Saturday, 3 January 2009

Ticket To Ride Nordic Countries

I am a Ticket to Ride game series collector. I have Ticket to Ride, Ticket to Ride Europe, Ticket to Ride Marklin, Ticket to Ride USA 1910 expansion, Ticket to Ride Switzerland, Ticket to Ride the Card Game, and now I have bought Ticket to Ride Nordic Countries too. The only game in the series that I don't have is Ticket to Ride the Dice Game, which I do not intend to get, at least not now. Ticket to Ride was big when it came out in 2004, winning the SdJ award. It was a big hit with many of my friends, and with my wife. I started off quite lukewarm towards it, and only later learned to appreciate its simplicity and to enjoy it for what it is. Each time I bought a new game in the series, I found that I usually liked the newer one more than the previous ones. I liked Marklin because of the additional passengers and goods, but when 1910 came out I liked the better tension for 2 players in the Big Cities variant, and Marklin's game setup felt tedious. When I got Switzerland Michelle and I played quite a lot of it and enjoyed drawing tickets a lot. TTR the Card Game was played a few times, but it didn't attract us back much. Unfortunately, with Nordic Countries, so far I do not see anything very outstanding that will attract us back either.

TTR Nordic Countries was initially only sold in the Nordic Countries, and only later Days of Wonder decided to do a small English version print run for wider distribution. It is a 2-3 player only game, like Switzerland, but unlike Switzerland it is a complete game, not just board and tickets, i.e. it is more expensive. It has ferries like TTR Europe, and tunnels too. Taking locomotives (jokers) don't count as taking 2 cards, like in Switzerland, because their use is restricted similarly (only usable for ferries and tunnels). One nice touch is the snow. There is snow everywhere. The train cards are the same as the original Ticket to Ride, but all the carriages are topped with snow. Good Christmas atmosphere. Even the guy on the cover looks like a version of Santa Claus.

I have played Nordic Countries four times. At least for now I don't see a strong differentiator, a uniqueness yet. I only feel I am playing on a different map, with unfamiliar names. That said, perhaps the value is that it is an additional option when you want to have a map more suitable for 2-3 players. So, probably this is a game only the heavy Ticket to Ride series players need to get. Nothing wrong with it, and I think it is nicely designed. Some people may not like the crazy card drawing in Switzerland. Then Nordic Countries is a more "normal" Ticket to Ride game suitable for 2-3 players. I'm happy to have both in my collection, and Michelle and I will likely play these two more than the other ones which were designed for 2-5 players.

Actually there is one unique thing about Nordic Countries, the long 9-length route to Murmansk. This scores 27 points, which is like completing a very long ticket by itself. Also only for this route, for each train of the right colour that you are short of, you can replace it using four cards of any kind (else getting 9 cards of the same colour would be very very difficult). This is an interesting quirk and adds some tension if the players want to compete to build it. It is indeed quite tempting.

Ticket To Ride Nordic Countries. A photo of the map taken from the east. This was the end of a game. We used the purple and black trains. The third colour it white.

The Murmansk-Lieksa route, needing 9 trains of the same colour (jokers not accepted in this game for such normal routes). However for each card short you can substitute with 4 cards of any type.

Lots of snow. The locomotive (joker) has the tunnel and ferry icons to remind you that you can only use it for such routes.

Some of the ticket cards. Even these have a little Christmas theme (bottom left corner).


Anonymous said...

My girlfriend just got me TTR Nordic Countries for my birthday (Original nordic country release- no english)

This now completes my collection of all 5 maps ( U.S.-1910, Europe, Germany - Marklin, and Switzerland expansion.

Personality of Nordic Game. There are lots of 2 or three train routes so to really gain points there is greater reliance on route cards. However there are many choke-points and you can get locked out of destinations.

Also I just found a home grown free atlernate map for just Sweden at this following website.

You have to print this alternate version on you own, but glad to see the fan base creating such fascinating and high quality alternate.

Hiew Chok Sien said...

Thank you for the link. This indeed is a very well done fan map.

There are many more such fan made maps. I've seen a compilation at the NYC Gamer's Blog. probably has them too. You can search for them if you are interested.