Last night was my first experience of Ticket to Ride: Europe. I've been a player and a fan of the original game for years, but have never been inclined to buy any of the variants and never, until now, had the chance to play someone else's copy.
Stephen turned up to the group with Europe and a copy of Settlers (STILL IN SHRINK!) and as no-one knew the rules to Catan we opted to play Europe.
It was a fun game no doubt about that and very easy to get into, my experience of the original made everything familiar.
Apart from the change in the board and tickets there was a new feature called "tunnels" which I thought was pretty intense. Playing trains to a tunnel is the same as usual, but you MAY have to play additional cards of the appropriate colour. You lay out your cards, then turn over three cards from the deck, if any of those three are the same colour as your cards (or an engine) then you have to play additional cards of that colour in order to get your train down on the table.
This means of course that you have to risk not getting your train down, if you don't have any extra cards, or wait and save up additional cards. I have to say this is a clever addition to the system, it adds extra depth without complexity or fiddliness.
Another subtle difference is that some routes actually require an engine (or two) in order to play to the route. The requirement is printed on the board making the situation very clear. Once again they've created a seemless way to integrate a new feature. Double well done you game designer chaps! I love that you've added to a great game in such a slick way.
There is another new feature, that of stations, which allows you to get past blockages. We didn't play with stations in this game, as three of the players were totally new to Ticket to Ride. I'm looking forward to trying this option.
In summary, after one play of this variant, I'm sold. it's good, solid, and every bit as fun as the original.
Catan, next week :)