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Subject: Ticket Imbalances rss

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The Steak Fairy
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Although I love the visual aspects of Ticket to Ride, and am a fan of Days of Wonder in general, there is a lot I find irritating about this game. The blind drafting of tickets is one thing, and it is exacerbated by the presence in the deck of various "bonus" tickets, whose payoffs don't correspond to the scheme that the vast majority of tickets use. For example, Seattle to New York pays 22 points if connected, but its shortest route is only 20 trains long--and that's not even the bonus I'm speaking of! I think that's just a misprint/mistake. The bonus to the Seattle/New York ticket is the Vancouver/Montreal ticket, and vice versa. Just *try* to lose this game if you have these two tickets at the outset. The imbalanced ticket deck just wrecks this game for me. I believe the maximum bonus on a ticket should be 10 (arbitrarily chosen to match the contiguity bonus), and screw the giant route cards.
 
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David Fair
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Re:Ticket Imbalances
MisterCranky (#32622),

I disagree. The longer tickets have more opportunities to be lost when routes are blocked by other players. I know that the people I play with make sure to block whatever it is I seem to be playing towards, and I play the same towards them. In the dozen or so games of T2R I have played so far, about half of the 15+ point tickets end up unconnected.

Maybe you just need to play with more cutthroat players.
 
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Scott Alden
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Re:Ticket Imbalances
BeyondMonopoly (#32649),

I'm curious if defensive play helps out for the win. It seems like the lost opportunity to block someone would also be a detriment to yourself.
 
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Re:Ticket Imbalances
Aldie wrote:

I'm curious if defensive play helps out for the win. It seems like the lost opportunity to block someone would also be a detriment to yourself.


After several games, I find myself thinking a lot about defensive play, and I'm starting to think that, with experience, the 3-player game might end up being better than the 5-player game (plus less downtime!).

- d
 
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Re:Ticket Imbalances
Aldie wrote:
BeyondMonopoly (#32649),

I'm curious if defensive play helps out for the win. It seems like the lost opportunity to block someone would also be a detriment to yourself.


Well, if you work to block other players too much, you can spend a lot of trains you need elsewhere, and if you don't link them up, you might find you are out of the running for the longest train.

In my most recent game (4 player) I had 8 tickets, was able to connect them all (none were higher than 12 points), garner the longest train (35), and successfully block 2 other players (one in Dallas, one in El Paso). It is not impossible, but you have to get lucky at it and have the blocking be able to be done with 1-3 trains, and be somewhere you don't mind being anyway.
 
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Re:Ticket Imbalances
Dave wrote:

After several games, I find myself thinking a lot about defensive play, and I'm starting to think that, with experience, the 3-player game might end up being better than the 5-player game (plus less downtime!).

- d


I have played at least 5 games each of 3-, 4-, and 5-player and I find that I enjoy 4-player best. Three player can be a bit too unconfined (though remembering that the double tracks get dropped and become single helps greatly), and 5-player is quite confined. 4-player has a nice balance and less downtime than with 5-player, though even in 5-player there is still not that much downtime (compare to Tikal, for example).
 
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Re:Ticket Imbalances
David wrote:

I have played at least 5 games each of 3-, 4-, and 5-player and I find that I enjoy 4-player best. Three player can be a bit too unconfined (though remembering that the double tracks get dropped and become single helps greatly), and 5-player is quite confined. 4-player has a nice balance and less downtime than with 5-player, though even in 5-player there is still not that much downtime (compare to Tikal, for example).


I played twice last weekend with five players and I agree that it seems like four players would be the ideal number. Hopefully I will get to try this out soon with that many players.
 
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Re:Ticket Imbalances
MisterCranky (#32622),

I disagree about the starting tickets. We played a four player game last weekend and one of the players managed to complete 6 or 7 tickets, garnering 80 points total. I believe she had two of the big tickets in there. However, she hadn't needed to build excessive track to complete all of those tickets and was only at around 45 points before the final count out and ended up in second place, behind the guy with the longest track.
 
