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Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries — the perfect TtR for two

Dave Ross
United States
Ames
Iowa
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Note: this content also appears on my Wordpress blog.


S and I bought Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries sometime around Christmas, and we’ve been thoroughly enjoying it. We’ve played it four times, now, and our initial assessment is that it’s the best game in the TtR franchise for two players.

A little background: we started off with Ticket to Ride, loved it, and moved on to TtR: Europe and the 1910 expansion.

We got the 1910 expansion because the cards were bigger, primarily, but the extra destination cards were good, too. It’s a nice addition to the base game.

While it was neat to play TtR on a map of Europe, the gameplay didn’t do much for us. Even with four players, it didn’t seem like there was enough tension in the game, and the stations made it too easy to salvage busted routes at the end of the game. It wasn’t a bad game, it just didn’t thrill us.

Our next stop was the fan-created map of the United Kingdom created by Ken Meyers and David Millard (found here and here). Played with the same rules as the base game, it’s a fantastic map that works very well with two. We found ourselves playing this version just about as often (if not more often) than the original game. A definite hit!

Then we opted for TtR: Switzerland, a supposedly tighter board designed for two and three players. It was okay, but somehow nothing to write home about. I didn’t like how there were multiples of some of the destination tickets, and the idea of connecting to a country (as opposed to a city) didn’t do much for me, either. Often we’d just draw more destination cards in hopes of getting duplicates of ones we’d already satisfied. Meh.

TtR: Switzerland was unfortunate in another respect, too. Though Days of Wonder are usually exemplary in the quality of their components, this game was made in China and the boards were printed at a slight angle. Honestly, when I first opened up my copy, I suspected it was a bootleg until I read on BGG that it was a common problem. Sigh.

TtR: Switzerland killed the series for us for a couple years, but more recently I began reading positive things about both TtR: Nordic Countries and Europa 1912. I sprung for both in a recent order to Boards and Bits (I’d heard good things about them on BGG and decided to give them a try), and I certainly haven’t regretted it.

Europa 1912 is a nice little expansion à la 1910: you get additional destination cards for TtR: Europe and also an additional system of warehouses and depots. The gist of it is that you put a card in your warehouse any time you draw more train cards, and players can collect the cards in your warehouse any time they connect to a city with one of your depots in it. It’s a little fussy, but it does give you something else to think about. Time will tell if it’s an element we leave in the mix or set on the shelf.

TtR: Nordic
(2-3 players) is a tight board vaguely reminiscent of the UK map mentioned earlier. Routes fill up fast and you have to be careful not to get shut out of not only individual cities but also entire regions of the board. My typical strategy of hoarding cards in the base game is a non-starter in this version.

In the first game we played, S (inadvertently, she tells me) built a nice little zig-zag pattern down the center of the board, effectively cutting the board in half. I had a nice network on the left, and I had a nice network on the right, but unfortunately I couldn’t connect them together. I didn’t complete any of my initial destination tickets and ended the game with about 60 points. S didn’t lap me, but it was close.

I opted for an entirely different strategy in our second game. I won’t go into too many details, but there were a glut of yellow train cards that kept clogging up the draw piles. I began quietly collecting them, setting them aside for a rainy day. I waited until I had just 11 trains left, then sprung for the Lieksa-to-Murmansk mega route, leaving me with just 2 trains (the route claims 9 trains and nets 27 points). S had just one more turn to play and therefore failed to complete at least one key route. I could smell victory.

But…no. We actually tied this game with something like 132 points each. I figured ties would likely be broken by the number of unused train cars, but upon a closer examination of the rules, we learned that ties are in fact broken by the number of completed routes. And S had more completed routes, so she won. But I’m not bitter or anything.

Seriously, though, it’s a great game. For two, I’d definitely say that either it or the UK version is the way to go. You really can’t go wrong with either. =^..^=
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