Ticket to Ride: Europe Analysis

Ticket to Ride: Europe is a 2005 German-style board game authored by Alan R. Moon and published by Days Of Wonder; it is a variation on Moon’s original Ticket to Ride. The objective of the game is for players to build train routes between specified locations on the map, scoring points in the process to determine the winner while also obstructing other players’ plans.

Image source: PriceSpy catalogue via Google Images (https://cdn.pricespy.co.nz/product/standard/800/353923.jpg)

The successes of the game’s design can be seen in its origins: Alan R. Moon has a history of authoring mostly German-style board games (or Eurogames) and Days Of Wonder specialises in Eurogames. While the Eurogame genre has its own defining traits — an emphasis on strategy rather than luck, less conflict between players, economic themes, no elimination of players during the game — both Moon and Days Of Wonder are extremely familiar with the genre and have had opportunities to find out what works. It pays off: the original 2004 Ticket to Ride won four separate awards after its release, and the Europe edition won the International Gamers Award in 2005.

The multicoloured train cards used to capture routes on the map. Image source: The Gamesmen catalogue via Google Images (https://gamesmen.com.au/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/t/i/ticket_to_ride_europe_7_.jpg)

Variations between the original and Europe mostly have to do with a few new mechanics, enough to refresh the original design without straying too far from it. Thematically, it remains the same, and in fact shows a similar theme that shows up across Alan R. Moon’s games: the travelling salesman problem. “Given a list of cities and the distances between each pair of cities, what is the shortest possible route that visits each city and returns to the origin city?”

Mission Cards — specific connected routes that a player is given to complete. Image source: Board Game Quest via Google Images (https://www.boardgamequest.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Photo-Dec-02-10-21-33-PM.jpg)

The game features a mix of personal goals and competition, as a player is focused on completing their individual objectives but aspires to do so faster than the other players and before they can find their paths blocked. It’s also a highly visual game in design, featuring a colourful array of pieces on the board to show progress as gameplay goes on, as well as a visible resource pool that players can draw from and a visual form of point tracking that borders the gameboard. All in all, it’s a highly accessible game, and easy to learn in practise.

The game in progress, with pieces placed on the board to show the completion of routes. Image source: Desktop Games via Google Images (https://desktopgames.com.ua/games/122/tt-ride-europe-f06.jpg)


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