Review - Trans Europa

This review draws heavily on a game we played earlier this week.
2 to 6 players, Ages 8+, 30 Minute Playing time

Trans Europa - The board, cards and box

Trans Europa is a simple little board game,designed by Franz-Benno Delonge and published by Rio Grande Games in 2005, about building communication (train, plain and boat) routes (generally referred to as ‘tracks’) from one side of Europe to the other. TransEuropa is a game I picked up following encountering the better known variant of it TransAmerica at London on Board last year.

35 City cards + 1 Start Player card

83 Black tracks

6 Sets of coloured player markers (a Start Marker, a Scoring Locomotive and 3 Vexation tracks)

1 Game board

1 Rule Booklet
Trans Europa - The board and cards

Game Play
You start the game by drawing 5 cards in 5 different colours (corresponding to cities in 5 different regions on the board). These cards are kept secret from the other players but tell you which cities you need to connect in order to win the game.
Trans Europa - Some of the cards

Trans Europa - The players piecesThe game board shows possible routes between the 35 cities identified on the City cards. At the start of the game you pick a starting city place your coloured marker on it and place one or two tracks depending on the terrain (mountains, rivers and sea generally limit you to placing one track per turn). In future phases you can extend your track with one or two pieces, as before, seeking to link your cities. Eventually, as other players are also building track with the same black wooden pieces, your track will
connect with the track of rival players and your track can then extend your track from any point on the connected track.

The winner is the first to player to connect all their cities effectively scoring zero. The element that makes the game worth playing is what is called the players 3 Vexation tracks. These are wooden tracks in your player colour. As the game is typically played over a number of turns these Vexation pieces need to be used judiciously as once used they cannot be re-used in future turns. It is these pieces that deny the use of the black tracks to other players forcing them to bypass these connections.
Trans Europa - The board and scorring locomotives

When the first player has connected all their cities everybody else scores negative points for each piece of track they are short of their goal (connecting 5 cities). This score is recorded on a track on the side of the board marked from 12 down to zero (a red precipice). The winner of the game being the player who has the highest score at the point that one player reaches zero and goes over the edge.

What did we think?
We really liked it. It was quick to explain and grasp. With children the only delay was working out where the various cities are. This is made slightly more complex as the names used in the game are the local names for the cities rather than the more recognised English variants.
Trans Europa - The board and track

The game play is pretty quick and everybody finished within points of each other so with its ability to handle 6 players and the little bit of screwage available through the use of the Vexation tracks I feel sure it will see more use over the coming months.

Maybe it was his long background in rail engineering that helped Malcolm win the game? Despite his initial problem with the notion that one rail operator would deny the use of their lines to other operators  thus contravening the whole notion of ‘open architecture’ – this denial occurs within the game by the playing of Vexation pieces, the element that adds edge to the game!

Who will it work for? 
At the price I picked it up for, £19.99.
Trans Europa - The board and track
  1. Gamers looking for a filler board game with more thought than humour.
  2. Families looking for ways to help build geographical awareness or just looking for a well priced game with plenty of replay ability. Trans Europa’s simple yet fast game play will also help it work well intergenerationally.
  3. Educators looking for ways to bring geography alive as well introducing decision making any planning at a very basic level.
  4. People who are looking for alternative gateway games in particular people who are looking for a vaguely railway themed game as an alternative to the Ticket to Ride series of games.
A nice game with good components at a price that should be attractive to families, amongst others.

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