Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Thursday 7 April 2016

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Ticket to Ride Europe

GameTicket to Ride: Europe

ManufacturerDays of Wonder

Designer: Alan Moon


Ticket to Ride: Europe is one of the games that we owned before we really entered into the gaming hobby. It was definitely alongside Catan in terms of games that Amy’s video gamer friends were very into at the time. So is this classic gateway game still standing the test of time?

In Ticket to Ride you are trying to connect together cities by different lengths of train route. You do this by laying sets of matching coloured carriage cards to allow you to lay out your trains. You immediately score points which are greater when you build longer routes. However you will also be working towards completing tickets which connect different cities across the board, and are secret so only score points at the end of the game. Throughout the game you draw carriage cards wither from the face-up line or the face down deck to try and collect cards and build routes before your opponents – once a route has been built on, it is blocked for other players.

Ticket-to-Ride: Europe adds a couple of variants, compared to the original game set in the USA. The first is ferries – in Europe there is a lot of water and although you can cross the water it is slightly harder to do so because you have to play locomotive cards which are pretty valuable since they are also wild cards. The next new rule is tunnels – tunnels are denoted by a dark border and they are essentially harder to travel through. When you choose to build a route through a tunnel you will play your cards as normal but then 3 cards are drawn from the top of the deck and if any match the colour you are trying to play you must play more matching cards from your hand to be allowed to claim the route. The third new rule is stations – which kind of act as a get out of jail free mechanism. You can play a station to use another players route out of a city as part of competing one of your tickets. Each station you use is 3 points you don’t get at the end of the game, but often this is worth it. Finally, there is an extra bonus in the scoring which is 10 points for the player with the longest continuous route.

A selection of tickets - you are dealt one blue long distance ticket at the start of the the game. They can look intimidating, but are often well worth the effort.
Ticket to Ride seems to have all the right ingredients of a great game. It has easy to learn rules, with only 3 or 4 options on your turn. It has some small elements of conflict and player interaction, especially with higher player counts. It definitely has some strategy elements, but is mixed with luck of the draw in a few different mechanisms. I’ve seen the game won by brand new players as well as games where the experienced player is rewarded and runs away with a victory.

The game in progress with two players. The red player has used a station to enable them to complete a route to Madrid.
I honestly don’t remember why we don’t play Ticket to Ride more often. I think there is an issue with the lack of interaction between train routes when you’re playing with just two players, making the game more like solitaire and a little more luck based on the draw of suitable cards to fulfil high scoring or coincident routes. Also I think that we found more complex games we enjoyed. I think though that due to the diminished time we have available, slightly simpler games are coming back into fashion for us and we might look into some of the tighter two-player maps. We have recently acquired the UK map collection which I think will work very well with two. That said I rate Ticket to Ride: Europe very highly, it’s the perfect gateway game with enough extra rules in addition to the original to make it slightly challenging for novices like my parents and the stations which mean that no-one is entirely hosed out of contention when certain routes are blocked. As a family game the Yellow Meeple gives Ticket to Ride: Europe a 9/10.

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