REVIEW – Ticket to Ride: Europe

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Ticket to RideName: Ticket to Ride: Europe
Publisher: Days of Wonder
Type: Strategy
Players: 2- 5
Best With: 4-5
Length of Playtime: 45-60 minutes

 

Give It to Me Quick: Great game accessible to a large audience, slightly more involved than the U.S. version of Ticket to Ride (big surprise, right?). Build train routes across Europe. New player friendly, but still fun for everyone.

No dice, just cards, trains, and a board.

No dice, just cards, trains, and a board.

Gameplay summary

Ticket to Ride: Europe is the European mapped flavor of the popular Ticket to Ride series. Similar to all the others, it is based on completing Destination Tickets from one city to another. The cities are divided by empty railways that need to be spanned by the player’s train pieces.  Points are scored by several different ways, and the highest score wins:

1. Placing trains. Players receive points for each city to city route that they build. A longer connection creates more points, in an increasingly point productive way. For example, a two car city connection creates 2 points, a three car creates 4 points, and a four car creates 7 points. Makes sense.

2. Completing Destination Tickets.  At the beginning of the game, players are assigned Destination Tickets to complete. These routes may be as far as six or seven cities apart, or may be as close as two cities. As you might guess, longer and more difficult routes are worth more points. As the game progresses, players can also add more routes to their hand to be completed. However, if you do not complete a route in your hand by the end of the game, you receive corresponding negative points. Don’t bite off more than you can chew!

Better brush up on your early 1900's geography.

Better brush up on your early 1900’s geography.

3. Owning the longest continuous route on the board. The player with the longest uninterrupted chain of routes on the board wins the European Express Bonus, which is accompanied by 10 hard fought points and the admiration of everyone at the table.

4. Unused train stations. A new feature in TTR:E, the train station allows a player to use a different player’s route to complete a Destination Ticket. Keep in mind that every player receives three train stations at the start of the game, and that every unused station gains the player points at the end of the game. Good luck not using one in a four or five player game.

Thought you would cut me off? Well then, let me just place this here!

Thought you would cut me off? Well then, let me just place this here!

Players can draw a maximum of two cards per turn to try to accumulate matching card color sets. On another turn they can then place these sets corresponding to unplayed city-to-city routes on the board, ultimately trying to complete Destination Tickets. Of course, everyone else has the same idea, and is rushing to grab the most sought-after routes first.

Tunnels introduce another dynamic first introduced in this TTR: Europe version. For certain routes on the board, depending on random card flips, a route that would otherwise need three blue cards might now need four. This creates a strategic question: should you spend a turn grabbing a wild card to solidify your chances on your next turn to build the route, or should you risk the random flip, possibly saving a turn but possibly losing two?

While the game is being played, point totals for placing trains are kept around the edge of the board, but you do not know what Destinations your opponents have completed. This creates a great come-from-behind dynamic, where players who have not played as many trains but have completed many Destinations can jump ahead in the final scoring.

1000_ticket_to_ride_setup

Colorful artwork, cards, and gameboard.

 

How many players?

Up to the 5 player limit, the more, the better. Figuring out how to navigate the inevitable crunch of players colliding in Central Europe is always a blast. Playing with two players loses a lot of the competitive edge, since the board is big for just two. Two players does bring a few rule changes (namely, reducing the paired routes from city to city down to one–making it more like the U.S. version in that sense). In our experience, there isn’t a better gateway game to introduce four or five to the world of designer board games.

A common sight in 5 player games!

A common sight in 5 player games! Prepare to lose some friends.

 

Our Positives

The core concept of how Ticket to Ride plays is immediately appealing in its simplicity; draw cards and play trains. This Europe version adds a few tweaks to this formula; the additions of the Tunnel and Train Station are great. We’ve played both the U.S. version and the Europe version, and we like Europe better. When there’s a group of four or five players, you’ll be constantly shifting and re-evaluating the best way to connect two cities. Someone else will inevitably grab that Paris to Zurich connection before you have a chance!

Ticket to Ride: Europe is one of the most commonly requested games in our collection to play. Multiple times, without fail, someone playing for the first time will comment about wanting to play it again next time. It’s just plain addicting, and people new to the euro-style of games are impressed by the great gameplay–not to mention the board and visual presentation, which are also colorful and appealing.

It is the perfect game to introduce people to the Euro-style board game: just enough strategy, luck, theme, and not too overwhelming for first time players. It’s quick to learn, with enough interesting “should I do this now or next turn” strategic decisions for those who might prefer deeper strategy games.  

 

Our Negatives

Two player games lose some of the intensity that is typically created when several players are trying to complete a route to the same location. It’s a big board for two players.

Since there is no limit on hand size, sometimes a player will keep stockpiling a certain color in their hand, making it hard for someone else to land a card that they’re waiting for. There are always five cards turned face up, but there are often instances where you’ll sit for three or four turns just waiting for a certain color. Then someone will finish off their route and end the game before you have a chance to play your final route. The wild cards help to create another way to get the color you’re waiting for.

 

Accessibility

playbegins_accessibility8

 

 

 

 

35_party for a Party Yes, an achievable stretch.
casual Casual Yes, the perfect gateway game.
35_competitive Competitive Yes, especially in 4-5 player games.
35_strategy Strategic Yes though admittedly lighter than some other game options.

 

Final Thoughts on Ticket to Ride: Europe

Slight strategy spoiler: A common complaint we hear when we play is that the person who completes the 8 car (21 point) route gets an unfair advantage and will usually win. This is not true, especially if you’re playing with others who know what they’re doing. You just have to make sure that while one player is spending turns trying to accumulate enough cards for the 8 car route, you are knocking out Destination Tickets to offset.

We’ve played Ticket to Ride: Europe at least 25 times, and each time it’s just as fun. There are a lot of Ticket to Ride versions out there; the new additions that the Europe version brings to the Ticket to Ride table are the train stations and the tunnel dynamic explained above, both of which are welcome additions.

There’s a reason this game is on so many “must-have” lists. There are a lot of Ticket to Ride variants, and you really can’t go wrong with any one of them. Highly recommended.

 

Check out more reviews!

 

Ticket to Ride: Europe

8.825

Replayability

93/10

    Engagement

    85/10

      Game Mechanics

      85/10

        Theme/Fun

        90/10

          Likes

          • - Fun for both veteran and new players
          • - Fantastic game concept. Great theme.

          Dislikes

          • - Two player games with this Europe version don't work as well, since the board is so large.

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