Derek Thompson
United States
Marion
Indiana
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I’m not actually sure which map came out first, but I can’t help but feel like Nordic Countries is an evolution of the Switzerland map. It has a lot of the same rules, but now there also ferry routes throughout the map, and much fewer tunnels (thank goodness!). The map also has some asymmetric double routes where one is a tunnel and one is a ferry of a different length (Moirana – Trondheim, Stravanger – Kristiansand), the first map to do such routes. There’s also a nine-length route in the northeast worth a whopping 27 (!) points, with a “mercy” rule: you may use any four cards as a locomotive on this route only. So, for example, you could pay with seven green and any eight other cards. Since the ferries make locomotives a hot commodity, you no longer “sweep” the tableau when three appear. Ferries also have a mercy rule if your opponents keep snatching all your locomotives – any three cards can be used in lieu of a locomotive for the “ferry” part of the route, and you can even use a locomotive somewhere else on the route. For example, the red route from Trondheim to Moirana could be payed using 3 red cards, 1 locomotive, and six other cards as the “ferries”. This is actually a great rule, because we’ve all had two-player TTR games where each player takes turns drawing the top of the deck in frustration, unable to find anything but junk – and now all of that extra junk in your hand has a use.

The ticket deck is back to “normal” – no country routes of any kind, just city-to-city routes including some long north-south routes, more along the lines of the ticket distribution in the original USA game. Since a long north-south line already has a reward of great tickets, the longest route bonus is not in play, but instead there is a Globetrotter bonus of 10 points (not 15). All in all, there are a lot of rules unique to this map, and it can be a lot to remember – but I think they are all rules for the better, at least for this map.

Before you noticed anything else about the map, though, you probably noticed how gorgeous it is. This is easily the prettiest map of the series, and the black, purple, and white trains that come with the game complement it much better than solid green or blue trains would. Unfortunately, that means playing with the sets of stations or depots from Europe or Europa 1912 is a little more complicated, but this map is supposed to be a bit more tight anyway, so stations don’t seem appropriate, and I personally dislike the depots. The train cards themselves are also “snow-covered” and are absolutely beautiful on both the front and back.

Unlike the Switzerland map, this one has only a few one-length routes (although they are still of great import), and instead we see many 4-5 length routes along the lines of what you see in Ticket to Ride: Europe. This means there’s a little less immediacy for those short routes, but instead there’s more immediacy for some of the four-length routes in the middle. The high-value tickets of this game all run north-to-south, meaning the three north-south corridors (left, middle, right) are all going to be contested regions. In particular, the double-routes all through the middle corridor mean that a two-player game can be very frustrating – I’ve definitely seen someone completely unable to access anywhere north of Boden with the trains he had left. Although the right and middle corridors have enough cross-section to alter paths when needed, the empty space between the left and middle corridors means it may end up being pretty difficult to get where you need to go. It again seems like there’s too large of a discrepancy between two- and three-player games (with three-player games being a little easier).

Overall, though, this is my preferred map with fewer players. It plays like a nice hybrid of the USA and Europe maps, and the rules changes are nice additions that keep the game from bogging down. The minimal number of tunnels and the ability to pitch “dead” cards to ferries or the 9-length route mean more skill and less luck. Add the fact that it’s a gorgeous map, and we’ve got a winner. If you find the two-player game too tight, simply allow double routes, and you’ll still have a good game with some tricky points of contention. My only other complaint is that the game is sold as a stand-alone of the same price as the other maps, despite only coming with three sets of trains and only supporting up to three players. I would have liked to have seen a $40 or even $45 MSRP instead of a $50 one, or a printing as an expansion map like Switzerland. It’s a great game, though, so it’s still worth the money – I guess Days of Wonder already knew that.

Pros: more skill and less luck than Switzerland; plays like a “mini” USA or Europe map; gorgeous map and cards

Cons: expensive; two player game a bit rough

Originally posted on http://meepletown.com
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Nate Rethorn
United States
Perrysburg
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This is my favorite of all of the Ticket to Ride games. It's cutthroat and tense, rewards careful play and doesn't lead to ticket spamming as much as Switzerland. Three players is fun and challenging; two can be brutal. I love it.
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Davido
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Nordic Countries came after Switzerland. Once I got Nordic, I traded Swiss and never looked back. It's my go to with 2 or 3 as it should be.
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