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Ticket to Ride: USA 1910» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Two Games, One Block, One Train-Wreck rss

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John B.
United States
Bothell
Washington
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My partner and I popped open our new copy of 1910, busted out the old USA map, and sat down for a couple of "TTR Redux" matches. We're old vets of the original TTR who have moved on to Europe and Marklin editions. We enjoy the US map with its familiar geography, so it was compelling to think a new tin of cards could get us playing on it again.

We used the 1910 rules for the first game. It didn't feel much different than the old TTR at first. I minced around the Eastern cities while he tumbled along the vast wastelands of the West. There wasn't much interaction, and the victory came down to the 15-point "most completed tickets" award. I beat him by one point, 135 to 134. The most immediately apparent improvement over the old TTR was the physical quality of the new cards. They really are a pleasure to look at and to hold. They're silky smooth and coated with lovely illustrations. Works of pop art, each one. Mm-hmm.

So we moved into match number two, this time using the "Big Cities" assortment of destination tickets. This version is interesting in that every route somehow connects with one of 8 cities, effectively creating a smaller playing field by directing the players' focus to fewer spots on the map. Before we started playing this version, my partner dubbed it the "divorce your wife" version; we both intuited that the 8-city focus might end in some uncomfortable conflicts, something the 2-Player USA TTR sorely needs. In this version, you take four tickets at game start and only have to keep one. Strangely, we both kept all 4 of our starting tickets. With fewer cities involved, tickets seem to relate to each other more often than in the original game.

We started laying trains. Once again I found myself travelling the Eastern half of the map while my partner crept Eastward from L.A. like a malevolent smog. I completed most of my routes rather quickly and started drawing new tickets. I drew new tickets three turns in a row, and kept most of what I drew. Either I was incredibly fortunate, or the chance of drawing wildly unrelated routes is reduced in "Big Cities." In the end, my score turned out to be somewhat lower than I expected given how many tickets I had completed (I think I had something like 9 of them at finish, way more than I risk taking on average in any other version of TTR). But I get ahead of myself.

Late in the game, my partner's long horizontal train eventually intersected my generally vertical rash of trains. He built his route in such a way that it was entirely clear where he was going, especially in this "Big Cities" variant where one's target is somewhat easier to guess at. There were only so many places where he might be headed, and in this case Miami was the obvious big city. To block his progress, all I had to do was play 3 black cards, which I just so happened to have in my hand. I knew by blocking him I would likely win the game. My many destination tickets were satisfied, while he held only his original four. I really didn't have much else to do that would improve my chances of winning except to block him.

So I blocked him.

And boy was he pissed. I offered to withdraw the move, but he refused and made a real effort in the dying turns to find an alternate path for the route I blocked. Unfortunately, he ran out of trains and lost by the score of 72 to 128 -- a crushing defeat. That block (or more accurately, his reaction to it) ruined the whole evening. He refused to try the expansion's third variant, saying I was playing too viciously. I rejected the notion and said that the block was not cruel; it was strategically sound, even necessary.

My take on blocking is this: It is a vital part of the game. Blocking with purpose at just the right time to tip the often fine balance of points in your favor is beautiful play and should be recognized accordingly. Those who are upset by a devestatingly skillful block are focusing on the wrong thing: the successful completion of cute little train-lines around a map. The goal of the game is not that. It is to score the highest points by any legal means necessary. Blocking is one of those legal means and must be considered both as a tool to use and as a tactic to guard against. Having said that, i also agree that random, haphazard blocking is merely that: random and haphazard, neither of which are traits of a skilled player.

The fact that a block played such an important role in the outcome of our "Big Cities" game speaks volumes about that particular variant. In the original game, 2-player matches often result in very little interaction. "Big Cities" naturally sets players into conflict over a small subset of cities. This design element certainly helped create the situation which resulted in my strategically necessary blocking move at the end of the match.

Ultimately, I have a favorable impression of the 1910 expansion. Our first two plays only cemented the fact that it will take many more matches to formulate successful strategies around these new cards, let alone implement them expertly.
 
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Rob White
United States
Richmond
Virginia
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I am by no means a TtR expert, but I have to say I completely agree with your blocking strategy.

I normally only play the game with my wife. We'll definitely be picking up the 1910 expansion. Hopefully we won't be needing a divorce lawyer after playing "Big Cities."

Rob
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Anthony DePietro
United States
Mountville
Pennsylvania
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A few weeks ago I held a game day and I had just gotten the 1910 expansion. Everyone was looking forward to trying it out and we played with all of the new 1910 rules. We had 4 players and there was tons of blocking in the East. I got pretty lucky and didn't run into too much trafic in the West. Blocking (intentional or unintentional) is an important part of the game, you did nothing wrong.
 
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Alfred D.
Netherlands
Noord-Brabant
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Your opponent shouldn't have employed such an obvious strategy. He got punished for it accordingly. thumbsup
When playing TtR cutthroat style it is imperative to try and throw dirt in the eyes of your opponent. Use unexpected branches, start at both ends, etcetera.
 
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