Ticket to Ride Europe is the sequel to Ticket to Ride. Set in Europe. Who’d have thought?
The basic premise of the game is to complete as many ‘tickets’ (routes) as possible by linking nominated cities with your spiffing set of plastic trains. The longer the route on the ticket, the more points you will score. At the same time, your opponents are trying to complete their own hidden tickets, some of which will overlap with your own routes and link similar cities. And so begins the race to place trains on the board as quickly as possible...
Many people are put off the new wave of board games because they look a little complex and often have no dice, which would ultimately suggest some thinking is required. (“No dice?! Who do you think I am, some sort of Russian chess playing prodigy??” No, my somewhat volatile straw-man friend, no; I do not think that of you at all…). Indeed, passing a game of Ticket to Ride Europe in action could be overwhelming: a very large map dotted with cities and train routes, piles of cards and nary a dice to be seen. So how difficult is it to play?
Following the convention of thousands of reviews on boardgamegeek.com, this is the point at which I launch into a detailed analysis of rules and gameplay. Here goes:
Aaand.... that essentially completes the rules summary for Ticket to Ride Europe. There are obviously a few extra tweaks to the game – picking up tickets to know where to place your carriages will help – but for 90 per cent of moves it will come down to the following decision:
"Pick up train cards or place carriages on the board"
For the forgetful, you can even print out the following comprehensive player aid!
For a new board gamer keen to play Ticket to Ride, I would start with the Europe version of the franchise. Not because it is easier than the original (the basic gameplay is almost identical) but because it introduces a couple of important tweaks. Firstly, the inclusion of stations (allowing you to use sections of an opponent’s route) means you are less likely to be completely blocked from completing a ticket. (Read: your child will not be in quite so much trauma when you claim the last leg of their meticulously planned trans-continental route. Definitely your child. I would not dream to do such a thing…). Secondly, some cities can now only be joined by tunnels, which adds the thematically pleasing risk of a small cost blow-out when trying to claim them.
The slim ruleset and simple mechanics of Ticket to Ride Europe illustrates how modern games can be stripped down to a simple glorious tension. Pick up train cards or place carriages on the board. Claim a specific route before your opponents do. Risk building a tunnel with no back up cards in your hand. Work on completing a couple of long tickets or try and fill lots of small routes all over the board. The simmering tension of these decisions is what makes Ticket to Ride Europe a perfect addition to any board game collection, playable by long term gamers and complete novices alike.
~ Ticket to Ride Europe is available for sale through
the Blue Herring Games website ~
Additional information and suggestions
- The manufacturer suggested age range is for players aged 8+. I have read comments that the game is quite playable for younger children if you drop the requirement to complete specific tickets, leaving it as a pure set collection and route claiming game. Further tweaks can easily be made for children to keep the game balanced and competitive, including more lenient picking up of cards (e.g. an extra card in addition to a wild card), and reduced penalties and payments for station use.
- Like any good franchise worth its salt, there are a plethora of expansions (if not more) for Ticket to Ride... Recommended amongst these is the Switzerland map, specifically designed as a tightly competitive board for 2 to 3 players. This is now released on a reversible board with an India map – very clever Days of Wonder!
- Boardgamegeek.com, as the name suggests, is a repository of all things boardgamery. In October 2015, Ticket to Ride Europe was ranked 7th in the list of best family games (compared to the clearly rubbish original , which has dropped way, way, way down to… 10th).