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Subject: This is more of a puzzle than a game rss

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I will not rest until Biblios is in the Top 100. - Steve Oksienik
United States
Howell
Michigan
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Well I been watchin' while you been coughin, I've been drinking life while you've been nauseous, and so I drink to health while you kill yourself and I got just one thing that I can offer... Go on and save yourself and take it out on me
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I've really been trying hard to find games that will remind my girlfriend of home. She was born and raised in England and moved to the US only about 3 years ago. While she's adapted wonderfully to living in America, I'm sure there's certain things she misses about the UK and Europe. As an attempt to bring a little of that back to her, we tried On the Underground and hated it. Our next step in the quest to bring some of her childhood into our house was 10 Days in Europe which I got in a trade specifically for this purpose. Its been recommended to me as a puzzle-like game which is right up Bianca's alley. But is it up mine?


Rules

10 Days in Europe is played around a board as opposed to on one. Each player has 2 racks with one number 1-5 and the other 6-10. These slots each represent one day in a player's European trip. Players will need to complete a 10 day trip starting with one country and ending in one as well. The trip will move from country to country through adjacent countries, via airplane, or via sea. The board for 10 Days in Europe is a map of Europe but is merely used as reference. Each country on the map is 1 of 5 colors. The Atlantic Ocean, Mediteranian Sea, and Baltic Sea are also represented.

At the start of the game, players take turns drawing and placing tiles into their racks until all 10 spaces are filled. Any unclaimed tiles are stacked face down and form the draw pile. Thetop 3 cards from the draw pile are flipped over and form 3 separate discard piles.

The one trick to this game is that you cannot at any time rearrange the tiles on your racks. Starting with the opening draw, player's need to very carefully decide where to put each piece.

On a player's turn, he will draw the top tile from the draw stack or from any one of the three discard piles. The player will either discard the drawn tile directly or replace one tile in his rack and discard the replaced tile.

The goal of the game is to be able to trace a continuous path through Europe. This can be accomplished by playing countries next to each other in your rack that share a border on the map, by using Airplanes, or Boats. To use an Airplane, it will need to be between two countries of the same color as the plane. To use a boat, it will need to be between two countries that border the ocean named on the card. Once a player completes a 10 tile journey starting with a country, moving through adjacent or connected countries, and ending in another country in slot 10, they win the game.


Components

10 Days in Europe has a beautiful board. The board is a nicely detailed map or Europe which has been color-coded to denote plane connections. The detail is very nice and the colors really bring the map to life. The board itself is a good sturdy quad-fold board with nice bound sides. Unfortunately, the board is nothing but a reference point. Nothing actually happens on the map. This seems like a big waste when you consider what the production costs probably are.

The racks are simple wooden tile holders. They are a deep blue color and are numbered with a gold-leaf stamp. They hold the tiles well while allowing for easy movement and replacement of tiles.

The tiles themselves are about the same thickness as a Carcassone tile but are rectangular. Each tile has a picture of either a European country, a color-coded airplane, or an ocean liner. The country tiles also list the country's capital and the population. All the tiles have a nice semi-gloss finish and are adorned with the 10 Days in Europe logo on the back.


Gameplay

A player's turn is very simple. Draw a tile, either from the draw stack or the top card of one of the discard piles, and play it in your rack or discard it. The hardest part of a turn is deciding where to play the tile. Since you can't move the tiles in your rack, you are constantly trying to connect various points that you feel are optimal. The only other choice you have is where to discard the tile when you're done. If you know you're opponent is after a particular tile, then you can discard on top of it in the discard piles.

To me, the game feels very much like you need to keep drawing tiles and hope to get lucky. Either you will draw something that is helpful or you won't. The visible discard piles help a lot by showing you several available options, but that doesn't mean you'll see something you need.

There is almost 0 player interaction here. The only way player's can really interact is by specifically taking a tile another player needs or burying a tile they need in the discard pile. Since you have no idea what they're working towards, its almost impossible to take what they need because you can't possibly know what that is.

As far as I'm concerned, the game boils down to this: Draw a card, hope its good, place it in your rack, discard a card, rinse & repeat. There's no strategy, there's no tactics. This game is 100% luck. On the other hand, if you enjoy solving a puzzle, there may be something here for you. This game is basically a competitive puzzle solving game with pretty parts. If you wan't a game in which you don't really need to think or do anything other than robotically draw, place, and discard, this game is perfect.

