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Subject: Is Ticket to Ride: Europe better than the original Ticket to Ride? rss

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Greg Cornell
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About 3 years after purchasing the original Ticket to Ride, I decided to purchase Ticket to Ride: Europe. Why did I take so long? I am not opposed to purchasing expansions for other games that I own. I actually did purchase the 1910 expansion and now I use it every time I play Ticket to Ride - mostly because of the larger cards, but I also like the Destination Ticket variations and combinations.

I certainly have never shied away from buying several different types of stand-alone Catan games. I guess I perceived that there was a lot of differentiation between Settlers of Catan, Settlers of the Stone Age, and Starfarers of Catan to justify purchasing them as entirely new games. Expansions for other games like Carcassonne were just that - expansions which added to an already good game to increase and expand on the options and strategies to make it even better.

It seemed to me that Ticket to Ride: Europe was the same game as Ticket to Ride, but with a couple of added things and some rules changes on a different map. Did that justify another $50 investment? Couldn’t they just offer a map and the extra pieces necessary to play the game? My thoughts were, "Yes, they certainly could have."

Instead of shelling out the dough for what I thought should have been a less-expensive expansion, I purchased other games with my hard-earned cash. Some were great hits in my house (Roll Through the Ages, Stone Age, Thurn and Taxis) and others were not (Small World, Pandemic). But friends of mine told me that they were playing all the different versions of Ticket to Ride in their game group and they loved playing Ticket to Ride: Europe. So last week I decided to bite the bullet and buy the game.

I set up the game to play with my wife and 12-yr-old son, and both are very experienced Ticket to Ride players. I told them of the rules changes between the original and this new game. Ferries need a locomotive card for each space showing a locomotive on it. Tunnels require you to turn up 3 cards from the draw deck and if you turn up any cards which match your color (including wild cards) then you need to add that many more cards from your hand to claim the tunnel or lose your turn if you cannot do it. Stations can be played on an open city and allow you to claim one route from another player to be used to complete your destination tickets. Any unplayed stations you still have at the end of the game count 4 points each for you.

I explained that there were only 6 long route destination tickets and they would only get only one of them - dealt randomly at the beginning of the game. This would keep someone from running away with a huge lead at the game end with a handful of similar destination tickets all worth lots of points.

I also explained that all of the double routes between cities were actually only single routes in a 2 or 3 player game. So once a connection was made on one route, the other route was off limits. They baulked quite loudly at that rule and after a bit of discussion, we decided to ignore that rule, since they were used to playing with double-routes in the original Ticket to Ride. They didn’t see any reason to make that rule change for such a popular feature of the original game.

[ImageID=http://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/1084622/ticket-to-ride-eu...]

We played our game and used our Rack-O trays for ease of hand management, just like we always do with the original Ticket to Ride. I received the ticket to link Moscow and Palermo. There is a 6-length tunnel in an ideal location and I concentrated on getting enough cards to complete that connection first. It took me a long time to collect enough cards just to get 6 of the same color. Meanwhile, my wife and son are laying down their first 2 or 3 connections. I finally get a total of 6 orange cards and no more appear anywhere, so I try my luck. I turned over my obligatory 3 draw-pile cards and turned up 1 more orange. I had no wild nor any more orange cards so I lost that turn. Bummer!

I finally did make the connection 2 rounds later, but I was behind the ball and my opponents were off and running. I won’t try that strategy again. I completed my long route destination and worked on some small routes. I needed to place a station in a French city because my wife was gobbling up all the routes in that critical area.

My son decided he was going to forego destination tickets and concentrate on getting the longest route card and pile on points for making connections. It’s a strategy he’s tried before, but still hasn’t won him any games. He ended up using his train cars quite quickly and triggered the game end long before my wife and I wished to do so. I still had quite a few train cars in my possession.

Upon final scoring, my wife revealed a hand full of destination tickets, all to locations that were quite similar to each other. She came in first by far. My son came in second, and I finished in a distant third. I didn’t even break 100 points.

