Days of Wonder'sTicket to Ride Map Collectionis a series of expansions for Alan R. Moon'sTicket to Ride, with each expansion including a double-sided game board and destination tickets and rules for those locations. Ticket To Ride Asia Map Collectionpresents players with two set-ups on Earth's largest continent:
Team Asiafrom Alan R. Moon Four or six players compete as two-player teams, with teammates sitting next to one another at the table. Each player has her own secret hand of cards and tickets, in addition to some cards and tickets being placed in a shared cardholder that either player on the team can access.
When a player draws cards, she must place one card in the cardholder and the other in her hand (unless she takes a face-up locomotive, in which case it must be shared); when a player draws tickets, the first ticket kept must be placed in the cardholder and any additional tickets kept added to her hand. A player can spend her turn to add two tickets from her hand to the cardholder. A team's points are tracked collectively, and the team with the highest score wins.
Legendary Asiafrom Franois Valentyne The main change in this set-up is that some of the routes through Asia are labeled mountain routes, with one or more spaces on the route bearing an X. Whenever a player claims one of these routes, she must place a train from her reserve in the Mountain Crossing area of the game board, earning two points for each such train but losing access to them for the rest of the game. The player who connects to the most cities in a single network earns a ten point "Asian Explorer" bonus.
Ticket to RideorTicket to Ride: Europeis required to use the maps in Ticket To Ride Asia Map Collection. Part ofTicket to Ride series.
Ticket to Ride is quite possibly the most essential board game in any gamer's collection. An evergreen gateway classic, it plays well with young and old, new and experienced, casual and hobbyist alike. Its a game I often forget to bring to the table, but whenever I do, I have a fantastic time.
Multiple base game sets straight Ticket to Ride, Europe and Nordic Countries give you options from the get go, and double-sided expansion map sets multiply this variety tenfold. The Switzerland map is ideal for two players, and the Great Britain set allows Brits to build railways to their own home towns.
But my favourite expansion map by far is the first, Ticket to Ride Asia, and thats the one Im going to talk about now.
The Rules of Ticket to Ride
Firstly, if youre unfamiliar with the regular game crazy as this may seem - a brief explanation of the rules. Ticket to Ride is a game of building train routes between cities (and in some cases countries). At the start of the game you draw tickets that name two places on the board you have to connect: Destination tickets.
These routes have a point score based on their distance and difficulty complete a long route by the end of the game and you get a high score, complete shorter ones and you get barely anything. But should you fail to complete these routes, that same number is deducted from your final score. Meaning that your choice is largely about risk/reward balance. A longer route is a Schrodingers cat of a card that can mark the difference between victory and defeat and should only be picked with care.
On each turn you have three options; claim a route by putting down little coloured train markers and gain further points, collect two of the multi-coloured train cards that will enable you to claim a route in the first place, or pick a new ticket (although in practice people almost never do the last one).
The beauty of this game is in how that simplicity a choice of three actions becomes agonising. Unlike other games where you can have multiple actions on every turn, Ticket to Ride offers you only one. And that is never enough. You need that green train card for a later turn so you should probably take it now before someone else does but that means not claiming that five carriage track on the board youve been saving up for for ages, and what if someone takes that? Which one is safer?
The game has you in a constant balance of deciding what is urgent and what you can delay, and then having to adjust for the inevitable disaster that follows the wrong choice. Thats literally it. Well, until you get onto the expansions. And the expansions are where youll find my favourite iteration of the TTR franchise.
Before we continue, a caveat. I have three map expansion sets for Ticket to Ride. Each of these three sets has a double-sided map so you effectively get two new games for every one (this is not true of all the expansion boxes, I should add, just the three I have).
However, despite this generosity of content, Ive only played one board for each box. I dont know why this is, largely I think that in each case one game more obviously appeals than the other, its just how things are. So this review is only really going to focus on one of the games in the first expansion set. But fortunately that game is worth buying the box for on its own.
Given the prevalence of team games in sport, its perhaps odd there are so few tabletop games that are also played in teams. The most obvious examples are hidden role games like The Resistance or Battlestar Galactica (where people often dont know what the teams are), hidden movement games like Fury of Dracula or Letters from Whitechapel and one versus many game but actual, evenly based, open teams very few.
