Monday 3 September 2012

Ticket to Ride Europe

One of my friends brought Ticket to Ride : Europe to our board game night. He was the only one who had played before, with the other three players (myself included) being complete novices. Rules were explained in a few minutes, with a few special cases (tunnels & ferries) taking up about half of that time. The game concept is immediately obvious from just glancing at the board and although there are some considerations about how the colours, tickets etc interact we could dive right in.

The game was fast-paced, slowing down only when players drew new tickets and needed a few minutes to figure out which of the three cards to retain (at least one, but up to three can be kept). Ongoing scoring was quick and there was competition for longest track by all players except myself throughout the game. I dropped out as soon Amsterdam-Essen was developed by another player as I judged it a lost cause at that point.

The game ends one turn after a player hits 2 or less remaining trains and this turned out to add a lot of tension in the last few rounds. Whenever one of my competitors drew cards instead of placing trains it was a huge relief as I was working on one last ticket. In the end I didn't make it as the game ended while I was still missing the Moskva-Smolensk connection to complete the Rostow-Smolensk ticket.

Final scoring for tickets easily doubles player scores, with huge swings for incomplete tickets. We had one player with an incomplete 21-point ticket, giving him a massive penalty without which he would have undoubtedly won the game. This means that while players can have a points lead throughout the game the winner is never obvious and tension remains high. Finals scores were 108-106-100-95 so it was a fairly tight distribution.

Overall this is an enjoyable and approachable game that I'd recommend for casual gamers. We'll almost certainly play it again and it will be interesting to see if the game holds up to repeat play.

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