Ticket to Ride Europe and Europa: 1912 Expansion
Time: 30 – 60 minutes
Times Played: Hundreds
I have already covered the base Ticket to Ride game so for Europe, I am going to base this review around everyone already being familiar with the core concepts.
TTR: Europe adds three new mechanics to the game: (besides a new map) Ferries, tunnels, and train stations.
Ferries require a wild card for each space on the board that has the locomotive symbol. You can also substitute the wild card by using three of the same color cards in its place. This is a short and simple way to spice up the process of claiming routes and also increase the importance of wild cards, which weren’t particularly useful to my group when we played the base game. All in all, I am a fan of the Ferries inclusion.
Tunnels require you to turn over the top three cards from the draw deck and if any of those cards match the color you are playing (or are wild cards), then you will need to add that amount of additional cards to your route purchase. For example, you are buying a route with three yellow cards. You reveal the top three cards and draw a blue, a wild, and a yellow. If you want to finish claiming this route, you will need to add an additional two yellow cards, two wild cards, or one of each to your claim. You have the option of passing and trying again later. You do not lose your cards if you choose not to lay the route. But, if you choose not to lay the route, your turn ends.
I love the tunnels mechanic. I should hate it. I should hate that your fate is tied to three randomly drawn cards that could keep you from achieving the simplest of goals and in the process of you failing, your opponent quite possibly benefits as now three of the colors they were worried about drawing are removed from that deck. But I love it. For an already tense game, it really makes the hair stand up on your neck as the cards are revealed one by one. Thematically, I suppose it even makes sense as a tunnel route might require more work than a normal one and now drawing the card you want is a setback like a cave-in or something. I am very happy with this addition.
Train Stations are placed on an open city and let players claim a route from another player. This is intended so you can complete a destination ticket if you are blocked or unable to venture a different direction. For any unplayed stations you still have at the end of the game, you will receive an additional four points per station. When playing the stations, the first costs one train card of any color, the second costs two cards, and the third three cards. Of note, this does not impact the other players route at all. One player is not stealing another’s points.
I do not like the inclusion of train stations. No, that’s not the right way to describe my feelings. I absolutely hate train stations. I think it cheapens the work you do to lay the route in the first place and don’t feel as if four points, in either direction, is much of a factor in not utilizing them. I understand why it was added (due to the pension for blocking) but don’t agree with it. After a few initial plays, we decided to no longer play with the train stations. The plastic models are really neat however if I must say something positive about them.
TTR: Europe also includes rules that of the six long destination tickets, they are dealt randomly at the beginning of the game so each player only receives one. This is to keep players from hoarding the long routes and winning with a huge lead from only completing two or three tickets. It also looks like Europe learned from the mistakes of the base game, as there is much greater ticket disparity in this version.
Tickets are now generally shorter, with only three regular destination tickets clocking in at needing more than four trains for completion. With that being said, it does make those longer routes that much more important as they can connect several tickets in one fell swoop.
Regarding the map, if you don’t know European geography, you might struggle initially with locating the cities you are looking for. The ticket cards still have the dots for the cities, which is helpful and will point you to a location but it may not be as intuitive for some people. I should be more globally sensitive to the maps of other countries and continents but besides wars, this was not something they taught us in school.
Comparing the Europe and the Northern American maps (as it’s not really just USA…), I can’t tell if I really prefer one over the other. I appreciate the mechanics of Europe more and wish they would release an updated base game map but the layouts don’t really offer that much of a change to me. There are still choke points (Germany-area vs. Mid-west) and long stretches of emptiness (bottom right corner of the map vs. West Coast), so the ideas are still “the same”.
Europa: 1912 offers two expansions: Warehouses and Depots and New Tickets.
New Tickets: This expansion includes fifty-five new destination tickets and reprints of the original forty-six routes. There are new long routes, regular routes, and a return of the Big Cities routes. This expansion will only work with the Europe version of TTR.
The new cards offered are the standard size (like the 1910 equivalent), which are a welcome addition to me. The tickets offer three variants to the initial gameplay. There is Europe Expanded, which just combines the original tickets with the new ones, Mega Europe, which grants players two long routes at the beginning of the game (and they choose one) and players are given five tickets to start and must keep at least three, and lastly, Big Cities of Europe, which has players only using tickets with the Big Cities logo and when drawing new tickets, they draw four and keep at least one of them.
I’m honestly surprised the Globetrotter bonus was not included, especially due to the lower route length which translates to more tickets being completed.
Europa also includes another expansion that can be combined with the other versions of TTR, Warehouses and Depots.
There are five warehouse cards (one per color) and twenty-five train depots (five per color) included.
Players will take their warehouse card and five depots of their color and after looking at their starting hand of destination tickets and train cards, will place one of their depots on an empty city on the map. The remaining four depots will remain in your supply.
When a player draws trains cards as their turn action, they must pick the first card from the deck and place it in any player’s warehouse, facedown and without looking at it. Then they can choose their cards as normal. As this is one of the most common actions players take, the warehouses tend to be filled with cards, which also increases the flow of the cards earlier than normal. This causes the discarded cards to be reshuffled more frequently and you can sometimes get away with counting cards, as you will notice what has and what has not been shown. This could be helpful with noting the wild card information, as they are more important in Europe due to tunnels and ferries.
When a player chooses to claim a route and end up reaching a city with a depot on it, they may pick all the train cards in the warehouse matching the depot they reached. If the player chooses to keep the cards, they place one of their supply depots in the box and out of play.
As a free action on a players turn, a player can place one or more depots on the map (as long as they are placed on an open city). This will diminish the amount of times a player can pay for warehouse cards as they no longer have depots in their supply to pay for them.
When the game ends, the player with the most unused depots in their supply score ten points.
The inclusion of the depot expansion is really neat. It adds just enough to the gameplay where I wouldn’t play with it every time but I wouldn’t mind breaking it out every five plays or so. The depots offer strategy in where they are placed (on an often traveled route or off-the beaten path to make your opponents waste cards?) and on how long one holds out before reaching a depot. The longer you wait, the more cards that could be present but at the same time, someone could arrive there before you.
The Warehouses and Depots variant changes the gameplay significantly and really does not muddle any of the existing rules for players.
With all this being said, I think Ticket to Ride: Europe is better than the base game (and is typically found at the usual retail giants). Is it the best Ticket to Ride implementation? That remains to be seen…