I get the feeling that a big part of how well someone does in Ticket to Ride, is the drawing of their initial destination tickets, and the drawing of subsequent destination tickets, and how well they fit within the player's existing route, etc.

Are there any house rules for mitigating this? One suggestion might be that three destination tickets can be placed face up on the table, and players can draw from those, or elect to scrap them before drawing from them.

Note: I'm specifically asking about how luck dependent the game is, and if there are any house rules to reduce the luck factor. I'm not asking for strategies used to deal with the standard rules.

  • 5
    Related: How to overcome bad initial tickets
    – freekvd
    Feb 17, 2016 at 9:45
  • 3
    Regarding close: related yes, duplicate no. That question asks about game strategy to mitigate an unfortunate start for one player. This question is asking about strategies, variants, or house rules to balance the game to make it less likely that somebody gets super good/super bad route combinations.
    – Samthere
    Feb 17, 2016 at 16:28
  • @Samthere actually this question is only about house rules and the other is only about strategy. I linked the question because I thought it would be useful to the OP, not because it answers his question.
    – freekvd
    Feb 17, 2016 at 21:28

5 Answers 5


Find a new game.

Taking of tickets in Ticket to Ride is supposed to be a high risk/high reward action that has the potential to lose you a significant amount of points. Once you try to mitigate an aspect of a game, you're changing how the game plays in ways that weren't intended by the designer. At this point, it's better to find a new game that more closely aligns with your board gaming preferences. There are over 82,000 games in the Board Game Geek database, and one of them is sure to have the aspects of Ticket to Ride that you enjoy while eliminating the randomness of drawing cards.

My suggestion would be Hansa Teutonica. This is also a strategy game that focuses on taking routes, but instead of taking tickets for points, you are taking actions over the course of the game. One game session should take you about the same amount of time as Ticket to Ride. Hansa Teutonica also has the benefit of multiple paths to victory, so it will have a longer shelf life than Ticket to Ride.

  • I disagree with this answer. Game designers frequently tweak their own games after they are published and they have the advantage of having had hundreds or thousands more players play their game and give feedback. On top of that, I LOVE TTR, but have the same opinion about the starting cards - there's too much chance in just giving everyone 3 random cards. If one person gets 2 long routes that overlap, they're almost guaranteed a victory. There's nothing wrong with a small tweak to the rules for a game you find nearly perfect.
    – jfren484
    Dec 28, 2016 at 17:28
  • That being said, I recently played Hansa Teutonica and really enjoyed it, so that's a good recommendation.
    – jfren484
    Dec 28, 2016 at 17:29

The problem with your suggested solution is that it increases the impact of good luck for everyone. The result is that everyone's potential score will be that much higher, so the winner will end up being the person who doesn't get screwed out of routes by other players.

As you say, getting lucky with grouped routes does have an impact on the game, and no amount of cleverly playing around your mixed hand will beat someone who gets a cluster of many tickets in an area.

If you're not doing so already, I would suggest trying Ticket to Ride: Europe. While the luck of the ticket draw is still a factor, it's lessened in a few ways:

  • Your starting tickets are picked from at least 2 of 4 tickets, where 1 of those tickets is a long route that's only available in the starting hand.
  • Stations are available, so if you do get screwed on a route you can still complete it using other people's routes and build your other tickets.
  • Similar to the above point, if you're drawing new routes and nothing matches your game plan, you can pick a route that's mostly completed by your opponents and spend your stations to attach their routes to your network, saving your trains.

If you absolutely want to house rule any of the games, you could do some form of ticket drafting in which, as a group at the start of the game, you build a starting hand publicl. For example everyone gets 4 cards, picks one face up and passes the hand until they have 3 or 4 cards. Then you pick out of those routes normally. If you want to go full-out on this you could then draft the rest of the deck and build individual decks, allowing the players to balance how well the routes go together and giving a vague idea of what routes each player might be capable of without having perfect knowledge of what they're doing. You could just do the deck draft and then have each player draw their initial routes from their drafted deck.

  • Europe definitely feels closer in this regard. I do find the above issue can cause a lot of problems on the Switzerland map however: the country to country tickets can lead to very high scores for a lucky player. Feb 17, 2016 at 16:52

Our house rule is to take all of the tickets that are 17 or higher, shuffle them, and deal one to each player, and deal the other tickets from the (shuffled) rest of the deck. Then shuffle all remaining tickets to form the ticket pile. That way (similar to TTR:Europe) all players have a long route to choose from at the start.

  • That's definitely the right line of thinking, imo.
    – dwjohnston
    Feb 19, 2016 at 0:11

If you want people to have more control over their initial tickets, just give them move to choose from. Instead of 'Draw 4, keep 2-4', you could allow people to 'Draw 6, keep 2-4'. This doesn't impact any part of the game, other than the initial route drafting.

There is of course a very simple solution that doesn't involve house rules: ditch your longest route. Although it feels natural to go for the longest route, you don't have to. Just make sure you get the most points, by any means necessary.


My proposed "house rules" solution is the opposite of the another poster's: Raise the bonus for Longest Route from 10 to 25.

That would give people that drew low destination cards an alternative means of achieving a high score. They would build their destination routes as quickly as possible, then spend the rest of the game 1) connecting them, 2) extending them, and 3) blocking others' routes. The "flexibility" that they gain in this manner might compensate them for the low value of their routes.

Sometimes one might want to do this in "reverse" order (e.g. poaching others' routes first), which might create confusion as to what your routes are.

  • But Tom, if one player draws Seattle-New York (22 points) and Vancouver-Montreal (20 points), OR Los Angeles-Miami (20 points) and Los Angeles-New York (21 points), or any combination of 2 of those, they'll have an easy route to victory - over 40 points for tickets, and a great head-start on the longest route. If a player starts with 3 smaller routes that don't overlap, working on the longest route isn't always feasible. The Globetrotter bonus in the 1910 expansion (15 points for most tickets) mitigates the long-ticket advantage in the opposite way - rewarding doing the smaller tickets.
    – jfren484
    Dec 28, 2016 at 17:43
  • @jfren484: If I had three smaller routes that don't overlap, I'd discard one in favor of the two that most overlap, build them, connect them, and then extend them in the opposite directions. The longer routes are easier to block, so I would try to fill my (short) destination routes quickly, block my opponents' longer ones, and try to build the longest route in the process.
    – Tom Au
    Dec 28, 2016 at 17:47

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