I'm sure people will defend this game by saying that "There's skill in deciding where to place the tiles so you leave yourself options." Sure, I agree with that. But you still need a lot of luck regardless. If you draw the right tiles in the next couple of turns, you'll look like a genius. If you don't, you'll be sitting there waiting for Lady Luck to smile on you just like everyone else at the table. Other people will probably say "There's player interaction based on burying cards in the discard pile." That may be true to a certain extent. But how the heck can I possibly know what my opponent needs? Even if you pay close attention to the cards they take from the discard pile, there's a lot of options and you can't possibly exact enough to take exactly what they need....unless you get really lucky.


Compare it to....

Ticket to Ride. Lots of times TTR games come down to continually drawing cards hoping to draw the one color you need. If you take that one annoying factor from TTR and based a whole game around it, you'd end up with 10 Days in Europe. Granted, this is the only comparison I can make to the TTR line (which I love, BTW), but its a common complaint made against TTR. Ironic that both games were designed by Alan Moon.


Overall

I really don't like 10 Days in Europe so I'm reasonably sure I can say the same thing about the rest of the series. There's almost no decision making that really matters in this game. Its all about luck. If you draw the cards you need more often than anyone else, you'll win. If you have bad luck, there's no amount of skill that can possibly overcome it. You're stuck. There's no player interaction to slow down a player who's had good luck the whole game. There's just no way to get around the terrible mechanics of this game.

Lots of people excuse the randomness of American games by saying that theme overcomes the lackluster gameplay, basically aknowledging that its okay for a game to be average if the theme is good. I'm one of those people. 10 Days in Europe is what happens when you take a less than average gameplay mechanism and give it no appreciable them. If this game had a more exciting theme, I might be a bit more fond of it, but not much. At least most American games give you ways of mitigating the luck factor.

I've rated this a 4/10. I'm quite sure I'll never find myself actually wanting to play this. My girlfriend likes it so I'll play it for her. But I don't have to like it, and I won't. This is not a game by my definitions and as such, I cannot recommend this game at all with the exception that I do think this game has some merit as a teaching tool. All the 10 Days games probably do because they can teach geography to kids. If I had kids, I'd probably rate this game just a bit higher as I think they would like it and could learn a bit as well. But I don't right now, so it gets a 4.
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I will not rest until Biblios is in the Top 100. - Steve Oksienik
United States
Howell
Michigan
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Well I been watchin' while you been coughin, I've been drinking life while you've been nauseous, and so I drink to health while you kill yourself and I got just one thing that I can offer... Go on and save yourself and take it out on me
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I hear stories like that all the time with games like this. The answer is no, I'm not willing to put the time in. There are better games that I can play and get a lot more reward out of without having to devote my life to it for several weeks. But I see your point.
 
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Tom Decker
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I play 10 Days in the USA with my daughter all the time. When I first picked it up, I didn't care for it very much...as your title says, it's more of a puzzle than a game...and I really didn't want to play it.

But now that I've played it as much as I have, I respect it for what it is. And I think you may be over-estimating the luck factor a bit.

Here are some factors that lessen the luck with USA:

1. Sometimes you need to move a tile that you have to a different spot. Normally you can't do this...but you can discard it, hope your opponent doesn't cover it up or take it, and then you can have it back and put it where you need it. It's kind of an interest bluffing moment.

2. I rarely get myself into situations where I need one tile. I try to set up situations with the travel tiles where I need one of several, or one of a particular color. This is much more manageable luck. Yes, it can still happen that what you need doesn't come up, but it's not as bad as something like Rummikub or Milles Bornes.

3. You have to be flexible with your route. If I get stuck drawing nothing after nothing, I start looking for trends in the discard piles and sometimes trash whole sections of my route bsed on what I see out there. Maybe with more experienced players you couldn't afford to do this, but it's worked out fine for me usually.

4. I almost never do the blind draw. I'm usually able to pick up something useful from one of the three trash piles or I use the discard strategy in Item 1 to get things I need.

Anyway, it's certainly not for everybody and I'm surprised that it ever hit the table again after my first few tries at it. I do think my daughter's learning some geography from it, though, and I do think it has some very interesting subtle strategies to help diffuse the luck.
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