Game: Airlines Europe
Publisher: Abacus Spiele
Designer: Alan R. Moon
There is no doubt that Airlines Europe is a lesser known title when compared to Alan Moon’s best known game Ticket to Ride. I don’t think it is helped by the fact it falls into the category of a stock market game and is often compared to Union Pacific which for many in the gaming community is a bad thing. Luckily for me, I happened across a copy of Airlines Europe in a Facebook trade before I’d heard any negative comparisons, and was happy to pick up something with good designer credentials.
In Airlines Europe there is a map of Europe, with most major towns highlighted as hubs and connected by routes. The board is surrounded by a scoretrack and different coloured markers are placed in their starting spots. Unlike most games, the players do not own the scoremarkers, they instead represent the value of shares in the different coloured airlines. Throughout the game players choose which airlines to take shares in, as well as expanding different airlines, depending on which airlines you want to score more highly. There are 3 scoring rounds in the game that come up at slightly unpredictable points in the deck and each airline scores based upon how successfully it has expanded. If you have shares in the scoring airline then you have the opportunity to score points. If you have the most shares you get the most points, although there are often points for second and third place too.
The game seems to work so well because you can only take one actions per turn. You can build a new route, paying money from your supply and increasing the price of the shares of that colour. You can play shares from your hand out onto the table, either two different colour shares or any number of one colour. This in particular makes you think very carefully about turn economy and also when to reveal to your opponents which companies you’re investing in. Your other option are to take money from the bank, or to invest in ‘Air Abacus’ – a company that has a reliable stock value each scoring round but that be very competitive when trying to gain majority.
The other major plus for me are the components. It’s not typical for me to care about component quality very much, but show me some miniature colourful plastic planes and I’m sold. More than this, they come in a really convenient tray that can be taken straight to the gaming table. Admittedly the game does have paper money, which is a bug bear for some, but for us it’s standing the test of time at the moment.
|I love these planes!!|
Once you’ve got your head around the fact that no one person owns the different airlines, Airlines Europe really is a gateway-style game, perhaps just a small step up from traditional gateway games like Carcassonne, Ticket to Ride or Catan. In spite of this, it has enough complexity and tactical choices to keep us interested. We don’t play it very frequently, but are always pleasantly surprised when we do. For that reason the Yellow Meeple gives Airlines Europe a 7.5/10.