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Classic Gateway Plus'...
on November 14, 2015
'Gateway Plus' because the 'Europe' variant adds several new mechanisms that create a richer gameplay experience, while retaining most of the original's elegance. Players can take one of four actions on a turn - take train cards (to build routes in the future), take destination tickets (to acquire new points scoring objectives), claim routes by using the appropriate set of train cards (to score points and progress against objectives), or build a train station (to claim a route in alternate way). This simplicity allows the game to move at a very fast clip because players have usually chosen their action by the time their turns come around.
The addition of train stations, tunnels, and ferries add a light, but welcome layer of complexity. They also work well from a thematic point of view. Train stations offer additional flexibility. They mitigate the element of chance inherent to drawing destination tickets or being blocked off by an opponent, and they are almost necessary given that the European map is much less interconnected than its United States counterpart. Tunnels add an element of risk that forces players to think more about hand management. And ferries change the way players go about acquiring and using their locomotives.
It's little wonder that 'Ticket to Ride' games stand out as one of the most well-known and beloved gateway game series. For me, 'Ticket to Ride: Europe' is superior to vanilla 'Ticket to Ride' in almost every way with significantly higher replay and engagement value.
+ Retains most of the elegance and simplicity of vanilla 'Ticket to Ride'
+ Richer gameplay thanks to addition of new gameplay mechanisms
+ Players feel a sense of accomplishment even if they don't win
+ Moves at a fast clip; players quickly get into the groove of pre-planning their turn
+ Beautiful board game with high quality, colorful game components
+ Just enough strategy and optionality for a gateway game
+ Beats out the original in terms of replayability
- Train and railroad theme is not for everyone
- Location names can be difficult to read across the table
- Luck of the draw can make a big impact in regards to destination tickets
- Slightly more complicated than vanilla Ticket to Ride
- Little player interaction outside seeking to block others
- Works with 2, but not very well