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Ticket to Ride: Switzerland» Forums » Variants

Subject: How to fix the Switzerland game rss

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Carl Brousseau
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THE GAME'S FLAWS

So I've browsed the TTR:S forums here and I've played the game over 200 times, both online and in person. To me, here are the game's 2 main flaws, which mostly seem shared by many other geeks:

1) The importance of country-to-country tickets is too high (e.g. if you connect all 4 countries you can regularly win by just drawing more tickets)

2) Too many tickets are concentrated around the main axis (Geneva-Bern-Zurich-St Gallen with very few spurs), so you can win by building out on that axis and then drawing tickets, hoping they match.

I agree with those 2 assertions, and some variants proposed on this forum have fixed part of #1, but not all of it. To me, the main problem with the country-to-country tickets is not only the duplication (e.g. two Germany-to-country tickets + two Italy-to-country tickets = 4 x 13 = 52 points if you build Germany-to-Italy once), but also the flexibility that these 'open' tickets offer. In all other TTR games, drawing more tickets in the late stages of the game is pretty risky because you may not get the chance to complete them. Not so with TTR:S because (a) if you draw any country-to-country card it's pretty easy to avoid the penalty, and even if you can't avoid it the penalty's not too large anyway (can't be larger than 6) while the potential reward is always higher than 10, and (b) you can almost always choose a low value ticket like Schaffhausen-Zug if you aren't offered a ticket you've already completed. This is also relevant to issue #2 above since you'll often get something in the main axis in addition to the country-to-country tickets.

So the problem is all with ticket design (e.g. the map is fine).

HOW TO FIX THEM

If the problem is with the tickets, the easy fix is to create a new set of tickets, which is what I did. Those tickets greatly dampen the 'lucky winner' effect that's present in the mid-to-late game ticket drawing of the current TTR:S, plus you will actually have to get to places like Sion and Delémont once in a while.

4 'open' city-to-country tickets (same as before, different cities)
Interlaken - FR 8 IT 5 DE 9 AU 11
Sargans - FR 12 IT 6 DE 5 AU 2
Lausanne - FR 5 IT 12 DE 10 AU 15
Winterthur - FR 8 IT 12 DE 2 AU 6

6 'closed' country-to-country tickets (no alternative as opposed to original game)
FR - DE 5
FR - IT 10 (fixes error in original game where it's worth 11)
FR- AU 14
DE - AU 5
DE - IT 11 (instead of 13)
IT - AU 6

8 'closed' city-to-country tickets
Brusio - DE 11
Wassen - FR 10
Fribourg - AU 12
Olten - IT 12
Yverdon - DE 9
Solothurn - FR 3
Zurich - AU 7
Martigny - IT 8

26 'regular' tickets
Geneva-Kreuzlingen 17
Yverdon - Davos 16
Martigny - Vaduz 16
Basel - Brusio 15
Baden - Sion 12
Bellinzona - Delémont 12
Schaffhausen - Lugano 11
St Gallen - Locarno 11
Brig - Davos 11
Bern - Chur 10
Lausanne - Zug 9
Fribourg - Sion 9
Luzern - Lugano 8
Olten - Brig 8
Geneva - Bern 8
Locarno - Zug 8
Neuchatel - Schwyz 7
Bellinzona - Pfaiffikon 7
Baden - Interlaken 7
Zurich - Chur 6
Basel - Luzern 5
Wassen - Winterthur 5
St Gallen - Schwyz 4
Kreuzlingen - Sargans 4
Neuchatel - Delémont 4

That's it. I'm greatly interested to hear what you think. This is still in beta-testing mode but has worked well in the games I played so far and the good features of TTR:S (blocking/planning) are still there, so my impression is that it's a good improvement, but then again I designed it so I'd rather have your (unbiased?) opinion. I'll eventually upload a JPG/PDF file with the new tickets for everyone to print, provided there's enough interest.
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barneyg wrote:
THE GAME'S FLAWS

So I've browsed the TTR:S forums here and I've played the game over 200 times, both online and in person. To me, here are the game's 2 main flaws, which mostly seem shared by many other geeks:

1) The importance of country-to-country tickets is too high (e.g. if you connect all 4 countries you can regularly win by just drawing more tickets)


Only played a handful of games online and f2f, but isn't blocking any effective in 2p or 3p games?
 
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Carl Brousseau
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ackmondual wrote:
barneyg wrote:
THE GAME'S FLAWS

So I've browsed the TTR:S forums here and I've played the game over 200 times, both online and in person. To me, here are the game's 2 main flaws, which mostly seem shared by many other geeks:

1) The importance of country-to-country tickets is too high (e.g. if you connect all 4 countries you can regularly win by just drawing more tickets)


Only played a handful of games online and f2f, but isn't blocking any effective in 2p or 3p games?


Somewhat, but much less than in an original (USA) 2p game. Moderately experienced players usually find a way out.
 
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Pere
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I always generate a new set of tickets for each weekend: http://penyaelpou.googlepages.com/ttrtgen.html

Next item in the todo list: calculate the sets so they're balanced
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Carl Brousseau
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senseless wrote:
I always generate a new set of tickets for each weekend: http://penyaelpou.googlepages.com/ttrtgen.html

Next item in the todo list: calculate the sets so they're balanced


Cool link, thanks. Getting a balanced set is tougher than it seems -- it's the reason why I asked for feedback on my ticket list.
 
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Steve Duff
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Wow, that's pretty cool. Print 'em out, Magic sleeve 'em, boom.
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Does these floaws really appear when paying with rules (loco only for tunnels, only 40 wagons) ?
 
