Games Like Ticket to Ride

9 Exciting Games Like Ticket to Ride

I’m very excited that you have found this post about 9 Exciting Games Like Ticket to Ride! If you are reading this it means 1 of 2 things:

#1 – You follow and love my blog and read anything that I write. If you are one of these people, you are simply amazing and I so appreciate that you take the time to read, comment, and share. You rock!

#2 – You found this article through a social media channel, website, or search engine because you love Ticket to Ride and you’re trying to find what game you should try next. Well, let me tell you!

games-like-ttr-pin

This post about games like ticket to ride includes affiliate links. Why you ask? Well… you can find all that info out by reading my full disclosure policy here. It’s exciting stuff for sure!

Ticket to Ride is probably the most popular gateway games out there. I think more people have joined the hobby because of Alan R. Moon’s creation than any other game. It’s possible that I’m biased though, since Ticket to Ride was my introduction to the hobby.

While it is a classic, and always will be; it is, at it’s core, a gateway game. The draw of Ticket to Ride will inspire you to try out new games that are just like it. But what one should you buy first?

I think that depends on what you like about Ticket To Ride. There are no games that are exactly “Like” Ticket to Ride. Every game is it’s own creation, it’s own theme, with it’s own nuance. So what I want to do is break down the game into some of the aspects that you might like and we’ll go from there.

1. If You Love The “Territory” Control

While Ticket to Ride is far from your typical Territory Control game, it does have a bit of that in play. Once you place your trains on a route on the map, no one else can take that spot. Sometimes, no one cares… other times people around that table may let out a bit of a gasp or possibly even throw a train car at you.

This is a more of a press-your-luck mechanic (Should I draw a card or play a route this turn), but I believe it is also a great introduction to the feel you can get from a Territory Control game.

So if you love that aspect of TTR (That’s what the cool kids call “Ticket to Ride”) then I think you might want to try one of these games.

Kingdom Builder

This game, published by Queen Games, still falls into the gateway game niche but has an entirely different feel than Ticket to Ride. If you’re wanting something new, but not wanting to spend 2 hours learning new rules, Kingdom Builder one is a great candidate.

Kingdom Builder Gameplay

Smallworld

Territory control is 100% Smallworld. If you are familiar with Risk, you need to know that Smallworld is nothing like it. First of all, Small World doesn’t take all day to play, second, there is a die in the game, but it is not the sole determining factor of combat. In fact, combat isn’t really an aspect of the game at all. I like Smallworld because it is pretty fast paced and is also a great way to introduce players to asymmetric powers. (Asymmetric powers means each player at the table has a different ability or action than everyone else at the table.) I would say it is only slightly more difficult to learn than Ticket to Ride, but it is tons of fun.

Small World by Days of Wonder

Power Grid

This game is much heavier than Ticket to Ride. If you are up to the challenge for working your way through a deeper rule book, and having to keep track of a lot of “fiddly” type things between rounds, you should check Power Grid out. Power grid is not a combat game but it does have a strong element of territory control. TTR may have been my gateway game but Power Grid was the game that showed me just how deep games could go, and sent me down the rabbit hole.

power-grid

You can read my full review of Power Grid: Here.

2. If You Love Collecting and Playing Sets of Cards

One of the cool aspects of Euro, Hybrid, and Modern games is that they often combine various elements and mechanics of board games and card games. TTR is a great example of this. If you take a moment to think about it, Ticket to Ride is really just a set collection game that uses a board and bits as a visual representation of the sets that you are supposed to collect. Not surprisingly, Ticket to Ride is not the only game that does that.

Pandemic

Just like Ticket to Ride, in Pandemic players will collect sets of cards. In this case the goal is to get the right sets needed to discover the cure to various diseases. However, it’s totally different than TTR because it will introduce you to a whole new segment of strategy gaming: Collaborative games. Throughout Pandemic, players work together to save the world from viruses spreading across the globe. Thereby they will either win as a group, or lose as a group…. to a piece of cardboard. There really is no worse feeling. Nor is there a stronger motivation driving you back to play the game again.

Pandemic Epedimic

You can read my full review of Pandemic: Here.

Bohnanza

Bohnanza is a card game that is all about drawing, trading, and collecting sets. Fun graphics and make it a fun light game to introduce to your game group. But don’t be fooled by it’s whimsy. Bohnanza is the only game in my closet that has one specific mechanic: When you draw cards into your hand you are not allowed to play (or actually “Plant”) them unless they are the top card in your hand. This brings a level of strategy to the game and really encourages trading like no other.

bohnanza

Stockpile

This game was introduced in 2015 with an expansion that just got released in 2016. Not only that, but it has been my most played game in 2016, and even though there are 3 1/2 months left in the year at the time of this writing, there is no conceivable way a game is going to steal that title. Throughout Stockpile you’ll be bidding on and collecting sets of stock (cards) and deciding each round if you want to sell them, or hold them for the future. This game also does a fantastic job of introducing you to hidden information games, where each player exclusively knows a little tidbit of information that could help them, or maybe hurt other players.

