Wednesday, 16 April 2008

why my wife loves TTR Switzerland

Michelle and I have been playing Ticket To Ride Switzerland again lately, and on Sat 12 Apr 2008 I had one of my most torturous games ever. Here's the story.

My green trains all set up to go. I like to have them arranged this way, so that during the game when I need to place them onto the board it is quicker.

Details of the game board.

Michelle clicks with Ticket To Ride Switzerland. No doubt about this. Same thing as Mystery Rummy: Al Capone and the Chicago Underworld. There is just something that she gets which I simply don't, and I'm not even sure it's something that she is consciously aware of or is able to articulate. It is mind boggling. There seems to be some strategy that she picks up very naturally, but somehow I just cannot grasp. In Ticket To Ride Switzerland, she often draws many, many tickets, and often completes them all too, while I sometimes struggle even with the small number of tickets that I have. This particular memorable game that we played was like this too. Michelle drew ticket after ticket, while I struggled to connect my cities.

Winterthur and its surrounding areas.

I needed to get to Winterthur. I had two tickets that required connecting to Winterthur. There were four routes that lead to Winterthur. I had first intended to claim the one coming from the southwest, which, unfortunately for me, was claimed by Michelle first. Then I decided to try the northwestern approach. Unfortunately, Michelle needed to go to Schaffhausen too, the city northwest of Winterthur. My third option was the southeastern approach, but before I could collect enough black train cards, Michelle claimed that route to go to St Gallen. I was so jinxed that I started looking for hidden spy cameras that Michelle may have put behind me to spy on my cards. This wasn't the first time that Michelle kept claiming the routes just before I was about to do the same. There is indeed a lot of blocking in Ticket To Ride Switzerland, even if you stick to non-malicious play like we do.

I only had one last choice, the eastern approach, i.e. from Kruezlingen. I quickly claimed the route between Winterthur and Kruezlingen, but I still needed three pink train cards to link Kruezlingen to my rail network. So I started drawing cards. I drew and drew, and drew and drew. And drew some more. And then some more again. I could not get three pink cards until Michelle exhausted her trains, triggering the end of the game! I had never been so desperate for pink in my life.

I kept drawing tickets to try to collect 3 pink cards. If you think this is bad, see the next photo.

31 train cards, and only 2 are pink. 7 blacks, 5 oranges, 5 yellows, 4 whites, 3 greens, 3 reds, 1 blue, 1 locomotive/joker, and 2 precious pinks.

This is not the ticket draw deck. This is not the ticket discard deck. These are Michelle's completed tickets!

In this game, Michelle completed 23 tickets, scoring 173 points just for the tickets, and did not have any failed tickets. Her total score was 232. I only had 6 tickets, and only 4 of those were successfully completed. My total score was 83, which was not even half of her points from tickets alone. Michelle also completely exhausted the ticket draw deck.

Michelle advised me that I should claim routes the moment that I have enough cards, and not wait. Also she advised that it is good to draw tickets. Usually there will be some tickets that are already completed, or are easy to complete, and in the worst case if all are impossible or very difficult to complete, then pick one with the smallest value, accepting the penalty, and draw tickets again next turn. These are her two strategies. I tried to follow her advice, but somehow I still feel my execution is not as good. It's baffling how simple this game is, and yet somehow there seems to be something that I just don't get, as if I have some inborn blind spot.

I'll continue to play Ticket To Ride Switzerland. Michelle really enjoys it. I also enjoy it, despite the occasional torture. Nowadays I play with the expectation to lose. It's usually just a matter of how badly I lose. At least I have fun anyway.

Michelle's completed tickets. I lay them out this way when I calculate the final score. For cards with multiple possible values, I hide the values which are not applicable.

My sad, sad 6 tickets.


Aik Yong said...

oh my goodness, that's sad!

i guess at some point you might have to start cutting your losses and move on. draw tickets for other destinations?

Hiew Chok Sien said...

And I think that's my problem. I'm too conservative and I get fixated on the tickets that I have not yet completed. I couldn't let go. I should take a more macro view.

But if it means I can get my wife to play more boardgames with me, I'd play TTR Switzerland many more times, even if she continues to torture me with 23 completed tickets.

Aik Yong said...

Ah hahhaha.

You should get Zooloretto too. My wife loves it.