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Ticket to Ride: Europe» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Observations after twenty games rss

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Paul Lister
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Having displaced my Power Grid obsession with Ticket to Ride Europe i'd like to share my . I’m not an expert (20+ games, slightly higher than average ranking on Days of Wonder). A lot of people say this game has too much of a random factor in it. Yes, there is a an element of chance but this is (broadly) ironed out by optimal play (with a little bit of calculated risk taking). I believe you could give a rookie an amazing series of cards and a poor series to an experienced player and the experienced player is still going to win nine times out of ten. Don’t believe me? Go and play some of the top ranked players on the Days of Wonder web site.

My observations are based on my experience in four and five player games.


Opening

1) If the three short tickets fit together, but not with your long ticket ditch the long ticket. Start to look to taking new tickets early in the game.
2) If uncertain which short tickets to add to your long go for the one which adds length to your long ticket route. The 10 points bonus for the longest route is often the clincher.
3) Any long ticket that allows Petrograd-Stockholm is very powerful.

Game

i. Identify your key connections. If you can then collect the Train card colours that will allow you to claim them quickly.
ii. However, if they are not available don’t panic. Take colours that make sets. Even though you may not need them now you will later. I avoid taking train cards from the top of the pile – yes you might get a Loco but you are more likely to get cards you don’t need. See point vii.
iii. Locos are worth taking from the face cards. If you need one take it! Most of the time I’d rather take a face up Loco than 2 cards from the draw pile. Why? They give you tactical flexibility. Don’t leave yourself in a position where you need a loco and there are none face up.
iv. Watch the other players! If they build in a way that threatens your key connections claim them first. Some connections will be so important to you that claiming them early is a good tactic.
v. Know which routes are going to be competed for. For example, I don’t claim anything west of Madrid in the early game because I am fairly sure no one else is going to.
vi. You are very unlikely to win with just your opening tickets. You will need to get more and the time to do it is in the early-middle game. I draw destination tickets when a) there are no routes I am desperate to claim that turn b) or cards I want to pick up.
vii. Those sets of 4 you collected in the early game are now coming into their own - Not only helping you to complete your new tickets they also give you 7 points.
viii. Don’t be frightened of stations. Yes they give you minus points but that is offset by the gain from completing the tickets. Don’t be scared of placing them in the middle game.
ix. Time your run in! So in the mid game with say 5 or 6 tickets and 20 to 25 trains remaining you may want to try and plan a finish that will get you out first leaving the other players scrambling to complete their contracts.
x. Just because Yellow has 8 tickets and you have six don’t assume you are losing and be panicked into drawing more tickets. However, if you have eight or nine tickets and can complete them you are probably winning.
xi. As you get down to towards 10 train cars left you should have a good feel for where you are compared to your opponents. I see a lot of players chasing the game by taking extra tickets; these are usually going to cost points if you can punish them by ending the game quickly.
xii. If you have completed your tickets and don’t want to take any more now’s the time to see if a little blocking is possible.
xiii. My last point is all about optimal play – don’t waste a turn by blindly drawing train cards. If there are no cards visible you want then claim a route or place a station (don’t wait for the last turn to do this – you might not get the chance!) or if it’s not too late take tickets – In an ideal game you want to be the first person to finish having completed all your tickets and used all your trains and train cards.

I have written this as much to remind myself that trying to get lucky with the draw pile or pulling tickets in the last two rounds usually results in coming last. There are a lot of fantastic players on the Days of Wonder site who have thousand’s of games under their belts and I’m still got a lot to learn from them. I would welcome any corrections or criticism of my observations.

.

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Francis K. Lalumiere
Canada
Brossard
Quebec
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Thanks for those! Good stuff.
 
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Peter Howitt
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Sorp222 wrote:
ii. Take colours that make sets. Even though you may not need them now you will later. I avoid taking train cards from the top of the pile – yes you might get a Loco but you are more likely to get cards you don’t need. See point vii.
iii. Locos are worth taking from the face cards. If you need one take it! Most of the time I’d rather take a face up Loco than 2 cards from the draw pile. Why? They give you tactical flexibility. Don’t leave yourself in a position where you need a loco and there are none face up.


I agree with most of your points, but disagree on drawing cards from the pile. In Ticket to Ride: Europe I actually generally draw cards from the pile unless I need a lot of a particular colour which is face up. There are a two main advantages in doing this:

1. One or both of the two cards you pick up may be a locomotive. You acknowledge how valuable locomotives are - they are more important in Europe than other variants of this game as they are actually required on ferry routes and they can provide back-up for tunnels.

2. Your opponent is not getting any information about the cards you want and hence where you may be planning to play.

Normally in the early phase of the game you will need all different colours so no cards you pick up will be wasted. I will only pick up a face-up locomtive if I need it to claim a route that someone else appears to be going for or in the end game where I need one more card for a crucial route. This is because Ticket to Ride is a race, and by taking one card rather than two you are falling behind in the race.
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John Anderson
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Moorhead
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Rougie wrote:
Normally in the early phase of the game you will need all different colours so no cards you pick up will be wasted. I will only pick up a face-up locomtive if I need it to claim a route that someone else appears to be going for or in the end game where I need one more card for a crucial route. This is because Ticket to Ride is a race, and by taking one card rather than two you are falling behind in the race.
I agree with that. Early game I'll usually take trains from the top of the deck unless there are cards face up that I need right away for a crucial route that looks like it will be contested. As he said, you usually need all colors eventually, so getting random cards is no big deal in the first third to half of the game. Mid to late game you have to switch to take fewer random cards, otherwise you can miss some key routes or end up with way too many garbage cards, but early game it's a key way to get locomotives without falling behind in card count.

Other than that I think I agree with most of it. I've won a few games by ditching my long ticket and racking up close to 10 total tickets, but it all depends on how well the tickets fit together.
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