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Re:Ticket Imbalances
disclamer (#33214),

I guess I'd have to say that if she completed 6 or 7 tickets and didn't win, then the "big" tickets weren't in there. The Seattle to New York and Calgary to Vancouver combo is 42 points on its own, requires at least a couple of 6-routes to properly deal with, and is just a gamebreaking combo if unstopped. Meanwhile, it sounds like just another bad day at the office for some poor miserable gamer who didn't quite understand that taking the time to draw all those tickets was, of necessity, reducing her opportunities to do the other two, far more important actions. If you connect your initial routes and can't find better ways to spend your time other than fishing for more bonus cards, you suck, and deserve to die horribly. Don't tell her I said so!
 
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Re:Ticket Imbalances
BeyondMonopoly (#32649),

Whoops, meant to address this before--I play with exceptionally cutthroat gamers, one and all. If I'm starting with the Seattle-New York route, you and the other players are pipe-dreaming if you think I'm not getting that connected. End of story.
 
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Re:Ticket Imbalances
It's like every other game out there. EVERYONE should be working to: 1. advance themselves, and 2. hinder others. If only one player is trying to block someone from going coast to coast, that player WILL lose. Knowing they'll lose they can't afford to keep blocking, therefore the player going NY to LA will probably win. Also, the player who is not being blocked and not blocking others now has a chance to win.
 
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Re:Ticket Imbalances
I am failing it to understand why this one is getting good ratings, nor how to play.

The tickets I drew at start in tonight's game were eventually proven to be game-losing, unless perhaps players other than myself had felt the same way and played a lot of blocking tactics as a result. After some turns I drew the next three tickets and essentially they made the original & serious problem worse, which is that either by fulfilling all tickets that were possible or by sacrificing one of these to block, or try to block, whomsoever i guessed might be the eventual winner [along with my fellow losers, who also had to help with this, due to knowing they had no chance to win otherwise] there was no chance of me winning.

The fairly obvious problem is that only the long routes afford the long links which score most points, and whose tickets give most points at game end. Then there's the longest route bonus. Thre simply isn't that much incentive to block from the outset, not least because it is impossible to know where or who to block. And blocking is rather sad anyway, especially if it scores the blocker no points. So it all seems to depend on what tickets are drawn...even if players spend several turns at game start drawing tickets, whosoever draws the best ones should win.
 
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Re:Ticket Imbalances
There sure doesn't seem to be any way to win by completing small routes, even lots of them. Completing three two-car routes takes three turns and nets 6 points. Completing one six-car route takes one turn and nets 15 points. Granted it may have taken you longer to accumulate the necessary cards, but you're drawing cards while the short-line player is putting down trains.

I haven't tried this yet, but I wonder if it's a viable strategy, given an initial deal of three low-value tickets, to throw one away, put the others on low priority, and concentrate instead on building long segments wherever they are. That way you make things tougher for the player who's trying to fill the big tickets, as well as garnering enough points to offset any uncompleted tickets at the end of the game.
 
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Re:Ticket Imbalances
SkookumPete (#34102),

In a two or three player game I think it is completely viable. I've done it, in fact. I started with two short tickets (4 and 5 value) and one large one. I threw out the large one, made sure to get the two tickets I had completed, and spent the rest of the game focusin on making routes no smaller than 4 trains.

The few times that I made smaller routes was when I could discern where one of my opponents was going and intentionally blocked them. Though it was still possible for them to reroute, the fact that I was taking big routes meant that the game finished faster than usual and both opponents ended up with at least one incomplete ticket.

I ended up winning the game - but not by much. The scores were in the high 80s.

-MMM
 
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Re:Ticket Imbalances
I haven't tried this yet, but I wonder if it's a viable strategy, given an initial deal of three low-value tickets, to throw one away, put the others on low priority, and concentrate instead on building long segments wherever they are. That way you make things tougher for the player who's trying to fill the big tickets, as well as garnering enough points to offset any uncompleted tickets at the end of the game.

Ok...but that sounds like a 4/10 game on a good day, which coincidentally is what I was going to rate this one anyway. I can't why attemting to complete tickets in the same geographical area isn't the best option. Just completing sets of cards in order to put 5 or 6 down anywhere sounds like a game for small children that could be played with Union Pacific components oops did I just stumble of this title's development pathway? so why the 9 & 10 ratings??

The scores were in the high 80s.

we have scored 100-130 across two games. During route building long-route players extend their lead to 30-40 points over the player completing 5 or more shorter tickets, which must be a worry!
 
