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The board has several major cities(and some not so major cities) as railroad destinations. Each player draws 3 route cards at the beginning of the game. These are the routes that the player will get credit for if completed by the end of the game.
Gameplay is accomplished by drawing colored railroad car cards. Each route between cities has a specific color of route, which can only be utilized by a player collecting enough of the same color to fill in every link between the cities.
At the end of the game, the routes are added up. Each route is worth a certain amount of points based on the length of that route. If a player has a route in their hand and did not complete it, they lose those points.
There are expansions to the game, as well as variations including Europe, German, Swiss, Nordic, Indian, and Asian maps.
Tropes appearing in Ticket To Ride
- Artistic License Geography: Some cities, especially on the US east coast, are very creatively placed to fit them on the board. What's Boston doing all the way up in Maine?
- Chokepoint Geography: Some cities, especially those towards the northeast, can get blocked off very quickly, forcing a player to construct a roundabout route to reach their destination, or even getting it blocked off completely.
- Lethal Joke Item: This can happen with some of the shorter routes. Not terribly valuable from a scoring perspective, if you complete all of the routes in your hand, you get to draw more. Often, those shorter routes allow you to quickly get those first points, and then use the short routes to complete the much longer trans-continental route that you have inevitably drawn.
- No Plot, No Problem: You're building railroads. That's it. Doesn't stop the game from being fun though.
- Variable Player Goals: No two players have the same route (each one is unique). However, there can be competition for overlapping routes.