quality game board, detailed train pieces and a lot of cards.

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Can you play Ticket to Ride with two players?

Yes, and gameplay is significantly faster with just two of you.

Is Ticket to Ride good for beginners?

Yes, once you work out the rules, it’s an ideal game for beginners. Younger players can be helped along relatively easily and if you play a practice round with open hands so they can see how to make the best gameplay decisions, it’s even easier.

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Is Ticket to Ride similar to Monopoly?

In terms of gameplay following the same formula, players growing an empire and totting up points relative to their ‘property’ numbers, yes. Ticket to Ride is similarly competitive, with similar ‘race to the finish’ type gameplay.

What is the longest train rule in Ticket to Ride?

This is where the player with the longest continuous path of routes receives a bonus 10 points at the end of the game. In the case of a tie, both players receive the 10 points. The path may include loops and pass through the same city several times, but each plastic train car can’t be counted twice.

Can you use part of a claimed route for another destination card?

This is something which came up during our game and wasn’t 100% clear in the rule book. A bit of Googling suggests that yes, if you have already claimed part of a subsequent route then you can simply add to that and gain the additional points. As long as the two cities on your card are connected by your trains, you get the points.

About the author

Mum-of-three Jenny Wonnacott is a Content Editor for Mumsnet, specialising in writing, editing and optimising pregnancy care and child play content pages.

Before joining the content team at Mumsnet, Jenny worked as a journalist for newspapers, radio, TV and b2b trades magazines for over a decade. She is also a bestselling sci-fi author (writing as J M Briscoe) and parenting blogger.

As a parent of three primary school-aged children, Jenny is passionate about making Mumsetters' lives easier through rigorous research of all items recommended in buyers' guides and reviews such as this one, as well as sourcing expert advice on all things pregnancy and child play related.

About Mumsnet Reviews

All Mumsnet product reviews are written by real parents after weeks of research and testing. We work hard to provide honest and independent advice you can trust. Sometimes, we earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. However, we never allow this to influence our coverage.