Ticket to Ride Asia
One of those few is Ticket to Ride Asia. The game is played in teams of two. You are still working towards completing Destination tickets and claiming routes on the board, but this time youre doing it collaboratively. It doesnt matter if you or your partner complete a ticket you have in your hand, you still get the same score at the end.
This would make the game much, much easier but for one problematic detail you cant share information with your colleague or discuss plans. You cant tell them the routes your looking at or the destinations youre going for, you just have to hope that they can intuit these details from the way you play the game.
This is the beating heart of Ticket to Ride Asia and the reason it works so well. Youre not just trying to read other players, youre trying to read your own side, and has the same tension as evergreen classic games like Bridge ultimately, how well you do in the game is less about how much better you play than your opponents, but how well you play with your partner and how well you understand them.
The basic mechanisms are broadly similar but there are a few key differences. Firstly, when picking your initial destination tickets, one of the cards you select goes into a shared holder between you and your colleague so it can be seen by both players on a team. This is the only bit of free information sharing you get in the game and its right at the top so its important to pick carefully as it will affect the way you play the entire game.
Usually, its best to share one of the longer and more ambitious routes as youll certainly need help finishing them off, though good luck if you end up with two that are on opposite sides of the board and dont connect in any way at all.
The second change to the rules in Ticket to Ride Asia is that when selecting your coloured train cards, one has to go into your hand, and the other has to go into a second shared holder that can now be used communally by the team. This key piece of design is a little bit of evil genius. Sometimes youve got a vague sense of what your partner is collecting due to the cards they themselves have picked and are trying to help them out. Other times you are trying to store something up for later and have to hope that they dont take the key card before you have a chance to use it.
The final difference from the base game is an extra action. Rather than the three options given in regular Ticket to Ride, Asia gives four. You can, should you wish, use your entire turn to share one of your Destination tickets with your teammate. A potentially, incredibly useful option but as with the agonising choices of the original, it just makes things harder. Is it really worth giving the extra information for the future at the expense of scoring points now? Or instead of taking those blue locomotives you need? Oh, decisions, decisions, decisions.
If a good game is a series of interesting questions, then Ticket to Ride Asia takes the deceptively complex ones of the original release and squares them. If it was painful opting to take a card, that pain is now doubled by having to decide where to put it in your hand on the communal holder? If claiming a route churned your stomach, its positively spinning like a tumble dryer when you know that by doing so you may be taking the cards your colleague needs to pull of a spectacular coup.
You find yourself constantly asking questions. Did they take that card because theyre collecting orange or because they know you are? Or because they think the other teams are? Even where you sit is a tactical choice as one of you will be leading and the other following (I wonder if an alternating turn structure might be preferable, but thats a minor detail).
Equally, theres vast tension when you watch your partner play their turn. You find yourself desperately hoping they take a specific move, or spot a particularly neat trick then find yourself frustrated and rejigging plans when they dont, for the perfectly fair reason that theyve no way of knowing whats going on in your head. Thats the strongest aspect of this game youre always engaged. Everyone can screw up your plans at any given moment even the person on your side so you watch every move avidly, adjusting your ideas, thinking all the time.
If there is a corollary to the praise, its probably that you should really be relaxed and comfortable with your teammate, and about winning in general. Because, should you lose, theres bound to be a post-mortem, a series of debates about what actions should or shouldnt have been performed during the course of play. With the wrong teammate, this game could lead to rows.
Also if youve not played Ticket to Ride with the tunnels, introduced in Europe, a detail where on some routes you effectively gamble on how many cards you need to claim then, the single one of the games general rules Ive ever found people slightly struggle to grasp - then this probably isnt the best place to encounter them from the first time as this rule is amped up a little in Asia.
Closing Thoughts onTicket to Ride Asia
But those are pretty much the only downsides I can mention. The games design and components are impeccable, as has become to be expected from a Days of Wonder release. The rule book outlines the key adjustments cleanly and concisely, and the game itself is a joyous hour or two of tension built from a surprisingly simple rule-set thats ideal for families who want something a little less easy going than the standard game.
Ticket to Ride Asia is the most played variant in our family, and I think it could become the same in yours too.