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Ticket to Ride: Märklin» Forums » Sessions

Subject: My trains ran out of steam rss

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Mike Hutson
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Last night, our group tried out Ticket to Ride: Märklin for the first time. Mat, Mat's friend Mike ("Junior"), and I (Mike) were veterans of the original Ticket to Ride game, but this was Jason's first time playing any TtR game. I played as White, Junior as Black, Mat as Red, and Jason as Yellow.

Not knowing any of the routes, we each chose to select from two short and two long routes. I took three routes, which lined up nicely, one from The Netherlands to Berlin, one from Bremen to Berlin, and one from Berlin to München. Jason took two, and I’m not sure how many Junior or Mat took. Jason, being youngest, started first, and play went to me, then Junior, then Mat.

In the early game, Junior, Mat, and I kept selecting train car cards from the stack. There were three or more yellow train cards face up for about a half hour or so that nobody wanted, so for the most part, everyone was taking cards from the stack. While the rest of us kept drawing cards, Jason kept plopping down one- or two-train connections in the southwest. Finally, the rest of us started putting down connections in the north around Hamburg. Jason soon joined us and Hamburg quickly became a popular city. I managed to secure the Bremen to Hamburg leg of my planned route. Mat and Junior seemed to be creating some north-south connections, and Jason was squeezing in a route here or there where he could. One or two passengers were put down.

At around this point, Mat apparently got really uncomfortable with his starting routes, because he kept rubbing his forehead and spent a couple of turns drawing some new routes. In a few turns, he had amassed a stack of route cards and announced that he was screwed.

Despite all of the early activity around Hamburg, it didn’t seem like anyone was getting their routes totally disrupted (except for Mat, maybe, but that wasn’t saying much considering that he had half of the routes in his hand anyways). Junior took the Regensburg to München connection I was hoping to get, while my attention was focused on finishing my Netherlands to Bremen to Berlin route. But, I later easily worked around it. The only disruptions came from passenger play. I started by sending a passenger from The Netherlands through my route east through Bremen, Hamburg and Berlin, then south through my as yet uncompleted route to München. However, I played two passenger cards to ride on Junior’s connections to steal a few points from him (since he was in second place behind me at the time). The passenger points vaulted me into a substantial early lead. Junior got me back a turn or two later by playing some passenger cards to steal some of the remaining points from some of the connections, and Jason sucked them dry soon after, playing some more passenger cards to ride around in circles (we actually forgot about the rule that you can’t cover the same connection twice in collecting passenger points, as Jason used one or two of his own connections around Leipzig and Berlin to gobble up passenger points, but in the end it didn’t matter). Mat had still yet to even see a passenger card. After Jason’s passenger move, most of the remaining passenger points were only in the less-developed southwest.

At this point, midway through the game, I was close to finishing my three starting routes, needing only one or two connections to finish my route to München. Junior also seemed to be comfortably making some long north-south route, he had a couple of passengers ready to go, and he had drawn some more routes. Jason was virtually monopolizing the southwest with his tiny one- or two-train connections, but Mat had started spidering his way down through the southwest, trying to finish whatever routes he could get. After I finished my starting routes, I drew some route cards. I chose to pick from three short routes and one long route, because I had drained my hand of train cards and was afraid that Mat or Junior would pull some surprise ending to the game before I would be able to draw enough cards to finish another long route. I found one short route that wouldn’t be too hard for me to connect to my existing routes, but didn’t like the other options. I finished my new route as Junior and Mat continued working on their routes and Jason kept drawing train cards. We dropped some not-so-subtle hints to Jason that the game would likely end pretty soon, as the three of the rest of us were getting down below a dozen or so trains each and Jason still had a pile of trains in front of him, several dozen train cards in his hand, and only a bunch of short connections to his name.

As the game was winding down, I was realizing I was probably not going to win. My trains began to lose their steam and my early lead had dwindled down as I futilely worked on finishing a fifth route I had picked up. I had again looked at three short routes and one long route, but none of the routes looked appealing to me. The short routes were all in the southwest region, where I was lacking a presence. I ended up taking a Dortmund to Mannheim (? Stuttgart? I forget…) route, for 6 points. I had figured that if I couldn’t finish it, it was only 6 points, and that it was sort of close to the ends of my longer continuous route. But, I also was eyeing those unclaimed passenger points down around there, and my only passenger on the board was sitting in the southeast at the end of the route already sucked dry earlier. So, instead of trying to connect Dortmund to my route ending in the Netherlands, I tried to stretch my southern end up to it. But, it was getting close to the end of the game, and it was just going to take me too many turns to make all of those little connections. In retrospect, I should have taken one of the longer routes I had seen or had just abandoned the 6 point route immediately and drawn other routes.

Mat also seemed to be feeling the time crunch, as he kept looking over his many route cards trying to figure out what ones he would actually be able to finish in time. Jason finally started laying down some long connections in the northeast, but it was too little, too late for him, as he only had two routes anyways, and still too many unused trains in front of him. I had thought Junior would have been the one to end the game, but he spent his last couple of turns moving passengers to get a few of the remaining passenger points along his routes. I took the opportunity to finally abandon my Dortmund connection and just collect some of those passenger points in the southwest, and it was actually me who ended the game.

My end-of-game passenger sweep in the southwest didn’t help me out enough in the end. Junior had made a couple of good long routes, and had done reasonably well at picking up passenger points. And Mat had managed to finish most of his huge pile of route cards. It seemed like Jason was laying down one- and two-train connections all game long trying to finish his two routes, to the point where we didn’t even believe that there were any more one- and two-train connections left in the game. In the end, Junior was winning by one point, a photo finish, he said… until Mat pointed to the +10 point bonus for completing the most routes and shouted “BOOM, baby!”

The final scores were something like Mat: 170-something, Junior 160-something, Mike (me) around 130-140, Jason around 100.

We thoroughly enjoyed the newest version of TtR. There didn’t seem to be as many of the “screw you” route-stealing moments we were used to from the original game, but that could be because we were unfamiliar with the routes and were really focused on making our own routes rather than paying attention to what cards people were picking up and where they were laying down connections. The passengers were a fun twist, and opened up some new avenues for strategy. It seems that there are now far more viable winning strategies than in the original game. Mat was spamming the short routes, Junior had a mix of long routes and passenger play, and most of my points seemed to come from doing the first sweep with passengers. If I had picked up one more decent long route instead of trying for my short ones, I would have been more competitive.
 
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Mat Fleck
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Mountain View
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Nice recap, Mike!

For the record, I ended up drawing 8 routes-- 5 longs and 3 shorts, and i did not complete one of the shorts (i needed one more turn to do so).

I moved my passenger once, for a measly 12 points, because Mike, Jr, and Jason had snagged all the good passenger points. Hence, my switch to focusing on just more and more route cards. I honestly didn't think I'd be able to complete 7 of the 8 routes, but Mike you didn't finish the game as early as I'd expected. Also, i figured since Jr didn't have a whole lot of routes (4?) that he might trigger the endgame a little sooner. Thankfully, I had time and was uncontested in finishing some big routes.

Finally, I like that there are now several junctions for stressful moments: the first comes when you first laying down tracks after collecting cards.. do you reveal your desired train locations now, or collect more necessary trains first? The second comes when you start moving passengers... you sacrifice that turn, you don't want to pull the trigger too early, yet as soon as one person starts then everyone has to finish before there are no points left. Finally, the third is the end, when you are frantically trying plan your last few moves to maximize your train value, but not necessarily revealing that you are about to go out.

-Mat
 
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