Forge a path across Africa by means of rail. Days of Wonder’s at it again with its map expansion Ticket to Ride: Heart of Africa.
We’ll get to the review in a bit, but first, here are some board game specifications.
The Fiddly Bits
Designer: Alan R. Moon
Publisher: Days of Wonder
Date Released: 2012
Number of Players: 2-5
Age Range: 8 and up
Setup Time: 5-10 minutes
Play Time: 45 minutes to an hour
We won’t go into too much detail with the basic Ticket to Ride game flow, since we covered the base game earlier. If you missed it, here’s a link to our review. Basically, you form a long route across the African continent using trains. Players collect colored train cards in order to place their colored, plastic train cars on the board from location to location, which in turn, completes destination ticket cards. With that brief synopsis out of the way, we’ll focus on what makes Ticket to Ride: Heart of Africa different from any other Ticket to Ride game—in a word, terrain.
Days of Wonder color-coded Africa by terrain. Red, orange, and yellow routes are in the desert. The two masses of hot colors on the board represent the Sahara and Namibian Deserts, respectively. Blue, purple, and green are jungle, so you’ll find a lot of those colors around the Congo, while black, white, and grey are mountainous regions. Mount Kilimanjaro, anyone? These terrains are not only represented on the board; they find their way on Ticket to Ride: Africa’s terrain cards.
A player can collect and use train cards as normal, but they may also use terrain cards, if the route they’re trying to claim is of that terrain. If a player uses terrain cards, they get double points for the route. Sound too good to be true? Are you thinking what the catch is? The catch is simple. A player’s hand of train cards are hidden from view of other players, but players must keep their terrain cards face up and that is because if a player wants to use a terrain card on a route, they must have the most cards of that type than any other player. So, let’s see how this affects the gameplay in our review.
Ticket to Ride: Africa reminds me a lot of Ticket to Ride: Asia: the tweaks they made to the core gameplay were worthy attempts, but they didn’t fare as well as I would have liked.
If you mess up with tallying any other Ticket to Ride score, you can always look at the board and the tickets you own to see where you erred, but with Ticket to Ride: Africa, if you don’t take note of the routes you scored that were double points, you’ll never get the correct score. This doesn’t happen often but when it does, arguments ensue. This phenomenon also causes anxiety with score keeping that doesn’t exist in any other Ticket to Ride title.
Additionally, the terrain cards slow down the speed of the game. Ticket to Ride is known as a quick game, but the terrain cards force players to compete with each other to see who can grab the most of those cards, which in turn, drags out the game’s length.
I will say that Ticket to Ride: Africa does add some strategy to the series and if you can handle a slightly longer playtime and the need to keep accurate score as you go, it is fun to play. And that’s why we play games in the first place.
Not my favorite title in the franchise, but Ticket to Ride: Africa can add a nice changeup to Ticket to Ride’s core gameplay, and I am a fan of the board. It’s gorgeous—as always—but the colored routes depicting terrain is a nice touch.