Stockpile

You can read my review of Stockpile: Here

3. If You Love Having Secret Goals

I think one of the elements of Ticket to Ride that really sucked me so many years ago was the destination tickets. Knowing that I had these “secret points” up my sleeve that no one else knew about, while constantly wondering what other players had was just so new to me. Also, fretting about whether or not their routes would block my own was something that was very different from your typical roll and move board game.

Suburbia

Suburbia has this element at it’s core. Throughout the game each player is building a city. Each player will have goals that at the end of the game they will score, or not score based on whether or not they completed them. Players also have a number of common revealed goals that will also be scored at the end of the game. A word of caution, Suburbia is quite “mathey” as the game progresses, but it does have elements in play that make the math a bit easier to keep track of.

suburbia-1

Exoplanets

This journey into space takes hidden goals and adds what I would call the TTR twist. In most secret goal oriented games games, you get your goal at the beginning of the game and just keep it till the end. In Exoplanets, however, you will also pick up new goals throughout the game. The twists continue as your goal pieces also have immediate play options, allowing you to choose whether you want to save it and play it later as a completed goal, or use it for something else entirely.

exoplanets-1

The Manhattan Project

Some will probably say that it’s a bit of a stretch to compare The Manhattan Project to Ticket to Ride. Really, the games couldn’t be much more different. However, they share one thing in common and that is the ability to get points from secret goals. In The Manhattan Project, however, it is your sole source of points. If you are interested in trying out a worker placement game but want a small sense of familiarity, you could check out this one. It’s one of my favorites.

manhattan-project

So there you go! If you like Ticket to Ride and are trying to decide what game you should buy next, those are my recommendations. If you take one of them, let me know in the comments, on Twitter, or Instagram which one you chose and what you thought!

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Disclosure: Some of the links in this post about games like Ticket to Ride are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. Read my full disclosure policy here.

 

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10 thoughts on “9 Exciting Games Like Ticket to Ride

  1. Nice article, but most of the games featured are reeeeally stretching it. It feels more like a list of “Hey, you like TtR too? Me too, let’s see a few others of my favorite gatewayish but more complex games!” While I think these are more or less good or great games (played 8 of the 9) a few of these might prove to be too complex to those TtR fans who are new to the hobby.
    With this title I expected games more like this:

    From the same author:
    Airlines Europe: plastic planes instead of plastic trains but you still need to connect different points on the map of Europe. It has the Ticket to Ride feel even with a somewhat more advanced “shares” concept and longer playtime.

    Elfenland/Elfenroads:
    Using cards, move to (hopefully) each city on the map during the game. It has the route planning of Ticket to Ride, you play cards for movement from city to city and you intentionally cross paths with others. Also you take tiles from a selected few visible just like in TtR. Also a Spiel des Jahres winner from a few years before TtR.

    Others:
    Africana
    Has the feel of an advanced Ticket to Ride. Some common and some personal aims, movement by playing similarly-colored cards from city to city on the map of Africa, also with some set collection this time.

    Marco Polo Expedition (the 2004 one!)
    This game from the same year as Ticket to Ride has your adventurers moving forward on a path, collecting treasures. You collect card sets (from an open pool of cards) to move the adventurers, so it has the rummyish card collection and racing feel (if others play the set before me, they can block me quite a bit in my aims).

    Blue Moon City
    Here you don’t build routes but buildings, but you need to collect and combine your cards held in hand to be able to do so, also move on the ‘map’ created by the building grid. Racing to get the benefits in time by clever play of your cards does have the Ticket to Ride feel.

    New York 1901
    Also playing cards to build buildings in a map, here maybe a bit even more Ticket to Ride-like way. THe complexity is not more than that of TtR, and you also have secret aims to go for – it’s quite a TtR-like light family experience.

    Through the Desert
    This one might be stretching it a bit, but you still try to connect to and reach points on a map, blocking others as much as you can, while you are racing against time during the whole tense game. Unlike the games above, however, it has no luck factor at all, only multiplayer chaos.

    Egizia
    Okay, this is really only for those who are ready to play something more complex than TtR. It’s also rather different. However, randomly drawn secret aims do matter a lot in the final score, and this aspect alone gives it a fun Ticket to Ride feel in the end.

    Thurn und Taxis
    The first game many think of when saying Ticket to Ride-like, probably because it won Spiel des Jahres only two years after TtR. While I think it feels rather different, one can’t deny the similarities: playing cards to move and place your markers on an actual (historical) map, choosing cards from an open display of 6 cards, really a connection game – so while I think it’s a rather different game, TtR fans all should give it a try to see if it’s their cup of tea or not as there are obvious similarities.