So, is Ticket to Ride: Europe better than original Ticket to Ride? I like the new additions to the board (ferries and tunnels), I like the rule about only having a single high value destination ticket, and the stations certainly help in completing destinations. I don’t understand how a train can get on a ferry and move across the waterways, but I didn’t think about it too much, I just went along with that rather weak concept. Maybe I am wrong and trains actually do take ferry boat rides somewhere in Europe, but I certainly have never seen or heard of such a thing. I have lived there in the past and visited a couple times since and never saw them.

With only 6 high-value destination tickets, it seems like it could get a little repetitive after playing frequent games. I think that stack of tickets should have been 3 or 4 times larger. In our first game, it did not prevent a runaway lead because my wife simply stacked up a pile of short destination tickets and blew us both out of the water.

I appreciate that the city names are spelled in their native pronunciation (or so it seems), but it doesn’t make it any easier to find them on the map, even if the destination tickets have their locations approximated.

Ticket to Ride: Europe does offer more depth than the original game but I can’t say that I think it makes it a better game. I don’t think Starfarers of Catan is a better game than Settlers of Catan, it just has more depth. I enjoy both games quite a lot. The original games (Ticket to Ride and Settlers) usually play more quickly, they are more easily understood by new players, and they are great for a light play experience.

I still believe that Ticket to Ride: Europe should have been offered as an expansion to the original. Package a new board, destination tickets, and stations for less money than a full game. Maybe $30 instead of $50. It could be argued that all that’s left are the train cars, the train cards, and the marking tokens and you have a complete game. That’s probably what Days of Wonder thought and they could charge full price for it and increase their margins by doing so - since playing pieces and cards are probably the cheapest things to produce. I can’t blame them for that, plus it offers a complete game package to people who have heard that the original Ticket to Ride is not as good as the "new and improved" game.

Oh, well. I’m glad I bought it, anyway. I rate it as highly as I rate the original Ticket to Ride for a great play experience.
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Dan C
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Absolutely. Anything that mitigates some of the lucky "Ticket to Draw" problem of the original is welcome IMHO.
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Shawn George
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While Europe theoretically could have been offered as an expansion, one of the biggest complaints about the original TTR was the tiny size of the cards. This was addressed with the 1910 expansion, but Days of Wonder can't assume that all players have or haven't bought 1910. It made much more sense for them to just include a large set of train cards, re-include the train pieces and scoring markers and just call it a standalone game. I think that the mechanics and design of USA and Europe are different enough that some people might not want to be forced to purchase USA in order to play Europe.
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Andy Andersen
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This is the only TTR series game I haven't played. Excellent review - time to break this one out.
 
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Mark Judd
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Dredry Toenail wrote:
...I also explained that all of the double routes between cities were actually only single routes in a 2 or 3 player game. So once a connection was made on one route, the other route was off limits. They baulked quite loudly at that rule and after a bit of discussion, we decided to ignore that rule, since they were used to playing with double-routes in the original Ticket to Ride. They didn’t see any reason to make that rule change for such a popular feature of the original game.
...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't the double route rules the same for both TtR:Europe and TtR:USA? (Only one of the two routes can be used with 2-3 players, both can be used with 4-5 players)
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Scott Heise
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Dredry Toenail wrote:
I also explained that all of the double routes between cities were actually only single routes in a 2 or 3 player game. So once a connection was made on one route, the other route was off limits. They baulked quite loudly at that rule and after a bit of discussion, we decided to ignore that rule, since they were used to playing with double-routes in the original Ticket to Ride. They didn’t see any reason to make that rule change for such a popular feature of the original game.


Wasn't this rule was in the original TTR as well? I didn't think that this was new to TTR:Europe.
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TTR:Europe was actually the first TTR game I played. Someone at a board game cafe introduced that to us (I think we were a group of 6). We enjoyed it, so a few years later (= recently) I bought TTR (USA) with 1910 on eBay when there was a great deal.

