I've played a fair number of games of TTR and TTR:Maerklin, but only one game of TTR:E (hence the 1/2). How do they stack up individually? How do they compare?
I will assume you know the rules of how each version of the game is played, how you get resources and lay routes and complete tickets and play passengers and stations, as you can find that knowledge in nearly every other review.
I've never been that excited about the Ticket to Ride premise, to tell the truth. I love laying down the trains, but I dislike how random those resources are, as well as the anti-thematic element of creating routes that go halfway around the country to connect two relatively close cities.
The components are decent, a solid wood disc each for scoring, and 45 cheap but sturdy plastic train cars. The board is done pretty well, and is rather aesthetically pleasing. Residents of the US seem particularly enamored with seeing their country layed out in any medium, so this helps initial players' willingness to play. The main problem is in the size of the cards; although some people like the small cards better, you handle them far too much to justify their overtly cost-saving size. The graphics on the cards are good, and it is very clear which card is which, even with the small size.
I will admit to a hearty likening for heavier games, and heavy this game is most certainly not. There is little more here than drawing resources and playing them, with a bit of proper planning and watching the other players for what they are likely to do. It's in essence a game that a card shark would be very good at; the better your ability to watch which cards people are taking and what's left in the deck, the better your ability to control the vast amounts of randomness in this game. And the game is terribly random. You receive only three route cards at a time, and these could be any combination of short or long, you have no control over which tickets you will receive.
To make an unhappy comparison, this game is reminiscent of Monopoly - the gameplay might be fun (TTR is MUCH more fun to play than Monopoly, actually), but you have no real say in being able to win any given game, after learning some basic strategies. All too often, the game comes down simply to "who got X long route?" which was worth a ton of points and allowed for use of the longer routes in the north (which in turn also give a lot of points). If you find yourself with tickets from the north midwest to south midwest, kiss your chance of winning the game goodbye - at least through those tickets, you might be better off taking the negative points by ignoring them entirely and just making random long connections. It's simply unbalanced.
I hear the 1910 expansion does a few things to make up for some of these issues, but I have not played it.
This was the first version I wound up playing, actually. It aims to alleviate the problems of being blocked and having to go halfway around the country that many people did not like in the Original. I've only played it once, and so will only make a brief comment on it.
The components are much the same as in the original, with the addition of three station pieces made of the same plastic as the trains - cheap but sturdy. I do not recall the aesthetics of the board aside from that it was definitely functional and well-presented.
The only additions here are the stations and the tunnels, which don't add much to the game. You can use someone's connection once...it really just makes you lazier with connecting your routes, as you can simply place a station to connect for you. You take a point penalty for doing so, but it's not a large point penalty. The tunnels are simply in case you did not feel the game was random enough - now not only do you pick up random resources, but the amount you have to pay is ALSO random! Again, card sharks would do well here.
I hate, hate, hate, hate this version. I am certainly willing to play it again if it ever comes up to give it another shot, but the modifications are terrible and not well-thought-out. Add more double and triple routes for those who dislike conflict, not invent some weird station mechanic where you can buy only one route out of a city. Tunnels - wtf? I certainly know that when engineers are designing routes through tunnels, they NEVER measure beforehand and know how long it will be...where did this idea come from? I love playing on the Europe map, but I hate the new elements.
Ah, my favorite of the series. Not without its flaws, of course...
Same plastic train pieces, now we have passengers made out of the same cheap but sturdy plastic. WHY IS THERE NO BLUE? The map is all a single tan/grey color, aside from the neighboring countries, not terribly aesthetically pleasing. Some Americans enjoy the map to better learn the cities of Germany. Large cards, the resource cards have pictures of individual trains on them, which I love, but many people seem to find confusing - a black card will have a white train on it, for example (they are grouped mainly by type of car, not color), although the symbols are very easy to read on all cards. Locomotives look similar to black cards, the +4 is confusing to how those cards work, but I like having each card be unique. Then there are the much abhorred passenger markers. They are small and terrible and I've lost two of them and I don't know why they ever made it into the game - their containers in the box are also annoying and usually result in pieces flying everywhere. Something needs to be done about this menace to our collective sanity.
Now we have passenger interaction, a secondary layer of paranoid arms races to get things before everyone else. The passengers have no real interaction with the rest of the game, you simply move them when you feel most threatened. The +4s are fun cards, but no one seems to *get* them for at least the first half of their first game, mainly because it says +4 instead of 4+ - everyone thinks it counts for 4 wild cards but that is sadly not the case! I still haven't figured out exactly how to handle the passenger cards when they come up. Getting too many too early makes your route-laying ability weak, but not getting any until too late will lose you points.
The disconnection between the passengers and the rest of the game makes it a bit weird - you'll have one person move a single passenger, and instantly everyone else follows suit, regardless of how many routes they've gotten so far - if there is a perceived threat to any of those tokens, that passenger will move and die. Speaking of which, why exactly do they die (aside from game balance reasons)??? I love the map, I love the separation of the long and short routes, I love the attempts of reducing randomness and compensating for the weak short route strategy of the original. I dislike having to deal with the tokens; something better could have been implemented, I'm sure. But the best change is certainly having long and short routes, along with the board being split along similar lines. It is what makes this game my favorite of the series, by far.
Ticket to ride is a series I enjoy, it's very fun and quick and easy to get into. It is certainly not my favorite series in the world, and I could see myself getting sick of it pretty quickly with too much play. Very good for new players, and even veteran gamers can enjoy it for a quick, light game. Well worth checking out if you have not.
If you have the original and are interested in the expansions, I would highly suggest Maerklin over Europe.
Gotthard Heinrici (prev. Graf Strachwitz)
I liked the original TTR,
I disliked the TTR Europe for the reasons you mentioned.
I could never have myself to buy TTR Märklin as I find the map so off putting...
If the setting was on the original board Iwould have give it ago. Th eGerman board is so unappealing for me....says someone from Düsseldorf.
I totally agree with the reviewer's opinion of the passenger chits. They aren't a lot of fun to work with, especially if the city with the chits has multiple routes coming out of it. The trains butt up right next to the chits, making it difficult to remove one without having to rearrange the trains.
The storage of these chits leaves a lot to be desired. In the box, there is a "semi cylinder" (for lack of a better term) for them to lay in, and there is a spot for your thumb and finger to grab the stack from this semi-cylinder. The problem is that there is only enough space for your thumbs to grab a small part of the chits, so when you go to pick them up, the stack of 10-15 chits inevitably go flying all over the place.
We played 4 games without the chits, mainly to teach my wife the basic rules without passengers, and then played with the passengers. Mucking with the chits make we want to play without the passengers in future games.
- Last edited Mon Feb 12, 2007 5:50 pm (Total Number of Edits: 2)
- Posted Mon Feb 12, 2007 5:47 pm