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57 of 57 people found the following review helpful
Ticket to Ride: The Heart of Africa presents a challenging new map with exciting new mechanics for the world's most popular train board game. What's new in this set is a map of central/southern africa (so no northern countries like Egypt or Morocco), 45 terrain cards (15 for each of the three route colors), and 48 new destination tickets. Unlike the previous map packs for Asia/Team Asia and India/Switzerland, Africa is not double-sided, so it only includes one map for about the same price as the previous two expansions. This made me initially dubious about buying it, but my love for the series won out and I'm glad I got it.

This map is for 2-5 players. Game time is about an hour as usual. The double routes can only be used in 4-5 player game. What's different about the double routes this time is they are always both the same color. This is due to the new terrain rules explained below.

The map contains four dead-end "off-map" countries to link to: Chad, Madagascar, Nigeria, and Sudan, like in Ticket to Ride Switzerland (available in Ticket To Ride India: Map Collection - Volume 2). The rest are either cities or random unnamed locations (inhospitable zones) that function exactly like cities for building routes, only no destination tickets link to them. These unnamed spots make up most of the center of the map. Almost all the named cities are on the coasts and the top and bottom of the map. There are not as many choke points as previous maps, but there are a lot of long destination tickets that will have you going from one end of Africa to the other. As usual, it makes sense to build routes to major cities like Pretoria and Cape Town, as more destination tickets will link there. All the routes are normal except there are two Madagascar ferry routes.

To start, you pick 4 destination tickets, but must keep 2 to begin. Drawing additional destination tickets later means you must draw 4, but only have to keep 1 (as per the "Mega USA" variant rules in Ticket To Ride 1910 Expansion). You also get 1 terrain card to start as well as the usual 4 colored train cards. Locomotive "wild" cards work like in a regular game, except you can also use them as terrain cards, not just train cards.

The terrain cards are unique to Africa and add a fun new twist to the game. They are split up into three equal sets of 15 by terrain type (Desert, Jungle, Mountain). Each terrain card corresponds to three of the route colors (including the gray, claim with the color of your choice routes). You can play these terrain cards whenever you build a route matching their color type to score double points! You need 1 matching terrain card to double the points on a 1-3 train car-long route, and 2 matching terrain cards to double a 4-6 train car long route. The terrain deck functions like the train card deck, except only the top two cards are visible. You may draw 2 terrain cards instead of 2 train cards, or in combination with them (1 of each). The terrain cards are not kept in your hand but remain face up in front of you throughout the game so they are public knowledge. Where that comes into strategy is that you must have at least as many of the same color terrain cards as your opponents in order to play them when you claim a route. So they become a valuable resource very quickly, but also tend to telegraph where you might want to build. The terrain cards are similar to the bonus point scoring "passenger" mechanic from Ticket To Ride - Marklin.

Although I haven't tried it yet, it seems possible to use the terrain cards as a house rule in any Ticket to Ride game as the terrain type colors match all the route colors in every version of Ticket to Ride. The only potential problem is that all the other maps have a more or less even distribution of route colors. The Africa map groups the route colors by terrain type, so deserts will be red, yellow, and orange, jungles will be blue, green, and purple, and mountains will be black, white, and gray. That means you might get stuck if you can't come up with those colors if you want to build into or out of a certain section of the map.

As always, the rules are just one page long and come in multiple languages, like Spanish, French, German, etc.). It takes 5 minutes to learn, just like the other versions.

This is an expansion, not a standalone game, so you need a copy of either Ticket To Ride or Ticket To Ride - Europe (which provide the train cards, scoring markers, and plastic trains) in order to play.
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38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on January 3, 2013
To start, I am an avid Ticket To Ride player, playing mostly on my iPad. I'm pretty familiar with the game and strategy. I'll assume you're familiar with the basic game as well and try to highlight the differences.

The Africa expansion throws most previous strategy out the window because of the introduction of Terrain Cards. These cards allow you to double the point value of any train you build. So, for instance, if you're too busy trying to complete the most destination tickets, you may get beat by someone who has half as many, but was strategically doubling their train points.

You'll be forced to re-think all your strategy.

Also, I've noticed that this board is significantly more competitive. I've seen more tempers flare up with this map in the few times I've played it than I have combined with all the other maps. This is primarily because of the way the board is set up.

If you look at the board you'll notice that the center is almost all primarily single trains. So if an opponent takes a route you had your eye on, you're forced to abandon your plan and rethink everything. More than any other map, this will make you have to look for one particular ticket color rather than having many options open.

I still have yet to nail down a strategy, but here are some things that have worked for me and may help you to a quicker start:

+ Get key routes sooner rather than later. You cannot afford to wait in this map.
+ Only use terrain cards to double the 4-6 train routes.
+ Start with 2 destination tickets and get ambitious later.

Overall, this expansion definitely adds some complexity and competitiveness.

