You may have played one of the most successful titles in tabletop gaming, Alan Moon’s Ticket to Ride. But have you tried all of the game’s expansions and standalone spinoffs? These additions introduce new boards and rules that tweak the basic format of drawing train cards and then placing trains to connect cities across each map with the goal of connecting more distant cities so you can complete Destination Tickets for more points.
I’ve counted 17 different maps so far (not counting Japan and Italy, which will be released in Europe at Spiel 2019 in late October and worldwide in January 2020. Also, the Märklin map is no longer available and won’t be included in this exercise). That’s a lot for anyone to digest. So to help any Ticket to Ride faithful looking to expand, Ars has compiled this overview—along with my personal ranking—of all existing maps, some of which are also available in the wonderful mobile app version of the game. And if something below doesn’t quite ride for you, let us know your favorite maps in the comments.
17. Ticket to Ride Express: New York
The first standalone “Express” version of Ticket to Ride has players build taxi “routes” in Manhattan (plus one generic Brooklyn stop), with just 15 pieces per player and a tiny board. There’s only one direct connection between stops of four spaces, with everything else connected by one to three spaces. You score for destination tickets and gain one more point if you connected any of the board’s nine Tourist Attractions to any of your routes. I’m not really sure why the Fonz appears on the cover, since Happy Days took place in Milwaukee.
16. Ticket to Ride Express: London
The second Express game has players build bus routes—not the Tube, sadly—across London, again with just 15 pieces per player and a tiny board. There are bonuses for hitting every stop in a district (worth one to five extra points), no routes over 11 spaces long, and no direct connections over four spaces. Games take about 15-20 minutes, and the box is highly portable.
Even more claustrophobic than the Nordic Countries map, the Switzerland map has similar rules on locomotives, lots of one-train tracks and very short route cards. It also features new route cards that score when you connect a city to any of the four bordering countries of France, Germany, Austria, or Italy, or when you connect any of those countries through Switzerland to another country. The result is that once you’ve created routes into two of the four countries, you can nearly always draw new route cards and find one you’ve either completed already or can finish within a turn. Tabletop version is bundled with the India map. Available on the app.
One of my favorite things about Ticket to Ride is that it doesn’t include money as part of the game play. Some eurogames do, and many of them are great, but as a general rule board games that involve money take longer to play (especially between turns) and deter new players (because we’re all traumatized by Monopoly). The Nederland map is the first Ticket to Ride map to incorporate money, as players must pay tokens to build across the many bridges on this board. Almost all routes are doubled, and unlike with every other map, both routes are in play even with two or three players. The first person to build on a route pays the toll to the bank; a second player building on that same route pays the toll to the first builder. If you want to build but can’t pay, you take a Loan card, worth -5 points at the end—and you can never repay it. There are big bonuses for finishing the game with the most toll tokens remaining, as long as you don’t have loan cards. The rules recommend using a neutral (dummy) player if you play with two people.