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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Ticket to Ride UK Map

Back in 2006 I created a UK board for the Ticket to Ride game published by Days of Wonder. I posted the map on the BoardGameGeek website and to date the page has been viewed over twenty thousand times. In the Summer when I redesigned my website the Ticket to Ride page was orphaned, but in an effort to reconnect it I've decided to add the board (and the related extensions) to this blog.

You can find all the related posts by clicking the Ticket to Ride UK tag. Including an improved version of the board created by Ken Meyers.

The UK Board

I know - I should get out more - but Ticket to Ride is such a great game that I couldn't help but have a go at creating a board myself. A map of the United Kingdom is an obvious choice for a British guy, even if Britain is a bit thin and spindly. You will therefore have to excuse the creative license with the train tracks, particularly the ones which in reality would require special trains with portholes and a lot of silicon sealant.

Here is the main board, you can click here for the full size file (approx 2MB):

It may be easier for you to download the map in A4 (Letter) sized sections (each is around 250 Kb).

The map has it's quirks but then there's no point in replicating the feel of the original US map. If you're looking for a further alternative then you might want to take a look at the Les de Jeux de NIM, Belgium version as well (I used their stuff as a guide - so thanks guys!).

Bare in mind that in order to get a suitable number of tracks in (and make them an appropriate length) I've had to make some difficult decisions about which cities to use and also had to shift the cities around a bit. So apologies if the place where you love to live has moved around a bit while you weren't looking.

The UK Cards

You will also need to download and print out the following ticket card sheets (sheet1, sheet2). The cards follow a similar points distribution to the ones in the USA set.

I've included two blank cards if you want to experiment with your own routes.

Tactics and Notes

  • Each of the UK capital cities is a hub, this means that more routes run through Cardiff, Belfast and Edinburgh than any other city. Dublin has the same number of routes (although of course it is the Irish Capital). London is represented by four of its principle stations, collectively they participate in more routes than any other city on the board.
  • One of the UK cards is called the Circle Line, it represents a route between all four of the London stations. You only need three of the four routes to achieve the card (because the fourth can be satisfied by the other three in a chain). You get double points for the Circle Line (six) because it is so easy to block.
  • There is a bottleneck in Scotland around the Glasgow-Edinburgh point. If you want to get those high value South to North routes then you need to grab a route through here early.
  • There are three lanes between the UK's second city, Birmingham, and Paddington. Only one can be used in a 2-player game, two can be used in a 3-player game and all three can be used in a 4 or 5-player game.

Over the years I have received a few email comments from people who have tried out the board - thanks to everyone who has commented, either directly or via the BoardGameGeek website. Apologies if I have paraphrased you!

Q: How does the board play with the Europe rules?

Actually I haven't tried it with the European rules. It seems a fairly obvious candidate since so many of the routes represent ferry routes and could use engine ferries on the spaces where the route crossed water. There are also a few candidates for tunnels, particularly in Wales and Scotland.

However, I have a few reservations about how the stations would effect the game. This is a high scoring board (lots of routes) and blocking people can be a major strategy. Stations can prevent this and would probably make for very high scores. There are also a number of long routes (unlike the Europe version) and snatching those can easily connect two disparate parts of the map. I'd be interested to hear of peoples opinions.

Q: How much play testing did you do - did you make any changes as a result?

Lots of playtesting, very few changes. When I made the board I did an analysis of the US version to see how many routes there were, what their distribution was and how connected everything was, and tried to mimic that in the UK map. Given the statistical similarity its interesting that they are so different to play. On reflection the main thing I would now change is not the board but the cards; I think that there are probably too many north-south routes and not enough east-west ones.

Q: Isn't Britain a little less stubby in real life?

Erm... yes it is a bit. The UK really is rather long and narrow and to make best use of the board space I squashed the map slightly (the country is about 20% shorter than it should be).

Q: Have you though about doing an African or Asian map?

Both Africa and Asia would make splendid boards, and might actually teach me a little non-western geography which must be a good thing, but I think its better left to people who actually know those continents well. Johannesburg to Cairo anyone?

Q: I am looking to ask an online digital photo shop if they can print out the jpeg for me, but was wondering what size I need them to do it?

It is designed to be printed out on 4x2 A4 pages - which is the equivalent to an A1 sheet (A1: 841mm x 594mm, 33.11 inches x 23.39 inches) - Im guessing that a 30x20 inch print should be okay.

Q: I am thinking about doing my own map - how did you create yours, and can I have a copy of the files?

I used a copy of Adobe Photoshop to create the main file, with many, many, many layers. The background is a faded out physical map of the UK which has been edge highlighted to define the coastline, this is surrounded by a scanned track which I took from the Belgium extension. The cities and (horror) tracks are placed by hand by defining and rotating buttons to make each track piece. The cards are scanned from the boxed game and then altered with a much smaller version of the map, which has been washed with grey and then speckled to get a suitably grainy effect. Im afraid that the original files are locked away on an old PC at the moment, but I'll try and make some of the different layers available as a resource to other people as soon as I can.

Q: Any ideas about how this might be used with the Marklin edition?

I've never played the Marklin edition so I haven't really got any firm ideas. If anyone has any thoughts then I'd be happy to add them here.


This is an unofficial extension - you need the full version of Ticket To Ride to play this, and it's well worth the cash! This material is my own and is no way associated with Days of Wonder (although their Art Director dropped me a message at one point to say that he liked it - so I think they are pretty supportive of community extensions! :-)


kingsteven said...

Hi, I came across your post while searching for satellite images of the UK, thank you for including Northern and Southern Ireland! You are a total genius.

Steven (TTR addict from Belfast)

noscollections said...

this ttr map is nice. A satellite version could be good.
a sat image is available here :


Damir said...


we like your map and play and it's one of the best :-) THX!


we play it by EU rules.

michael said...

Lol. International rules. Right where to start...

Am thinking I could do glasgow to paris (probably some low cost airline) then train to copenhagen, copenhagen to oslo with DFDS ferries oslo to edinburgh with Sleasy Jet and then train back to Glasgow.
You've just killed my entire summer - in a good way :)

Tlaxcala's W/R Planeswalker said...

Thank you so much for the effort, I've just gotten this game and haven't even played it. But I'm rather hooked on it already. will surely play with this map. Cheers from Mexico

Gary said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mads Singers said...

Hi, Just came by your site, i'm a big fan of ticket to ride as well and will defo have a look at the UK map ;)

I recently did a review of Ticket To Ride the European version.

Kind Regards

Calla said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Calla said...

Hi, this looks pretty impressive! I'm glad you squished it, the geographically correct version would make for a lot of reaching!

A group of us are designing a board at the moment and I was wondering if you managed to find the original files at all? The outside track layer in particular would be an awfully big help to us :)