  2. Thanks for the input Lacxox. I do feel like I could make the same argument you make against my list for yours. For instance – Airlines is far more complicated than TTR and I would say that it’s even harder to learn the vastly different scoring system (especially making sure you set it up properly) than Power Grid.

    That said – I believe that Airlines totally fits the category of Games like TTR.

    Like I said in my intro – the only games like TTR are in fact TTR games. I was just breaking down by the various mechanics and feels you get from TTR and if you like those specific mechanics or “feelings” you may like these other games.

    One of the beautiful things about the hobby though is that we are always free to discuss! 🙂

  3. As we can’t find really objective measure I can check BGG weight of some games. It’s an ambiguous number at BGG but it’s at least given by a large number of users.
    Ticket to Ride:
    1.88
    (this should be taken as a reference point)

    Airlines Europe: 2.44 (admittedly more complex than what I remembered/thought, but I think – and in my experience – if you are a TtR player it’s a lot easier to learn because of a few familiar concepts)

    vs.

    Power Grid: 3.29… (I would never teach it many of my TtR-loving non-gamer friends. It has a complex set-up round to round – checking even which phase of the game you are in -, tinkering with the player order and so on.)

    Still, checking the list again, I think my main problem is less the complexity and more how much different these games are from TtR. 🙂

    Other games on your list:
    Small World: 2.37 (not that complex, although unlike in case of Airlines Europe, knowledge of TtR does not help at all – and to me this game has nothing to do with TtR, except from the publisher of course)

    Kingdom Builder: 2.08

    Pandemic: 2.43 (well, seemingly Airlines Europe complexity but players need to learn a lot more rules and playing fine is not even easy for beginners)

    Bohnanza: 1.68 (well, this game is stretching it but at least here I can understand why it was included. Interestingly it has failed with friends as they just found the card order concept too odd and hard).

    Stockpile: 2.05 (well, this is the only one I have not played yet)

    Suburbia: 2.77 (okay, you score a few points for your secret aims but it’s not only that the gameplay is strongly different – counting points to score is a pain in the ass for those who don’t like bureucracy. This is the board game that works way better as an app where everything is calculated by the software instead of you).

    Exoplanets: 2.38 (And I really did not enjoy it that much, it also felt too short for what it offered – you had 5 turns or so? I don’t even remember much anymore – , but that’s personal; not being reminiscent of TtR is less so.)

    The Manhattan Project: 2.97 (It seems I lied, it seems there are two I did not play, but here I know the game and the rules at least. I know

    My list:
    Elfenland: 2,17

    Africana: 2.02

    Marco Polo expedition: 1.8

    Blue Moon City: 2.3

    New York 1901: 2.11

    Through the Desert: 2.22

    Egizia: 2.83 (the one where I also admitted it’s more complex, still not nearly as hard as PG)

    Thurn und Taxis: 2.27

    If you really want to look at numbers I can say the average BGG weight of your suggestions is 2.45 while the average of mine is 2.24. Once again the reference number is 1.88. Still, I think my comment about complexity was more a result of seeing Power Grid, Pandemic, Suburbia and The Manhattan Project on your list than thinking all these games were more complex.
    However, as I originally intended to write, my main criticism was less about complexity and more about the games having too little to do with TtR. For a list that is about games that are like Ticket to Ride I expected games that overall more closely resemble Ticket to Ride than the ones – often having only one common feature – above (and I simply forgot to list TransAmerica, avg. weight 1.36 :D). Mainly this is what inspired writing my own list above, even though I like your list and article – but not as a list of games that are even a bit reminiscent of Ticket to Ride.

  4. If your definition of Like Ticket to Ride is limited to Theme and/or the specifics of having a map and placing things on a map – I’d agree, most of the games on my list are not like ticket to ride.

    But what I think what is being missed is I am using the mechanics and player experience rather than the look of TTR as my jumping off point.

    Does TTR have an element of Territory Control? Yes.
    Do my suggestions under that list use that mechanic? Yes

    Does TTR have an element of collecting and playing sets of cards? Yes
    Do the games I suggest use that mechanic? Yes

    Does TTR have an element of Secret Goals? Yes
    Do the games I suggest use that mechanic? Yes

    I am not saying any of this to discredit your responses – in fact your game suggestions are great in the similarities to TTR that you point out!! I could have added “If you like putting things on maps” as a #4 and probably listed 2 or 3 more categories as well… but I aim to keep my posts within a reasonable word count. 🙂

    So just like Exoplanets and and TTR only share 1 thing in common (secret goals), Airlines Europe and TTR also only share the single idea of putting things on a map in not remotely the same way with not remotely the same goals – but yet the games are indeed similar.

