W. Eric Martin
In February 2011, Days of Wonder announced a Ticket to Ride Map Design Contest, with the winner receiving $10,000 and the joy of having his or her creation on game tables around the world.
Now the winners can be revealed. Yes, "winners" collectively as Days of Wonder chose two winners from among the 612 submissions received from designers in forty countries. The first such winner is François Valentyne with "Legendary Asia", which will be paired with "Team Asia" from Alan R. Moon in Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 1 - Asia & Legendary Asia, which will debut at Spiel 2011 and reach retailers in late October 2011.
The main twist in "Legendary Asia" 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.
As in Ticket to Ride: Europe, each player receives one of six long routes at the start of the game in addition to a few other destination tickets.
For Moon's "Team Asia", 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. Each teammate manages her own supply of 27 trains, and when one team has four or fewer trains remaining, each player takes one final turn, then the game ends, with the team who scored the most points winning.
While the tunnels in "Team Asia" are short, note that they bear a number from 4 to 6; this indicates the number of cards that must be revealed when building such a tunnel, so while you don't travel far, the effort required could be must larger than you expected.
The second winner in the design contest is Ian Vincent, whose "India" will be paired with a reprint of Moon's Ticket to Ride: Switzerland in Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 2 - India & Switzerland, due out worldwide in December 2011. Each of these expansions retails for $30/€28.
In "India", for 2-4 players, in addition to scoring points for claiming routes and completing tickets, a player can also score points in two other ways. First, the player with the longest continuous path of trains receives a ten point bonus.
Second, each player scores bonus points for connecting the cities on one or more tickets with two distinct routes. Thus if you connect Dhubri and Mangalore with two separate routes (and you hold the destination ticket connecting these two points!), then in addition to scoring 12 points for the ticket, you score bonus points. The first two such tickets earn five additional points each, and the next three earn ten points each for a maximum bonus of 40 points.
And completing this expansion is a reprint of "Switzerland" for 2-3 players. Instead of connecting only cities, some destination tickets connect a city to a country or one country to any of those surrounding Switzerland; a player who completes such a ticket scores the highest point value for which she qualifies. Unlike most other TtR games, discarded tickets are removed from the game instead of being returned to the ticket deck. Also, Locomotives can be used only to build tunnels.
Ticket to Ride: Switzerland has been out of print for a couple of years, so I expect to hear equal amounts of groans and huzzahs that it's available once again, yet one is perhaps forced to buy a second copy of Switzerland in order to acquire India (despite Switzerland costing $25 when it appeared on its own four years ago). Which collective sound will be loudest in the end?