17 Apr 2015 was expansion night at Boardgamecafe.net, which was a good idea, because otherwise it would not have occurred to me to bring Ticket to Ride: Team Asia. This is, so far, the only team- based game in the Ticket to Ride series. I had played this as a 4-player game before, i.e. two teams of two. This was the first time I played a 6-player game, i.e. three teams.
In the team game, you cannot show your hand cards to your partner, who sits next to you. You can't communicate information about your cards. However you do have this shared rack on which you can place some ticket cards and train cards. This is your communication and sharing tool. At the start of the game, after choosing tickets, every player must simultaneously place one ticket onto his team rack. This allows partners to start communicating intentions and requests for help. In our game, my partner was Sinbad. When we placed our initial tickets onto the team rack, it was immediately obvious that we were in trouble. His ticket card (on the left) went from north to east. Mine (on the right) went from west to south. All four points of the compass!
Canton was a flurry of activity right from the get-go. It seemed every team had a ticket going to or passing through Canton.
Things were busier on the eastern half of the board in the early game. I had three tickets in my hand and all of them were for cities on the western half. So I was quite relaxed initially. My guess was Sinbad's tickets were mostly on the eastern half, so I tried to help him while I collected train cards for my own tickets. I tried to anticipate where he was trying to reach, and I laid down trains hoping I was extending the routes he was trying to take. This is something you don't get to experience in normal Ticket to Ride games. In this photo, we (green) had reached Peking (Beijing), all the way from Canton.
The western half of the board was starting to get busy now, and I was getting jittery. There were six different cities that I needed to reach in this area. Thankfully I did not get blocked. On the eastern half of the board, Sinbad and I (green) had reached Harbin now, at the top right corner. However we still needed to complete those two length-6 and length-7 routes along the northern edge. We needed to reach Dihua (modern day Urumqi). Completing long routes is not easy. We not only had to worry about whether another team would beat us to it, we also had to worry about whether we could collect the right train cards in time before the game ended. In the end, we did manage to make it. The long routes gave us many points. However we scored much fewer points in tickets compared to other teams. We were happy enough to have not failed in completing any ticket, despite the extreme locations we picked. Liv's team were the final champions.
The city of Lanchow was mentioned frequently in our game, because of how juvenile and crass we were (probably more me than others). Most Malaysians would understand this, especially if you are Chinese, and especially if you are Hokkien or Teochew. Sorry to the citizens of Lanchow.
The team mode in Ticket to Ride: Team Asia is quite fun. Something different, but without too much rules overhead. If you're a fan of the series, you should check it out. I like it with 6P more than with 4P. More competition and thus more exciting.