Ticket to ride is one of the biggest board games around today, known and loved by “gamers”, “noobies” and everyone in between. However once we got “Rails and Sails” it became clear that there was a world outside the united states and “Zug um Zug”, as it is known in Germany, would have to explore it in a bit more detail. Thus we got India and China and Norway all adding their own slight tweak to the formula. Well now Ticket to Ride is going to the home of steam in……………………………
So first things first we need to emphasise this is an expansion to the main line game requiring the trains from the main box and possibly the cards as you shall see in a bit. I say that because you can’t really have a copy of this on your shelf without a copy of the original so bear that in mind not only for your buying order but also for what you think of the game itself.
See in my opinion this could be the biggest shake up for Ticket to Ride yet and that’s counting Rails and Sails which did the whole world in one go. While most games have added a new form of routes to the game such as tunnels or mountain passes this adds the concept of technology. Now let’s get into the idea of Ticket to Ride for that one person reading this who hasn’t played it. The game is simple really, you have three options; pick up cards, put down trains or if you’re really brave get a new route. The cards in question have colours and you have to make a set that will match whatever route you want to claim, so a route of four pink squares requires four pink cards bearing in mind that there are also rainbow cards that stand for whichever colour you want. Once you’re out of plastic trains to put down the game ends and your routes will add points for every one you have completed and deduct points for everyone you haven’t.
Now most of the expansion added things in the way of things like ferry routes that dictate that one of the cards you use has to be a rainbow card or something. Here you are stripped way way back to the dawn of the railways and have to build your way back up. You want to build a ferry route in this one then you’re going to have to buy that technology first. Do you want to cross the border from England to Scotland then you’re going to have to buy that technology first. But it goes even further than that as you can buy abilities that in other copies would be considered cheats or game breaking abilities. Want to buy a route someone already has then just buy the “technology”. All of this will cost you of course with the rainbow cards being the payment.
Thus this expansion plays with a different deck of cards that hold more rainbow cards and less trains to place on the board. This I should say right now is a much “harder” game than base ticket to ride. You will have to keep a lot more in mind as you snake your way across the country. Technology will dictate what routes you can claim and generally where you can go meaning you will have to put far more thought in than the usual mentality of just stocking up on cards for half the game before just claiming routes until it’s all over. This shakes the game up and I love it for it but the two downsides to this are the fact that who plays Ticket to Ride for a truly deep gaming experience and b) you can argue it doesn’t make the game “harder” or indeed “deeper” but just generally “more”. You will have to think much more about what technologies you want to buy, especially the higher tier stuff but at the end of the day you’re still just picking up coloured cards and claiming routes.
Now I like the game for this but some may not but don’t worry for fortunately there is another.
The game also comes with another game on the reverse that being ‘Ticket to Ride: Pennsylvania’. Now this is much more like base Ticket to Ride and even the other expansion we’ve had in the past. This game gives us the same basic mechanics of picking up cards or claiming routes but some of these will come with sponsorship. Claim said route and you get a choice of who you want to sponsor your rail road line. You pick up a card from said sponsor and those will add up to points at the end of the game. Each sponsor will offer a certain number of points for those with the most of that sponsor a few less for the second and so on. This gives the game an interesting idea of asking if you want to just pick up a few different sponsors here and there willing to claim third place in each round of sponsorship pointing for those few points but getting some points from each sponsor or do you fight for control of first place of one particular sponsor in order to get the big points for that sponsor. While UK is a tough long running version of Ticket to ride this is not much more complicated than the original game while the mechanics added do shake thing up more than a new route that takes extra trains or could possibly cost a few extra cards like we’ve seen in other versions.
It’s different, make no mistake but considering how old and tired Ticket to Ride has got for many people I think that’s a good thing and as I said; remember this is but an expansion and where you’ll find this you will no doubt find that old classic still waiting for when you want a nice simple straight forward game of picking up cards and putting down trains.