Ticket To Ride (PC review can be read at this page on our website) is typically designed to accommodate 2 to 5 players but sometimes it’s just not very interesting as a 2 player game. There are several versions that are designed specifically with 2 and 3 players in mind.
It’s a general consensus among Ticket To Ride players that Nordic Countries, the Switzerland map, Pennsylvania map, and the Nederlands versions and maps are the best versions to own for 2 player games. The Big Cities variants of the USA game an honorable mention as well.
Here Are A Few Of The Best 2-Player Variants.
Ticket To Ride: Nordic Countries is designed for 2 to 3 players and is one of the top recommendations. It’s not a map or route additions, it’s a standalone version so you’ll need to buy the entire game. If you like a competitive version then this one should be one you like since it has a crowded map and a lot of choke points for blocking your opponent.
The game setting is in the countries of Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden and it has famous cities like Oslo, Copenhagen and Stockholm. This game also has tunnels and ferries which adds a little more variety to the game, plus a few strategic decisions as well. One interesting variation in this game is that wildcards can only be used to build ferry or tunnel routes, or the special 9 length route (Murmansk-Lieksa, worth 27 points). Unlike most versions of the game locomotives (wildcards) can’t be used to claim “regular” routes. Picking up a locomotive does not limit you to only one card for that turn, you can still draw a total of two, even if it’s another face up locomotive card.
When building a ferry route you are actually required to play the number of locomotive cards that are shown on the route. Locomotive cards can be used as legitimate wildcards for a ferry route and can be used as substitutes for colored train cards you may not have. Anther unique thing about this route is the ability to use any three cards as a replacement for a wildcard.
Tunnels are also different because you don’t know how long the tunnel will be. This is because once you start to claim a tunnel by putting down the required cards the top three cards on the Train Car deck are turned up, forcing you to play more matching colors to finish claiming the route if they come up.
You can pick this up at Amazon.
The Switzerland map is another version that’s highly recommended. If you can get the map by itself it works well with the base Ticket To Ride game or the Europe version, or you may need to buy it as part of a bundle to get the map, like the India version that has the Switzerland map on the other side. You’ll still need the original Ticket To Ride game or the Europe version so you have the pieces and cards to play it.
One difference in this game version is that you only use 40 trains per player instead of the typical 45. Another difference is that not all destinations are cities, 12 of the destinations are either city-to-country connections or country-to-country connections instead.
Locomotive (wildcards) are treated differently too. Similar to the Nordic Countries version more than one locomotive card can be drawn from the face-up pile instead of one that usually ends the turn. Also, just like the Nordic version, they can also only be used to claim tunnel routes, they can’t be used as part of a card set to claim a regular route.
You can get it a part of the India expansion at Amazon.
The Pennsylvania map is a great map as well for a 2 player game. If you can’t find the map by itself it is included in the United Kingdom version of Ticket To Ride. Although it is designed for 2 to 5 players it has rules designed specifically for 2 player games. Since this is an expansion you’ll also need the trains and score markers from one of Ticket To Ride games. As long as you have 45 trains per player and the 110 train card deck from Ticket To Ride, the Europe version, or the cards from the 1910 expansion pack you’ll be able to play the game.
This game has stock shares in Railroads. These cards are drawn when a route is claimed, taking the top card of a pile form one of the railroads listed on the route. At the end of the game the player with the most shares in a railroad gets the most points, second place gets the second most points, etc. How many points you get depends on the railroad.
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In a 2-player game there is a third dummy player. The dummy player gets a stock share whenever another player takes one and at the end of the game the shares of the dummy player are shuffled, counted, and half of them revealed. These are included when calculating the different majorities for how many points each player gets. This version seems pretty competitive, so if you’re looking for a non-adversarial version you might want to pass on this one. If you want an added layer of choices and tactics, then this is one worth looking at.
Nederlands is another version of Ticket To Ride that has rules specifically written for 2-player games. It also still requires owning Ticket To Ride or Ticket To Ride Europe. Instead of the addition of railroad stocks like the Pennsylvania version, this adds the twist of Bridge Tolls. Double routes are all available in this game, even in the 2-player version. All double routes have a cost so when claiming one a player has to pay the required amount of the toll to the bank. If the second portion of a double route is claimed then that player pays the toll to the owner of the first route. In this game, if you can’t afford the toll of buying a route you can take a loan from the bank, which can never be repaid. At the end of the game, when bonus points are awarded according to how many Bridge Toll tokens a player has, that player is ineligible for any bonus points.
Playing a 2-player game in this version can be the same as for most other versions of this game. Simply don’t use the Bridge Toll tokens and only one route of a double route can be claimed. If you want to use the Bridge Toll tokens then it gets a little more complicated, and a lot more cutthroat. For the 2-player game, when using the Bridge Toll tokens, you should introduce a neutral player. After the fifth turn players take turns taking the neutral player’s turn. Also, in this variant, the cities at the bottom of some of the destination cards are used. If one of these is turned up during the neutral player’s move the player conducting the neutral players move must claim the route between the two cities shown at the bottom of the card. If one route of a double route is claimed, then the neutral player pays the required toll to the owner of the route.
Stockpiling cards in this game will probably hurt you more than help you. Since most routes are double routes, and since there is a toll system in play, you want to avoid paying that toll to other players, so claiming routes early and often is usually the best approach. If you’re looking for a 2-player version that introduces a new game mechanic, then you’ll be interested in this one.
The Big Cities variant, which is part of the 1910 expansion card deck, has some tickets with “Big Cities” on them, which cuts down the number of routes dramatically to a total of 35. You get four destination cards at the start of the game instead of three and still only need to keep two, and whenever you draw new destination cards you get to draw four but still only need to keep one. This is good for a competitive 2-player game since both players will be forced into competing for the more limited routes that are available instead of trying to avoid each other, if that’s their style.
Read More: Is Ticket To Ride fun to play?
There are more variants available for 2-player games, and even without specific 2-player rules lots of the game versions are entertaining anyway. You can even create your own “house rules” for a 2-player game, or if creative enough, even create a custom set of cards for your own version of the game. This a fun and entertaining game that can be played between adults or with your kids that usually last no longer than an hour. Sounds like a great way to have some family fun, or some enjoyment with a spouse or neighbor.
Looking for strategy tips? Take a look at our strategy page for Ticket To Ride.