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Subject: 10 Days in Europe - A Detailed Review rss

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This review continues my series of detailed reviews that attempt to be part review, part resource for anyone not totally familiar with the game.

For this reason I expect readers to skip to the sections that are of most interest.

Summary

Game Type - Board Game
Play Time: 10-25 minutes
Number of Players: 2-4
Mechanics - Hand Management, Route Connection
Difficulty - Pick-up & Play (Can be learned in under 15 minutes)
Components - Very Good


Image Courtesy of AngusBull

Overview

10 Days in Europe is the third in a series of games that essentially offer the same game play. How they differ is in the geography of the region used in each game and then further small tweaks are present in the movement mechanics.

The end goal however is the same for the entire series - Each player is attempting to be the first to create a 10 Day Travel Itinerary to travel around the region (in this case the European Continent). The only restriction is the Itinerary must be correct according to a set of movement rules.

The Components

10 Days in Europe uses few components, giving it a streamlined feel which won't overwhelm players.

d10-1 Board - The board depicts the continent of Europe, which extends to Western Russian in the East, Iceland in the West and Turkey in the Southeast. The Map also includes 3 major bodies of water in the Atlantic Ocean, the Baltic Sea and of course the Mediterranean Sea. It is these water zones that help 10 Days in Europe stand out from the 2 prior games in the series.

In all 5 colours are used to represent each country (pink, orange, blue, green and yellow). Each country has its name clearly printed on the board and several require an arrow to link the name to the country due to size difficulties.

It is important to note that the original version used a 4-fold board and the background surrounding the continent featured 3 different shades of blue to represent the Seas and Ocean.

The reprint has now changed the board to a 6-fold design and a more appealing background image of water is used. I believe this makes the reprints consistent with each other. It also appears that they have not included the different coloured shadings for the 3 water zones, which is a shame as it did help to easily identify one from the other in the original edition.

The following image is of the reprint.

 

Image Courtesy of flowerkin

d10-2 Tiles - The 2nd key component of the game are the tiles. In shape they are probably better described as cards but they really do feel more like tiles on account of their thickness. This design feature is excellent and will allow the game to stand up to hundreds of plays without really showing any wear.

Each tile represents a country or a transport type (Airplane or Ship). Each Country Tile matches the colour of the corresponding Country on the board. The Airplane Tiles also come in the same 5 colours as the Country Tiles but the Ship Tiles are colour neutral and also feature the name of the water body they correspond to. It would have been nice if a different Ship image was used for each water zone but they all feature the same image of a Cruise Liner type vessel.

Important to the educational aspect of the game, each Country Tile also depicts the shape of the Country, its landmass, its population and the Capital City.


Image Courtesy of SteveK2

d10-3 Tile Racks - The final component used in the game are the Tile Racks that are used to hold each tile in a player's Travel Itinerary. These are made from wood and feature a central groove or slot used to place each tile in.

Each player receives 2 racks, each able to hold 5 tiles used to represent Days 1-5 and Days 6-10 in an Itinerary. The combination of the Deep Blue colour and the gold lettering help evoke thoughts of Ocean Liners, which enhances the theme nicely.


Image Courtesy of Gonzaga

d10-4 Rules - The rules are not a flashy affair but they get the job done and don't look to complicate things. After a few plays the game is obvious and players don't need to return to the rulebook at all.

d10-5 Box - I don't usually comment on things like the box but I do appreciate the size of the box used in this series. Thanks to good 'tray insert' design and some careful planning in relation to the components, the game is able to come in a square box no bigger than 23cms by 23cms. That means it will fit on any sized gaming shelf.


Image Courtesy of chezzilla

The Game Play

As mentioned earlier the aim of 10 Days in Europe is to be the first player to complete a 10 Day Travel Itinerary that is correct according to the movement rules of the game.

d10-1 Set-Up - Each player must take a 'Day 1-5' Tile Rack and a 'Day 6-10' Tile Rack. The tiles should be mixed thoroughly. The players then take it in turns to select a tile and place it in one of their available Day Slots. Tiles placed in this fashion cannot be moved during the set-up phase of the game.

This set-up sequence continues until all players have filled all 10 slots in their Tile Racks.

The remaining tiles are then formed into 1 Draw Stack and 3 tiles are turned over to form the start of 3 face-up Draw Piles (think Ticket to Ride).

The game is ready to begin.

d10-2 Basic Play - On a player's turn they have the opportunity to get rid of a tile from their Tile Rack and replace it with a new tile. In this way players are hoping to create links between Countries and Transport Tiles in order to complete their Itinerary and win the game.

Once a new tile has been drawn and an old tile discarded, the player's turn is over and play proceeds in clockwise fashion.

d10-3 Drawing a Tile - Each player can draw a new tile in one of two ways. A player can draw a tile from one of the three face-up discard piles. Only the top tile from one of these piles may be taken however.

