Traveling Across Europe for Family Fun Game Night
My mom has started taking me and my brother to game night on Thursdays at Gotham City Comic and Coffee. The night is reserved for people wanting to play and learn to play various board games. This last week we were introduced to Ticket To Ride – Europe. Based off of the Original Ticket To Ride, players collect and play train cards to claim railway routs across the country. The more routes, and the longer they are, means more points for the players and ultimately the player with the most points wins.
We had never played any of the Ticket to Ride games, and so embarking on this train adventure was new. Luckily the game play is simple enough even if the strategies for winning are not. Because the games are so similar, I will talk about how the game is played, and how the Europe version adds complexity.
Setup and Game Play
To start the game, the board is unfolded and each player collects a colored point token, 45 colored trains, 4 train cards, and 4 destination tickets (of which they are required to keep two). Ticket To Ride – Europe adds three colored train stations to each person’s game playing components. Once all the players have kept or discarded their selected destination tickets, five train cards are placed face up next to the board.
Players have several options for their game play.
Collect Train cards – Players are able to choose up to two cards the five face up cards or from the draw pile. If a locomotive (wild card) is one of the five face up cards, they can choose to select that card, but will forfeit their second card selection. If the player draws from the draw pile and either of the cards is a locomotive card, they do not need to inform users that it was a wild card and can still choose another card.
Claim Routes – To claim a route, players must discard the correct amount of colored cards to complete the route. Some of the routes are grey and these do not require a specific color, but all cards played must be of the same color to claim that route. Ticket to Ride – Europe adds two new route types: Tunnels and Ferries.
Tunnels are the routes which contain an extra grey outline. Players never know how much these routes will cost as the player will need to ‘bid’ on it when they try to claim it. To place the bid, the player places the colored cards that are required for the route out on the table. Next they will draw three cards from the top of the draw deck. For each locomotive or matching color train drawn, the player must match the card with another colored card or locomotive card. This means that the tunnel route could cost an additional three train cards – without claiming the additional points!
Ferries are the routes that travel over water. These routes are grey, so any collection of cards can be played on them, but they also have an indicated locomotive on them. This means that players much utilize one or two locomotive cards for each ferry route.
Draw new Destination Tickets – Players can opt to draw new destination tickets. When they do, they draw three destinations tickets from the destination pile. Out of these three, they must keep one of the tickets. Destination tickets are a good way to collect additional points. There are several tickets that contain the same destination – this means that if you draw a destination that you have already completed you could get double the points! Ticket to Ride – Europe also adds a new destination ticket type: the long route. These routes are handed out as one of the initial destinations, but the player is not required to keep it as one of their initial two. The long route traces from one side of the country to another and adds extra complexity to the game. The extra effort is rewarded with extra points. The path in which the player completes the long routes depends on the player’s game style, and can also include the short destination cards that they have chosen to keep. This means that as you choose to take extra destination tickets you may only have to build one segment to complete the shorter route.
Build a Train Station – This is a new component to the Europe version and can be a lifesaver. The stations are built on a city, and allows for the player to claim one route in or out of that city. This means that if a player finds themselves locked out of a certain city, they still have the ability to complete their ticket route with the station. Any stations that have not been built are worth four points at the end of the game, so players should only use them if they have to. The routes claimed by the station also do not count towards the longest route claim.
That’s it – only four play options and you can only choose to do one. You cannot draw train cards and claim routes; you cannot build a station and draw destination tickets. Because the options are well defined, and limited, the turns are often quick and the game play continues moving forward. The game continues until one of the players have two or less trains left that they can play. At that time one more round is played as players quickly make that last strategic decision to complete their routes.
Counting Up the Points
You get points for many different things, so it’s not always apparent who is winning the game until the very end. For each route you claim you are able to move your point marker. In Ticket to Ride – Europe there is a route that is worth 21 points! As the game progresses the players can see who is in the lead by where their marker is on the point board. However, the person in the lead at the end of the normal game play is not always the winner! As mentioned before, (in Ticket to Ride – Europe) for each station that has not been built, a player earns four points. This could mean an extra 12 points. Players also earn points for each destination ticket they completed. If a player did not complete a destination ticket, they have to deduct those points from their total score. Finally, there is a ten point award for the player who built the longest continuous route. These final ten points could be the difference between winning and losing the game!
I really enjoy this game. The play is fast, so I don’t easily get distracted (or bored) as the other players are taking their turns. It’s also simple enough to play that anyone can start playing with a few basic instructions. In the last game I played, I taught my Tata how to play and not only did he catch on quickly, but he almost won! I enjoy the Europe version slightly more than the USA version because of the additional complexity that the tunnels and ferries add. In the original Ticket To Ride version the wild cards are hardly factors because they are not necessary to build a route, but in the Europe version they can literally mean the difference between completing a route – after all you cannot get to Palermo without a ferry. I also like that in my experiences, most players are too busy building their own routes to worry about how they can mess up what you might be trying to accomplish. When someone blocks a route I was working for or when they lock me out of a city, it has always been because they were working toward their own goal, not trying to mess mine up. I also like the Europe version more because of the size of the cards. The tiny cards in the USA version are just… tiny.
If you are looking for a board game that you can play with a variety of ages and experiences I would highly suggest ticket to ride, and even more Ticket To Ride – Europe. It’s a game that I know I will be playing with my family and friends for many years to come.