I played it last night (our 4th anniversary) with my wife (also a gamer =) ) and it was fun. I was one card short of finishing 2 20pt destination cards and lost, but she had a pile of cheap tickets which brought her the Globe trotter. It was a tight game... but none of us ever took locomotives when it appear in the 5 shown draws. We all got our locomotives by blind draws.

I personally like Europe better than the US, since European cities are much easier to find for me. I like the tunnels and the stations. On the other hand, the need for locomotives were low in USA and the routes in Europe changed that, and I like that better. Also, the long destination cards are perhaps more balanced in Europe (or maybe I need to try take away the Big Cities cards in 1910?).

PS: I suppose the ferry routes need to be integrated with the train system somehow, so there comes the need for locomotives?
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Dredry Toenail wrote:
I don’t understand how a train can get on a ferry and move across the waterways, but I didn’t think about it too much, I just went along with that rather weak concept.


Remember that you are playing a game that takes place around the turn of the previous century, not a modern-day game. While most trains now unload their containers at the harbor and have them loaded onto the ships, back in the early 1900s the steam ships would quite literally dock to the end of a railroad track and the train would drive onto the ship. The engines, I believe, would somewhat ironically be left behind, but the individual box cars (the forerunner to the container) would travel to their destination where they would be unloaded by being attached to another train.

San Francisco still has one of these strange rail transfer places at Pier 43, as shown in these two pictures:



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Mathue Faulkner
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Putts wrote:
...some people might not want to be forced to purchase USA in order to play Europe.

Like me!

When I was looking into the games way back then, the Europe map was definitely the more interesting of the two. I now own both, but I still prefer the Europe map 10x more than the US map. I think it's better balanced, and the rules are still simple enough that anyone can pick it up (even if it is more complicated). To be honest, I may not have enjoyed the USA map enough to continue with the series. On a side note, I wouldn't have minded had they released it as an expansion and a stand-alone.

Dredry Toenail wrote:

My son decided he was going to forego destination tickets and concentrate on getting the longest route card and pile on points for making connections. It’s a strategy he’s tried before, but still hasn’t won him any games.

I think he would have a better chance of winning with this strategy on the US map than on the Europe map. There just aren't as many long routes to get points from, and there not close enough to each other to make the 'longest train' goal easy to obtain. Really, for either map, I think it's important to complete as many cards as possible. Played a 3-player game on the USA map the other day, and the winner completed 13 cards in what felt like a quick game...

Dredry Toenail wrote:

With only 6 high-value destination tickets, it seems like it could get a little repetitive after playing frequent games. I think that stack of tickets should have been 3 or 4 times larger.

Buy the expansion, Ticket to Ride: Europa 1912. It'll add a bunch of new destination tickets! It is interesting playing with just the 6 long tickets, however, because you can often tell what others are going for. So blocking can be a bit more of an issue....which can be good or bad, depending on your group..
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Travis Hall
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While most trains now unload their containers at the harbor and have them loaded onto the ships, back in the early 1900s the steam ships would quite literally dock to the end of a railroad track and the train would drive onto the ship.

That's very interesting, and I hadn't known it. Thank you for the explanation. In that context, the ferries of TTR:Europe and Nordic Countries make a lot of sense.
 
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Kenny VenOsdel
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I think USA 1910 is the best TTR actually. i completely disagree that the ferries, tunnels, and stations add more depth to TTR. More "complexity" does not necessarily equal more depth. IMO they were just an extra thing happening that didn't add to the gameplay experience at all. The place in TTR to ride where you find more depth is in the ticket distribution and 1910 fixed this. FWIW the only rule I like in the Europe map is the handing out of one long route to each player. Other than that I would scrap the rest.
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Mathue Faulkner
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kvenosdel wrote:
I think USA 1910 is the best TTR actually. i completely disagree that the ferries, tunnels, and stations add more depth to TTR. More "complexity" does not necessarily equal more depth. IMO they were just an extra thing happening that didn't add to the gameplay experience at all. The place in TTR to ride where you find more depth is in the ticket distribution and 1910 fixed this. FWIW the only rule I like in the Europe map is the handing out of one long route to each player. Other than that I would scrap the rest.