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Re:Ticket Imbalances
aforandy (#34184),

Again, I haven't played enough to know exactly how this would play out, but now that I realize that short tickets just aren't going to win it by themselves, it becomes a matter of finding a winning strategy when my initial draw is all short. Part of that strategy has to be making life difficult for the players who are attempting to fill the long tickets, which after all can be a huge liability too. If I'm holding just a couple of short tickets, I can afford to play blocking moves anywhere on the map or snap up the big-point segments whenever opportunity arises.

So I remain to be convinced that there is a huge imbalance; but time will tell.
 
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Re:Ticket Imbalances
SkookumPete (#34212),

So I remain to be convinced that there is a huge imbalance; but time will tell.

True. After 15 sessions, about half with 5 players I have seen numerous strategies win. The short ticket strategy definitely works with a bit of foresight. I won a close one by looping my track from Seattle to the Southeast (Atlanta). I knew I was probably going to snag the 10 point longest train bonus if I made all the connections. When I completed the 4 tickets in my hand (1 from an additional draw)I realized I had excellent position and enough trains left to risk another draw. That netted me the LA to NY route (22 points as I recall) and it was a simple matter to hook into NY. I got snookered on longest route but won on ticket points.

My lesson was that while I felt I was losing during the whole game I devised a route for my low-point tickets that at least gave me an opportunity for bonus points. The draw of LA to NY fell by chance, but I was ready to capatalize on it because of the initial plan.

The only imbalance I sense is no more than the randomness of the ticket cards and the erratic way the train cards tend to come out in "clumps".

The hardest lesson for me to learn was to avoid succumbing to the urge to waste turns connecting low scoring cities. Threat of losing the "easy" route leads to this common mistake and I made it many times my first several games. That is a sure way to fall behind and probably not have a chance to catch up.
 
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Re:Ticket Imbalances

My lesson was that while I felt I was losing during the whole game I devised a route for my low-point tickets that at least gave me an opportunity for bonus points. The draw of LA to NY fell by chance, but I was ready to capatalize on it because of the initial plan.

yes, but completing LA to NY rather devalues this as a "short-ticket strategy". So lets say it: you can't win unless you can complete a long ticket, therefore there is no all-short-ticket strategy.
 
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Re:Ticket Imbalances
aforandy (#35619),

yes, but completing LA to NY rather devalues this as a "short-ticket strategy". So lets say it: you can't win unless you can complete a long ticket, therefore there is no all-short-ticket strategy.

Perhaps you're correct, or perhaps not, but it still tends to work out that a short ticket strategy is what you must play if that's the way the cards fall. We played again Thursday with 4 players and I won my 4th game with just two tickets this time. One for 20 points and another for 11 points. This totals about what a short ticket strategy might allow as I tend to draw extra tickets when I have nothing in my hand over 11-13.

This game presented a potential strategy that I hadn't been offered in any previous game. My two tickets were LA -Miami and Pittsburgh-Denver. My strategy this game was to hold back and not sweat the short routes (the absence of a 5th player boosted my confidence I could accomplish this). So I amassed cards instead and scored the three long routes along the southern edge of the map. Once I secured the LA-Miami (via Kansas City) I then added the Denver and Pittsburgh links. My connection to Denver reduced me to 2 cars and triggered the end game. I scored 45 points for just three routes and then the longest route bonus totalling 55 points for just 18 of my cars and a total of 86 with the two tickets. Since I also scored the other 27 cars with very few 1 or 2 car routes my scored soared.

So here's what I noticed the 2 lowest scoring players doing. They wasted many turns snagging locomotive cards. Turns are THE major resource in T2R and I silently cheered every time a player wasted a turn grabbing a locomotive. During the entire game I used one turn getting a locomotive, based upon having seen most of the color I needed disappear previously. I started with one locomotive in my hand, used a turn to get another and then acquired 3 more with draws from the deck.

I'll still contend the game has an excellent balance because I have managed 4 wins using a different strategy each time. As for winning with nothing but short tickets, I suggest utilizing the longest routes and holding off from injudicious turn-wasting by grabbing locomotives.

As for not being able to win with a short ticket strategy , I think that's untrue. I hadn't given it any real thought until reading this thread and so I'll now pay much closer attention to the winning player's tickets. It seems to me I have seen short tickets only in winning hands, but since imbalance wasn't on my radar I wouldn't swear to it.

