As a game reviewer, I play piles of new games each year, which means that most of my games stay in pristine condition, receiving only a handful of playings a year. Ticket to Ride is an exception to that rule, however, receiving so many playings that my box, board, and - most of all - cards are slowly wearing out. This caused me to be more than a little excited when I received Ticket to Ride: USA 1910 (Days of Wonder, 2006 - Alan Moon). Not only did the game promise to have new tickets but completely replaced the original train cards!
The expansion comes in a small tin that houses almost two-hundred cards. All the cards from the original game are reprinted, as well as four cards from the Mystery Train expansion, and thirty-six completely new cards. All the cards are in a normal, large style format, and I know that I have stated that the little cards don't bother me; but the difference is clear, and it's nice to have the larger cards.
The rules (one page) mention that there are now four ways to play Ticket to Ride.
- You can play with only the reprinted, original tickets - the same game as was in the original box. The only minor difference here is that some of the longer train routes have had their point value slightly decreased.
- You can play with only the new tickets included in the expansion. These tickets have "1910" printed in the upper right corner and include many new routes to cities that weren't originally a starting point in the basic game (such as Las Vegas). In this version, the "Longest Route" bonus card is not used, with the "Globetrotter" bonus card included instead. This card awards fifteen points to the player who has completed the most tickets.
- Players can play a "Mega Game". This uses ALL the tickets and both bonus cards. Players start the game by drawing five cards and must keep at least three. From then on out, they simply draw four tickets and only are required to keep one.
- Thirty-five of the tickets are marked "Big City", meaning that one of their destination cities is Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, or Seattle). Players receive four tickets at the start of the game and must keep at least two. This game has more competition because of the limited amount of end cities.
The game comes in a small tin that contains three decks of cards. It's a very nice storage container, but I've discarded mine to fit the cards into the original game - something they do easily, and you don't even have to get rid of your original cards (although mine should be buried). The artwork on the train cards is the same, although the locomotives are brighter; but the ticket cards are much easier to read. They, copying the style in the other two Ticket to Ride games, show the cities, a line connecting them as the crow flies and a clear map of the USA to pinpoint where they are.
First of all, it's certainly nice to have a replacement deck of cards for the ones that are getting tattered and torn. But the real draw of this expansion is the tickets and the new, intriguing ways to play with them. No matter what, having more tickets in the game isn't a bad idea, especially if you've played the game so long as to have memorized the different routes. The new routes also cater to cities that were ignored (at least in starting destinations) in the original game and connect some cities for some interesting possibilities.
More intriguing is the addition of the Globetrotter card. Players now can make a viable strategy of connecting many short routes - the fifteen point bonus is certainly nothing to scoff at. It offers up just enough incentive to push many players into drawing more tickets, which makes for a more interactive, enjoyable game.
The "1910" game really doesn't interest me too much. As a way to see all the new tickets, it might have its benefits, but I would much rather simply play the Mega game, with all the tickets included in the game. With that many tickets, you really have a good mix in your hand at the beginning of the game and shouldn't get stuck with poor routes everywhere (or all long or short routes!) Having both bonus cards in play is also interesting - a player who can win both will do exceedingly well - and it encourages more competition.
Speaking of competition, the "Big City" version of the game can get quite brutal and nasty. With seven cities becoming major hubs, players will quickly play routes down just so that they have a method of connecting to that city. Those seeking a more cutthroat version of Ticket to Ride will enjoy this, as players will inadvertently (and quite possibly, deliberately) and continually be getting in one another's way. I find this an interesting idea but still prefer the Mega Game.
Large cards and a whopping thirty-five new tickets are a good enough reason to picking up this inexpensive expansion. It turns the original Ticket to Ride into a more tactical game, almost putting it on par with the strategy king of the series - Ticket to Ride: Marklin. So, in summary - large nicer cards, more variety in tickets, a great new bonus card, and interesting forms of playing. Going on three years in production, Ticket to Ride uses this expansion to stay the king of family games. The expansion can be added and taught to new players with no problem, and experienced players will be glad for the variety. And I like shuffling the new sized cards!
"Real men play board games"
You can buy this game directly from Funagain games.
BoardGameGeek entry for Ticket to Ride: USA 1910