As we approach the end of the week, I’m excited to be able to get a longer game in over the weekend. Tonight I wanted to give my wife a bit of a break. She’s been a really good sport about my cruelty in the last few games we’ve played, especially 51st State. Ticket to Ride Cortnie’s favorite game she’s played. She’s ready to play it any time, and when we do play, it’s never one just game (or two, or three).  Tonight’s game is a bit of a stretch to count as a game I’ve never played, because its really just an expansion of Ticket to Ride, but since it is technically it’s own game, and Cortnie deserves to have more of her favorite, I put it on my list when planning this event.

Ticket to Ride: Europe is the same basis as Ticket to Ride. You collect sets of colored train cards to claim matching colors of train route sections to build the overall route on your ticket or tickets. Only one person can claim any given track section and when one player has less than three trains left in their supply, the end game is triggered.

TTR: Europe adds three things:

  1. Tunnels: When laying down routes for tunnels, you flip over the top three cards of the deck. You have to play an extra card for each card flipped that matches the color you are playing.
  2. Ferries: Ferries have one of more locomotives on the route. To claim a ferry route you must lay down one wild card for each locomotive present in the route.
  3. Train Stations: Each player get three train station tokens that can be placed on an empty city (no other train stations) by spending cards. the first on costs one card, the second two and the third three. Any unused stations add four points at the end of the game. The stations allow you to use someone else’s track to complete a route. You can only use one route per station, even if more connect to the city your station is in.

The game started off pleasantly enough, each of us collecting cards, occasionally placing routes, and straining to study the geography of a new map. It’s easy to find a city on the map when you’ve played on that board fifty times, but even when you can find it on an actual map, sometimes it’s more difficult on the game board.

I had drawn two long distance routes each worth 20 points if completed and a 12 points route that connected and overlapped the two. I was very lucky. Any routes not completed at the end of the game count against you, reducing your total points. Cortnie and I were building in separate areas until we got to the west coast of Europe. Neither of us blocked anything off, but there were some cases when we had to take the long way around. I say we, but what I really mean is Cortnie had to. I got all of the track I intended to.

[Note: based on the last few posts, I’m not very nice to game with. I’m not sure how my wife puts up with me, but I love her for doing so]

Our points were leap frogging each other only being 5-7 points difference. Cortnie drew some more routes around the 50 point mark, when we each had about 15 trains left. I finally completed all my routes, which would afford me 52 points. I had nine trains left, and had all my track connected together, so I might be able to pull off the longest track (extra 10 points). I drew two red cards, to give me a total of three. I was adjacent to the longest section on the board, a tunnel the was eight spaces long. I needed five more cards to end the game. I started taking locomotives (wild cards) from the face up cards. Needing one more card, there was nothing I could use in the face up cards. I drew…yellow. I took my second card…and it was exactly what I needed. A locomotive. On my next turn I put down my three red cards, paired with five wild cards. Now I needed to flip over three cards, and if any were a red card, or a locomotive, I wouldn’t have enough cards to claim the route. First card…yellow. Second card…orange. Third card…yellow again! I was able to claim the route, collect 21 points shooting me way ahead and start the end game.

Cortnie looked defeated. She needed two more turns to complete the route she had drawn mid game, and now will not get the opportunity. That route would count against her. With my last turn, I placed my final train on a single track section and the game was over. I had earned 22 points for tracks in the last two turns, 52 for routes, 10 for longest track, and 12 for unused stations. Like a train pulling away from the station, it was no longer a close game.

Even though this game didn’t go Cortnie’s way, she loved it. We both focused on out own game, not trying to block each others routes (which I’ve been known to do). The new mechanisms were fun to play and added depth with complexity. And the different map made and old, loved game feel new to us.

I have Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 2 sitting on my shelf, which includes Switzerland, a map designed for two – three player games. I expect to be writing about that soon, even if it’s not part of my #30games30days event.

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