"Ticket to Ride" Provides High Stress and High Excitement Entertainment

Imagine a long train ride, carrying you all across Europe with regular stops in new cities where you can meet new people each day.  Unfortunately, for the moment, the pandemic has made travel experiences like that only possible in our daydreams. In the meantime, my friends and I have discovered the next best thing: “Ticket to Ride.” 

“Ticket to Ride” is a fun and intense board game that requires lots of focus and persistence. The board is a map — the version I play is Europe, but they make many others as well — covered with stations in different cities and railroads connecting them. The objective of the game is to collect as many destination tickets (i.e. routes connecting multiple stations) as possible before someone runs out of train pieces to use. 

While this may seem simple, only one or two people can use each railroad and the board gets crowded fast. Effective strategies involve planning ahead and thinking creatively when necessary. Games usually last around one hour, but the intensity and tension make it feel much shorter.

What makes “Ticket to Ride” more fun than other games? Even though a portion of the game is based on luck, winning typically requires well-thought-out plans and moves — that way success feels well-earned. My friend describes it as “the perfect balance between strategy and luck” and “taking risks, predicting the moves of other players and constantly thinking ahead.” 

Even though finishing a game of “Ticket to Ride” takes a while, everyone always wants to play another round because they are convinced they can do better. The length of the game  means that everyone is fully invested — which also means that people tend to get upset when someone blocks their move. After a game a few nights ago in which my friend blocked a route that I needed to complete a certain path, tensions were high. An hour after the game, my opponent joked to me, “Are we friends again?” Despite the in-game hostility I felt (or maybe because of it), this game has definitely bonded us and made us even closer than before. 

During another game recently, someone commented that, even though we play “Ticket to Ride” as a way to take a break from headache-inducing work, the game ends up being more stressful than most of our classes or homework. This is true, and yet somehow the game is still incredibly fun. The high-stress environment makes the game thrilling and exciting, and because the real stakes are relatively low, the short-term stress is definitely worth it. If anything, losing terribly makes me want to play more for the sake of redemption. 

Would I recommend “Ticket to Ride” to other students? My answer is undoubtedly yes, especially if you like using your brain even while relaxing. However, only play if you are willing to put a significant amount of time and energy into making the game as enjoyable as possible — and if you are able to handle a fair amount of yelling when the game gets especially intense.