Sunday 3 January 2021

Review: Ticket to Ride - Europe Board Game - Great for Teens

Review of Ticket to Ride:Europe board game. Great fun for all the family and especially good for getting your teenagers involved.

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I first played the original Ticket to Ride (#ad) board game about five years ago with some friends and I've been hooked ever since. I'm not quite sure why it took me until the first lockdown last year to actually buy it, but I am so glad I did as myself and the children have played it so many times. I am a bit dismayed that they can all beat me quite so easily but it is still a lovely way to spend time together.

There isn't that much that can bring all the family together for an hour or so, but this is one of them. Ticket to Ride Europe really is a hit with the teens, I suppose it is a game that is a great blend of strategy, fun and luck that only takes an hour or so.

Useful information

Recommended age: 8+ years

Number of payers:  2 - 5

Length of play: 30 - 80 minutes

Time to learn the rules: 10 - 15 minutes and the booklet is super easy to navigate

Time to set up the board: 5 minutes

Cost: You can normally pick the game up for around £30, although I notice it is sold out in many places as I publish this. The RRP is £39.99.

Aim of the Game: 

To score the highest points by collecting and paying the coloured train cards, so you can place your train pieces on the board and complete the routes on your route cards. 

I think having four players is my favourite for this game, as it offers a better level of challenge on which routes we all try to claim and makes the gameplay about an hour long. Basically, the gameplay on the Europe edition is the same as the original North America version but there are also a few added features like completing a tunnel, where you have to be lucky or you'll end up playing more cards than the train pieces you'll lay; taking a ferry, which requires you to have a certain amount of locomotive cards as well as the necessary coloured train cards; or using a station to give you access to a route that is already blocked by another players trains. 

Getting ready to play:

  • Lay out the game board
  • Choose your colour trains (45 per player), scoring marker and 3 stations
  • Each player gets 3 short destination tickets and 1 long one
  • Disregard the unused long routes and place the other destination tickets in a draw pile
  • Also, give 4 coloured train cards to each player
  • Place all the other train cards in a draw pile and lay 5 face-up
  • Before gameplay commences each player must decide how many of the 4 destination tickets that they'd like to keep, it has to be a minimum of 2


The player who has visited the most European countries starts and the gameplay continues clockwise. You can take one of four actions on each of your turns. 

  1. Pick up train cards (either 2 from the blind draw pile, or two from the five that are face-up. But if you want to pick up a face-up locomotive, it is just one
  2. Claim a route. When you have enough of the right colour train cards, you can surrender the cards and lay your train pieces on that route. You must have enough to lay a complete route from city to city and the colours need to match, or if it is grey on the board, you can lay any colour, but again enough cards to match the train pieces. Longer routes are better to get as they score more. There are slightly different rules for claiming a ferry route or a tunnel, so make sure you're familiar with those before you play. Also, make sure you count your points for the route aid each time you lay one. 
  3. Draw destination tickets. You can pick up three and keep a minimum of one, you then need to complete the route on your card, or you'll be penalised and the points will come off your end score. 
  4. Build a train station. You can do this in any city that doesn't yet have one and at the end of the game, you use it to help you complete your destination ticket if a route is already in use by another player. The train station costs you 1 card of any colour for the first one, 2 cards for the second and 3 cards for the third one and each. Each that you do not use adds another 4 points to your total at the end. 
You continue taking turns until one player lays a train and this leaves them with two trains pieces or less. Then each player, including the one who laid that train gets one last turn.

Once you've all had that last turn it is time to count up scores and see who has won. Add the total for any destination tickets that you have completed, take off the total for any that aren't completed, work out who has the longest train route and gets the +10 European bonus, add +4 for each station you retained.

The player with the most points wins and if it is a draw, it is the player who has completed the most destination tickets.

Gameplay tips:

  • Pick up train cards abundantly at the start of the game to get a good selection of colours. Pick up from the blind pile ideally, so you don't give your opponents a clue as to your plans. 
  • Once you feel confident of how to play, keep an eye on your opponents, watch their eyes and see which routes they are planning. Then block them if their route looks as if it is getting too long. It might not gain you too many points but it could save them getting the +10 bonus with the European Express card. 
  • Once you have a good hand of train tickets, but still early on in the game, some people like to draw more destination tickets in the hope that they'll get a route that fits with another of their tickets. This can be a risk, as you have to keep one of the three you pick up for your go.

Worth noting:

  • Use your scoring marker as you go along to keep track of the routes you've laid, it is quicker than leaving it until the end.
  • There is only one 8 piece route on the board and this is worth a massive 21 points, so it can be worth claiming this, even if it is not part of your routes on your destination tickets.
  • If you disregard your blue long route at the beginning of the game, remember you won't be able to get another, as the unused ones are discarded.
  • You don't have to have a destination ticket in play if you have completed the ones you have. It is your choice if you draw more, as of course, they may give you more points if you can complete them, but if you can't, they will be a points penalty.
  • Some payers hate the new elements in this game - the tunnels, ferries and stations and if you find you're one of them, just leave them out. We sometimes do.
  • You can register your game online and play online too, to discover new maps, game variants and play with your friends
  • When you've played many times and it starts t,o feel a little monotonous, consider investing in the 1912 Europa expansion pack, which gives you extra tickets to allow for three new variants of the game, and also gives warehouses and depots, which adds an extra strategic layer to the game.
  • There are a number of other versions of the game board too, so if you love this one and want more check out North America, Nordic Countries, Germany, Asia, India, Heart of Africa and others.
  • You can also print out the free stay at home expansion that was released for last years lockdown. 
In conclusion, I think Ticket to Ride: Europe is a great fun game for all the family and as long as your kids are pretty clued up they'll be able to play a form of it from around 6 years old. It is a super way to bring the family together.

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Review of Ticket to Ride:Europe board game. Great fun for all the family and especially good for getting your teenagers involved.

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