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Ticket to Ride: Europe» Forums » Variants

Subject: Rule Variant Ideas rss

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garrett barry
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Hi everyone,

I think the basic Ticket to Ride Europe game can get a little bit boring after enough play with the base rules. I think one problem I keep running into is when you are going for specific routes and collecting the right train cards to get them, some players can be at the mercy of chance that is not in their favour and they end up collecting dozens of cards without ever using them, while others who play more fluidly work with what they get even though it may be less direct on the map. Maybe some like this element, but to me it just seems to mitigate strategy and make it unbalanced unless everyone plays with the same style. I want to propose TTR:E variant ideas that decrease chance and/or increase the speed/pressure in the game. I'd love to hear whether anyone had tried any of these ideas, and what they thought. Here they are:

1. a) Play all rules standard except that players can choose two train cards randomly or one of any colour of their choice.
b) Play all rules standard except players can simply choose any two train cards of their choice without restriction.
c) Same as b) but every player has all of their routes revealed to every other player.

Explanation: I think that b) and c) are a little more extreme in that every player can build anything they want, and it makes it easier for each player to complete routes and/or interfere with other's routes, so the key is to balance those two elements of course. Not that the original version of the game doesn't have this, but these variants might just makes these types of conflicts occur more frequently in the game.

2. Each player picks a different starting city and places a station on it to signify it as their starting point. Each player then draws three route cards and chooses either the first city of all three cards or the second city of all three cards, or any three of the six cities written on the three route cards. Players do not hide the chosen cities from each other, and each player places the remaining stations on their three chosen cities as their goal end points. Then the players play as normal and the first player to either complete the three routes or run out of trains wins. There might be some imbalance in this variant due to chance, but I think if the total number of each players' trains required to complete the three routes is above some threshold or is equal, it might work out fine. I think the element of everyone aware of each others' routes can add some extra challenge and competition.

If anyone tries these out, let me know what you think!
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The Count
United States
Pocatello
Idaho
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I thought I was the only one who thought that way! I got TTR Europe to intoduce my parents to euro gaming. Then once we played it more the game just had too much luck and was too slow. The ferries, tunnels, and stations made even more of a mess of things.

After much theory, error, and playtests we have settled on the rules below. The biggest changes are the seemingly small ones about route and train-car draws. They change the game very little on a strategic level, but speed it way up. The new ferry/tunnel rules are to reduce blocking and encourage cooperation. The express card goes from the wrong kind of reward to a catch-up mechanism that makes closer games.

The best part of these modifications is that you can use any combination of them. I have this set of rules laminated on a 4x6 card in my game.

I will try your rules if you try some of mine. I am especially interested in the 'revealed routes' idea.

Ticket to Ride Modifications:

Wilds: Just draw wild locomotives as normal cards. They are still every color but with no special draw restrictions at all.

Tunnel Routes: Pay 1 extra card of any color in addition to the required number of same-color cards for a tunnel route. Or
A player may ‘Excavate’ any number of individual slots of a tunnel route without completing it by paying 1 card of the appropriate color for each slot Excavated. Empty slots remain available for other players (or the original player) to Excavate and ‘Stake Claim’ until the route is completed, and then the route may be counted for each of the ‘Stakeholder’ players’ routes (regardless of the number of sections they claimed) as well as for track-laying points (they each get the FULL amount) and the European Express. A Stakeholder player may Excavate additional sections at a later turn. No connection is made (route completed, points awarded, counting for Express) until ALL slots have been excavated.

Starting Hands: Increase the number of Train Cards in the starting hand from 4 to 7.

Train Car Cards Draw: Draw 3 cards instead of 2 in any combination of random or known cards, and make the choices of known cards on table 6 instead of 5.

Route Cards: To start, each player may keep at most 1 of two long routes, and any of 3 short routes. During the game each turn has a new turn action: Exchange 1 ticket for a new random one which you must keep. This is the only thing you can do this turn.

Blind Trade: Two non-active players may attempt to trade a Train Card with one another. Neither trading player is to know what card he or she is receiving. You may not attempt to trade twice with the same person in the same turn.

Ferries: Ferries may be built regular as if they were just grey.
*They also may be built as a ‘Toll Ferry’ in which the ‘Owner’ of the toll builds and pays for everything except one or more ‘Toll Locomotive’ slots. Toll Ferry is considered claimed, points are awarded even though it is not complete, and the Owner places trains on all non-locomotive slots. Another player may pay the Toll of 1 Wild Locomotive to the Owner to also claim that route as if they owned it for the purpose of claiming tickets. Only the owner gets track-laying points for the Toll Ferry and only the owner counts it for European Express.

European Express: The express card no longer has a point value at the end of the game. The card is passed from the player holding it to the player with the longest chain if the holder calls it out. On the card holder’s turn, he may not draw random cards or locomotives.
 
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Sven Fallenius
Sweden
(södra Älvsborg)
Västra Götaland
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garrettsb wrote:
I think one problem I keep running into is when you are going for specific routes and collecting the right train cards to get them, some players can be at the mercy of chance that is not in their favour and they end up collecting dozens of cards without ever using them, while others who play more fluidly work with what they get even though it may be less direct on the map.


