Every time a pack is delivered in the post, I open it nervously, wondering if this will finally be the time I find myself growing tired of the game. And, sure enough, each time, I find myself enjoying it as much as I did when I first discovered it.
“Impossible!” I hear you say, and I thought so too, but it’s true.
Each pack brings something new and exciting to the game, and Heart of Africa is no exception.
Ready to find out why I think this expansion pack is a worthy addition to the Ticket to Ride Legacy? Then let’s begin!
Ticket to Ride Africa: A Quick Overview
- Players – 2-5
- Recommended age – 8+
- Playing time – 30-60 minutes
Heart of Africa is the third volume of the Ticket to Ride Map Collection, which includes a Europe edition, among many others. Personally, I think this is one of the better expansions because the map offers so many opportunities for advanced players to really stretch their tactical ability.
The introduction of some clever new rules means the game is tenser and more strategy-based than ever before. If, like me, you consider yourself a Ticket to Ride master, there’s plenty to enjoy about this expansion pack.
What’s Different in Ticket to Ride Africa?
This pack introduces:
- 48 x Destination tickets
- 45 x new Terrain cards split into three sets (desert & savanna; mountain & cliff; and jungle & forest)
From the original base game, you’ll need:
- 45 x Trains per player in a reserve
- Matching Scoring Markers taken from either Ticket to Ride or Ticket to Ride Europe
- 110 x Train Car cards taken from Ticket to Ride, Ticket to Ride Europe, or the USA 1910 Expansion
Each player gets four Destination tickets at the start of the game, two of which must be kept. Throughout the game, players can draw four additional tickets, one of which must be kept.
Like in a regular game, any unused tickets are discarded at the bottom of the deck.
This probably sounds disappointingly familiar, but don’t worry – there are some crucial differences between the original game and this expansion pack which I’ll get to in just a second.
Here’s where you need to pay close attention. Each Terrain Type is linked to three different Route colors:
- Jungle & forest cards – purple, blue, and green routes
- Desert & savanna cards – yellow, orange, and red routes
- Mountain & cliff cards – Grey, white, and black routes
As well as receiving four Destination tickets and four Train Car cards at the start of the game, each player also gets one random Terrain card. Another two of these cards are placed face up close by, and the rest form a Terrain deck.
Here’s where I think Heart of Africa really starts to get interesting. Whenever you’re allowed to draw a Train Car card during the game, you can opt to draw a Terrain card instead.
As an advanced player, this is pretty exciting because you can draw a combination of cards rather than just one type. So, for example, you might pick one Train Car card and one Terrain card, two Train Car cards, or any other combination you can think of.
Because of this freedom to choose, the whole game becomes more challenging. You never know what will happen, and there’s more breathing room to deploy a creative strategy.
Remember, though, the usual rule about picking Locomotives face up is still applicable; you can’t draw any other cards on your turn when you do this.
The terrain cards that have been drawn are replaced by new ones from the deck, just like Train Car cards. However, there is a difference between the two: Terrain cards are placed face-up in front of the player.
It should be clear to everyone how many Terrain cards you have.
Did you know you can actually double the points value of a Route you want to claim? If you’re in a position to do this, you absolutely should. Trust me, it can be a real lifesaver when you’re nearing the end of the game.
You’ll need to meet a few conditions to earn double points (such is the way of the world. *Sighs*).
- The Terrain card that is being played has to match the color of the Route that’s being claimed
- The player must have at least as many cards of that particular Terrain type as anyone else in the game
The number of cards needed to double the Route value also depends on the length of the Route. For one, two, and three space routes, one Terrain card of the matching color is needed. For four, five, and six space routes, two are required.
You’d be surprised by how many times you can double your points in a game, so this is definitely a rule worth remembering!
The number of plastic trains on the Route stays the same even when the points are doubled (unfortunately).
At the end of the game, any Terrain cards still in front of you are completely worthless. I know, shocking, isn’t it! But that’s why it’s essential to take every opportunity you get during the game to use them.
How to Use Locomotives as Wild Terrain Cards
When it’s your turn, you have the option to use some of your Locomotives as Wild Terrain cards rather than Wild Train cards. (I know this might take a while to get your head around, but stick with it!).
Every Locomotive you play in this way is worth one Terrain card of your choice.
Sadly – but expectedly, I’ll grudgingly admit – all Locomotives played as Wild Terrain cards have to be discarded.
Madagascar and Other Countries
There are two locations on the map that represent Madagascar. Tickets to Madagascar can be completed by reaching either one of these locations.
However, multiple routes leading to all other countries are dead ends. Basically, this means that routes leading into the same country are not connected with each other. I’ve made this mistake many times, so pay close attention!
End of Game Bonus
By the end of the game, the player who has completed the most Tickets wins a 10-point Globetrotter bonus. Hooray!
If it’s a tie, both players win the extra points (yes, this has happened to me before, and yes, it is annoying!).
You can have these tips on the house since I’m kind.
If you’re relatively new to Ticket to Ride or you want to avoid the game becoming too heated, it’s best to stick to four players. Personally, I can’t imagine wanting to avoid a competitive game, but each to their own.
Secondly, some players choose to add up the points for the routes they claim at the end of the game instead. That’s all fine when you’re playing regular Ticket to Ride, but it doesn’t work in Heart of Africa.