This has been argued to death, but one major reason I like TtR:E better is because there is actually a reason to want the 'wild' locomotives (ferries and tunnels). Plus, I just like the layout better. It's more interesting to me, and there are some interesting strategies just based off the map. That may be, however, because I'm a lot more familiar with the Europe map. The stations rarely come up in our games, but I appreciate them. On the USA map, you can be screwed before even having a turn (i.e. the Las Vegas route), but in Europe you have a choice to build all of the way around, or just use a station. They can also make for some interesting decisions regarding tickets. Just my 2 cents...and I'm sure there are a million reasons supporting the USA map.
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jedimusic wrote:
Absolutely. Anything that mitigates some of the lucky "Ticket to Draw" problem of the original is welcome IMHO.


It mitigates the luck in two ways

1) For tunnels, you have to randomly spend an extra 0-3 cards or lose your entire turn.
2) Locomotives, obtained by blind draw, can not only substitute for any colour but are actually mandatory for some routes.

or, to put it another way, if you consider the original TTR to be a luckfest, then TTR:Europe is pretty much the snakes and ladders of the TTR series. The original TTR has a substantially smaller luck component, which may be a good or bad thing, depending on your perspective.
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I like all the TtR franchise and I have a friend who designed some variants; one of which won and will be released next month. Between USA and Europe, my favourite is Europe. The routes seem to be more competitive and I like the theme more, too. There are many others who have differing opinions, though, and I often have an easier time finding a game of USA than Europe.
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Knave wrote:
jedimusic wrote:
Absolutely. Anything that mitigates some of the lucky "Ticket to Draw" problem of the original is welcome IMHO.


It mitigates the luck in two ways

1) For tunnels, you have to randomly spend an extra 0-3 cards or lose your entire turn.
2) Locomotives, obtained by blind draw, can not only substitute for any colour but are actually mandatory for some routes.

or, to put it another way, if you consider the original TTR to be a luckfest, then TTR:Europe is pretty much the snakes and ladders of the TTR series. The original TTR has a substantially smaller luck component, which may be a good or bad thing, depending on your perspective.


Nope, USA is definitely luckier. If you do not draw a large score ticket, you do not have the opportunity to score large; hence, the nickname "ticket to draw." With Europe, and even moreso with Marklin, the choice of how ambitious your tickets are is up to you; you can choose between large and small tickets. +1 for strategy.

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Locomotives, obtained by blind draw, can not only substitute for any colour but are actually mandatory for some routes.


Of course locomotives can be obtained, not just by blind draw, but by face up. And the fact that they can be used in a couple of new ways, is more of a tactical, not luck, factor. +1 for tactics.

The tunnels are not that big of a deal - just have a fourth red card for the 3-red tunnel and it'll cover you 90% of the time; it ain't rocket science. And if that's not enough of a safety net, you have the train stations to help out as well. +1 tactics.

In USA, all the tickets - big and small - are mixed together and you get what you get. +1 luck.

Like you said, more or less luck isn't a bad thing - if you want to put the kids on a closer to level playing ground with the adults, play USA because of the inherent "more luck" factor.
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jedimusic wrote:
Nope, USA is definitely luckier. If you do not draw a large score ticket, you do not have the opportunity to score large; hence, the nickname "ticket to draw."


Your nickname of course, which is probably indicative of the groupthink that has taken over the people that you play against.

In some groups, getting a large ticket is actually considered to be a disadvantage, due to the speed at which the game finishes. Also, large tickets are frequently blocked. Your statement that a large ticket results in a large score simply tells me that you and your group do not block. If you do not block, then you are not playing ticket to ride, you are playing some weird variant.

