With each new map released in the mega-hit Ticket to Ride series the designers try to add something new to challenge long-time players. Ticket to Ride United Kingdom adds a wealth of strategy and refreshes a game with two new ways to play. Included in the expansion is a two-sided board that represents both the UK and Pennsylvania. Each map has a unique twist and forces players to have a fresh approach to the game.
TTR UK gives players only 35 trains to start the game. They will be limited to building only between mainland English destinations and only on routes of one or two track length. They will need to develop their technology if they hope to be able to reach beyond those constraints.
There are eleven different technologies up for grabs. The Concessions will allow players to build routes in new territories, like Wales, Scotland, Ireland and France. The Mechanical Stoker and the Superheated Boiler will allow players to build longer routes. Propellers and Steam Turbines improve Ferry technology. Boiler Lagging earn players extra points for completed routes.
Locomotives take on a whole new importance in TTRUK. Players discard locomotives in order to buy new technologies, so on top of being wild cards used for route building, they’re also the currency of the game. Tech cards range in price between one and four locomotives. Luckily this map has a few ways to make getting locomotives a little easier. At the start of the game players will have four random cards and one locomotive. At any time they can discard four cards to get a locomotive, so even if none are coming up, they can still get they’re hands on some. The Tech card Boosters will allow players to trade three cards for a locomotive rather than four and now when three locomotives come up in the lineup they aren’t swept.
There are Advanced Techs available as well one players feel as if they’ve mastered the standard techs. The Thermocompressor allows players to claim two routes in a turn and then must immediately return the card. Water Tenders allows players to draw three blind cards. Risky Contracts and Equalising Beam can earn the player points if they have the most completed tickets or the longest route, but they’ll cost the player points otherwise. Diesel Power will allow players to spend one less card when claiming routes. The advanced techs are an interesting addition once you’ve gotten to know the standard cards and it’s nice to know there’s another step possible to take.
Flip the board and you’ve got the Pennsylvania map. This map brings in a stock element that is reminiscent of Alan Moon’s Airlines Europe. Not a bad game at all to be compared to.
When you complete a route in Pennsylvania you can take one of the stock cards for one of the companies depicted on that route. Sometimes you’ll have a choice and sometimes not. The stocks are worth different values depending on how much you end up with. In the case of a tie the person with the lowest number on their stock (i.e. The one who took it sooner) will break the tie. Now, this does a very interesting thing, because it forces people to build routes earlier in the game rather than hoarding their cards and some players often do. The sooner you take stock in the company, the better off you are. It’s a great additional dynamic.
This is a map expansion only, so you’ll need a full set of trains before you can start riding the rails.
Definitely fans of TTR should get this expansion. It adds two beautiful maps and some cool new mechanics. To be honest I’d even recommend this to more casual players. Both maps add enough to the game that it will refresh your love for it. UK is probably the most gamer map they’ve ever published and Pennsylvania changes the way people approach the game. Check them out if you get the chance!