New Ticket to Ride Expansion Promises Double Dutch Fun

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Ticket to Ride has been a hit game for almost ten years. It’s a simple game — collect sets of colored cards and fill up a map with trains — but the variations seem to be endless. Days of Wonder has published at least five different versions of the game, plus a bunch of map packs, and even the occasional rampaging monster expansion.

This week, the publisher announced an all-new map pack: Nederland. Like most of the Ticket to Ride map packs, there’s a twist to this trip around the Dutch countryside. Almost all of the routes are “double track bridge crossings.”

The double tracks are available no matter how many players are in the game, but there’s a price to using them. You start the game with a pile of Bridge Toll Tokens, and you pay these tokens every time you build on a bridge crossing. If you’re the first person to build on a route, you pay your tokens to the bank. The second person to build on that route pays YOU, so you get your tokens back. The players with the most tokens at the end of the game get bonus points.

My first thought was that designer Alan R. Moon had added an investment system to the game — something he knows a few things about. Then I realized that the bridge tokens are a zero-sum (or worse) game: you never get more tokens from the other players than you paid to the bank. You don’t “win” the token game, you just try not to lose more tokens than the other players.

Here is what’s really going on: Moon is punishing slow players. One of the basic strategies of Ticket to Ride is to draw cards until you have most of what you need, then lay down a lot of train routes one after the other. The slow burn before track building keeps your options open, but the early game is a little too quiet. In Nederlands, the players who are slow to build track will miss out on the first routes. They’ll constantly pay for second routes without getting their tokens back, and they’ll probably lose.

The new Bridge Toll Tokens are a simple rule that gives Ticket to Ride’s early game a subtle kick in the pants. Well played, Mr. Moon — I can’t wait to try this map out.

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