So I'll swear in the future if I see a short-ticket winner. laugh
 
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Re:Ticket Imbalances
aforandy wrote:

yes, but completing LA to NY rather devalues this as a "short-ticket strategy". So lets say it: you can't win unless you can complete a long ticket, therefore there is no all-short-ticket strategy.


Correct me if I'm wrong but my response above is still a direct contradiction to this claim.

-MMM
 
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Re:Ticket Imbalances
Correct me if I'm wrong but my response above is still a direct contradiction to this claim.

perhaps not quite, as your response describes a smaller number of players playing overall a small number of turns, trains, and tickets completed, to amass a small number of points per player. Here I'd contend that this is proof the game has denied itself, where the tickets are a handicap rather than an object. But a handicap to what? without the primacy of tickets the even greater simplicity of the game dips into absence rather inadequacy of design, over which the shadow of TransAmerica looms larger. Also I doubt this method would work in a 4- or 5-player game as the longer tickets, or at least intercity routes, would be more widely distributed and also completed more often, all of which would seem to make players strive to score more rather than fewer points over a longer game.
We reasonably assumed that tickets rather than longer routes were the game's object. Maybe this is an issue of net positive play versus net spoiling play, but at our age its a good idea to emphasise the former when playing family games in order to scupper accusations of sadness!
 
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Re:Ticket Imbalances
aforandy (#36056),

But none of that changes the fact that you can win without completing a large ticket, which was your assertion.

-MMM
 
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Re:Ticket Imbalances
you can also win by having all other players resign on the grounds the game is crap [and this isn't that uncommmon, I find, inasmuch as they refuse to start playing it], but here the question is the other way round, namely not being able to win. Similarly I am not sure whether its best to say you can't win "in certain circumstances" or "except in certain circumstances".
What we can agree on, given this thread plus others, is that there's a major imbalance, presumably intentional, between the scores for larger sets of trains and the tickets.
Clearly sets of six both maximise points-per-card whilst minimising game length [shades of Durch die Wuste here].
The next variable is number of players, and clearly this affects trains per map space, as well as available 5 & 6 train connections. Another is the manner in which players play with regard to tickets. However whether the tickets are a benefit or a liability in any and all of these circumstances is debatable, and this I think is where the game fails. In short the game is too busy, there are too many imponderables which translate into a serious lack of control, especially with 4 or 5 players. It may be the best way to play is to ignore the tickets as much as possible in 2 & 3-player games, though I suspect this may also be the case in some 4-player games. Ignoring any major game element in a very simple game is not good.
So in short its all luck as there's too little control and its desperately simple on top, not least due to experience of play. So why are they rating it 9 & 10?
 
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Re:Ticket Imbalances
aforandy (#36531),

I think it is possible to win with the small ticket only stategy. Here's how it should/can be done. Keep your two smallest routes if thats what you were dealt and especially if they overlap well. Then right from the start shut down any thing you can see where its obbvious where the player is going. In a five player game if two people are using this strategy they can easily close out even double routes. If they try to focus on just one other player he will have little or no chance to complete those big runs. So by mid game he may very well switch sides to also join the first two players in shutting down player 4 at this point it takes very little time to take him out and then you have 4 on one. This potential landslide effect can turn the game around to where the long routes are no longer advantageous. In our group we are just starting to try this strategy so this is conjecture at this point and don't expect a new player to see this as a valid option. However in just my first try I came in second in just a four player game with one first time player. He had horrible north south routes and if he had joined me in trying to stop the others one of us would have easily one but instead he dug for more cards looking for route points.
 
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Re:Ticket Imbalances
to recap I think we have discovered that the tickets aren't so important, since a bigger imbalance is the points for sets of five & six trains. Most long-ticket believers will have noticed this, due to score lag as they struggle doggedly towards their golden spikes.Thus we have a game which mainly consists of drawing cards to form sets of 5 & 6 cards that can be matched with similarly-coloured on-board routes. A secondary consideration may be to block long routes, though a more significant block should be rapid consumption of all 5 & 6 routes. I doubt anyone will switch strategies mid-game as this implies an irretrievable loss. The other downside of long routes is that you may have to wreck your points-per-card by putting down a few 1- and 2-train routes. Drawing locos has much the same effect. It seems that the routes which should lend structure to the game are best ignored both as far as the rules allow, and also in their more significant manifestations. But to prove it we'd have to play a third time…
 
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