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Subject: Raising gamers: TransEuropa with kids rss

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Claus Ekstrøm
Denmark
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This is not a traditional review that goes through the components, mechanics and gameplay of a board game. There are already several great reviews of TransEuropa on BGG that explain the game in great detail. This review is meant to describe how well TransEuropa works with younger players.

Executive summary: Works great with kids.

Background:

I have two wonderful girls aged 6 and 8 who love to play games. I think the social aspect is what they like the most but I'm sure that the competition aspect and "playing the same games that daddy plays with his gaming buddies" has some importance as well. Lately, I've been introducing them to games that have fairly simple rules, where some strategy or tactics is involved, and that doesn't take too long to play. I started with games that have a theme they easily could relate to. Basically the exact same criteria as for most german-style game.

Learning the rules:

I picked up TransEuropa in Munich after a business trip there. I had tried TransAmerica earlier so I was pretty certain the game length and rule complexity would be no problem. I decided on TransEuropa rather than TransAmerica because I figured they might as well pick up some "local" geography while playing.

The girls were very eager to play the game when they saw it. They quickly got the gist of the rules and while they had some trouble locating and pronouncing some of the city names they soon learned to use the colours to locate cities. After two rounds they had the rules nailed down and the only thing that bothered them was the fact that you have to be behind on the scoring track to win the game (and they still find that bit counterintuitive after 20+ games).

Understanding the tricks:

One of the things I always enjoy is to see if they pick up the tricks of the game or if they just play it. When we play the first couple of games I usually discuss different options with them or point out why a move may be a good or a bad idea. Initially they sometimes placed tracks in a non-optimal way or maybe just placed one track where they could place one track in one end of the railroad network and another track somewhere else.

In TransEuropa there may not be a lot of tricks to grasp (at least not without vexation which I do not have) but they both quickly understood the importance of start location (it may be a good idea to start close to others so you quickly can use their tracks), trying to build tracks that mostly benefit yourself, picking shortest routes and trying to get others to build the tracks for you. All in all they do quite well in understanding the underlying mechanics of the game --- the oldest does slightly better than the youngest.

Fun factor.

Is it fun playing with the kids? Definitely. For both me and them. This is one of the games that they often suggest we should play, which is probably the biggest indicator of whether a game connects with them. I enjoy playing TransEuropa with them quite a bit and while I'm slightly ahead in winnings it's not far. They like to introduce TransEuropa to friends and family when they visit and it's always a success.

Play it again?

Definitely. We play this game all the time, and it's one of the games that our non-games friends and families remember. Their cousin (aged 10) was dying to play it again last time he came to visit so TransEuropa will definately see a lot more game time at our house.


** As for sneaking in some European geography: Generally okay but there's one big sigh. The designers placed Malmö on the map instead of Copenhagen. Why they decided to pick a small Swedish city instead of the (much larger) Danish capital is beyond me, but who knows about the next printing. I know I'd buy a new version just for that change alone.
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Jeffrey D Myers
United States
Los Ranchos
New Mexico
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"Always rely upon a happy mind alone." Geshe Chekhawa.
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My 7-yo really likes it, so I agree heartily!
 
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Walt
United States
Orange County
California
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Please contact me about board gaming in Orange County.
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I suspect Malmö was picked because it's across the channel, and so justifies a double track to get to it.

Ekstroem wrote:
It may be a good idea to start close to others so you quickly can use their tracks
However, if you can get them to lay the track to join to you, you're in better shape. For example, in a recent game, I had two cities near each other in the Southeast. I thought I was going to have to place their, but then my left hand opponent dropped her post just about between them. "Okay," I thought, "Now I can concentrate on my other cities and depend on her to build to me."

The Trans games, though they're very suitable for children, have very subtle strategy. I have to admit I totally underestimated the games until I realized I was always losing!

Vexation is a great expansion. It takes some of the subtlety away, but puts in a lot of more obvious strategy.
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starkeyboy
United States
Lexington
Kentucky
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Terrific niche review.

More like this, please.
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