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I received my copy of Ticket to Ride: The Heart of Africa - Map Collection 3 via UPS today from Funagain Games. As luck would have it a friend was coming over to play his new copy of Android: Netrunner so I subjected him to play my new game as well.
The first thing that I noticed was the new routes that are included in this map collection. The names are unfamiliar which caused some searching on the map. Further, the rules of this map have players drawing 4 route cards and keeping at least 2 at the start and drawing 4 and keeping at least 1 on subsequent draws. The routes for this map can be very challenging in a 3 player game as the chances to traverse the outside of the continent are limited. In a 4 or 5 player game the middle of the board will quickly become congested making any internal cities hard to reach.
Another interesting feature of this map is that not all of the connection points are cities. Many of the interior connections are way stations which suits the thematic nature of the map.
Of course, the most interesting part of this map collection are the terrain cards and their mechanic. Each player starts with 1 random terrain card that bears 3 of the colors of the train routes that come standard in TTR: Desert & Savanna (yellow, orange, red); Jungle & Forest (pink, blue, green); and Mountain & Cliff (white, grey, black). Each turn a player may draw two cards and may mix those draws between the train cards and the terrain cards or may draw one or the other exclusively (unless the player takes a face up locomotive card). Each terrain card drawn by a player is immediately played face-up in front of the player so that the total number of each card is easy to see.
Terrain cards can be played when laying a route to double the value of the route. Before a player can play any route card he or she must ensure that they have a number of that terrain card that is equal or greater than the number that any other player has played in front of them of that type of terrain (locomotives can be played as wild cards to supplement the terrain cards played in front of a player). There is a quick reference score grid printed on the map. If a player plays a 1-3 route then 1 terrain card must be played that matches the color of that route to double the value of the route. If a player plays a 4-6 route then 2 terrain cards must be played that match the color of that route to double the score of that route.
The game play seemed pretty balanced between the two of us. We had to each decide when to try to play our terrain cards because as soon as one player played terrain cards it opened the next player to do the same. My friend played a 6 route for 30 points but the most that I ever played was a 5 route for 20 points. This is a powerful component that could potentially lead to race to keep building terrain decks. However, I think that the terrain cards remind other players that the 5 and 6 routes can be dangerous to leave open for too long. There is no longest route card in the Heart of Africa map but there is a 10 point bonus for having the most completed route tickets. While the game can be played without the terrain cards I think that it gives players who may be struggling a chance to stay in the game more than allowing an expert player to dominate points as it is difficult to collect 5 or 6 cards of the same color. This type of bonus could also be the consolation for failing to complete a route because the center of the map has become too quickly cluttered and blocked by other players.
All in all I thought it was a nice map and I found the tightness of the board to be challenging with 2 players. I can only imagine how hard this board would be with 4 or 5 players. I think that it is a great addition to my map collection and don't mind that there wasn't a second map printed on the back of this one. I was happy to have the bonus maps printed on the reverse side of the India and China maps but I won't throw a fit about not having two maps in this map collection.
- Last edited Tue Dec 18, 2012 12:52 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Tue Dec 18, 2012 4:52 am
juan c marquez
Mostly play with 2players so it is good to know that 2 player the game is tight. Hope to read more 2 player opinions as from looking at the map I think that the map is to open for a tight and tense 2 player game.
Thanks for this review. I'm now very curious about this map and will most likely purchase it. I like that it seems very tight for 2 players. I can't wait to hear how a 4 player game will be.