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Ticket to Ride: Märklin» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Your Guide to Ticket to Ride: Märklin Edition rss

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Derek Thompson
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Although the rest of the games in the Ticket to Ride series have a kind of continuity between them - their artwork, mechanics, and feel = Ticket to Ride: Märklin took the series briefly in an entirely different direction, increasing competition between players by making the gameplay more complex instead of restrictive. This idea must not have been that well-received, as the subsequent games all feel like variations of the Europe and USA maps. Here, the game board is a map of Germany, and it looks similar to the USA map turned sideways : an east corridor of long routes (several seven-length routes!) and a west corridor of short routes, with no tunnels or ferries in sight.

The changes become more apparent when you finish setting up the game, by placing stacks of merchandise tokens in each city, and giving each player a set of three passengers in their color. Now, when a player claims a route, he may place a passenger in a city on either end of that route. Later in the game, as a fourth option for a turn action, the player may move the passenger through the routes he’s made, taking the top-most (and most valuable) merchandise token from each city along the path. The passenger can’t backtrack, so this factors in to the way you want to construct your routes (one reason why this edition has no Longest Route bonus). In addition, players may discard Passenger cards acquired during the game and use an opponent’s route for each Passenger card discarded. When the Passenger is finished moving, he is removed from the game, so each player may only do this at most three times during the game.

This isn’t the only way that Märklin turns Ticket to Ride into more of a gamer’s game. There are changes to both the Destination Ticket deck and the Train Card deck. The Destination Tickets are now in two separate piles: short routes (value 5-11) and long routes (value 12-22). When a player looks at tickets, he looks at four and must keep one, and can take any combination from the two piles. The Train Card deck now includes two new types of cards: Passenger and +4 Locomotives. Passenger cards work as described above and serve no other purpose. +4 Locomotives can be drawn without penalty, but can only be used on routes of length 4 or more (and thus play very well with the many 7-length routes in the game). Lastly, the game includes an endgame bonus only for the most tickets (Globetrotter), and this time the reward is 10 points (strangely indicated this time with a clunky tile instead of a card).

Mechanically, I love the changes this game brings to Ticket to Ride. Having just one more option deepens the game exponentially and allows for many different strategies. On the USA map, working through the short routes in the central and eastern parts of the board is rarely a winning strategy, but in Märklin, each little route has one more valuable set of merchandise tokens for you to take with your passengers. The passenger tokens are worth just enough to make them seem as important as drawing Destination Tickets, and with a more manageable outcome.

Destination Tickets are still important, of course, and players are now given a wider set of options: you can draw a bunch of long routes in hopes of scoring big, or try to make a patchwork set of short connections to attain the Globetrotter bonus. With no longest route bonus and passenger cards to piggyback opponents’ routes, failing to connect every part of your network is no longer suicide.

The +4 Locomotive cards speed the game up considerably and keep the tableau from becoming stale - our most recent two-player game never had a moment where the entire tableau was useless, while the other maps find us plucking away at the top of the deck in frustrated desperation. Speaking of the top of the deck, my one minor complaint is that players may find themselves disappointed to draw a Passenger card when they desperately need more Train Cards, but the Passenger cards have proven to be so valuable that I don’t think it’s much of an issue. This is a very finely tuned machine, one where I’m much more willing to blame myself rather than the game for a loss, and all the happier to congratulate myself for a win.

Although mechanically Märklin is a brilliant step forward, the brilliance stops there. The components are both fiddly and ugly. Let’s start with the board and the tokens. You may not have noticed it right away, but other editions of the game all have pencil sketches on the board of various things you might see in those countries - airplanes, mountains, carriages - things to liven up the bland map area behind the brightly colored routes. For whatever reason, Märklin has no such scenery, just a bland, boring background. The merchandise tokens look fine, but they are an absolute pain to setup. The mechanic is great, but surely there’s got to be a better way to handle it.

Because the game came from some sort of agreement with the Märklin toy company, the box is different from other games in the series, and, well, it’s quite ugly. The actual Train Cards have Märklin train models on them instead of the usual designs. While they look okay, they’re a bit confusing, because the cards of the same color all have different trains on them, making them hard to identify. You’d think the flashy new purple and white trains would be a perk, but in reality they just make the game annoyingly incompatible with other expansions such as the Depots found in Europa 1912. Even though the gameplay is largely the same, Ticket to Ride: Märklin just doesn’t feel like a Ticket to Ride game. In my opinion, that’s because of the components, not because of the gameplay.

I’d recommend this game anyone familiar with Ticket to Ride looking to take it to the next level, but you need to be aware that the game maybe won’t feel like Ticket to Ride anymore, or look nearly as nice. What I’d really love to see is a "Passenger expansion" that implements those rules with any Ticket to Ride board, or at least the USA map - it’s a great, straightforward way to intensify the game without making it much more complex.

Originally posted on http://meepletown.com
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Mathue Faulk
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Great review, and I agree with most of what you said.

I really feel like this edition has the most balance in the game, and I probably enjoy it the most. Having said that, I'd rather play Steam or Railways of the World....

And that's the big issue I have with this game. If I'm looking for a nice gateway, then I'll pull out one of the other TtR games. But if I have some gamers, then I'd rather pull out the aforementioned Steam or Railways. Marklin is in the awkward middle ground, so it doesn't get pulled out very often.

And speaking of components: I hate having to reorganize the dumb tokens every time I open the game. The game sits on it's side on my shelf, and every time I open it, they are all over the place. Worst decision ever to implement the passenger mechanic with those components...
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Dan C
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This is my favorite TTR despite the longer setup needed for the tokens. I like the artwork; it is a departure from the early 1900s theme of the others, but in a good way. I like the strategy of freely choosing between long and short ticket stacks.

The "awkward middle ground" is perfect for people who want a little more involvement than the other, simpler versions, but who would never sit down to a three hour heavy game like Steam. Case in point: my wife
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Mathue Faulk
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jedimusic wrote:
This is my favorite TTR despite the longer setup needed for the tokens. I like the artwork; it is a departure from the early 1900s theme of the others, but in a good way. I like the strategy of freely choosing between long and short ticket stacks.

The "awkward middle ground" is perfect for people who want a little more involvement than the other, simpler versions, but who would never sit down to a three hour heavy game like Steam. Case in point: my wife

Fair enough....but Steam shouldn't take close to 3 hours. But it is definitely longer than TtR:M.
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Derek Thompson
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mfaulk80 wrote:
jedimusic wrote:
This is my favorite TTR despite the longer setup needed for the tokens. I like the artwork; it is a departure from the early 1900s theme of the others, but in a good way. I like the strategy of freely choosing between long and short ticket stacks.

The "awkward middle ground" is perfect for people who want a little more involvement than the other, simpler versions, but who would never sit down to a three hour heavy game like Steam. Case in point: my wife

Fair enough....but Steam should take close to 3 hours. But it is definitely longer than TtR:M.


Did you mean "shouldn't"? Just curious...
 
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Mathue Faulk
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aldaryn wrote:
mfaulk80 wrote:
jedimusic wrote:
This is my favorite TTR despite the longer setup needed for the tokens. I like the artwork; it is a departure from the early 1900s theme of the others, but in a good way. I like the strategy of freely choosing between long and short ticket stacks.

The "awkward middle ground" is perfect for people who want a little more involvement than the other, simpler versions, but who would never sit down to a three hour heavy game like Steam. Case in point: my wife

Fair enough....but Steam should take close to 3 hours. But it is definitely longer than TtR:M.


Did you mean "shouldn't"? Just curious...

Fixed. Thanks.

I'd say that 2 hours is more like it for our group...
 
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