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Reviews - Ticket to Ride: Europa
by Lee Valentine

TTR: Europa boxTicket to Ride: Europa 1912
(expansion set for Ticket to Ride: Europe)
Published by Days of Wonder
Designed by Alan R. Moon
Contents: 5 Player Warehouses; 25 Wooden Train Depots; 101 Ticket to Ride Europe Destination Tickets, including 55 new and 46 original tickets; full-color rules booklet


This game is featured in the OgreCave Christmas Gift Guide 2009

Ticket to Ride: Europa 1912 is a new expansion for the Ticket to Ride (TTR) series. It is primarily designed, as its name implies, to work with the European map in the same way that TTR: 1910 worked with the original American map. However, one new feature that I'll discuss later (the "Warehouses and Depots" feature) works with all TTR boards.

For those unfamiliar with TTR: Europe, it is a game where players try to build railroad tracks connecting destinations throughout Europe (represented by Destination Tickets). Railroad tracks each have a specific color. Players draw cards from a common deck, and if a player collects enough Train cards of a given color they can trade them in to build a corresponding section of track. It is possible to play aggressively and interrupt someone's track building by laying down intervening tracks of your own, but in TTR: Europe there are Train Stations which allow you to continue your journey along a short stretch of someone else's track.

New Destination Tickets
Europa 1912 comes with lots of new Destination Tickets. First, you'll find reprinted all 40 original "regular" routes, and all 6 original "long" routes from Ticket to Ride: Europe. Added to those are 19 new regular routes and 6 more long routes. The 59 total regular routes can be mixed together and used along with the 12 long routes for a version of play called "Europe Expanded".

In addition to these cards there are now 30 new cards labeled "Big Cities". 15 of the original regular routes also bear the "Big Cities" logo. These 45 cards can be mixed together (setting aside all the other cards, including the long routes) to play "Big Cities of Europe".

Finally, you can shuffle all the "Big Cities" and all the other regular routes together, shuffling the 12 long routes separately, and you can play the "Mega Europe" game with 101 tickets to choose from.

Europe Expanded
Europe Expanded is played by the normal TTR: Europe rules except that it adds 19 regular route cards and 6 more long routes into the mix. There are a few strategic differences. It's a little easier to figure out when you need to block a long route, and a little harder to figure out which regular routes are being completed. Here's why - first, the long tickets now have a blue back to distinguish them from regular routes, meaning that when choosing tickets at the beginning of the game, people can tell if you kept a long route. For people who memorize the 12 long routes you can easily tell after part of a route is built who you need to block and where. Second, instead of the long routes all being 20-21 points, their values now range as low as 16 points. As for the regular routes, now that there are 19 additional regular routes the decisions about whether to block and where become a bit more difficult.

Big Cities of Europe
TTR: Europa cardsYou might think with the long tickets set aside that the "Big Cities of Europe" might be a low scoring game, but the values of those tickets go all the way up to a whopping 25 points. In this version of the game, each ticket has at least one of 9 different Big Cities on it. Since players are all trying to connect to similar cities, it's a pretty cutthroat game, and particularly in a 4-5 player game you can expect to fail to complete your longer routes, or else you'll be using some train stations up. This variant of the game, while more competitive, introduces more luck than is common in TTR: Europe via the ticket draw mechanic. Because there are a small number of really high scoring tickets in the Big Cities ticket deck, people who get them and complete them will have a significant point advantage over their opponents. This is particularly true because once you have a big ticket completed like Madrid-to-Moscow in the Big Cities game, when you draw more tickets you will likely find other shorter overlapping route tickets which you've already completed. Since every ticket connects (on one end or the other) to one of 9 cities, drawing extra tickets is a big part of the Big Cities game.

Mega Europe
The Mega Europe game uses the 12 blue-backed long route tickets and then a regular route deck composed off all the Europe Expanded and Big Cities tickets. It features a notable rules difference from normal TTR: Europe and the Europe Expanded games: here you must draw and decide whether to keep a long route before you select or even see regular route tickets. Since Mega Europe features both the blue-backed long route tickets and the high scoring tickets of the Big City game, you can expect to play an occasional game with really high scores.

