Ticket to Ride Europe: A Train Trip Through Memory
Ah Europe, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways… while also playing a really cool board game. I received Ticket to Ride:Europe from my sister last Christmas and decided to go with the Europe version of the popular train game series because she knew that I have a certain soft spot for the continent after visiting there twice over the last few years. Its amazing how much a simple board game with a brightly-coloured map can bring back so many good memories and feelings.
Ticket to Ride Europe is such a fun-loving and high-spirited game that I can’t help but draw parallels with my highly enjoyable experience of actually travelling through Europe from city to city with nothing but the contents of my backpack. As I buy up the route from London to Edinburgh my mind drifts to when I truly took the train to Edinburgh and how exiting it was to watch the countryside roll by and eventually grow and shift into the rugged Scottish terrain.
When I look at all the different coloured tracks leading into Paris, I think of my own arrival in Paris; when I see those tricky tunnel routes running into Switzerland, I think of that amazing journey into the heart of the Alps and how rustic and wholesome that country felt. As my train routes venture out towards Moscow and Petrograd, I wonder if the feeling of isolation I get from those secluded routes is what I really would have felt had I ventured out that far on my real voyage.
There is something about Ticket to Ride: Europe that is able to invoke a wonderful feeling of fun and excitement. When I see the big bright circles on the board indicating those legendary European cities, I can’t help but reminisce; Amsterdam reminds me of tasting that Heineken beer which was like liquid gold, Venezia reminds me of great wine and romantic flings, Zurich reminds me of standing alone on a sunlit glacier 10,000 feet high, and Roma makes be think of all the great friendships I made as we visited the wonders of the most amazing city on earth.
Ticket to Ride: Europe involves players collecting cards with different coloured trains on them in order to use them to by train routes around the board. This provides a card game feel as you are basically trying to collect sets of similar cards, which is a neat idea when associated with the routes. The interaction here comes from the race to claim the routes that you need before other players take it away from you. However, this European version of the game also includes train stations which negates the a lot of the negative impact of stealing routes and allows for a more positives spirit.
Ticket to Ride is a point scoring game where you can collect points in a few different ways. Every route you buy gives you points but you also get points through connecting particular cities. You are given cards which tell you which cities you need to collect, including one longer route with distant cities. Claiming this route is the center of your focus, since you actually lose points for each route you do not collect. The inclusion of these longer routes puts more focus on connecting cities than the original Ticket to Ride game.
The gameplay of Ticket to Ride Europe is fast and thrilling, much like backpacking through Europe itself. You find yourself eager to visit and move on and reach as many cities as possible. And when you look back and see all the different connections you made and places you’ve been, you get a satisfying sense of accomplishment.
The components of Ticket to Ride Europe are top notch, not only because the board, cards and pieces are great quality, but also because they are designed and stylized in such a way that really invokes a greet sense of actually being transported into this little European microcosm. The board is simply fantastic. It looks really solid and has just the right blend of bight and muted colours. The old-fashioned scoring track around the outside really adds to the theme and makes us feel like we’re standing on an outdoor platform with the Alps behind us waiting for the train.
The plastic train pieces and train stations are nice and durable and the train and route cards are well-designed in much the same way as the board. No expense is spared by Days of Wonder here which is refreshing. Its always nice when game components can add so much to the feel of a game.
Ticket to Ride is a massively popular game and has a number of reincarnations already. This Europe version was my first experience with Ticket to Ride and still my favourite since it actually allows me to connect with this foreign continent which I adore so much and have such vibrant memories of my visits there. From the smoky streets of London, to the medieval air of Edinburgh, to the noisy beer gardens of Munich and the ancient ruins of Rome.
Only a great game is able to invoke such a sense of tone, feel and atmosphere and Ticket to Ride Europe is such a game. There’s a real sense of risk-taking and accomplishment with the city routes and that card game-like collecting feel with the train cards, as well as the overall sense of actually visiting Europe and experiencing that great sense of adventure.