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Subject: Nordic Countries: a review rss

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Gustavo Vazquez
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My passion for games began when I and my wife bought Alhambra. We were totally hooked! After that I've bought many games, but few of them rose any interest from my wife. She likes some of them (Yspahan, Blue Moon City, Aquaretto), but only when playing with 3 or more people. And there's a limit of how many times you can play the same game over and over with the same adversary!


(The board. Image from user hecose. Thanks!)

I have played Ticket to Ride and TtR:Europe a couple of times and it seemed to me it could be the perfect game for her. But at the same time they looked like kind of boring with 2 players: few interaction, few disputes… so then came Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries to save the day!

It was out of print for quite a while, but as soon as it was re-released I got it. And boys… an instant hit! It's a game we can play like ten times in a row and still want more. I'll give some concise observations based on my experiences:

d10-1 It's for 2 or 3 players. With 2, the double routes can only be used once, so the tension is more or less the same with 2 or 3. Although it's possible for two players to use completely different routes during the game, it's very hard to happen. With 3 I can't see this happening - at least two will be fighting for the same routes.

d10-2 You loose one route and your plans go out! There are cities than can only be reached by two routes, and even if you have a second alternative, usually it will be very long.

d10-3 As a consequence, it's not a good idea to play your routes as you get then - the best is to play them in progression. An example: suppose you have to complete Alborg - Karlskrona (the best way is Alborg-Arhus-Kobenhavn-Karlskrona). If you complete Alborg-Arhus and then Kobenhavn-Karlskrona, your opponent will surely notice your intentions and will block you. And then you must make a long turn… (Yes, this happens in others TtRs, but in Nordic Countries it happens ALL THE TIME. And sometimes there's not even a second route!)

d10-4 It doesn't have the station. It is a mechanic I'm not found of. If you like it, be warned. Nordic Countries is cruel.

d10-5 The map is gorgeous - by far the most beautiful of all. A lot of details in it.

d10-6 The ferries and tunnels are still there. In fact, basically all the west side of the map is made of ferries/tunnels routes.

d10-7 The Locomotive (joker) can't be used for normal routes - only for ferries and tunnels! In fact, you can even buy 2 revealed Locos in your turn! Although they are not as strong as before, as the tunnels/ferries are quite frequent and long, you will need them a lot.

d10-8 The colors they've choosen for the trains are black, white and purple (yes, the purple!). They make sense with the theme and map.

d10-9 There's no "Longest route" bonus- the player with most completed tickets gets 10 points and that's all. I think it's better this way.

d10-0 There's a completely insane 9-spaces route that gives you 27 points!

TtR: Nordic Countries is on the top of my list of favorite games, alongside Alhambra and Caylus. If you are a fan of TtR, I can see no reason for you not to buy/try this one. If you like eurogames and haven't played any TtR, I believe it's time for you to buy one! If it's usual for you to play only with another player or in a 3-player group, Nordic Countries is for you. If you have a larger group, it would be better if you get any other TtR.

And now I hope they release the Switzerland expansion again, someday...


(The bonus card. Image from user slith. Thanks!)

purpletrain

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Børge N
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Many good points!

vazquezramos wrote:
In fact, basically all the west side of the map is made of ferries/tunnels routes.

That would be Norway -- yes, my country mostly consists of mountains and fjords.
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Marc Boulet
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Great review. This is my favourite of all the TtR games (tied with Europe). Switzerland appears fun at the beginning, but it's essentially broken once you employ the "keep drawing destination tickets" strategy. Nordic Countries is a much tighter, intense (and beautiful) game.

whitetrainpurpletrainblacktrain
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Joe Pastuzyn
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Very good review. We purchased this when it first came out and continue to play the heck out of it today. It is, by far, my favorite TtR map of all the published versions and three is the real sweet spot for the game -- two can be cruel and punishing. Another fun aspect of this game is when you draw the Copenhaven to Murmansk trip ticket first and you have to decide if you will "go for it". It a strategy that I have seen fail miserably and win decidedly while playing this game. You're also right about some cities only having one way in and one way out (think of Las Vegas on the USA map). I was shut out of Ostersund or Tromso three games in a row and lost because of it. Not that I'm bitter or anything.
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Andre Lucato
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Really great review. It's driven Nordic Countries to my wish list, specially for the fact it works perfect with 2 players.
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Rich P
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It's my favourite Ticket to Ride board too. Games can be very tense on this map.
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Lars Wagner Hansen
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vazquezramos wrote:
d10-5 The map is gorgeous - by far the most beautiful of all. A lot of details in it.

Unfortunatly the map doesn't show the Nordic countries very well.

Denmark is cut in halfyuk
Island is not shown at all.
Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Russia is featured prominently, but they have never been consider part of the Nordic Countries.

They should have called it:

Ticket to Ride: Random part of Northern Europe

That being said I still love the game.
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Andy Ravenscroft
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Quote:
That would be Norway -- yes, my country mostly consists of mountains and fjords.


You know the fjords in Norway? I got a prize for creating those, you know.