So if you like simple and casual, I'd recommend a different expansion. But if you've gotten bored with the game, want a board that's a bit more cut throat, and need a fresh look, this may be for you.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2012
Ticket to Ride Heart of Africa is an excellent additional to the Ticket to Ride Collection. I play this game once over Christmas. The game seamed to take much longer than the normal hour of play. The use of terrain cards, is a very interesting and fun twist in the game. So much in fact you are have think of new strategies. The color of the train routes are grouped geographically on the board. This makes it harder to lay track when your routes only include 3 colors. A smart player would select routes with a great diversity of colors. This additional will not disappoint. Here is my rank of the Map Collection in order of strategy needed:
1. Asia Teams
2. Heart of Africa
3. India
4. Asia no teams
5. Switzerland
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2013
This is a fairly advanced Ticket to Ride map. I think the map is highly competitive, and doesn't lend itself to ticket diving, despite many high value tickets. Even with two players, this is a cut-throat map.

With this said, it is my favorite of the Ticket to Ride maps so far. It is fairly easy on some of the maps (particularly Europe) to complete routes with a minimum of route obstruction from other players. It isn't a ticket-diving fiesta, like the Switzerland map, and there isn't an easy outlaying veritical track, like the Nordic Countries map.

The terrain cards add a fun dimension as well, especially if you are going to lose high amounts of points from missed tickets, this is a good way to make up ground.

I give this two enthusiastic thumbs up!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 6, 2014
The designers behind Ticket to Ride and its various expansion don't miss much, but they really missed the target on this one.

The new game play mechanic here is "terrain cards", a new deck of cards that are matched to the route colors (including grey) for the board. When turning in a route, you may also turn in a matching terrain card (or two, if the route is long) and double the score. The problem here is that you may only do so if you have the most (or are tied for the most) of that terrain card in your inventory prior to claiming the route. This leads to players delaying their claiming of routes, wasting turns to draw terrain cards, and also encourages hate drafting, where players will draw terrain cards solely to deny other players the ability to double their score on a route. This dramatically slows down the game, much to its detriment.

At the same time, the map itself is poor, with a shortage of double routes through key cities. This means it is frighteningly easy to get blocked out of a route to a major city in a game with five players. There is no station mechanic as in Ticket to Ride Europe, so if you're blocked out of a route you are just screwed.

All in all, this is one map I did not enjoy playing.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 31, 2013
We are huge fans of the original Ticket to Ride game and bought this game because my husband is interested in African history. This set adds on to the original game and adds some new rules which we found to be overly complicated. Also if you're not interested in African colonial geography, it's hard to keep track of the locations while you're playing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 5, 2014
We are huge fan of the Ticket to Ride games and I am a PhD student training to teach African History at the university level. One of the things that we talk about in the classroom is that 1. Africa is HUGE and the people are very diverse. 2. Much of African daily life is influenced by the biological surroundings.

Both of these lessons are incorporated into game play. Why is it that building in the North takes lots of red or pink tickets? This simulates the regional differences of Africa. Also the terrain cards are an interesting twist on the game and they generally correspond to the physical features present in real life. Some areas are desert, others heavily forested, and others subtropical and the colors of the cards that you need to build there correspond with the terrain cards that give you a bonus there. The gameplay is at times subtle but it is well thought-out and nuanced.

People who complain that the gameplay here is vastly different than the Europe or US maps- that should be a high compliment. It is different because Days of Wonder designed it to be different. Why would they make 9 boards with no changes? This is a great edition, with interesting and varied gameplay. It is different from the US map, which is different than the Switzerland, Asia, Europe, and India maps that I have played. This is a more "wide open" map, and it does take us a bit longer to play. Switzerland and India are crowded and have lots of little short routes that can be laid faster. The US map is a solid vanilla flavor and a good starting point, while Europe has a good mix of short routes and long routes that reflect the regional differences there and it is very democratic in the sense that the longest routes can be fulfilled by any color working together. (There is symbolism in the fact that the 3 longest routes are all "grey.")

I'm not sure which is my favorite but I like the African map quite a bit and highly recommend it. Please note that it is not a "stand alone" set and I would start with Europe and add this or India/Switzerland to it if I were to only own 2 sets.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 2, 2013
This game is another great game of ticket to ride. However they could of made it double sided like some of the other and put the other half of Africa on it or a team game. It is pretty straight forward and the double points is what really helps to win the game.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon April 21, 2014
We've been playing a lot of TTR lately, so I decided to buy all of the map collections. This on is another great addition that works very well with two players.

The Heart of Afria adds terrain cards. You get one terrain card with your for train cards at the beginning of the game, then you can pick them just like you would pick a train card (so you could pick two train cards, two terrain cards, or one of each on your turn). You can spend one matching terrain card to double the points for a route of the same color that is 1-3 long, and two terrain cards to double the points for a route that is 4-6 long. After a few plays it appears there are multiple ways to win (focusing on doubling route points, focusing on tickets, etc.). We were very happy to see this as it is possible that circumstances might be such that you will not be able to double the value of a route every time you want to.

Otherwise, it has the same luck and more strategy components than TTR USA. In fact, we rarely play the USA map these days... mostly play this one, India and Switzerland, and are looking forward to giving Asia a try.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2013
I purchased this to supplement Ticket to Ride: Europe which we play all the time. This game is similar but the routes are longer so it takes longer to get a train. Also, the colors are graded so the trains in the north are all similar colors and the ones inthe south are different similar colors. We don't find it as much fun and don't play it as often as the Europe board.
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