Warehouses & Depots
The new Warehouses and Depots mechanic is the part of Europa 1912 which can be ported to any TTR board. Each player is allotted five wooden Depots in a color to match their trains and a similarly color-matched Warehouse card. Players take turns placing just one of their Depots on the board at the start of the game. During the game, every time you take the Draw Cards action, you first take the top card of the Train Deck and put it face down on your Warehouse card without looking at it. During the game, when a player completes a route that has a Depot at one end (even if it's of a different color than his own), he can discard one of his remaining Depots to take all the stored cards on the matching Warehouse. This could amount to just a few cards, or you might end up with a dozen cards or more.

TTR: Europa warehousesPlayers can also play more of their Depots on the board. This is primarily useful for two reasons: to raid your own Warehouse if you are far away from your originally placed Depot, or to stop a player from placing a Train Station at a city, since Stations cannot be placed on a City that has a Depot, and vice versa. At the end of the game, the player with the most remaining Depots scores +10 points.

The Warehouses and Depots mechanic adds a new mechanic of skill, luck, and nerve to the game; it's almost like playing a second game simultaneously with the first. I found myself humming Cowboy Troy's song, "I Play Chicken with the Train", as this mechanic pits two competing values of instant gratification and long-term greed for more cards against each other. I spent two Depots during one game and drew over 20 total Train cards as a result.

This is an extremely novel addition to the TTR family of games. The Warehouses and Depots mechanic is different enough from the base game that while I wouldn't play with it every time, it is a mechanic that I would use frequently. I'm not normally a huge fan of playing a 2-player version of TTR: Europe because the Train Station mechanic waters down blocking, and players can often end up laying down tracks on totally separate parts of the game board. So, 2-player TTR: Europe is often a form of multi-player solitaire, and it's far less cutthroat than the original TTR game (which doesn't have the Train Stations mechanic). I loved this expansion, because if you play with the Big Cities cards and particularly if you play with the Warehouses and Depots, then TTR: Europe becomes a competitive head-to-head game that plays faster than normal and is loaded with dramatic tension.

Rulebook & Components
Like many Days of Wonder rulebooks, the rulebook for TTR: Europa 1912 repeats the rules several times in different languages, including English, German, French, Spanish, Dutch, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, and Finnish. The rules are simple and mostly straightforward, and I had few problems adapting to the game variants. It wasn't completely obvious to me that I needed to transport a select number of cards back and forth between the Europe Expanded and Big Cities Destination Ticket decks prior to changing between those games.

All the cards in this expansion feature a custom 1912 deck back. The graphic design of the cards is largely similar to the tickets found in the base game, except for a 1912 logo to mark the new cards from the expansion and a special "Big Cities" banner on some of the cards.

The Depots are made of painted wood. The Warehouse cards have full-color art printed on glossy stock. The cardstock used for the Warehouses is a bit light, but that's OK, because the Warehouses are not handled often and generally just sit on the game table.

If you don't own Ticket to Ride: Europe then I am not certain as to whether I would recommend you spend $20.00 on buying this expansion just for the Warehouses and Depots pieces. However, if you already own TTR: Europe, this is a fantastic expansion for the game. It makes the base game more versatile and really makes TTR: Europe viable in 2-player play. I strongly recommend this to people who already own TTR: Europe.

For Retailers
Ticket to Ride has a great fan following. While expansions don't sell as well as base games in general, the price point is right on this product. If Ticket to Ride: 1910 or Ticket to Ride: Europe moved well in your store then expect Ticket to Ride: Europa 1912 to do well for you. If you hand sell this product, focus on the Warehouses and Depots mechanic, as it is unique to this product, and it really brings something new to Ticket to Ride games.

Lee's Ratings

Overall: A-
Game Play: A-
Components: A- (slightly thin Warehouse cards, but otherwise great production value)
Rules: B+
Retailer Salability: B  

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