-Slartibartfast
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Ethan Van Vorst
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l-hansen wrote:
Unfortunatly the map doesn't show the Nordic countries very well.

Denmark is cut in halfyuk
Island is not shown at all.
Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Russia is featured prominently, but they have never been consider part of the Nordic Countries.

Are you kidding?

By "Island" I assume you mean Iceland. While Nordic, it is almost a thousand kilometres from the European mainland. There's limits to how long a believable ferry route can be.

The Estonians (ethnic group) are closely related to the Finns. If you are going to feature Finnland so heavily, why not have one Estonian city?

Yes, Murmansk is in Russia, but it was also very significant to the development of rail in the region, which means it influenced Nordic rail building even if it is across the border. I think the designer can be forgiven for including this city even if it isn't actually Nordic.

There are no cities shown in Latvia or Lithuania. They only appear at all because the Nordic nations don't happen to have perfectly rectangular borders. Were the designers supposed to bend the globe to remove them from the map entirely? And the empty expanses of Russia can't really be removed without chopping off a big chunk of Finland, too.

The only complaint here that holds the slightest bit of water is that concerning only half of Denmark appearing. Even so, the map does include three Danish cities, and I'm not sure how workable it would have been to try to fit another city or two into the map. Denmark is really quite small compared to its neighbours. I suspect all you'd do is add some artwork to the bottom of the map. We do have to remember that this is a game, so playability is an important facet of the design.
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Gustavo Vazquez
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Sharc wrote:
Switzerland appears fun at the beginning, but it's essentially broken once you employ the "keep drawing destination tickets" strategy. Nordic Countries is a much tighter, intense (and beautiful) game.


Thanks for that! It's good to know. Better avoid ebay, then... cool
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MGS
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Great review! I really like how you say everything that matters. I think you will help a lot of people make up their minds one way or the other and this is very cool. Valeu.
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Filip Lange
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Wraith wrote:
l-hansen wrote:
Unfortunatly the map doesn't show the Nordic countries very well.

Denmark is cut in half:yuk:
Island is not shown at all.
Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Russia is featured prominently, but they have never been consider part of the Nordic Countries.

Are you kidding?

[...]


Despite your long comment, a more correct name would have been "Ticket to Ride: Northern Countries" or "Ticket to Ride: Northern Europe". Nordic countries implies strict set of countries, which the game does not contain.
 
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Travis Hall
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Skrynkelberg wrote:
Wraith wrote:
l-hansen wrote:
Unfortunatly the map doesn't show the Nordic countries very well.

Denmark is cut in halfyuk
Island is not shown at all.
Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Russia is featured prominently, but they have never been consider part of the Nordic Countries.

Are you kidding?

[...]


Despite your long comment, a more correct name would have been "Ticket to Ride: Northern Countries" or "Ticket to Ride: Northern Europe". Nordic countries implies strict set of countries, which the game does not contain.

Are you also going to argue that Ticket to Ride: Europe is misnamed? Because it contains cities that are in Asia (and some don't consider Britain part of Europe either). And Ticket to Ride: Switzerland allows track to cross the borders into Germany, Italy, France and Austria.

The focus of Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries is the Nordic countries. It shows the Nordic countries that can be reasonably shown in a train game, and has only two cities outside of the Nordic countries proper (and one of those is about as close as you can get to Nordic without actually being Nordic). About all the designer may have been able to do to make it more Nordic would have been to include a little more of Denmark in the art (while having no effect on the actual game). I maintain that the name is quite reasonable.

(Besides, modern definitions of the term "Nordic countries" generally depend in some way on the Nordic Council, which was only formed in 1952. The Ticket to Ride games generally seem to be set before WWI, with 1900, 1910 and 1912 all having been explicitly mentioned in the fluff. At that time, "Nordic" was most likely somewhat more loosely defined, even by the Nordic peoples themselves. And who gets to choose the definition, anyway, when it seems the Estonians consider themselves Nordic but the nations of the Nordic Council don't?)
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Gustavo Vazquez
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Ronaldo wrote:
Great review! I really like how you say everything that matters. I think you will help a lot of people make up their minds one way or the other and this is very cool. Valeu.


I'm very happy with that! laugh I can say for myself - many games I have bought/haven't based on reviews...

About Nordic Countries being not literally every single Nordic Countries, come on, people... arrrh It's a good name!
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Andrew Kluessendorf
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Don't forget the TTR: Nordic Countries microbadge - it's the purple train car and it shows up great in your profile. (And no, I didn't create it or get any residual GG for it).

 
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Thanks for the review, just picked this up!
 
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Zoltan Papp
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really good review! thank you!
We played 3 times so far with my wife, and we are already in love with this game. Gorgeous production and tense gameplay.

So far we tend to employ 2 strategies against each other:

One is to have relatively few destination cards to start with and go for the Murmansk-Lieska as soon as possible while trying to prevent the other's routebuilding.

The other is to start with many destination tickets, so the Globetrotter bonus is more likely, but is also risky because the higher potential to have negative point in the end, so here some misleading route claims can be useful, to hide the intentions
 
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