I had some time to play a few games of Travel Ingenious. My older copy of this comes in one of the narrow Kosmos 2-player boxes which is small enough that it very often comes along when I'm travelling. I'm not sure why the more recent Kosmos version comes in a thicker box.
I've already covered components and gameplay in my [url=]Travel Ingenious Review[/url].
All three games started off simply, individual players trying to get double tiles down around a starting tile to kick off one of their colours. Somehow, the spirit of mutual cooperation took over and there were relatively few moves that scored well while blocking the row for the next player. This quickly led to large groups of tiles in a handful of colours growing across the board. Usually the central space contained a couple of large patches that didn't grow from the seed starting locations.
The natural result of these large colour stretches was both players being able to max a couple of colours, call "Ingenious!" and take a follow up turn. All three games saw at least two colours maxed, one game saw one player with four maxed colours. There were also two double-ingenious turns. Of course, Knizia's favourite minority scoring mechanism makes high scores irrelevant, but the opportunity for a double or triple tile lay may be worth the extra turn spent maxing a scoring-irrelevant colour.
Once a few colours were maxed, it became much easier to end up with a hand of mostly useless tiles but also to play the single tile containing the lowest score, setting yourself up for a tile swap. The full tile dump+refresh step was taken between one and four times in each game, mostly by me. While it seems like a really powerful option, the close scores suggested that with careful planning you could mostly do without.
So, with all these big regions and huge scores, why was the game interesting at all? Mostly in the decision of when to abandon attempts to get one more Ingenious and start a desperate attempt to somehow score a few points in your lowest scoring colour. Many of the large patches didn't start from the seeds and often overran other seeds. Since most colours were really high-scoring, the key to this sort of game seemed to be creating opportunities for the other play to help you build up a patch of the colour you needed most, since they were probably short on it as well. Giving away 4 points in a contested colour would be a lot in some games, but if there's only one meaningful clear patch on the board, it's the only chance you're going to get.
We ended up playing 3 games in total, I won 2-1 with only one of the three games being won by more than single point. Winning (losing?) scores of the lowest colour were in the typical 6-9 range that I've seen in other, much more aggressive, 2-player games.
Even without directly aggressive play, this is still a fantastically balanced game that requires careful play. I'd say playing in a cooperative way just adds a different sort of urgency to getting your low scores up, mostly when you run completely out of room!