Top 5 Games like Ticket to Ride… but better!

Ticket to Ride is a instantly recognizable game, and has won many awards and has numerous spinoffs and expansions (one which made my Top 5 Spinoff Games (That are better than the original). However, while the art and components are amazing, the gameplay is tight and it has solid mechanics, I never truly fell in love with it. But whether you feel the same as me, or love it… I made a list of 5 games that give me the same feel as Ticket to Ride, but I feel are far superior and give a better gameplay experience. So sit back, relax, and let the controversy begin!

5) Alhambra

Whoa whoa… you’re about to stop me already and tell me “but Alhambra is a tile laying game!” and you’re correct. But its how you get those tiles where the magic happens. You draft the cards from the available face up cards, and use them to buy the tiles. That really gives the same feel as Ticket to Ride, as you have the same race feel to buy tiles as you do putting down your trains, and you’re taking cards that your opponents might want. The other important notes are that not only is Alhambra a Spiel des Jahres (Game of the Year) winner like Ticket to Ride (and another game on this list), but it’s the only game on this list that came out BEFORE Ticket to Ride. The mechanics weren’t anything revolutionary for either game, but if I had the choice, I would always pick Alhambra over Ticket to Ride!

4) Council of 4

Whether you have the original version (pictured) or the new edition, Council of 4 is a solid game. Instead of putting trains on the board, you are building emporiums in 3 different kingdoms and connecting them by routes. And of course, you are doing this by playing cards to match the colours of the council members… but on your turn, you have the option to corrupt the council and change the members, changing what cards are required. That mechanic is extremely unique and makes this game really stand out… but then why is not higher on this list? It’s because aside from some unique mechanics, it feels really similar to my number 1 game, so for now it sits and number 4.

3) Ethnos

Ethnos already made my Top 5 Area Control Games, and here we are back to it. It has card play that is similar to Ticket to Ride, but really unique in that when you play cards from your hand, you play the set you wish and discard the rest in the face up draw pile. When you take face up cards as well, no new card is drawn to replace it, so you take from what’s available or draw from the top of the deck. The area control mechanic feels secondary to the card play at lower player counts, but becomes more prevalent at higher player counts. The art may not be as vibrant as Ticket to Ride, and even disliked by many, but the gameplay is strong and keeps the game high up on he list.

2) Royals

If I was making my top area control games list today, Royals may just be on it. It is similar to Ethnos but feels more like Ticket to Ride in the way that you play your cards to place cubes to control areas on the board. You are always trying to compete for majorities in regions and for nobles, and you have the option to remove players out of areas with intrigue cards. So why does this rank above Ethnos? Well, in Ethnos you can kind of ignore the board and focus on set collection, but Royals is more like Ticket to Ride because you are taking cards so you can place cubes out (like trains). Overall, you can’t go wrong with either, but I’m slightly edging Royals here due to the style of gameplay

1) Thurn and Taxis

Here we go! This Spiel des Jahres winner, designed by Karen and Andreas Seyfarth (who designed Puerto Rico, which should have also won) doesn’t make you build railway routes, but instead create the postal network throughout Germany. I know… that really doesn’t sound too exciting, but the gameplay really makes this game shine. You take a card during your turn, and you must play a card, starting a route, and the following turn you must play a card next to it that follows and connects the route on your board. When you feel you are done, you close your route (by discarding the cards) and place your postal stations either in one coloured region  from your closed route, or spread throughout different coloured regions. Unlike Ticket to Ride, players may share spots but the first player to complete regions will get more bonus points. This is the game that makes Ticket to Ride feel irrelevant to me, and is essential to any gamers collection.

So there we have it! While all these games are different, they all give me a similar feeling while incorporating different mechanics and strategies. Did I miss some that you feel belong on this list, or am I dead on? Sound off in the comments below!

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