Will Ticket To Ride play well with the number of players you have?
Some games are specifically designed for solo play while others are just for two, but Ticket To Ride is one of those games that has a range of player counts.
Despite that it will play differently depending on how many players are at the table.
The maximum number of players you could get together to play a game of Ticket To Ride is five, as the game only comes with enough components for this number of people.
If you have more than this then you will need to be pulling something else off the shelf instead, but the good news is that there are loads of great options for six players and more, even if that is not in the scope of this article.
Ticket To Ride – Number Of Players
Having seen how many people you could invite round to play, how does Ticket To Ride feel at the different player counts, and where is it strongest?
This all depends on the balance the game has between the size of the map and the number of trains that are in play, as more players will put more pressure on the available routes.
If it is just you and one other person then there is no real reason to avoid Ticket To Ride, but be aware that there will be long periods of the game when you can do your own thing and not really interact with the other player.
You could end up blocking them out of spite, and some of your routes might overlap with theirs, but in general there is a decent amount of space to play with, and this version can be quite a relaxed experience.
Add in one more player to make it three people at the table and the game begins to shine as it was intended to be played, as there are more routes trying to be finished and a greater chance of people running into each other.
The map remains exactly the same, but the pressure of one more person placing trains on the board and trying to link up destinations changes the character of the game to something more interactive and challenging.
With four players Ticket To Ride hits its sweet spot as the double routes on the board open up, but the extra set of trains and routes means that things can still get very tangled very quickly.
At this player count you will often need to change your plans when somebody else claims a route that you desperately needed, and those pesky penalty points you need to pay at the end of the game start to play a part.
These penalties need to be paid if you have a route card that you have not been able to finish, which makes taking these cards much more of a risk.
This balance of risk and reward, and of freedom on the map and pressure from other players is exactly what Ticket To Ride wants you to feel – after all, its designer said that the game was about balancing greed and fear!
Your greed is in grabbing as many of those route cards as you can while the fear is in losing a route to other players, which is why four players is ideal.
At the maximum play count of five players Ticket To Ride is still great fun, but there is probably a little too much happening on a map which is the same as that for four players, the balance tipping just a little too much towards interference and getting in the way of each other.
I would still happily play a five player game, so this is still a good way to go, but sometimes it feels as if your destiny is in the hands of the other players, and while that is fun it can feel too intrusive and get in the way of your plans just a little too much.
Make no mistake – Ticket To Ride is one of those evergreen games that has earned its place in the hobby, and it is likely that you will enjoy it however many people you have at the table, but do be aware of how the flavour of the game changes with player count.
For something relaxed with two Ticket To Ride is a great choice, but it really comes into its own at higher player counts, striking just the right balance with four people at the table.
So what are you waiting for? Grab three friends and get playing!