I agree that in the "no-block" variant, TTR:Europe is probably better due to the general matching of overall ticket values. However, in the real game, large tickets are not better, they are just different.

Quote:
Of course locomotives can be obtained, not just by blind draw, but by face up.


There is an expected number of locomotives that will be drawn blind throughout the game. In the original TTR, if you get less than the expected number of locomotives, you can use your colours to plan a workaround. In TTR though, if you get less than the expected number of locomotives, then you are facing a much deeper problem.

Drawing locomotives face up is a poor choice. I have never lost a game of Europe to somebody who draws locos face up, the only people who beat me are those that draw face down and get many many more locomotives than I do.

Obviously, if everyone draws locos face up, then it is fine to draw them face up. However, blind drawing almost completely supersedes face up drawing as a strategy.

Quote:
The tunnels are not that big of a deal - just have a fourth red card for the 3-red tunnel and it'll cover you 90% of the time; it ain't rocket science.


The fact that you consider the drawing of an extra card for every single tunnel that you play to be "not a big deal" tells me that you do not play with a group that pushes the end of the game. It ties in I guess to your statement that picking locos face up is a reasonable step to make. This game is a race, and the game is often won or lost on a single turn. It appears that your group is simply not racing. Like I said above, you are playing a suboptimal version of the game, using a strategy that would lose against any capable player. With your strategy, the original TTR would indeed be more luck based. You simply don't punish people for getting "better" tickets, making their life difficult. This is not just a game of making your own tickets, but of stopping others from getting their tickets.

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In USA, all the tickets - big and small - are mixed together and you get what you get. +1 luck.


My favourite ticket is the 4-pointer. I don't mind NY-Seattle either, but unless I'm playing a newbie that ticket is very risky. Montreal-Van is even worse. That ticket gets blocked more than any other. Sure, if I finish it I'll get a lot of points, but I'll deserve those points, since my competition will have made it very difficult to finish that route.

If my competition is not making it difficult, then they are lousy players who spend their time complaining about my tickets instead of doing something about it.

Quote:
Like you said, more or less luck isn't a bad thing - if you want to put the kids on a closer to level playing ground with the adults, play USA because of the inherent "more luck" factor.


Go to the Days of Wonder website, get your rating up, and once you are in the top 100 and regularly beating people in the top 100, we can talk about TTR being a game of luck. Until then, as far as I am concerned, you are the one-eyed man playing against the blind.
 
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Stephen McHale
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Whatever you do, do not go to the days of wonder site and play online. Get outside and get some exercise, play board games with real people, don't spend your time on the computer trying to get your rating up.

I say this sitting in front of my tv with my IPad.

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Dan C
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Good grief.
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HomerJr wrote:
Dredry Toenail wrote:
I also explained that all of the double routes between cities were actually only single routes in a 2 or 3 player game. So once a connection was made on one route, the other route was off limits. They baulked quite loudly at that rule and after a bit of discussion, we decided to ignore that rule, since they were used to playing with double-routes in the original Ticket to Ride. They didn’t see any reason to make that rule change for such a popular feature of the original game.


Wasn't this rule was in the original TTR as well? I didn't think that this was new to TTR:Europe.

It most definitely exists in all TtR versions.
 
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Knave wrote:
Go to the Days of Wonder website, get your rating up, and once you are in the top 100 and regularly beating people in the top 100, we can talk about TTR being a game of luck. Until then, as far as I am concerned, you are the one-eyed man playing against the blind.


Or... write a review aimed at the other 6.9 billion people on the planet.

Nice review. I'm always in two minds about which is the better introductory game - USA or Europe - USA is so elegant in its simple ruleset but Europe does have a better balance of tickets, and stations make blocking less confrontational but still a viable option.
 
