The Ticket to Ride rules include this process:

If at any time, three of the five face-up cards are Locomotives, all five cards are immediately discarded and five new ones are turned face-up to replace them.

The designation "any time" seems to indicate that this replacement process will repeat when the new cards match the conditions for replacement. The designation "three" seems to be a minimum.

With the above interpretation, an infinite loop would occur when the cards players have not drawn include at least four Locomotives and only two regular Train Cars.

If this is the intended interpretation, how should the practical player continue the game when the infinite loop would occur? If this is not the intended interpretation, what is intended?

  • Why would there be an infinite loop?
    – Rainbow
    Nov 16, 2020 at 22:55
  • 3
    @Rainbow If there are only two regular Train Cars available, the five face-up cards must include at least three Locomotives. If there are also at least four Locomotives available, enabling a redraw, the redraw process would repeat forever.
    – monad
    Nov 16, 2020 at 23:03
  • why would you not just reshuffle the discard pile?
    – Rainbow
    Nov 17, 2020 at 20:45
  • @Rainbow You would reshuffle the discard pile. The rule I've quoted instructs to do that. Of all the available cards to place face-up, only two would be regular Train Cars. Shuffling would not change that number. If I've misunderstood the rules, please correct me.
    – monad
    Nov 17, 2020 at 22:49

1 Answer 1


This would be a very rare situation, and the rulebook does not directly address it.

There are basically 2 options for how to handle it.

  1. Simply leave the 5 face-up cards with them having 3 or more locomotives in the set. This is how the mobile and online versions are implemented.

  2. Follow the rule for a similar situation that is mentioned by the rules:

In the unlikely event that there are no cards left in the deck and there are no discards (because players are hoarding many cards in their hands), a player cannot draw Train Car cards. Instead he may only claim a route or draw Destination Ticket cards.

It makes sense to follow this rule in this situation, because while it's not true that "there are no cards left in the deck and there are no discards", it IS true that the cards that are left cannot make a valid set of face-up cards. So the recommendation would be to act as if there are no cards left, and not allow players to draw new train car cards until a route is claimed.

Source: https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1812513/there-are-only-locomotives-left-deckdiscard

  • It's reasonable to adhere to the way the digital versions are implemented for playing by intended rules. According to the linked thread, the digital versions will attempt a replacement three times at most. It seems the game would continue to allow draws after that point. Then, when a player takes a face-up card before more Train Cars have been discarded, would the replacement process trigger again?
    – monad
    Nov 17, 2020 at 0:03

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