Ticket to Ride is, without question, one of the best “gateway games” ever published. And it may even be the best.
But even the best games can’t anticipate the whims of all of its players. Here are some house rules that you may want to try the next time you play Ticket to Ride.
1. Simple Mulligan
Sometimes, players just get unlucky draws on their opening three tickets. If that has been a problem in your group, maybe you can try this: each player can discard their opening three tickets to draw three new ones. But they can do this only once. And only — ONLY — at the beginning of the game. (Source)
2. Two Players to the Max
If you play a lot of two-player Ticket to Ride, you might want to change the game. Have each player take two colors, giving them 90 trains. This changes the games dynamics, as it becomes much easier to complete routes. According to the person who suggested it, “we are usually competing to get the most route cards.” (Source)
3. Triple Draw
If drawing two cards or one locomotive feels to confining to you, your group could increase the draw to three. Locomotives would still count as two draws. So, you could draw a locomotive and still get one single-colored card. (Source)
4. Add Stations
Ticket to Ride: Europe includes a rule that players could house-rule into the regular game: stations. Each player starts the game with three station pieces that they can place as an action. Doing so allows the player to use a single length of track owned by another player to complete their own route. Players also gain bonus points at the end of the game for the stations they haven’t used.
5. Flexible Building
Sometimes, Ticket to Ride can get frustrating when you need one more card of a particular color, and it simply won’t appear. In this case, you could use a rule originally intended for the “ferry” routes in Ticket to Ride: Europe and Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries. Under this variant, players can substitute three cards of the same color for one card of any other color. This would allow a player to complete a five-length blue route with four blue cards and three green cards. (Source.)
6. Don’t Score Until the End
This isn’t so much a house rule as codified laziness. It’s easy to forget to update players’ scores when they build track, often leading to mid-game score checks.
So, as an alternate idea, don’t do that. Simply hold off all scoring until the end of the game. This makes watching other players’ train supplies more important. (Source)
7. One Less Choice
For some groups, taking cards from the top of the deck can inject a speed bump. The active player may take the card, stare at it for a moment, and then decide to take one from the face up selection. And that would be fine if they didn’t stare at it for so long.
If this is a problem in your group, you may want to consider this rule: if you take your first card from the top of the stack, you also take your second cards from the top of the stack. No choice allowed. (Source)