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hakko504 wrote:
HomerJr wrote:
Dredry Toenail wrote:
I also explained that all of the double routes between cities were actually only single routes in a 2 or 3 player game. So once a connection was made on one route, the other route was off limits. They baulked quite loudly at that rule and after a bit of discussion, we decided to ignore that rule, since they were used to playing with double-routes in the original Ticket to Ride. They didn’t see any reason to make that rule change for such a popular feature of the original game.


Wasn't this rule was in the original TTR as well? I didn't think that this was new to TTR:Europe.

It most definitely exists in all TtR versions.


You know, in all the years I've played this game I never read that rule. Thanks for the clarification. My wife and son will be pissed off about it, most definitely.
 
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Dredry Toenail wrote:
hakko504 wrote:
HomerJr wrote:
Dredry Toenail wrote:
I also explained that all of the double routes between cities were actually only single routes in a 2 or 3 player game. So once a connection was made on one route, the other route was off limits. They baulked quite loudly at that rule and after a bit of discussion, we decided to ignore that rule, since they were used to playing with double-routes in the original Ticket to Ride. They didn’t see any reason to make that rule change for such a popular feature of the original game.


Wasn't this rule was in the original TTR as well? I didn't think that this was new to TTR:Europe.

It most definitely exists in all TtR versions.


You know, in all the years I've played this game I never read that rule. Thanks for the clarification. My wife and son will be pissed off about it, most definitely.
In that case you shouldn't try the Big Cities version in Ticket to Ride: USA 1910, where all players are fighting for the same 7 cities...
 
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Whaleyland wrote:
Dredry Toenail wrote:
I don’t understand how a train can get on a ferry and move across the waterways, but I didn’t think about it too much, I just went along with that rather weak concept.


Remember that you are playing a game that takes place around the turn of the previous century, not a modern-day game. While most trains now unload their containers at the harbor and have them loaded onto the ships, back in the early 1900s the steam ships would quite literally dock to the end of a railroad track and the train would drive onto the ship. The engines, I believe, would somewhat ironically be left behind, but the individual box cars (the forerunner to the container) would travel to their destination where they would be unloaded by being attached to another train.


Thanks for the history on this. I had no idea.

So if just the cars are loaded but the engine stays behind, why do I need locomotive cards to claim ferry routes?
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Dredry Toenail wrote:
hakko504 wrote:
HomerJr wrote:
Dredry Toenail wrote:
I also explained that all of the double routes between cities were actually only single routes in a 2 or 3 player game. So once a connection was made on one route, the other route was off limits. They baulked quite loudly at that rule and after a bit of discussion, we decided to ignore that rule, since they were used to playing with double-routes in the original Ticket to Ride. They didn’t see any reason to make that rule change for such a popular feature of the original game.


Wasn't this rule was in the original TTR as well? I didn't think that this was new to TTR:Europe.

It most definitely exists in all TtR versions.


You know, in all the years I've played this game I never read that rule. Thanks for the clarification. My wife and son will be pissed off about it, most definitely.

It's not that big of a deal when only playing 2-player. But when 3 players are crowding the board, the "single" double routes can be brutal. Thus, the elegance of stations in TtR:E!
 
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Carl Brousseau
United States
Pennsylvania
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jedimusic wrote:
Nope, USA is definitely luckier. If you do not draw a large score ticket, you do not have the opportunity to score large; hence, the nickname "ticket to draw." With Europe, and even moreso with Marklin, the choice of how ambitious your tickets are is up to you; you can choose between large and small tickets. +1 for strategy.


Your bolded part is just not true. 3 routes of length 6 = 45 points. That's twice as much as the highest-valued ticket and you still have 27 trains to complete whatever you need to complete to win. And that's even before taking blocking into account. There is luck in USA tickets, but the "best" tickets aren't the highest-valued. Same with Europe actually -- some relatively short tickets are great, others aren't. Some of the long tickets are great, others aren't.
 
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