Alternately a player may not like any of the face-up tiles on offer and can therefore draw a random tile from the Draw Stack.

Once a tile has been drawn by a player they must discard a tile in order to make room for the new tile, which must be placed in the space made by the discarded tile). It is important to note that the drawing of a new tile takes place before a tile is required to be discarded.

d10-4 Discarding a Tile - Tiles must be discarded to one of the 3 Discard Piles, which usually results in a tile being covered over. Normally there is no restriction as to which pile a tile can be discarded to. The exception is when a player draws the last tile from a Discard Pile. In this situation the tile discarded must be placed in the empty position, thereby ensuring that the game retains 3 Discard Piles at all times.

d10-5 Exhausting the Draw Stack - It is unlikely that the Draw Stack will be exhausted in the course of a game. If it does occur then the tiles located in the Discard Piles are reshuffled to form a new Draw Stack. The only tiles not reshuffled in this way are the top tiles from the 3 Discard Piles. These remain on the table to maintain the 3 Discard Piles.

d10-6 Declaring the Win - When a player believes they have won the game they must announce it to the table and turn their tile racks around to show the other players their Itinerary. If the other players agree, then the game is won.

It is not uncommon for a player to have a small mistake in their Itinerary however and this results in the game continuing and the player who made the false claim has the disadvantage of their plans having been revealed.

The Heart of the Game

As the above game play section would suggest, 10 Days in Europe is a fairly straight forward game but what makes it work is the combination of the Map and the Movement Rules (this is true for the entire series).

The Movement Rules dictate how tiles must be placed in a player's rack if they are to form a correct Itinerary (thus winning the game).

d10-1 The Map - A third game in the series could easily have been dismissed if it simply offered the same play as the first two games. Thankfully Europe freshens up the series significantly and this is largely thanks to the geography of the region (namely the 3 Water Zones). The inclusion of the Atlantic, Baltic and Mediterranean allows for travel by Ship (more on that later) and this in turn opens up the possible links between Countries.

In general the European Map is fairly well designed. Most Countries have a good number of neighbours so that no one Country feels like it is mission critical. Those that are short of neighbours usually benefit from having a coastline and this allows them many other possible connections via Ship.

In all 5 Countries benefit from having 2 Tiles - Spain, France, Germany, Denmark and Russia. All these Countries border two Water Zones and that would appear to be the reason for the decision to have two Tiles available for each. By including 2 Tiles for these Countries it helps to minimise the luck factor.

My only gripe with the European Map is that Serbia and the Ukraine do not have two Tiles. These Countries have 8 and 9 links to other Countries and as such they are valuable. To only have a single Tile for these countries can potentially unbalance the game in one person's favour.

Unlike the earlier games in the series, Europe works even better because it does not rely solely on the transport options to make the game work well. Instead it is the combination of the map design and the transport options that make the game so engaging!

d10-2 Walking - Walking actually requires no tile at all. A player is simply allowed to walk from one Country to another provided that they are located adjacent to one another. Ferries and Bridges at various points on the map allow some Countries to be regarded as adjacent for Walking purposes. In all 5 of these features are included and they serve to help some of the more isolated Countries.

d10-3 Ship - 10 Days in Europe replaces the Car Transport featured in USA and Africa. Whilst this is largely a necessity due to the geography of Europe, it is a welcome change and helps the game feel more dynamic.

Each Ocean or Sea zone has its own unique tiles that look the same but are differentiated by the inclusion of the zone name (Atlantic, Baltic or Mediterranean).

To use a Ship Transport it must be placed between the Countries being traveled to and from. Both of the countries must have a coastline that connects to the Ocean or Sea being traveled through.

For example (using the map image at the top of this review), an Atlantic Ocean Tile can be placed between France and England to allow travel from one to the other.

As mentioned earlier the Water Zones are very important in Europe as they open up a player's options considerably. The Atlantic Ocean is by far the most valuable as it has the most Countries bordering its shores. In addition it (Atlantic) is almost essential to have if a player wants to travel to the UK or Iceland. To reflect this there are 4 Atlantic Ocean Tiles compared to 3 Mediterranean Sea Tiles and 2 Baltic Sea Tiles.

The inclusion of 9 Water Zone Tiles is greater than the 5 Car Tiles featured in the two prior games in the series. This is an important design feature given the importance of the Water Zones and it also allows the play to feel a little more open.

d10-4 Airplane Transport - There are 10 Planes in all, 2 of each colour. Planes allow a player to fly from one destination to another provided that both Countries are the same colour as the Airplane Tile. The Airplane Tile must be located in between the two Countries that are being flown to and from on a player's Tile Rack.

The Pros & Cons

On the surface it may be hard to understand why anyone would play this game more than a few times. However the reality is that 10 Days in Europe and the whole series, is pretty addictive.