To be honest, I think what those players (who "end up collecting dozens of cards without ever using them") do wrong, is that they don't change strategies during the game. If you sit with a set of 6-8 cards of the wrong colour, go for one of the long tunnels. The 6-tunnel in the middle of the map, can quite often be built into every long ticket, for example.

practicedrifter wrote:
The ferries, tunnels, and stations made even more of a mess of things.


Well, reading through those alternative rule sets, gets me thinking that the pretty easy and clear game becomes a really messy one!

practicedrifter wrote:
Just draw wild locomotives as normal cards. They are still every color but with no special draw restrictions at all.


This must mean locomotives are always drawn and there is never any hesitation to this. If you are lucky, a new locomotive will be drawn during the turn before your, and it introduces new luck into a mostly strategic game.

practicedrifter wrote:
Tunnel Routes: Pay 1 extra card of any color in addition to the required number of same-color cards for a tunnel route.


This is the only rule I could think of using, giving the tunnel building player an alternative: choosing between "insurance" and chance.

practicedrifter wrote:
Starting Hands: Increase the number of Train Cards in the starting hand from 4 to 7.


Why? It will give the starting player a larger advantage, as s/he almost always can claim for example Paris-Dieppe, if that is an important route.

practicedrifter wrote:
Train Car Cards Draw: Draw 3 cards instead of 2 in any combination of random or known cards, and make the choices of known cards on table 6 instead of 5.


I can see a player yelling "Yes, yes yes! I got two locomotives out of the three cards, and I can take them both and use them anywhere!"

practicedrifter wrote:
Route Cards: To start, each player may keep at most 1 of two long routes, and any of 3 short routes. During the game each turn has a new turn action: Exchange 1 ticket for a new random one which you must keep. This is the only thing you can do this turn.


Well, this can make the game even less cutthroat, if you and your company prefere that. (And that you at all are able to see two long routes, means you must use the 1912 expansion in the first place?)

practicedrifter wrote:
Blind Trade: Two non-active players may attempt to trade a Train Card with one another. Neither trading player is to know what card he or she is receiving. You may not attempt to trade twice with the same person in the same turn.


This trading part introduces the situation where player A doesn't do anything wrong, but the weaker player B, who hasn't seen what colour player C collects, makes a bad card trade, giving player C an advantage and thus giving player A a worse situation. As what always happens in Monopoly and some other trading games... (There is some sort of gaming word for this, but I have forgotten it.)

practicedrifter wrote:
Ferries: Ferries may be built regular as if they were just grey.
*They also may be built as a ‘Toll Ferry’ in which the ‘Owner’ of the toll builds and pays for everything except one or more ‘Toll Locomotive’ slots. Toll Ferry is considered claimed, points are awarded even though it is not complete, and the Owner places trains on all non-locomotive slots. Another player may pay the Toll of 1 Wild Locomotive to the Owner to also claim that route as if they owned it for the purpose of claiming tickets. Only the owner gets track-laying points for the Toll Ferry and only the owner counts it for European Express.


The first variant: why? If combined with the rule "locomotives can be drawn in any number", players will have a huge amount of locomotives, thus having no problem with paying for the locomotive symbols.

The second variant: use the stations as they are thought instead! I can see one advantage though, that a player having his/her route used by someone else, being personally paid for it.

practicedrifter wrote:
European Express: The express card no longer has a point value at the end of the game. The card is passed from the player holding it to the player with the longest chain if the holder calls it out. On the card holder’s turn, he may not draw random cards or locomotives.


Why would anybody want to hold the Express card if it gives the holder no points??

Summary:
Any group can use any rules. It's up to you, me and everybody else, of course. But I hope I won't be invited to someone handing out a laminated extra set of rules for a game pretty perfect as it is...cry
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The Count
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Pocatello
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Almost all of your concerns with our variant are true. We are trading cutthroatness and some details of strategy for speed. Faster games is more important to us as a play group. The OP was looking for speed.

For example the larger starting hand literally cuts off a turn or two of card drawing at the beginning of the game. This makes the starting player advantage greater for sure, but really speeds up the game opening.

The one thing I completely disagree with is this:

"This must mean locomotives are always drawn and there is never any hesitation to this. If you are lucky, a new locomotive will be drawn during the turn before your, and it introduces new luck into a mostly strategic game."

Just plain wrong. This idea is based on the misconception that Wilds introduce luck into the game because they are better than colors, and that being able to draw the right colors you need from a random selection is somehow 'strategic'. Wilds were put into the game in the first place to reduce the bad luck of not getting the color you need when you need it.

There is already a lot of luck in this game in the card drawing, and these variant rules do not increase that. For example, if I need a red, and I can take a red, is that not much more lucky than someone who needs a red, cant get it, and has to be penalized for having to take a wild to use as a red?

I can see a player yelling "Yes, yes yes! I got two locomotives out of the three cards, and I can take them both and use them anywhere!"

That already happens now in this game all the time. People draw two wilds off the random pile (I luckily got that twice the last time I played original rules) or they go "Oh look two revealed blues, just what I needed!" This is the exact same thing. Same luck.

