All aboard….Have you got your Ticket to Ride?
Inter-railing was a thing big thing back in college, lots of my friends did it. The idea was you bought a train ticket which let you go anywhere throughout Europe for a length of time. Ok so I never went inter-railing throughout Europe. Now with Ticket to Ride Europe I have a chance to imagine all those train journeys again with my family. The Ticket to Ride board game was originally based on joining cities by train in the USA. But I like the Ticket to Ride Europe as it crosses lots of countries I dream of visiting again after the pandemic. 
I love games which are easy to explain. If you can set up the game and explain how to play it at the same time you are off to a winner! The ticket to Ride board game Europe edition definitely falls into this category. There are only a few components and ways to gain points, which leads to winning or losing. Each player receives a set of trains. The object is to claim various train routes that criss-cross Europe and lead to points.
Ticket to Ride - Set up
When you set up the game, each player will have a score tracker and set of trains in the same colour. You start with four train cards. You need to collect and play these cards to place your trains on routes. Players draw “tickets” with routes available for claim. Each route has a different point value. One is a long route and two are shorter routes. You need to keep at least two of them. This gives you directions on where to place your trains on the board. To start put each player’s score tracker at the starting point. You will keep track of the points each player has as they lay down trains. There is some scoring which is left to the end. (This can change everything!!)  
The end of the game starts when someone has two or fewer trains left off the board. When that happens, everyone gets one more turn then the game ends. You add up the scores, and add or subtract the ticket values depending on if you completed them. (If you complete your ticket you get the points on the ticket, if you don’t they get subtracted.) You also get points if you have the longest continuous train route.
Ticket to ride board game is a game of taking turns with lots of choices about your move. You get trains to place, tickets, train cards and stations to start off with. There are four options that you can choose from at every turn. You either draw tickets, draw train cards, place trains or place stations. This keeps everyone busy wondering what each player will do next.
Taking your turn in Ticket to Ride Europe
There are lots of options for each turn, you can draw more destination tickets. Each ticket has a points value. If you want more tickets for your turn you need to draw three tickets from the deck. You have to keep at least one ticket from your draw, but you can keep two or all three if you want. Keep your ticket cards secret until the end of the game. Don’t show anyone what tickets you have, even if you have completed the route on it. Watch out – you get deducted points for any routes which are not completed.
If you choose to draw train cards for your turn, these card colours match the colours of the routes on the board. There is also a wild card which is one which can be used for any route. There will be five face-up train cards as well as a face-down deck to choose from. You can only choose two cards either from the deck or from the cards which you can see. But you can only choose one wild face-up card. 
The next option for your turn is placing trains. Whenever you put down a line of your coloured trains between two cities, you get points. This depends on how many train pieces it took. Being able to place your trains depends on your train cards. Train cards need to match the colour on the board or you can also use wild cards which can be used for any train colour. If that section is grey then all your cards just need to be same colour. You have to play one card for every train spot on that section. You need to be able to place all the trains on the route between two cities. You can’t place three trains where there is four needed to connect two cities. Also you can only claim one city-to-city route each turn. 
The final option for taking a turn is placing stations. (This is new for Ticket to Ride board game Europe Edition, it was not in the original Ticket to Ride board game). A station means you can start a route from that city, even though another player has claimed that route. Watch out though as you get points at the end of the game for each station which you DO NOT play. 
Winning at Ticket to Ride Europe
The main aim of the game is to have the most points at the end of the game. There is more than one way to gain points. The main way is by completing tickets. This is where you have a route between two cities and a point value on it. If at the end of the game you have a continuous route between the two cities, you get the points. Watch out though because if you don’t finish the route, then these points are taken away from your score. The second way is by placing your trains, you get points for each set of trains you place. Your points get scored around the outside of the board so you can see who is ahead on placing trains. You also gain points from having the longest route on the board.
A good strategy is to look for tickets that can overlap so some of your trains can be used for two routes. It’s important to grab your key routes early before they are taken by someone else. Also place trains your long route start and end cities nice and early before others claim them. When you have played a few times you will know which routes score the most points. Then you can keep a lookout for other players who are trying to complete these routes and block them. 
Some people like to pick up lots of train cards from the face down deck in their first few turns. They may get extra wild cards doing this. (As you can only choose one wild card from the face up deck). The more trains you place between cities, the more points you get. So try for these longer train routes when you can. One of the strategies to win is to figure out other players tickets (while at the same time not giving away yours!) You can listen out for players talking about cities. Or watch out for which colour train cards other players are picking up. You might find other players looking frustrated when you play trains on a route. Or you can check out what areas of the board players are looking at. You’ll want to make sure you’re not giving away any of these tells either! So keep a watch on your own movements to get that win!
Our Verdict
The Ticket to Ride board game is one of the easiest games to teach someone. The rules are simple. It’s as easy for a new person to end up winning on their first game as it is for an experienced player. It’s a great family game for two to five players, but we like to play best with four people. It’s simple and quick but you can pack a lot of strategy into it. The tension builds throughout the game as more routes are taken and blocked. As the game goes on it becomes more difficult to complete routes. There is scoring during the game and at the end so, like a train journey, all can change along the way.
For their 15th Anniversary this year there is a new deluxe and oversized version of 15th Anniversary Edition of Ticket to Ride® Europe to celebrate years of thrilling train adventures for many families and friends. Featuring finely detailed plastic trains and stations coming in gorgeous tin boxes, this version is a spare no expense definitive edition of the classic Ticket to Ride® Europe: oversized board, all the destination tickets published to date along with a set of beautiful new artwork.
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