Ticket To Ride Asia: Legendary Asia Review
Ticket to Ride is a classic within the board game world. Depicted as both a family friendly board game and as an entry level game, Ticket to Ride has made its way to the shelves of gamers around the globe. Several core versions are in circulation – the most popular being Ticket to Ride: USA (the original game) and Ticket to Ride: Europe.
I know I speak for a fair number of gamers when I say that a whole swathe of the gaming world became excited when expansions for Ticket to Ride were announced, and rightly so. When Alan R. Moon and François Valentyne put their heads together to create Ticket to Ride Asia some really interesting was born.
Ticket To Ride Asia, introduces two new iterations of the core game to the fold. Not only did it introduce two new maps, but it also introduced two new sets of mechanics. These are:
- Ticket to Ride: Team Asia – a mode that not only made Ticket to Ride a team experience, but that made it for 6 players. This seems to be a great way of increasing the player count.
- Ticket to Ride: Legendary Asia – This is what we’ll be looking at today.
Yes, I thought we would look at both parts in detail. One part will be today, and one part in the future, starting with Legendary Asia.
The Core Information: What is Ticket To Ride Asia: Legendary Asia?
Ticket to Ride Asia is an expansion pack for the world famous game Ticket to Ride, with the official name Ticket to Ride Map Collection Volume 1 – Team Asia and Legendary Asia. It adds two new maps to the game, although it requires the base game to play.
Ticket to Ride Asia introduces two new modes of play, as explored above, and also opens Ticket to Ride up to be six player in the Team Asia mode of play. Legendary Asia, on the other hand, introduces Mountain Routes and the Mountain Crossing area of play. In return, Ticket to Ride Asia: Legendary Asia removes tunnels, which are in the original copy of the game.
Rather than explain how these work in a separate section, and since there are only a few tweaks to the gameplay from the original game, I figured we would just explore them here. I’ll make the assumption that, if you are reading this, you have some idea as to the rules of the standard or European editions of Ticket to Ride.
The new Mountain Routes include spaces on the board with big crosses on them. Unlike in Ticket to Ride standard edition, where tunnels may require players to spend more cards then they need to in order to complete a track, in Legendary Asia, the Mountain Routes require you to discard carriages to build a route. This means discarding the physical plastic carriage pieces from play.
The discarded pieces then go to the bottom left corner of the board where there is a Mountain Crossing section. Any carriages in the Mountain Crossing section are worth 2 points each.
Finally, rather than Longest Route there is the Asian Explorer bonus. This is a light twist on Longest Route, but it removes the need for everything to be in one long line. Instead, it is the number of connected cities by train lines in a spider web of connectivity.
Our Opinions – What is Ticket To Ride Asia: Legendary Asia Like To Play?
I have to admit that when I was first told that we were to play Ticket To Ride Asia (it’s a friend’s copy, rather than my own) I was dubious. In the past we have played the UK expansion which was something I didn’t overly get on well with. It seemed to over complicate the game, and ultimately, the additional cards introduced during that version of the game (which I believe is officially called Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 5 – United Kingdom & Pennsylvania) didn’t do much for me other than muddle a beautifully simple game.
This meant that my opinions, going into Ticket to Ride Asia were somewhat neutral. I wasn’t excited bar the mechanic for adding six players to the game in the Team Asia map. I had a certain interest in Legendary Asia , although it didn’t hugely grab me as a concept.
I am not ashamed to admit that I should have been excited going into Legendary Asia. It is a fun variation of the game. What Legendary Asia does, and does well, is keep the simplicity of Ticket to Ride whilst also adding in a new mechanic. Not only is a new mechanic (Mountain Routes) an interesting variation that is added into the game, but Tunnels is taken out to accommodate it. This works well as a balance, and I really enjoy the Mountain Crossing. It adds a whole new dimension and strategy to the game scoring making lots of short routes more viable.
That being said, I was a little bit disappointed by the theme. The rules have a Yeti on the front cover, and I thought the game itself would play more on the “Legendary” part of the Legendary Asia title. I thought one of the reasons trains get discarded at Mountain Routes is due to landslides or yeti attacks, or something out there and mystical. Instead, it is explained in the rulebook as:
Mountain routes cause wear and tear on the trains that travel them.
That was somewhat disappointing, since that was a slight thematic shift away from expectations, but nothing that couldn’t be overcome by the new mechanics. I saw it instead as carriages kept falling off the mountain routes, which make it feel like I was an incredibly inefficient track builder. I guess that is the price you pay for easy transport in the Himalayas.
The new mechanics are very well balanced, and that is an absolute credit to François Valentyne. We all tried different strategies, from long routes for points, to completing lots of tickets, to even completing lots of small Mountain routes (the strategy I went for). In the end there were only 6 points between first and third place. Part of that comes down to the fact that we are all very experienced gamers, and we all play competitively. Part of it comes down to how well balanced the mechanics are. The Asian Explorer bonus and the Mountain Crossing makes it possible to play competitively just going for small routes, and thus adds a whole new strategy into the game.
That strategy is welcome. It helps freshen the game up a bit, and it also gives players more options.
I believe there are fewer routes in Legendary Asia than there are in Ticket to Ride: Europe. This makes the game more cluttered from the start, and where this can be frustrating it can also encourage players to branch out to find alternative route. Since you are discarding carriages as well, the game keeps fairly concise and tied to the 60-90 minute mark.
TL;DR: The Good, The Bad, and The Train Wreck
All in all, Ticket to Ride Asia: Legendary Asia is a solid addition to the genre and to the game. I can’t wait to play Team Asia to see how that plays. For the time being though, let’s look at the Pros, Cons, and Neutral points about the Legendary Asia side to the expansion to see how well it holds up.
- The new mechanics work really well. It is a well balanced game.
- The Asian Explorer bonus encourages exploration of the map past the obvious routes and is a good method for gaining points at the end of the game.
- The map gets busier, and can encourage more thinking around a problem.
- The Mountain Crossing mechanic allows for another way of getting points.
- The map and quality of the components are, as per usual with Ticket to Ride, amazing.
- The rule book “does the job”. It explains the new rules on one page per language. It explains the rules clearly but there is no additional material to help immerse you into the game.
- The word “Legendary”. This may seem like a it of a rubbish con, but I genuinely expected something legendary about the map. Instead, it is about wear and tear on carriages, which isn’t nearly as cool.
All in all, Ticket to Ride: Legendary Asia is a solid addition to the Ticket to Ride family. As I mentioned before, Legendary Asia is only one half of Ticket to Ride Asia, with Team Asia being the second. I look forward to playing it in the future and then I’ll be able to give a full review as to whether, as a whole, this expansion is worth while soon.
So, what do you think? Does Ticket to Ride need an expansion? Have you played it with expansions? If so, which is your favourite? Let us know in the comments below.