Matt
United Kingdom
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That's my perp! Futsie, all right - crazy as a coot! He's got to be stopped!
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I bet that when Gloria Gaynor released the single Substitute back in 1978 her record company didn’t think for one moment that the B side, a certain number entitled I Will survive, would turn out to be such a stonking hit. Similarly, although the latest Ticket to Ride expansion offers two very different ways to play, for me the B side Pennsylvanian expansion offers a much better gameplay experience than the headline gabbing UK one.

The A Side

I was really looking forward to playing TTR on an official UK map, all those familiar place names I could actually put a face to rather than just being names on a map. The fact that the UK was the birthplace of the railways makes it feel that this is one expansion that has long been overdue. Sadly, what we have here is a difficult birth with lots of complications. These complications come in the form of technologies and concessions that limit when and where you can build and feel like a step too far away from the game’s original ethos. Getting hold of these new technologies such as steam turbines relies on trading in locomotives and it becomes a real luck based affair as players blindly plunder the deck for locomotive cards. You can also trade in cards to act as a locomotive, but this is a costly 4 cards – at least it is one way of thinning out you burgeoning hands of cards

It feels that the introduction of technologies actually limits you strategies rather than widening them. At the start of the game you can only build connections in England and these can be no more than two carriages in length. Yet, these initial restrictions still do not really lead to divergent strategies, every game you end up shooting for pretty much the same technologies. Then there is the monster ten space Southampton to New York route which rewards a massive 40 points and more often than not determines the overall winner. The big thing here is that unlike other routes this one doesn’t require any technology cards and really leaves me scratching my head and wondering how it made it into the final version of the game.

If you want a train game with technological advancements then this is handled much more effectively elsewhere where it is seamlessly integrated into the game rather than being an unwieldly bolt on to a game that was never designed to go down this route.

The B Side

You could say that the above argument should also be applied to the share-grabbing Pennsylvanian expansion, after all there are numerous share games with a transport theme out there. However, Pennsylvania effortlessly blends acquiring shares into the natural flow of standard TTR without feeling obtrusive at all. What’s more, procuring shares encourages players to actually shake off their old TTR mind-set by encouraging them to play trains early, instead of hoarding cards, especially since ties in share ownership are broken by the earliest investor.

The map itself plays well with some nasty choke points that keeps things interesting. Even with just two player’s changes to the rules ensure that the share part of the game remains interesting and maybe even a little more strategic as every time you are awarded a share you also allocate one of the route’s shares to a dummy player. Calculating the bonus points for the shares in each company at the end of the game may feel a bit swingy but also really adds to the tensions of final scoring.

For the Record

For me the latest Ticket to Ride expansion is a real contrast of the good and the bad. I commend the publishers for producing two radically different ways to play rather than just playing it safe and producing new maps with just a couple of added tweaks. However, the clunky and unbalanced nature of the UK expansion makes this hard to really recommend. Even the superior Pennsylvanian side is hampered somewhat by the missing route scoreboard which really is an unforgivable error for such an experienced company to allow to slip through. If the UK map was more suited to standard TTR play then this map collection would have still got a big thumbs up from me, but as it stands I think I will survive without it.

Here is a list of all my reviews, some with puns that I really should be ashamed of.
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Greg Darcy
Australia
Blue Mountains
New South Wales
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We really enjoy UK. We find the technologies add to the game rather than subtracting. It makes it much more than "just another map" Don't forget you get a guaranteed locomotive right at the beginning and there are more locos in the deck as well so it is not quite as luck based as it seems at first glance. We do spend a lot of time picking up cards for an elusive white (or...) though. Much more often than waiting on a locomotive. And we often need to apply a technology retrospectively. House rules allow this. Mind you, I have won without any technologies or concessions. Just going for lots of short routes/tickets in England. It is very difficult though.

Another house rule is that we simply ignore the NY route. I agree it is much too powerful. The game would have been much more balanced if it needed at least two technologies and a concession to build it.

As for Pennsylvania, Never played it, and probably never will. The theme simply holds no appeal for us.
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David B
United States
Chesapeake
Virginia
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The New York route is a trap.
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Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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I agree with your thoughts in this review. I was surprised to find that the PA map is lots better than the UK one because the stock holding element really didn't sound like my sort of thing. Yet I'd rather play that side of the map than the UK one, which doesn't feel properly playtested.
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Jeffery Hudson
United States
Washington
Utah
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I found all the issues you had is what i did enjoy about it. I liked the pursuit of technology, even though you pretty much get them all in the end. The wild/trade in mechanic does not bother me and it finally gives a use for all the cards you end up collecting looking for a specific color anyway...and if you buy the technology that allows you to only use 3 cards to trade in instead of 4 it's not bad at all. You can even use it to your advantage to suck up a card you do need as well as one you don't one turn, then suck up to cards on the next turn and use the three of them as a wild on a future turn.

But we also played the map without technologies and had a great time with it. It's a fun map no matter how you play.
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Candace Mercer
United States
Olympia
Washington
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I can appreciate everyone's criticisms but I have to say I like both sides despite New York City being in Jersey. Wow. Really.

I am partial to the PA side though cause I am from Buffalo so it is the geography I know. I look forward to the Great Lakes in Sails and Rails though some of the initial reviews have me concerned, especially given the price. I will definitely have to wait til second hand prices come down next year. I just cannot justify the purchase in the same way I was able to rationalize Food Chain Magnate where my desire won over my tight budget. My pragmatic rationale was FCM will hold its value better. Time will tell won't it?
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