Tuesday, 27 October 2015

BOARD GAMES | Ticket to Ride UK & Pennsylvania

For those of you who are into your board games, you might well have heard that the popular game Ticket to Ride has an expansion out in November, the UK edition.  When I first heard about this, many months ago, I got very excited - one of my favourite games, one of the holy trinity of games, is having a UK version - freakin' awesome!
Take that and multiply it when I was then offered a copy to review, ahead of the launch! Cue 'ERMERGHERD!' and 'SQUEE!'.  When it finally arrived on my door step, it was a magical day. That very night, we sat down to play our very first game of Ticket to Ride UK, and it didn't disappoint!  So, to save me waffling and waffling, lets have a look at it!

The board has two sides.  A UK map side, and a Pennsylvania side - something for both it's USA and UK fans :)  Both maps play completely differently, and have very different mechanics - both different to the base game.  Oh, it's worth noting, to play this, you'll need the base game as this doesn't include the trains.

UK Edition

Ticket to Ride UK board

Close up of the Ticket to Ride UK map

The map is absolutely beautiful, like it's been painted with watercolours.  Most routes are much shorter than the main game, and as a result, we did find it could be a little hard to see if you've completed you're route, as they can look a little disconnected.

Ticket to Ride UK cards
Even the artwork on the cards is more beautiful

This game is very different from the main game, for starters you have a lot more locomotive cards in play (with this version, if you draw 3 in the deck, you don't re-shuffle them), and you play with fewer trains.  If you pick a route to go from say, London to Glasgow, you can't just set off and progress the route, not all of it at least.  You need to use locomotive cards to buy additions that will allow you to cross the border to Scotland/Wales/Ireland/France.  Similarly, if you have a route that goes over water, you'll need to buy the necessary card to allow that too.

Ticket to Ride UK additional cards

Just to add another dimension, you also have to buy special cards that allow you to place 3 trains, and another card for 4/5/6 trains.

If you happen to have a lot of locomotives there's also a couple of good cards to purchase towards the end of the game - one of them is the Double Heading card.  This card means that at the end of the game, for every completed route you have, you get an extra 2 points (they really add up!). Another must of a card to buy is Boiler Lagging - this card only costs 1 locomotive and gives you 1 extra point every time to lay trains down.  There's a similar card for ferry routes too.

Overall a really beautiful game.  It's more choppy/stop-starty than the main game, but that's not a bad thing - it's just a very different dynamic and mechanics.  I love that they've managed to create such a different game.  We've only played it 2 player, but you can imagine that with such a small map, the more players you have, it'll start getting really chaotic.

Pennsylvania

Ticket to Ride Pennsylvania board
Unlike the UK game, this one is much more like the main game.  You have clearer, longer routes, but this game also has different mechanics.  With most of the routes, you'll see they have different icons next to them (see the pic below).  These represent different train companies who own these routes, and when you lay a train on them, you can pick (if there's multiple icons there) which you want to collect a share in.

Companies on Ticket to Ride Pennsylvania
If you're playing 2 player, then when you collect a share, (see the share cards below) you also need to pick one up and give it to a 'ghost player' (so basically just set them to one side).  If it's a route where there's a choice of which to pick, you can also pick which to give the ghost player - you don't have to give them the same one you pick for yourself.

At the end of the game, whoever has the most of each set of shares, gets the most points (the points are written on the front of the cards).  The game can easily be won or lost based on the share card choices you make.

Ticket to Ride Pennsylvania share cards

We did find a bit of a... mistake with this game.  It doesn't come with a score card, or one printed on the board (the one you see in the picture is from the main European game).  While that doesn't seem too bad, the main game doesn't have 5 or 7 length routes, but the Pennsylvania game does, so it was hard to know how many points to attribute to those routes - we ended up getting the score for the 5 train route from the UK side of the board (it's printed on there, so make a note of it before you begin - it's 10 points for a 5 route), and for the 7 route we found out on board game geek - the author of the game had said to award 18 points for a 7 train.

Overall I think we preferred the mechanics for the Pennsylvania board, although the UK one is much more beautiful - I think we just prefer the longer train routes.  I love how different they both are from each other, and how easy it was to pick up.  I really enjoyed collecting the shares, it added a really interested dynamic to the game as it made it quite tactical (which one to pick).  Oh and if you're wondering, I lost both games to the hubby ;)

If you want to know where to buy this, you can use this store locator to find a local stockist, and Waterstones will be selling it with an RRP of £25.99 when it's released next month (November).
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