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In Ticket to Ride: The Heart of Africa, are stations allowed? The rulebook explicitly mentions that the plastic carriage pieces and scoring markers from the main game are to be used, but doesn't appear to mention stations. We played without stations, and completing routes was much more stressful than a standard game.

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No, the rules explicitly state what pieces are required from an earlier set:

This game is an expansion and requires that you use the following game parts from one of the previous versions of Ticket to Ride:

A reserve of 45 Trains per player and matching Scoring Markers taken from any of the following:
- Ticket to Ride / Ticket to Ride Europe
110 Train Car Cards taken from:
- Ticket to Ride / Ticket to Ride Europe / USA 1910 expansion

Anything not mentioned in the above list should be considered surplus to official requirements. Though you could always try playing with stations as an interesting variant!

EDIT: yes, without stations Heart of Africa is a very claustrophobic Ticket to Ride game. But this does seem to have been the intention of the designers, as they've admitted as much in a footnote in the rules booklet:

In 5 player games, the Heart of Africa (center of the map) area can get crowded very quickly. Players beware! - and if you like your games to be less competitive, stick with 4 players or less.

  • Yes, that was my thinking... until we actually tried playing it. Without stations, it's really a very claustrophobic board, even with only four players. I can't imagine how it could work with five. – ire_and_curses Apr 13 '13 at 18:34
  • @ire_and_curses Even the designers admit as much - see my edited answer. – thesunneversets Apr 13 '13 at 18:43
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The rules only have stations for the europe map. None of the maps are broken by playing with stations, however. I have played the following maps with and without stations:

Europe, USA, Africa, Switzerland, India, Asia, and Legendary Asia.

The effect of adding stations is to reduce the stress (and uncompleted tickets).

The USA map is much less cutthroat with stations, but the others only somewhat less.

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