Simultaneous Board Game Play: “Ticket to Ride!”

April 13-19 2008 is National Library Week, and Friday, April 18th is gaming @ your library day.

As one part of that day, the Games and Gaming Members Initiative Group (MIG) and the ALA are encouraging people across the country to play the same board game at the same time: “Ticket to Ride”, at 7 PM Eastern/6PM Central/5PM Mountain/4PM Pacific. Designed by Alan R. Moon, and published by Days of Wonder, “Ticket to Ride” is an excellent example of the new generation of board games.

The goals of this event are to:

  • Raise awareness about the use of games as a library program
  • Expose people to a new type of board game
  • Establish connections between local board game groups and the library

To Libraries:

Seek out your local board game groups for assistance. Members of that group probably already haveTicket to Ride,” but if you need to order a copy, the publisher, Days of Wonder, is discounting the game to libraries.

One of the best ways to locate a local board game group is through the site, the largest community site for board gamers. The list of groups can be found at We encourage you to contact your local game group and invite interested members to the library to help host the April 18th board game event. Assistance from board gamers will help you run multiple Ticket to Ride games at the appropriate time. Please document the event with pictures and collect contact information from participants so you can let them know about future events. You can learn how to play Ticket to Ride at

Librarians with questions should contact Jenny Levine at More information is available at

To Board Game Groups:

Go to your local library with this information and find out if they’re participating in gaming @ your library on Friday, April 18th. If the library staff isn’t aware of game day, offer to host a board game event on April. The goal is to have many copies of Ticket to Ride played at the same time and to have some documentation of the event. Your participation in this one-day activity can lead to future board game events at the library as well.

Board Game groups with questions should contact Scott Nicholson at

After the event, please visit to report on your success and to find instructions for sharing your pictures with the gaming @ your library Flickr group!

Playing Ticket to Ride:

I played the US version of “Ticket to Ride” on Sunday night at the Computers & Libraries conference and I’m hooked on this “gateway game” to modern board gaming. No dice involved, just strategizing, drawing cards, and placing train cars.

Game play starts with players selecting colored trains (red, blue, green, yellow or black) to represent their play. Railway lines are represented by chains of gray and colored train-sized sections on the game board. Colored cards (pink, white, red, orange, yellow green, blue & black)  are shuffled. Five color cards are pulled and placed face up, next to a draw deck. Players selecting 3 Tickets to Ride from destination A to destination B. A point value is assigned to each route. Keep those routes a secret!

Next, players are dealt 4 color cards. These cards are turned in when placing trains, as players build routes from city to city along color-coded lines. One must fill an entire segment of the route (anywhere from 1-6 train cars). Some routes are gray, and any colors may be played on those segments, as long as all the cards are the same color. There is no penalty for indirect routes; a special bonus of 10 points is awarded to the player with the longest consecutive train.

On each turn, a player may opt to:

  1. Pick up two new color cards (only 1, if a Wild Card is selected from the face-up cards)
  2. Turn in color cards and place trains
  3. Pick a new Ticket to Ride, keeping at least one Ticket, and discarding any unwanted Tickets

Scoring is based on the number of trains placed, and the number of Tickets to Ride completed. The perimeter of the board is numbered consecutively from 0-99, making it easy to stop mid-game and return at a later time – colored markers placed on the border are a visual indication of each player’s score.

A typical round of the game takes anywhere from 30-45 minutes. Strategies include filling up single rail destinations. Two to five players may compete individually, or in teams. Christopher Harris told our table that when he told students, no, they couldn’t play in teams, they challenged this decision, telling him, “but that’s what the robber barons did!”

In addition to reinforcing US history, the game is a practical application of North American geography and simple addition. Other versions of the game cover geography of Europe, Germany & Switzerland. A non-board (cards only!) version of the game is in development and should be available in May 2008.

Because it was a new game for most of us, game play was slow to catch on – as players left to try other video & card games, those of us left at the table very quickly realized we were already comfortable enough and savvy enought about the game to teach it to new, drop in players who simply resumed play with someone else’s hand

On Friday, April 18, I’m going to be at a library in MA, facilitating a DDR Tournament, but Ticket to Ride will be one of the games I have on hand as an alternative for those who need a break from the dancing.

For more information about how to play “Ticket to Ride,” see Scott Nicholson’s video tutorial at Board Games with Scott at

To purchase “Ticket to Ride,” visit the Days of Wonder website at

Try “Ticket to Ride” online at