When I was growing up there was a set list of board games that we just expected everyone to own; Monopoly, Cluedo, Uno, and classics like Chess and Checkers too. Since then that standard stock of games has been readily expanding. And today players into board games will likely own a black/white card game or two, Settlers of Catan, and, of course, Ticket to Ride. First released in 2004, it's safe to say at this point that Ticket To Ride has certainly made its way around the track. With the new release of the 15th Anniversary edition of Ticket to Ride Europe, we wanted to know... how does it stack up?
Opening the box, you'll be greeted with a number of upgraded components. There's a giant board map of Europe with high-quality artwork and tracks for your player pieces, tin boxes that contain all the train tokens and stations you'll need, plus a few extra scoring markers, Train Car cards, and every destination card available to date. This 15th Anniversary set includes not only the base game, but also the cards for the Europa 1912, Big Cities of Europe, and Orient Express expansions. If you weren't sure where to start with Ticket to Ride this is your one-stop-shop. Not only is this the complete Ticket to Ride Europe experience the quality of the artwork for the tin cans, and that everything in the box has its own specific place makes setting up and packing the game away extremely easy. When each player has access to over 45 painted train figures this level of organization is extremely important not just for ease of use, but for the number of train cars that have the potential to be lost.
Setup is easy enough with the giant board getting laid out on the table between the players, each collecting their respective train cars, stations, and three of the destination tickets. From here five of the colored Train Car cards are placed next to the deck for all players to see and each scoring token is placed at the starting position around the board. Going around the table players can choose to pick up two Train Car cards, place their trains on the board in accordance with colored Train Car cards that they possess, acquire a new Destination Ticket, or place a Train Station. You continue in this manner until one player has 0-2 trains left in their tin, one final round is played and then the game is over.
During play, you can earn points by claiming tracks on the board, for the remaining stations you own, for each of the paths you complete on your Destination cards, and there's a special bonus that goes to the player who has the longest interconnected track. The Destination cards have the highest potential to net you big points so that might be a focus for you as a player, but any track that gets interrupted by an opponent can set you back just as much. It's practically impossible to directly mess with another player unless they share their goals publically, but it will keep everyone guessing whether they should take their turns to progress their own agenda or if analyzing the tracks your opponents are laying out can give you a chance to block them. The game is incredibly easy to learn, especially for a beginner just thinking about your own plans but there's also a learning curve to be had. As you learn more you can not only start playing against the board and deck of Train Car cards but also against the players at the table. With scoring being so dependent on the final longest link and counting up those Destination Card points even a player with a lead of laying down long tracks might get completely passed.
Being the complete edition the back of the rulebook also lists out each of the different variant types to be played. You can experience the Classic edition, Europe 1912, Big Cities of Europe, and Mega Europe variants. While each variant has players start with the same number of cards how many Destination cards you use, drawing variants, and the use of Ticket cards will change between them all. Some of these variants, like the Big Cities of Europe, allow you to draw four train car cards but then discard one, this will dramatically speed up the acquisition of destinations and rate of play. Everyone will be seeking to complete their high point Destination cards as soon as possible. These variants keep the game fun and refreshing for any new or returning player.
What are our final thoughts on Ticket to Ride Europe 15th Anniversary Edition?
The time of Monopoly and Cluedo is behind us. Ticket to Ride is a fun and fast-paced board game that is easy for new players to pick up and while not directly antagonistic does allow for some subtle elbowing of the competition. Each of the mechanics is extremely easy to pick up and the fast-paced turns will keep all players engaged. Once you've got your own plan down more experienced players can continue to evolve their skill by watching the patterns of the pieces that their opponents are laying out allowing for the game to have a more active human element, adding the ultimate level of random chance to the game. While it won't be something intensive for you to pour time into when you're looking for something quick to pull out when entertaining or for a sleepy Sunday afternoon a ride around the tracks might just be what's in store.
Should I Buy Ticket to Ride Europe 15th Anniversary Edition?
If you're someone who already owns the original Ticket to Ride Europe or any of the expansions there's something to be said about some of the content that you might already own. If you're interested in the idea of Ticket to Ride then it's an excellent point to jump in as it gets you in at the ground level while also giving you plenty of room to expand. If you're not into games that you can't actively antagonize or work together with other players then you'll likely want to take a pass on this. The primarily separate gameplay does allow for a very enjoyable and relaxed gameplay experience. Each game only takes between 30 minutes to an hour so it's also a fast one to pass some time.
The copy of Ticket to Ride Europe 15th Anniversary Edition used in this review was provided by the publisher.