Expansion Buzz: Alvin & Dexter

If you were to ever ask a gamer what the best game was to get an introduction to the hobby, you’ll most likely get one of three answers: The Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne, or (my choice) Ticket to Ride.  Originally published in 2004, Ticket to Ride is a game of building train routes across the United States.  The game has become a bit of a phenomenon.  It won the Spiel des Jahres (German game of the year), has spawned several sequels and expansions, and has even made its way into a few mass market stores, including Wal-Mart and Target.  Now a new expansion is coming out, and it’s one I never would’ve expected in a million years.

Alvin & Dexter - image by BGG user Henry Rhombus

The Alvin & Dexter expansion for Ticket to Ride is coming out in the next month or so.  It’s designed by Alan R. Moon, features art by Julien Delval, and is being published by Days of Wonder.  It can be added to any Ticket to Ride set that has so far been published, including TTR, TTR: Europe, TTR: Märklin Edition, TTR: Switzerland, or TTR: Nordic Countries.  What is it?  Well, Alvin’s an alien and Dexter’s a dinosaur.  And all they want to do is DESTROY YOU.

It’s a pretty small expansion, only containing two monster figurines, 40 monster cards, and two bonus cards.  During set up, the player who is going last can place Alvin in any city on the board.  The player to his/her right then places Dexter in any other city.  The monster cards are placed next to the board, as are the bonus cards.

Alvin - image by BGG user Henry Rhombus
Dexter - image by BGG user Henry Rhombus

The way it works is this: on your turn, discard one (or two) locomotive cards to move Alvin or Dexter three (or six) cities from their current location.  Any city that contains Alvin or Dexter is considered to be a City in Chaos, and no routes can be built into or out of that city.  Any route that passes through a current City in Chaos at the end of the game is worth half the points (rounded down).  This means a route would net you half the points, or would only cost you half the points if incomplete.

When you move Alvin or Dexter, you take an Alvin or Dexter card.  If there are no more, you can’t move Alvin or Dexter again.  At the end of the game, whoever has the most Alvin or Dexter cards gets the Alvin or Dexter bonus – that’s 15 points.  Tied players all get the bonus.

So, is this Ticket to Ride’s shark jumping moment?  That seems to be the debate right now.  Some people swear up and down that Days of Wonder is just trying to milk the TTR system for all its worth, even if it means introducing a completely pointless and incongruous experience that will ultimately ruin the game for everyone.  Some people say TTR jumped the shark a while ago when Days of Wonders produced a dice expansion.  Some people say that this seems like a really fun concept that you can use to inject a little extra strategy in this game and that the complainers need to get a life.  I tend to fall into that last category.  It’s an expansion, and a very small one at that – the price point I heard was $13.  If you don’t want it, don’t get it.  Me, I’d like to get it and give it a try.  Even if I end up not liking the rules, there are a couple of really cool little miniatures I can keep.

That’s it for today.  Thanks for reading!

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4 comments

  1. Apparently this expansion was originally designed for a Japanese map that never got published. And in that context it makes a lot more sense somehow (Godzilla, Mothra, etc.).

    As far as the theme goes, it does feel incongruous to me. As far as the mechanics go, though, it might be interesting. What I’m thinking of doing is trying out the mechanics with army men and poker chips – if I like it, I’ll get it, and if I don’t, I won’t.

    Now the trick is remembering to try it. Maybe we can give it a go at our upcoming game night.

  2. The Japanese map would have made more sense, but I do see this as the shark jumping moment. It feels like Carcassonne’s famed Catapult expansion. It seems a little silly for me, but that’s fine. I just won’t buy it.

    • The more I think about it, the more I think that this attached to a Japan map would have been much worse. People would be saying thanks for the map, but why do you have to add this silly mechanic on top of it? I don’t think this is a shark jumping moment, I think TTR already jumped the shark with the dice expansion. To each his own – as you say, no one HAS to buy it.

      Thanks for the comment!

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