TICKET TO RIDE: SWITZERLAND (Days of Wonder, 2-3 players, ages 8 and up, 30-60 minutes; $25)
One of the most popular games in recent history has come from the talents of Alan Moon: Ticket to Ride (featured in the Spring 2004 GAMERS ALLIANCE REPORT). Not only has the game won many honors, it has also spawned a series of sequels in its wake including Ticket to Ride: Europe (Spring 2005 GA REPORT), Ticket to Ride: Märklin Edition (Spring 2006 GA REPORT) and the USA 1910 Expansion (Winter 2007 GA REPORT) and it hasn't stopped yet! The latest entry in the series is Ticket to Ride: Switzerland which brings the game play of the series into the heart of Europe.
Ticket to Ride: Switzerland is NOT a complete game. To play this expansion, you need to borrow components from previously released games, specifically 40 trains per player and 110 train cards. What the expansion DOES provide is a new board depicting Switzerland with rail lines extending into France, Germany, Italy and Austria, 46 new Destination Tickets and rules in no less than eight languages! (Fortunately, English is one of them!) This latest expansion keeps the basic game mechanics of the previous members of the family but there are a few differences that give this entry a personality of its own.
First of all, there is a twist to the Destination tickets. 34 of the new tickets operate as one would expect: players must seek to link the a specific city to another specific city by game's end to earn the listed points. But 12 of these new Destination Tickets are different. These new tickets list city to country or country to country destinations offering up to four different routes that may be built to score points. Despite multiple options, a player will only score points for the highest completed connection. (He will NOT score for more than one completed connection for the same ticket.) The penalty for not completing a Destination Ticket is still the same; you deduct the value of the what would have been a completed route from your score. With the multiple Destination Tickets, however, should you fail to complete a connection, you only lose the LOWEST scoring route, a more forgiving approach to scoring. Another change of importance is the use of the Locomotive cards.
In this expansion, Locomotive cards can be chosen in the same fashion as other cards so, for example, you can pick two Locomotive cards from the display (rather than only one and have your turn end). But their use is restricted. Locomotive cards may NOT be used on regular routes and may ONLY be played when constructing tunnel routes. And there are a TON of tunnel routes to be constructed here, another difference from the other games in this series.
All the games in the Ticket to Ride series provide players with routes to complete and Destination Ticket goals to fulfill in order to accumulate points. In our plays of the other games, the emphasis is on completing routes, especially the long routes, to earn the majority of your points. Ticket to Ride: Switzerland changes that approach.
In TTR: Switzerland, the routes available to be built are generally shorter than in the other games in the series. There is only one route of six spaces, none longer, with most falling into the three spaces or less category. Players must shift their attention from the building of long routes to completing Destination cards which is now where the big points lie. This also makes it even more important for you to be aware of what your fellow players are building. A smart player will try to play a little defense and block some routes, forcing an opponent who sees a big point connection in his future to have to settle for a lesser valued connection or, worse for your opponent and better for you, get saddled with a loss for an incomplete route. Another positive: the game is designed for two or three players so that, with a smaller group, you can get the full flavor of the original game without missing a thing.
The Ticket to Ride series has been successful for very good reasons. It is attractive in presentation, easy to learn and has enough depth to warrant repeated and satisfying plays. Ticket to Ride: Switzerland adds a certain freshness to the game that will keep its fans riding those rails while enjoying some new scenery. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Herb Levy
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