The Ticket to Ride family of games is one of the most expansive and most well-known series in the gaming world, and Europe is one of its most famous expansions. Not only is the Europe version great fun to play, but it also includes some twists on the classic USA version. Twists such as tunnels, ferries, and stations. The premise of this version is much the same: gain the most points by claiming routes and fulfilling Destination Tickets. Simple! Ticket to Ride Europe also received a fancy 15th-anniversary edition with upgraded components, prettier cards, and a much bigger board. So, let’s climb aboard and learn how to play…
First players must lay out the map board in the middle of the table. Next, each player places their scoring marker on the 0 space on the edge of the board. Shuffle the colourful Train Cards and deal four to each player. Place the deck face down by the board and draw the top five cards, placing them face up next to the deck. If three or more of these are the shiny locomotive cards, discard these five and draw another five. Along with this deck place the European Express card and reference card face up by the board.
Sort the Destination Tickets into two piles. Short routes (indicated by a light background in the top corner), and long routes (indicated by a red background in the top corner). Randomly deal one long and three short routes to each player and return the long routes to the box. These cards act as objectives; if you can connect the two cities on the card then you win the points written in the top left corner. However, if the game ends and you haven’t been able to complete any Destination Tickets, you lose the points shown instead. When you get your Tickets you can discard up to two, but you can keep all four if you’re feeling lucky. Make sure to keep all your cards a secret throughout the game. And just like that, you’re set up! Whoever has visited the most European countries is the starting player, and then play moves clockwise around the table.
How do I Win?
The objective of Ticket to Ride Europe is much the same as previous iterations of the game. There are four ways for players to gain points. The simplest is claiming a route. This is where a player discards a set of Train Cards and places their train cars on a route. Another way to score is to connect the two cities shown on a Destination Ticket, or to have the longest string of routes out of everyone. The final way to score is through stations. I’ll go into more detail about these later, but at the end of the game each unused station wins you four points.
Now you know how to win, let’s find out how to take a turn. On their turn a player can take any one of four actions. These are: claim a route, draw Train Cards, draw Destination Tickets, or build a station.
Claiming A Route
To claim a route in Ticket to Ride Europe, a player must discard a set of Train Cards which match the colour of the route. This set must also match the number of spaces of the route. When a player has claimed a route, they place their coloured train cars on that route and win the points indicated in the top corner of the board. To claim a route players can also play a locomotive card in the place of any card. Also, when claiming a grey route players can choose any colour to claim it, so long as all cards played are of the same colour. For example, to claim a route of four yellow spaces, I would have to discard four yellow Train Cards or swap any yellow card for a locomotive. Simple, right? Well, for the most part, yes. However, Europe adds in new mechanics for players to get their heads around.
The first is ferries. These are easy to spot as one of their spaces has a locomotive icon on it. To claim these players need to play a locomotive card. The next is tunnels. These routes have a black boarder around them and can carry an extra cost. When a player tries to claim a tunnel, they must draw three Train Cards from the deck. If any match they colour of the route that player must pay that many extra cards of the same colour. Across the board are also double routes. In groups of fewer than three players, only one of these routes can be claimed.
Drawing Train Cards
If you can’t claim any routes, you might want to pick up some Train Cards. In Ticket to Ride Europe, when a player draws Train Cards, they draw two cards from either the set of face-up cards or the face-down deck. When players draw from the face-up set, they first draw one and replace it. They can then either draw from the set again or draw a face-down card. If, however, the card they selected from the face-up selection was a locomotive, they cannot draw any more cards from either set. If at any point three of the face-up cards are locomotives, discard the set and draw five new cards. In Ticket to Ride there is no hand limit, so draw as often as you need to! If the deck ever gets depleted just shuffle the discard pile and go again.
Draw Destination Cards
If you have completed all your Destination Tickets and want some more challenge, you can draw more. When doing this action, players draw three new Destination Tickets. From these the player must keep at least one but can choose to keep them all if they want to. Be warned though, there is no way of getting rid of Destination Tickets once you have selected them, so choose carefully.
Building A Station
Each player in Ticket to Ride Europe has three stations along with their train cars. Each station allows its player to use one route belonging to another player to or from that city. These can be useful to help fulfil Destination Tickets. Each city can only have one station, and to build the first one the player must discard one Train Card from their hand. To play a second or third station that player must discard a matching set of two or three Train Cards. These stations are handy, however, if you don’t use them, you will get a bonus of four points per station at the end of the game.
You Have Arrived At Your Destination
The game end is triggered when any player’s stock of train cars is reduced below two. Each player including that player then get one final turn before the scores are calculated. Most of the scoring should be done gradually as the game goes on, but there are one or two end game bits to add. Firstly, the Destination Ticket scores must be added or subtracted depending on if they were achieved or not. Secondly, four points are awarded for each station a player did not use. Finally, the European Express ticket is a bonus of ten points for whichever player had the longest uninterrupted route of the game. And just like that, Ticket to Ride: Europe is complete, and you should have a winner!