The game balance in Ticket to Ride (in my social not highly competitive environment) seems to favour the person with the longest destination tickets and getting short tickets is almost automatically a loss.

I have been wondering about game balance in Ticket to Ride and thought a good idea might be to allow a player to draw a new ticket after completing a mission and being allowed to throw it back if they don't want it.

Perhaps we play in too friendly a fashion and the person with small tickets should be more disruptive of long routes but what are people's thoughts on the game balance and this suggestion?

  • 2
    not an answer, but you are playing it too social. if nobody blocks another one routes, then the long routes will almost win.
    – gbianchi
    Commented Jul 22, 2015 at 14:10
  • Sometimes we just do what TTR: Europe does, and take all the routes with value > X (usually 16 or 18), shuffle them separately and deal 1 to each player as the first of their starting hand. The rest are discarded or shuffled back in after everyone has all their starting tickets, depending on how we feel
    – Zack
    Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 17:23
  • The Europe map might be better suited for you in this case: it guarantees that one of the four "ticket" cards drawn at the beginning will be a long route.
    – vsz
    Commented Nov 8, 2015 at 15:13

9 Answers 9


The goal in TTR is not "complete the cards you're given", it's "get the most points". There are plenty of ways to do this with short routes (e.g. by focusing on building only length 4+, not going for longest route, and picking the spots where everyone wants to go).

If no one in your group wants to adjust their play style to match the cards they're dealt, then you obviously don't want to play the game as intended. A rule change might be an outcome, but this perceived unfairness might be part of the process of getting to know the game mechanics.

I (...) thought a good idea might be to allow a player to draw a new ticket after completing a mission

This rule comes with a drawback. You would have to show your completed routes, which is something you would normally do at the end of the game. I would not recommend this as it would upset yet another part of the game.

  • 1
    All true - I just wanted to share a thought.
    – Mat Kay
    Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 0:00
  • 2
    We've had the same kinds of discussions when playing TTR:Europe, complaining about certain impossible long routes. Then one person decided to discard his long route and just wreak havoc across the map. It won him the game and briefly pissed some people off, but it had no long term effect on social interaction within our group.
    – freekvd
    Commented Jul 28, 2015 at 9:59

I disagree that the player who draws the longest routes has an advantage. A winning play in Ticket to Ride (TTR) doesn't boil down simply to that. Here are a few reasons why I don't think changing the rules is necessary (according to my many many TTR games played):

  1. Many games can be won by completing only small routes, and by using connections that are essential to connecting certain parts of the map that many players often want to use in a game (for example Omaha to Kansas City on the America map). Choosing strategic routes (not simply the shortest one to get from on city to another) makes a big difference in TTR.

  2. There is also the possibility to take smalls gambles when you think you have an idea of where someone wants to go. Here's an example: if you think a player is trying to connect Houston to New Orleans in the America map, a move I have often used is to play that connection even if it has nothing to do with my objectives. As I said, it is a gamble, but more often than not you can somewhat judge the direction a player is heading in.

  3. Another good strategy is to draw three more route cards on your first turn, and sometimes three more on your second turn. You will be behind other players in map building cards, but you can potentially have 5-6 route cards that you can manage to connect with 25-30 trains.

My opinion is that in TTR there are many ways of playing to avoid the winner to often be the one with the longest route cards drawn at the beginning.


How much have you played?

I agree that someone who gets lucky and gets several long tickets that are all along the same route will have a big advantage.

However, other players can disrupt the player by blocking his routes... in which case he loses a lot points.

Also - the 1910 expansion has a 'most tickets' complete bonus -which gives a bonus 15 points.


Yes, without the risk of beïng disrupted, the long routes are a winner. I'm not sure if your solution helps. But I have a few of my own:

  1. Disregard the points for the routes.
  2. Divide the routes in three stacks (long, middle and short). First deplete the long routes, then the middle and then the short. That way each player has a similar chance for long routes.

In my experience, I don't think starting with short tickets is an automatic loss. In fact, I've been very successful with shorter tickets. When I start with short tickets, I try to complete them fairly quickly, but keeping an eye on the long routes on the board. Completing a 6-long route gives you 15 points. Your routes do not need to connect to each other, so just going around gobbling up the longer routes is a viable strategy, especially since it will be fairly disruptive to the other players. In addition, the 1910 expansion gives 15 points to the player with the most tickets.


I think you could mitigate this by having a hand drafting of initial routes, ala 7 wonders/agricola. Let's say you seed each player with a minimum of two long routes and two short. On top of that, people will have partial knowledge of routes in play which may lead to more screwage.


Yes, I've also observed that to be the case in friendly games of the original TTR. Probably it means that you have to be more aggressive in disrupting each others routes. Other boards, like Netherlands and Africa, don't have the super long routes that TTR, TTR Marklin and Switzerland have, perhaps this change was in part to fix that imbalance.


Don't lose sight of the bonuses for long route segments. For instance, in the Europe version there is only one eight route segment worth as much as a long route all by itself. Folks can get so caught up in the routes that they lose sight of the points available by simply grabbing long segments. There is an added benefit that grabbing random long segments might mess up an opponents route segment plans for their formal routes.


I also feel as if the longer routes become an automatic win, what ends up happening with the group I play with, is one player hoards the cards and therefore I am left with the cards I am dealt with. The issue arises when there are three other players to deal with. A solution would be to divide tickets into three categories (short, medium and large) and when exchanging a card, the player must return one or more cards of the same category

  • One player taking all the route cards should be a straightforward victory to heir opponent, every turn taking a card is a turn not claiming routes or picking trains, and every incomplete route reduces the final score.
    – Nij
    Commented Dec 25, 2017 at 20:13
  • 2
    What do you mean returning /exchanging cards? You can’t exchange routes once you’ve taken them.
    – GendoIkari
    Commented Dec 25, 2017 at 22:16

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