Pros -

d10-1 Fun - It is really fun to try and connect up all 10 Days. Part of that fun is the challenge of formulating a plan and then executing it, one draw at a time. It really shouldn't be as fun as it is but there is no denying the appeal.

d10-2 Good Game Design - Whilst it is possible to get yourself into a tight situation where only 1 tile will bring you victory, a little experience allows a player to develop an Itinerary that has several paths to victory. This is even more evident in Europe thanks to the Ship Transport Tiles.

Even if a plan does appear doomed in the mid-game, the movement rules are flexible enough to allow a player to change their thinking and still have a chance at success. This is one of the key features of the Ticket to Ride series and it is evident here too.

d10-3 No Downtime - It is possible to plan ahead during other player's turns so each turn really doesn't take much more than 10-20 seconds. It is also important to watch what other players are discarding and collecting as you don't want to be throwing them useful tiles every turn and you don't want to miss out on a discarded tile that is vital to your plans. This means that all players are involved in the game at all times, which is always a good thing.

d10-4 Scales Well - 10 Days in Europe scales really well. It feels pretty similar with 3-4 players but with 2 players it takes on a new dimension. With only 2 players it is super important to take note of where a player is focusing their attention. If your opponent has taken a tile from a Discard Pile, it is generally a bad idea to throw other tiles away from the same area. This then forces players to be smarter and look to build different parts of their Itinerary at different times in order to keep their opponent guessing.

d10-5 Addictive - Whilst simple the game tends to throw up close finishes where multiple players are only 1 tile away from the perfect plan. Losing in this fashion is frustrating and addictive all at the same time and multiple plays in a single session are usually the norm thanks to the quick play time.

d10-6 Educational - The educational nature of the game should not be overlooked either. Multiple plays will have children and adults alike recalling the location of Countries from the continent of Europe. Being able to learn about the population centers of Europe, the relative size of Countries and their Capital Cities is also a bonus.

Cons -

d10-1 Due to the geography of the region there is perhaps more of a map imbalance in Europe than there was in Africa or the USA editions. I largely refer to Serbia and the Ukraine only having 1 Tile, rather than 2. Beyond that I also question the risk factor that a player takes on if they try to travel to the UK and Iceland. Without an Atlantic Ocean Tile, these locations are fairly tough to get into and out of. Sure there are 4 Ship Tiles and 10 Airplanes to help, but with only 2 of each Airplane in a given colour, the odds narrow down pretty quickly.

If a player follows my logic and decides that sticking to the mainland is the way to go, Europe essentially dispenses with 6 Countries as 'poor options'. This is however a small point and over the course of many plays, it probably balances out in the long run.

d10-2 Whilst the game is educational it is a shame that the landmass information features the use of Square Miles instead of Kilometers, for countries outside the USA.

Stats at a Glance

This section is useful for comparing games in the series -

10 Days in the USA

Number of Destinations - 50
Transport Options (3) - Walking, Car, Plane

Unique Feature 1 - Alaska and Hawaii only reachable by Plane Tile and any coloured Plane can be used to reach these destinations.

Unique Feature 2 - There is only 1 Tile for each destination.

10 Days in Africa

Number of Destinations - 40
Transport Options (3) - Walking, 4-Wheel Drive, Plane
Number of 2 Tile Countries - 5

Unique Features - There are actually no unique features in Africa compared to other games in the series but it was the first to include 2 Tiles for some destinations and a 'land bridge' to link an island to the mainland (Madagascar - 2 separate land bridges).

10 Days in Europe

Number of Destinations - 41
Transport Options (3) - Walking, Ship, Plane
Number of Oceans/Seas - 3
Number of 2 Tile Countries - 5
Unique Features - There are actually no unique features in Europe compared to other games in the series but it was the first to include Oceans and Seas, which allowed travel by Ship. The inclusion of Water Zones also meant Europe was the first to include Ferries and Bridges, which make 2 countries adjacent for game play purposes.

10 Days in Asia

Number of Destinations - 50
Transport Options (3) - Walking, Ship, Train, Plane
Number of Oceans/Seas - 2
Number of 2 Tile Countries - 7
Unique Features - Trains are included as a transport method for the first time in Asia and they help make it the most engaging game in the series so far with no less than 4 Transport Options.

The Final Word

10 Days in Europe is a classic example of a game that delivers more than meets the eye. It is certainly a lot of fun and it has that addictive quality that sees people want to play 3-5 games in a row.

Combine the asking price with the re-playability of the game and any game in the series is going to provide good value for money.

10 Days in Europe takes an important step forward for the series, offering new considerations not seen in Africa and the USA editions. The play feels more open and the players feel like they have more options at their disposal. This combines to make 10 Days in Europe a fresh new take on the series

For this reason I would heartily recommend Europe as the best of the first 3 games in the series and I'd only look to Africa or the USA editions if I had an educational need for the geography of a particular Continent or a patriotic desire to own them.

Links

d10-1 10 Days in the USA

d10-2 10 Days in Africa

d10-3 10 Days in Asia
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