Yes wilds will be taken more often rather than sit there clogging up the available choices, which is good. In fact, I have played many games with this rule and we have NEVER had to change out the revealed trains because the was too many wilds. Two bad tedious rules removed for the price of one. cool Yes it will reduce hesitation when taking cards, which is also good. People will more often see what they want there. So the real luck, the bad luck of not seeing what you want there, happens less often.

It may sound counter-intuitive, but the math says that the only luck that matters is not getting the right color at the right time. That sets you back from the people who do. Thus, the best way to reduce card luck is actually to increase the number of wilds so people can have more consistent draws. Imagine playing with only wilds, then everyone would have the same draws, and suddenly the luck is gone. Then only the strategy of when to draw and when/where to lay down remains.

An example of this effect is in Magic: the Gathering. In that game, for a multi-color deck the land color draws would have the same type of randomness as color train cards in TTR. Adding in Dual Lands, such as Tundra, do not make it even more random. They make the deck much more consistent. A consistent deck will do the same thing more often. In the same way, a consistent deck of more usable wilds will make TTR more consistent. Allowing players to take them without penalty makes this happen more often for everyone.

Also the variant wild rule simply shifts a strategic choice. Before the choice was "Do I take a wild with a penalty or not?" Now the choice is "Do I draw cards now because I can get wilds even though I don't really need them, or do I lay track and let them go?" I skip drawing the wilds even without penalty all the time, because laying track is more important.

Also this makes the rules simpler. Just draw your cards. Try playing it once this way before you knock it.
 
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The Count
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garrett barry, I got to play a two player game with your "every player has all of their routes revealed to every other player." rule.

It went really well and changed the game in a couple interesting ways.
First of all, it made the game more strategic/tactical because we both had more information to use, and now it was easier to predict where the other was headed in advance. All this information processing made turns longer.

The dreaded accidental blocks are just gone. 'Wait why did you just go where I needed to go?' If you want to avoid each other you can, and if you want to block someone it is much easier to do as well. This would probably increase cutthroatedness in larger games because you can easily tell who the leader is, and easily know how to block them.

The original game isn't very cutthroat, because you don't know who the leader is or where to block them at, unless you play with just original tickets (fewer tickets = easier to guess) and someone figures it all out the hard way. We play the 1912 deck with more tickets. In the original game people are tripping all over each other, but it isn't mean-spirited.

So in a big game it would sure be worth a try, but the added information will increase cutthroat and make people stop to think about their turns longer, while also not blocking each other on accident as much.

I added this to my personal house rule list. I also removed the my complicated option for tunnels because no one uses them.
 
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The Count
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Got to play a couple 4 player games this weekend with the updated rules.

The first game we decided to play 'hands revealed'. This went very well when teaching the new players because helping them find places or make basic decisions did not involve them giving away private information. When they say say "Where is Pamplona?" it doesnt give anything away. The second benefit was that I could simply look or ask to find out where someone was going, and plan accordingly.

As expected, late in the game when people blocked each other they did it knowing exactly who they were blocking and how badly. This made one player quite upset that people knew where he was headed and blocked him.

The second game we played with hidden tickets, and we were stumbling over each other on accident again. No one ever felt picked on.

So then the revealed tickets works best for teaching new people or with people who can handle cutthroat play.

We also found that the ticket exchange rule was still a bit harsh, so it was eased up as shown in the UPDATED RULES below.

Ticket to Ride Modifications:

Wilds: Just draw wild locomotives as normal cards. They are still every color but with no special draw restrictions at all.

Tunnel Routes: Pay 1 extra card of any color in addition to the required number of same-color cards for a tunnel route.

Starting Hands: Increase the number of Train Cards in the starting hand from 4 to 7.

Train Cards Draw: Draw 3 cards, instead of 2, in any combination of random or known cards; make the choices of known cards on table 6 instead of 5.

Route Tickets: To start, each player may keep at most 1 of 2 long tickets, and any/all/none of 3 short routes. Add new turn action choice: Discard 1 ticket, Draw 3, Keep at least 1. This is the only thing you can do this turn.
*Optional - Play with ticket hands revealed on table.

Blind Trade: Two non-active players may attempt to trade a Train Card with one another. Neither trading player is to know what card he or she is receiving. You may only attempt to trade once with the same person in the same turn.

Ferries: Ferries may be built regular as if they were just grey.
*Optional - They also may be built as a ‘Toll Ferry’ in which the ‘Owner’ of the toll builds and pays for everything except one or more ‘Toll Locomotive’ slots. Toll Ferry route is considered claimed, track-laying points are awarded even though it is not complete, and the Owner places trains on all non-locomotive slots. Another player may pay the Toll of 1 Wild Locomotive to the Owner to also claim that route as if they owned it for the purpose of claiming tickets. Only the Owner gets track-laying points for the Toll Ferry and only the owner counts it for European Express.

*Optional - European Express: The express card no longer has a point value at the end of the game. The card is passed from the player holding it to the player with the longest chain if the holder calls it out. On the card holder’s turn, he may not draw random cards or locomotives.


 
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