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Mystery Train introduces ten new cards to the game Ticket to Ride. A few are new Destination Tickets; a handful are special bonus cards with a twist; and at least one is a nod to the game's "Engineer", Alan R. Moon! The backs of these cards have a distinctive color, as an incentive for players to draw more cards... at the risk of getting an additional destination!
All the rules necessary to play with the Mystery Train expansion are included on the two summary cards.
The previous reviewer was right on. I love the original game and have played it probably 50 times (most of these online) and have introduced it at game days to new players - most of whom now own the game.
This expansion adds a little flair to the game by giving the opportunity to more than one player to come up with a bonus score at the end - not just the longest route.
For example, the engineers, if played during your last turn, allow you to get one more route as a last ditch effort to add points to your score, thus minimizing the luck factor (you could still get a negative score for this play, however since you get to look through the deck to choose your route, you can at least minimize this score if, on the chance, you can't connect any of the routes).
While you can't get the original expansion any more, you can get the expansion to print out at home from Days of Wonder (www.daysofwonder.com) under Downloads of the Ticket to Ride section. Don't worry about these being different from the others, because as the previous reviewer stated, the expansion was meant to be different.
I stand by my opinion that Ticket to Ride is THE gateway game - the best game to introduce to folk who aren’t game enthusiasts. Every time I teach it, I have great success; and my copy is rapidly becoming worn from the amount of times I’ve played it. Days of Wonder, the producing company, has introduced a nine-card expansion entitled Ticket to Ride: Mystery Train Expansion. (Actually, ten cards are included; but one of them is blank, allowing players to add a card of their choice.)
All nine cards are “ticket” cards and are shuffled into the ticket deck during a game, after players have been dealt their initial three tickets. The tickets have different backings than the ticket cards from the original game; but Days of Wonder stated that this was deliberate, so that players would be tempted to draw the tickets, hoping to get a good one. This certainly does work; because whenever I saw one on the top of the pile, it took tremendous self-control NOT to draw tickets, because some of them are entirely useful.
It’s been mentioned elsewhere that the expansion favors people who play with shorter routes. I find this an interesting twist, because it really does help those with shorter routes, while not de-emphasizing longer routes. In fact there is one card (Tycoon) that actually helps a player with a longer route, so there’s something in this set for people with both strategies. On to the card themselves...
- There are four new route cards - all of them short, worth 2, 4, 6, and 7. The routes themselves are extremely interesting, as they tend to get in the way of longer routes; thus encouraging more player interaction. Of course, at the same time, they are more easily ignored, and I haven’t seen a game decided by them yet.
- The Tycoon card gives a player 10 points if they have a connection between the West and East coasts at the end of the game. The rules card in the game specifically lists the cities, which is good, because some rules-lawyers might argue forever (I’ve seen it!) over which cities are technically on the coast. Still, this is a nice card, and one that really helps someone connecting the coasts anyway.
- The Station Agent card gives a player 10 points if they have visited the most cities by the end of the game. I really enjoy this card, as it is a nice counterpoint to the card that gives 10 points for having the longest continuous train.
- The Inspector card allows a player to double the value of any ticket worth 10 points or less at the end of the game. This effectively makes many of the shorter routes worth as much as one long route and certainly makes the game interesting. (Unless your shortest route is worth only 2 points, as it was for me in one game!)
- There are two Engineer cards, which allow a player to play one on their turn, instead of doing anything else. The player can then search through the ticket draw pile, taking a destination card of their choice. This is an extremely powerful card, and really worth getting. It’s for this card alone that I’ll draw tickets, because finding a matching route amongst already laid trains can frankly win the game for a person. The card isn’t too powerful, as some claim; but there’s no denying its usefulness.
- The blank card, of course, leaves one with a variety of possibilities of which I’ve seen countless ideas on the internet. My favorite is the Conductor: “This ticket is worth a number of points (maximum 15) based on the number of trains you have left unplayed at the end of the game. Score the trains left as if you had played them on a route of that length. You can only score the bonus for up to six trains. This card will not assist you in triggering the end of the game.”
There are many more, and it’s nice of Days of Wonder to provide blank cards with their games.
Is the expansion necessary - certainly not! I’ve played the game scores of times, and never thought that the game needed anything else to make it fun. That being said, I do enjoy the expansion greatly and think it adds even more variety to an already great game. Since the expansion is extremely inexpensive (oftimes free), I see no reason that most people shouldn’t pick a copy up. My copy has become a permanent part of my game and will increase the longevity (which already was close to forever) of one of the best games of the decade.
“Real men play board games.”