How to Play
If you’re interested in the Heart of Africa expansion pack, you’re probably already familiar with the base game rules, but I’ll give you a quick reminder just in case.
- Open out the game board and place your score marker on the start
- Each player takes forty-five matching train cars and three stations
- Shuffle the train cards, dealing four to each player and setting the rest next to the board
- Shuffle the Destination cards and deal three to each player, two of which must be kept while the rest can be discarded
You can perform three actions when it’s your turn:
- Claim a route
- Draw Train Car cards
- Draw Destination tickets
I used to hesitate at this point because I didn’t know for sure what the best option was, and I often second-guessed myself, but my most significant piece of advice would be to follow your instinct and not pay too much attention to what other players are doing.
Yes, keep an eye on their strategy, but don’t feel you have to make the same choices as your opponents. There are many ways to win.
Claiming a route
To claim a route, you need to play a set of cards equal to the number of spaces in that Route. To make things even more complex, the cards all have to be the same type, too.
Once you’ve claimed a route, take a moment to celebrate! You’re one step closer to achieving the aim of the game. Put a plastic train on each space that makes up the Route and discard the cards you used.
Don’t forget to move your scoring marker to keep track of your progress! I’m incredibly forgetful, so my friends usually have to remind me to do this, but I’m sure you’ll remember if you’re hell-bent on victory.
Drawing Train Car cards
You may draw two cards, choosing the top card from the deck or the face-up cards.
If you end up with a Locomotive card, you’re not allowed to draw a second one. And if you draw a Locomotive card as your second card, you also can’t take it. Frustrating, I know!
Fortunately, you are allowed any number of cards in your hand, so at least that’s a small consolation.
Keep an eye on the face-up cards; if three of them are Locomotives, all five cards need to be discarded and replaced.
Once the deck is empty, players can’t draw this type of card anymore.
Destination Ticket cards
Want more Destination Ticket cards? Simply draw three new ones from the top of the deck. You’ll have to keep at least one of them – which is annoying if, like me, you’re unlucky enough to regularly draw three unwanted cards – but you can choose to keep more.
Every Destination Ticket displays the name of two locations on the map and a point value. Careful, though – if you fail to connect these locations, the same number of points will be deducted. Cruel, but satisfying when it happens to one of your competitors!
Ending the Game
When any player’s stock of trains gets down to two or less, it’s time to play the final turn. Once this has happened, there’s nothing left to do except calculate the final scores and hope for the best.
As I mentioned earlier, you should have kept track of the points you gained from your routes throughout the game. In Heart of Africa, you can’t leave this part until the end.
Reveal your Destination tickets and make any adjustments to your final score. If you’re a pro and you’ve managed to create the longest continuous path of routes, you get ten extra points.
Whoever has the highest number of points wins the game.
How Many Pieces Are There in Ticket to Ride Africa?
The expansion pack contains:
- A Central African map
- 48x corresponding Destination tickets
- 45x Terrain cards
If you like the sound of Ticket to Ride Africa, I think you’ll love these games as well.
Ticket to Ride Europe
Ticket to Ride Europe is another expansion pack with a strong sense of place rather than being rooted in a particular historical era or theme. Thanks to the introduction of ferries, tunnels, and stations, it’s a great pack to choose if you want to add some real variety to the original Ticket to Ride base game.
You can find out more in our Ticket to Ride Europe guide.
- Players – 2-5
- Recommended age – 8+
- Playing time – 30-60 minutes
Ticket to Ride New York
Ahh, the Big Apple. I love it, don’t you? A sprawling metropolis though it may be, the city has an undeniably alluring beauty, and Ticket to Ride New York reminds me just how much it inspires a spirit of adventure. There’s plenty to see and do, making it the perfect setting for a game about traveling.
Find out more about this expansion pack in our Guide to Ticket to Ride New York.
- Players – 2-4
- Recommended age – 8+
- Playing time – 30-60 minutes
Okay, so I’m deviating from the theme a little here. Still, I couldn’t possibly discuss Ticket to Ride without mentioning Catan, which in my opinion, shares many of the same excellent qualities. It’s all about settling on an uninhabited island, and you play it similarly. It’s definitely worth trying – in fact, I’d go as far as to say I guarantee you’ll enjoy it!
You don’t have to take my word for it, read more about Catan in our comprehensive guide.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Can you play Ticket to Ride Africa by itself?
Answer: This isn’t a standalone game; it’s an expansion pack. You’ll need the original Ticket to Ride base game to play.
Question: Is there any strategy involved in Ticket to Ride Africa?
Answer: Um…is the earth not round? Of course, it is, and likewise, there are loads of strategic opportunities in this game! Here’s my advice:
- Try to choose tickets you think you can realistically finish
- Longer routes are a lot harder to complete when you’re playing with four or five people, so be careful about choosing them
- Choose routes that work well together; it will make things much easier for you
Question: Is Ticket to Ride Africa a family game?
Answer: This expansion pack is undoubtedly suitable for families. In fact, Ticket to Ride is renowned for being one of the best family games on the market!
Question: Does Ticket to Ride Africa have a second map on the back?
Answer: It only comes with one map of the African continent.