Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 7 – Japan & Italy is the latest expansion for Ticket to Ride (or Ticket to Ride Europe). Released by publisher Days of Wonder, designed by Alan R. Moon, these maps are for 2 – 5 players – taking around 45 minutes to play. As an expansion this does not include the regular train pieces or train cards needed for play. However, does the family friendly set collection and route building remain? Let’s find out!
Note: For those new to Ticket to Ride check out our review of the base game to get up to speed.
The Ticket to Ride Japan map is the first to feature small side maps, with Tokyo and the Kyushu island alongside the main map. These maps are not separate. They are reminiscent of Ticket to Ride London but size wise they are smaller. The way they connect is with one location appearing on both a side map and the main board. Destination tickets can link from somewhere on the main map to the side one, with the player required to link each end of their route, for example to Tokyo, on both sections.
Making Japan that little more special are bullet train routes. These are wild routes that any player can claim as normal. Once claimed however the player doesn’t add their train pieces to the board, nor do they score points. Instead, a bullet train is added to the route and the player moves up the bullet train tracker – the number of spaces moved equaling the cards used to claim the route. At the end of the game when determining if players have completed destination tickets bullet train routes can be used by anyone. Points are then awarded (or lost) based on positioning on the bullet train tracker.
In a slight mix up to the norm, on top of a player having two or fewer trains left, the bullet train pile must also be down to two or fewer for the end game to trigger. This guarantees that a good portion of the bullet train lines will be built and that they will impact the game. The game length is also more consistent, from one game to the next. At some point players will need to claim bullet train routes in an attempt to end the game.
The Italy side of the board introduces Ferries. Different from the ferries seen in Ticket to Ride Europe, these are special routes that players can use special cards on. As an action instead of taking a normal cards a player may take a single Ferry card, with a maximum of two per player allowed. The only wild routes on the Italy map are those that include the ferry symbols. To claim them the player must discard cards as normal, with Ferry symbol track sections needing either a Ferry card or a Locomotive to be discarded. To make them slightly more valuable the Ferry cards count for two of these ferry symbols on the wild routes.
A potential issue comes from this, as the only 7 length routes on the Italy side include these ferry routes. By using Ferry cards they can be quickly snapped up. At 18 points for a 7 length route if one player manages this they can quickly snowball out ahead points-wise. Victory isn’t guaranteed for them but it is a huge chunk of points to miss out on. Especially if this blocks the destination ticket someone else is going for.
As a map pack expansion there is rarely much to get excited about past the board and cards. Being a double sided board it is ideal for getting a lot of variety from one expansion, with both sides featuring a pretty and vibrant board – thanks to the coloured routes criss crossing across them. The destination cards do a great job of indicating where the sometimes hard to pronounce locations are. Both elements are of the usual Days of Wonder standard, fitting alongside the base game’s components.
The flair piece of this expansion though is certainly the bullet train pieces. It would be an improvement if enough were included to place on every track section not just one per bullet train route. Nevertheless, they do draw attention from fans of the series and passersby – mostly due to having that little extra detail to them via the use of colouring.
If you are excited by the prospect of building across Japan or Italy then this expansion shouldn’t disappoint. There is the potential for one player to grab a lot of easy points on the Italy map, though you won’t let it happen more than once. Japan is certainly the stand out experience, with the bullet trains adding the extra special element both in rules and component flair form. With Christmas fast approaching, a time that Ticket to Ride can shine with families, both maps continue the family friendly nature the series is loved for – making it a worthy expansion.