Ticket to Ride: Europe is a different spin on the classic gateway game Ticket to Ride. The game is based on scoring points by placing routes and connecting specific cities on the map. Players are assigned connection goals via cards (called “destination tickets”) dealt at the beginning of the game. At the end of the game, the number of destination tickets you managed to complete will earn you the number of points shown in the bottom right hand corner, while those you didn’t build connections between will lose you points. Players can use their turns to draw additional destination tickets; three cards are drawn and the player must keep a minimum of one. These destination tickets are therefore very important for your strategy throughout the game; drawing new tickets can be a significant gamble. At the start of the game, one special long-route ticket is dealt to each player as well. This card is like the destination tickets, but the two end points are much farther apart and therefore harder to connect. These cards are worth twenty points, where the regular destination tickets are generally worth between 6 and 8 points. Unlike the destination tickets, players only get one for the entire game and cannot discard it. There is one other way to earn points; the player with the longest continuous train route gets the “European Express” bonus, worth ten points at scoring. In summary, there are three ways to earn points; by completing a route on the board during play, by having connected cities on their destination tickets or long route tickers, or by earning the European Express bonus.
How then do you complete routes? On the game board, there are outlines of routes in various different colours with a number of segments connecting two destinations. Five coloured train cards are dealt face-up at the side of the board. On their turn, players can take two of any cards or one “locomotive” card based on what is currently face-up. Locomotive cards act like any colour of your choosing and are therefore quite useful. They’re also really funky looking.
These train cards are played in order to claim the routes. So if you wanted to claim a pink four section route, you would need four pink cards, or you could play locomotive cards to supplement whatever you have in your hand (three pink train car cards and a locomotive for example). If you claim a route on your turn, you score points right after. The board conveniently has numbered squares along the edge which allow you to move your marker throughout the game. Other than drawing destination tickets, taking train cards, and claiming routes, players can place a train station on any city. This feature is one of the new features unique to the Europe edition of Ticket to Ride. Train stations allow you to utilize another player’s train route in order to complete your destination tickets. Players can build up to three stations, but need to use train cards to do so. The more stations you build, the more cards of the same colour you need as well.
The other new features specific to this version of the game are tunnels and ferries. Ferry routes have locomotive symbols on them, indicating the number of locomotive cards needed to claim them. These are followed by grey squares, which indicate the number of cards of the same colour needed in addition to the locomotives. Tunnels are also grey routes and have their own rules for claiming. A player must first lay down the required set of cards to claim like they would a normal route, but then they must flip up five cards from the top of the train card deck. This is where things get interesting; if a train card of the same colour the player is using to claim the route is flipped up, the player needs an additional card to play it. Locomotive cards also count towards this rule, making claiming a tunnel even more difficult. So, if you have a five segment long tunnel you are trying to claim with green train cars, and another green train card or another locomotive is drawn, you must have another green train card to play in order to claim the tunnel. I really love this feature because tunnels seem really easy to claim at first, until you end up using nine cards to claim a single tunnel or shakily turning over that last card and praying you don’t see a locomotive.
Overall, it’s easy to see where Ticket to Ride gets its reputation as a game people get hooked on, and the Europe version adds even more features. I love the train station and tunnel features so much I would probably recommend this version over the original. The game itself is beautiful with a turn-of-the-century art style and colourful player train cars and stations which make this beautiful looking board at the end of the game.
Ticket to Ride also has a reputation as a good family game and I can see why. In my opinion, it’s also a good way to sneak in a geography lesson as it uses a realistic map layout. I could easily see this game or its other versions in a school or library collection. Overall, the Ticket to Ride line of games are well worth checking out, and I highly recommend the Europe edition.