How to Play:
Ticket to Ride Europe is the second game in the Ticket to Ride franchise. Ticket to Ride Europe has four main differences from the original Ticket to Ride.
To begin the game each player is given one long route and three normal routes. Each player needs to keep at least two of the cards but can keep three or all four of the cards.
Ferries: If you would like to claim a ferry connection you must play at least as many locomotives (wild cards) as there are train symbols on the connection you are trying to claim.
Tunnels: If you would like to claim a tunnel (indicated by a black outline around the train symbols on the board) you first need to play as many train cards as there are trains in the connection (following all other Ticket to Ride rules with regards to color and wilds). You then draw the top three face down cards from the deck of train cards. If any of the cards drawn are a wild or the same color as the cards played by the player, the player needs to play an additional card of that color/wild for each card that matches. If the player either doesn’t have enough cards or they don’t want to play that many cards, they can take their cards back and end their turn (they do not claim the route).
Train Stations: At the beginning of the game, each player gets three train stations. Every unused train station at the end of the game is worth four bonus points. A train station allows a player to utilize one connection claimed by another player that is attached to the city where the train station is placed. Only one train station can be placed on each city. In order to play a train station, the player uses their turn to play the corresponding number of train cards. For the first train station you play, you need to play one card. For the second you need to play two of the same color and for the third you need to play three of the same color.
As I have already mentioned, Ticket to Ride Europe is similar to the original. A lot of people might even call it an expansion pack. Europe can be played all by itself though without needing the original game. While the games are similar with regards to the rules, they have a surprisingly different feel to them.
The main difference between the two games in my opinion is that the Europe map is a more competitive/cutthroat than the United States map in the original map. In the original it was pretty easy to find a workaround if someone stole the connection that you needed. It is not so easy in Europe though. I didn’t count to verify this but I think Europe has quite a few more smaller connections (two and three train connections) and there are quite a few key connections that need to be acquired in order to reach certain areas of the map. There is a lot more competition for connections in Europe than there was in the original. This is not a bad thing and actually makes for an experience that is significantly different than you would expect from just a different map.
Ticket to Ride Europe adds four new game mechanics to the Ticket to Ride franchise.
I think that separating the routes into the long and regular routes is an unfortunate but necessary addition to the game. I always loved getting multiple long routes in the original Ticket to Ride since if you were able to complete the routes you were essentially guaranteed to win the game. I loved getting two routes that when combined created a route that went from California to the east coast since you got points for two long routes and you would always be in the running for longest route. If this happened you almost always won the game in a blowout. Limiting each player to only a maximum of one long route balances out the game though. It wasn’t really fair to the other players when a situation like this came up. Removing the ability to get two long routes also forces you to take more shorter routes which adds to the competitiveness when multiple people need the same connection.
Ferries overall are a decent addition. Ferries main purpose in my opinion is to make locomotives/wilds more valuable. In most games wilds are generally the strongest card in the game since they can take the place of every other card. In the original Ticket to Ride, wilds were a lot weaker than you would expect . In games I have played, wilds were rarely taken while face up since getting one less card was a pretty heavy cost for taking a wild. Unless I absolutely needed one type of color and I wasn’t getting it any other way, I never took face up wild cards. The cost of taking a face up wild is still present in Europe but since you need wilds in Europe there is a stronger incentive to taking face up wilds.
Tunnels add a luck/risk element to Ticket to Ride. Every time you try to take a tunnel, you risk wasting your turn since you might either not have enough cards or don’t want to pay that many cards to claim a connection. If you fail to claim the tunnel you don’t lose your cards but you do lose a turn. In my opinion every turn is important since at the very least you could have used the turn to get two additional cards. In the game I played, on average people ended up having to play one additional train card to claim a tunnel connection. This actually ended up altering the game some since in a couple situations I had enough cards to claim a connection but waited to get an extra card of the color to make sure that I would be able to claim it.
Train stations I believe affect Ticket to Ride the most. Since you get four bonus points for each train station that you do not use, you try to avoid using them whenever possible. You have to really think before you use your train stations since you will waste a turn placing it and you will lose the four bonus points. In some situations you need to use them though. With the added competitiveness in the Europe map, the train stations are needed since you will very likely need to use one of them when one of the other players take a connection that you desperately needed. While train stations kind of bail you out, I believe losing the four bonus points and the turn to place the station offset the benefits gained so they don’t give players any unfair advantage.
While Ticket to Ride Europe is a terrific game, I do have two small complaints about the game.
First I would not recommend playing with two or three players. I have played Ticket to Ride with three and four players before and four players is much better in my opinion (five might be even better). With three players there are less people competing for connections but the double connections are eliminated. The double connections add quite a bit to the game in my opinion since they give players a little flexibility in their route planning. Without the double routes in one move your entire strategy could be ruined. Playing with only three players is still a fun game and I would still highly recommend it but I would recommend trying to find at least four players.
The second problem I have with the Europe version is that it is sometimes hard to find the cities you are looking for on the map. I think the route cards themselves could have done a better job illustrating where the cities were located. For example on one of my cards the city looked like it was on the eastern border towards the center of the board. The city was actually towards the bottom of the map. Therefore there were a couple times where it took a couple minutes to find the cities that I was looking for since I was looking at the wrong section of the map.
As you can probably tell, I am a huge fan of the Ticket to Ride franchise. Personally I probably prefer the original a little more since it is not as cutthroat but Europe is also a great game and I plan on playing it as a change of pace from the original. If you have played the original Ticket to Ride and didn’t enjoy it, I can’t imagine Europe changing your mind. If you have never played Ticket to Ride before, you need to give it a try. It is a great blend of an easy to play game that also packs quite a bit of strategy. If like me you have played the original and enjoyed it, I can’t imagine you not enjoying Ticket to Ride Europe.