I have owned Ticket to Ride for about 18 months an while I have played it only a dozen times I have played with 2, 3, 4 and 5 players. Most of my gaming is done with 2 players and in this regard TtR is a little disappointing: the sweet spot is definitely 4 players. I was hoping that the new expansion would make the 2-player game feel less like a round of mental golf.
The game, which is an expansion and requires a copy of the original TtR, comes in a sturdy tin finished with the same superb artwork. It contains three decks of regular sized cards and a set of rules in several languages. Two of the decks comprise replacements for the Train cards while the third comprises Destination Tickets and Bonus cards. There are the 30 tickets from the original game, 35 new 1910 tickets and the 4 tickets from the Mystery Train expansion. In addition to the 10 point Trans America Express card for the longest route there is now a 15 point Globetrotter card for completing the most destination tickets.
You essentially get three new games. As well as being able to play the original game you can now play the 1910 variant, the Big Cities variant or The Mega Game with all 69 tickets including those from the Mystery Train Expansion. The Big Cities tickets comprise 10 original and 15 new tickets that feature one of the following cities: Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and Seattle. I am not sure whether these were “big” cities in 1910 (what about San Francisco?) so they may have been chosen for game play rather than historical accuracy. However it was this game that I was most interested in playing.
I had two basic reasons for buying this expansion: bigger, more easily shuffled tickets and a better 2 player experience. If the first game was representative then I have made good purchase. In the Big Cities variant you are dealt 4 rather that 3 and draw 4 and keep at least one during the game. The result was that in our game both players kept and completed 6 routes. By restricting the routes I suspect the idea is to create more conflict. Things did get tight around Chicago. The game was also a close finish decided by the bonus card.
I haven’t played Ticket to Ride since buying Canal Mania in August and had forgotten how gorgeous the board is or how simple the rules are: pickup, build or draw new destinations. The USA 1910 expansion creates more tension for two players and gives some more variety to the game. It’s also a first rate production as you would expect from Days of Wonder.
Thanks for a good clear review of the expansion set and of what you were looking at in play changes.
I had my first play of USA 1910 today, but it was a five-player game, not two, so I can't address your primary point. But I would think that two of the variants, 1910 (new cards only) and Major Cities, will affect two-player games in opposite ways (reducing vs. increasing competition).
Our workplace lunch-hour game was the Mega Game, with both longest-road and most-tickets-fulfilled bonuses, all 69 tickets, 5 tickets (keep 3-5) to start, and 4 tickets (keep 1-4) during the game. I chose this because all five players were experienced enough (and knew the North American map well enough) to keep up with lots of ticket cards. Surprisingly to me, people didn't draw tickets very much. The most-completed bonus went to two players with six completed (one made all of his, I made 6 of 8). The longest-road bonus went to two players. The player who got both bonuses won by over fifty points, but would have lost had he not drawn a red train card face-down just before another player triggered endgame. Because he got a sixth red card, his endgame turn was a 15-point laydown that completed his last two tickets, turning 29 points from minus to plus.
It mostly flowed pretty much like a regular five-player game. But with the draw-four rule, I think future Mega games will tend toward more frequent ticket drawing and higher scores. I can't draw a conclusion about the other versions in these rules (IN ELEVEN LANGUAGES!) yet. But all of our players liked it, generally better than vanilla TTR. And they found the larger ticket cards more readable and map-findable.