    All of the games in both of our lists all share 1 or 2 similarities to Ticket to Ride. My list primarely focuses on mechanics and yours is primarily focusing on the aspect of mapping and routes. Both are very reasonable methods.

    I really hope that someone who has played just Ticket to Ride, reads my post, or these comments, and finds a new, exciting game to bring to the table!

  5. You are probably right my definition of Ticket to Ride (or Ticket to Ride-like games) is different from yours 🙂

    Even though I don’t agree with the Airlines Europe assessment (seemingly the only one you are arguing upon?) as there are more similarities than putting things on a map (which I would otherwise call ‘connecting cities with public transport vehicles on a map’ which already sounds more TtRish) – it also has the 5-card display players can draw cards from (or draw from the face-down deck) and also has 4 airlines where a nice bonus is given if players manage to connect two distant cities (and a promo expansion gives 2 more aims like this). These all together add some Ticket to Ride feel to the game even if the main mechanism is closer to that of Alhambra (which was obviously inspired by the original Airlines).

    Don’t get me wrong, I understood the method of suggesting games based on mechanism ideas in the game but these mechanism ideas don’t always, necessarily make these games (especially Small World or Exoplanets) feel anything like Ticket to Ride (especially as territory control as a mechanism of TtR already feels like a stretch for me). But it’s also obvious that this is rather subjective – even though having a functional map in games is important for me and I really like connection games so I focus on these, I still felt the need to mention the only complex game in my list, Egizia, which also shares only the secret goals aspect: I just felt these are handled in a very Ticket to Ride-ish way in the game (which made Egizia good fun for me while others, more hardcore gamers did not like this element for about the same reasons). Also Blue Moon City has only a little spatial aspect but it has the hand management and card/set collection aspect you listed a few games for, while in Marco Polo Expedition common markers are moved forward a single path so it’s still not really about having a map or placing things on a map, but more about collecting sets of cards and playing them, in a way that feels very Ticket to Ride-ish.

    So as even these examples show, I don’t think I misunderstood the concept of your list, I just found that from my viewpoint the games listed are a lot less Ticket to Ride-like than what I expected – from my viewpoint. But I agree if it all leads to people learning about more and more new games and enjoying it, then whatever the similarities or differences are, it does not matter. Hopefully many will enjoy the games they learn about this way.

  6. Just for what it’s worth, I completely appreciate the way you wrote your suggestion, Joseph, because I don’t want another TtR game, I want a different one that I enjoy as much. The way you set it up helps me try to discern WHAT IT IS I like about TtR and go from there. I am a mom of teenagers who would rather have their noses in their phones, so knowing that some of the games have a long set-up and rules book helps me know I’d lose them. I am going to try Kingdom Builder first and would love any additional suggestions you have for games that we can get into quickly that are neither done in 10 minutes nor take all day. Thanks again for putting this post out there to help us occasional gamers.

  7. p.s. I have to also say that, in a world of trolls and on-line meanness, your dignified and kind response to the competitive and critical posts by Lacxox is a breath of fresh air. Kudos to you, my friend, for being a rockin’ civil online blogger who can take constructive criticism well AND stand up for your self politely!!!

    • You’re too kind, Heather. One thing that has taken me a long time to learn is that I’m not the only opinionated person out there – so I always try to respect others opinions as I would like them to respect mine. 🙂

      With the quick proviso that I have by no means played close to every game out there, here would be a 3 quick suggestions for games that are quick to learn and don’t take all day to play (while still being more challenging than “roll and move” board games):

      Carcassonne – Pretty much 0 set up time. And you can add expansions for some more complexity.
      Pandemic – The first couple of times you set it up it will take you a little bit – but once you’ve played it a few times you’ll understand the set up completely. I like this one because you can make it harder.
      Stockpile – The set up doesn’t take too much time – this has been my #1 “Gateway game” this year. It’s usually the one people are asking for if they aren’t heavy gamers.

  8. Thanks for the suggestions… I’m not sure whether to trial small worlds or not. One of my friends is much more serious than games than me (owns 150+!) and doesn’t rate it so it put me off.

    The different perspectives is interesting, I wouldn’t say TTR is like powergrid, but I introduced it to a friend who had only played ticket to ride and his view was that they’re similar too! ☺

    We get round complicated games by watching instruction videos on YouTube. 10 minutes watching can save 1hr plus of fathoming rules sometimes!

    • Games are like ice cream… so many different flavors, and never will everyone agree that one flavor is the absolute best. 🙂 I’ll take Small World over Risk any day of the week. But then again, I’d take Scythe over Small World.

      …And I’ll always pick Cookie Dough over Rocky Road.

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