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David Martin
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I'm thrilled to see that someone else has not only thought of this, but actually gone so far as to implement it. I just recently printed out an "expansion deck" for Switzerland and had come here to start a thread for it, but now it appears that I don't need to.

My aim in expanding the Switzerland deck was actually driven by different complaints than yours. The two you mentioned are definitely very common, so I'll number mine 3 and 4:

3) There are way too many cities on the map that have no destination tickets. (You did allude to this, and your deck also fixes it; it just didn't seem to be your starting point like it was for me.) My personal feeling is that every city should show up on at least two tickets, so that when someone's obviously headed there, people like me who tend to memorize the deck can't guess the other end as easily. (Obviously if there are very few ways in and out of a city, there can't be too many more than 2 tickets, because that would just be cruel.)

4) The ticket deck runs out too quickly. Perhaps that's by design, since it makes you rethink the usual strategy of completing the tickets in your hand first before drawing more, and in some cases makes it attractive to just give up on a small ticket altogether in the hope of drawing some better ones.

I actually enjoy the "ticket-fest" nature of TTR Switzerland - to me it's one of the most satisfying feelings in the world when you draw tickets that you've already completed. I don't mind that the game rewards you for setting yourself up for this earlier on. However, I agree with your two complaints insofar as it's too easy to settle on a "default route" that you'll try to build in almost every game once you've figured out where most of the tickets go (and don't go).

I ended up creating a deck of 72 tickets, which includes all of the original tickets from the game (which I recreated to make them look like mine since I couldn't replicate the exact style of the original, and I also wanted to make the country-to-country and city-to-country tickets a little clearer to understand at first glance). I think this solves all four of our collective complaints:

1) Actually, I might have solved the country-to-country thing by accident, since I kept all four of the country-to-country cards but forgot to print two of each. Now there's only one of each, but I've added some more city-to-country tickets to make up for it.

2 and 3) Fixing one of these complaints more or less automatically fixes the other. Now there's a higher likelihood of having to veer off from the predictable "valley route" and into the tunnels for reasons other than reaching Austria & Italy. I think this will make the game less frustrating for newbies who don't realize that going down to Lugano when you don't have multiple tickets directing you that way (especially since it tends to ruin Longest Route by forcing you to branch) is likely to be a huge waste of time and resources.

4) With a wider variety of tickets, there's still the potential for a lot of that "lucky overlap" that puts me in my happy place, but at the same time you'll end up going to very different places from one game to the next. Maybe I'll go to Lugano because another ticket directs me to Bellinzona and that's right next door, then later in the game I draw one that goes to Locarno. I still have to put some work into it to reach the other end of each one, but memorizing the deck doesn't make it as likely for me to come up with that one "ideal route" that racks up way more points than any other path across the board possibly could. (Mathematically speaking, there probably still is such a route for any combination of tickets out there, but it would take a lot more work to figure it out and there's enough variance that you could still wind up with a lot of tickets that veer away from it.)

Here are the 30 new cards I created. The original deck has 46, and I'm missing 4 of those due not printing doubles for the country-to-country tickets. (You'll notice that absolutely NONE of my new ones go to Zurich.)

"Open" City-to-Country tickets:
Basel - Any Border (D1/F4/O11/I13)
Geneve - Any Border (D13/F1/I16/O19)
Interlaken - Any Border (D9/F8/I5/O11)
Luzern - Any Border (D5/F7/I9/O7)
La-Chaux-De-Fonds - Any Border (D6/F2/I11/O14)
St. Gallen - Any Border (D2/F11/I9/O3)

City-to-City tickets:
Baden - Wassen (5)
Basel - Chur (10)
Bellinzona - Sargans (10)
Brig - Bellinzona (7)
Brig - Pfaffikon (7)
Delemont - Baden (4)
Delemont - St. Gallen (9)
Fribourg - Wassen (8)
Geneve - Brusio (23)
Geneve - La-Chaux-De-Fonds (9)
Interlaken - Lugano (9)
Kreuzlingen - Locarno (12)
Lausanne - Vaduz (11)
Neuchatel - Wassen (9)
Olten - Sargans (8)
Pfaffikon - Davos (6)
Schaffhausen - Lugano (11)
Schwyz - Martigny (11)
Sion - Locarno (9)
Solothurn - Sion (10)
Solothurn - Zug (5)
Winterthur - Chur (7)
Yverdon - Davos (16)
Yverdon - Martigny (10)

Some sample images:


It's played pretty well so far - there's been a good mix of lucky draws and painful last-minute excursions. Even some fighting for routes in areas of the board where you would only ever go in original TTR:S if you were unfamiliar with the game or just really unlucky.

I can't say that I made any specific effort to "balance" these - I did notice some slight overlap in terms of tickets that are easy to complete just by connecting one more city once you have an "original" ticket done. But that's hard to avoid on a smaller board, plus you may not take the predictable routes as much, so who knows, some of the original tickets could end up being a real pain now. (True story: I lost a game the other day because I had been all around the board to all 4 countries, but couldn't complete my last two tickets, which both went to Schwyz. Normally not that difficult of a place to get to!)

I also upped the new ticket rule to "draw 4, keep 1" during the game, since there's a larger deck. Rejected tickets are still tossed out rather than returned to the deck. Starting tickets are "draw 5, keep 2" as they are in the original.

And you get to use all 45 trains in my version, now that people are a little less likely to all want to go to the same places.
 
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