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psteinx
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TTR Guide - Europe Map, 2-5 Players Tue, 07 August 2007 19:46
Index:
1) TTR Overall Introduction, Gameplay, Etiquette
2) USA Map, 2 Player
3) USA Map, 3-5 Players
4) Europe Map - 2 - 5 Players


A) Introduction
The Europe map is the second most common mostly commonly played (after USA) map in TTR, and the only map besides the USA map that you can start with nothing more than a standard web card (Other maps like Switzerland require you to be playing the CD-ROM version to start games).

This guide assumes the player is familiar with the US map.

Obviously, the Europe map has a different layout, with different tickets, which changes strategies significantly. But the Europe map also has a number of rules changes from the US map. Altogether, playing the Europe map is rather different from playing USA.


B) Rules Changes

i) Tunnels - Many routes, such as Stockholm-Petrograd, are marked with a slightly different car outline. These are tunnels. Play them as normal, but AFTER you play your cards, the game will draw three more color cards from the deck. For each of those cards that is either a loco or matches the color you played, you will have to pay one extra color or loco to complete the route (if you don't have enough colors/locos, or simply decline, then your original move claiming the route is reversed, and you lose your turn). Effectively, this means you usually have to pay one extra card or so to claim a tunnel route.

ii) Ferries - Some routes, such as London-Dieppe, are marked with a black rectangle inside. Every rectangle marked with a black rectangle MUST be filled with a loco. Thus, to claim London-Dieppe, you need at least one loco (plus a color card or a second loco). To claim London-Amsterdam, you need two locos.

iii) Stations - If you drag a color card on to a city, rather than a route (i.e. London, rather than London-Dieppe), you will be asked if you wish to play a station. A station allows you to connect your destination tickets along ONE route that touches that city, even though you don't own that route yourself. So, if you have the ticket Stockholm - Cadiz, and you have all the routes along the way EXCEPT for Paris-Pamplona (the gap in your route), you may play a station in EITHER Paris or Pamplona. However, for this to work, somebody must have played the Paris-Pamplona route. If that route is empty, a station won't help you connect those two cities. Playing a station costs you the turn it takes to play the station, as well as 1 color card and 4 points from your final score. You may build up to three stations in a game - the second and third station you build require two and three color cards, respectively, instead of one. The effect of stations is that it is difficult to block or be totally blocked from a destination ticket - one can usually use a station (albeit at some cost) to overcome a block.

iv) Tickets - In the US game, you draw 3 tickets initially, from the pool of 30 tickets, and can redraw from that same pool as the game goes along. In Europe, you draw 4 tickets initially, and 3 tickets on later draws. The main pool has about 37 tickets, with values ranging from about 5 to about 13. There is a separate pool of 6 long tickets, each with a value of 20 or 21. Your initial draw of 4 tickets will include 1 long ticket and 3 normal tickets. Thereafter, your draws will be from 3 normal tickets. Therefore, you will only get one chance (i.e. your initial draw) to draw a long ticket. The 6 long tickets are Edinburgh-Athina, Kobenhavn-Erzerum, Stockholm-Cadiz, Lisbon-Danzig, Brest-Petrograd, Palermo-Moskva. The first 3 are 21 points, the last 3 are 20 points.

v) Board Layout - While much of the board layout simply requires examination and practice to understand, a few points are worth calling out. Whereas the US map has 9 routes that are 6 long, and 7 that are 5 long, the Europe map has zero that are 5 long, only 2 that are 6 long, plus 1 that is 8 long. This places a premium on the 3 long routes - they are quite important for scoring points and achieving longest.

Also, whereas on the US map, the long routes are relatively evenly distributed across the board (except on the east coast), on the Europe map, all 3 long routes are on the eastern side of the map. With only 3 long routes, there is a bit of a premium on medium routes (4 long) as well, and these also are primarily in the east. So, in general, it is easier and better to build good routes in the east, if your tickets allow you to do so.


C) Strategy

i) 2 Player - In my opinion, there is a somewhat greater luck factor in 2 player Europe versus 2 player USA. There is a clear hierarchy in the initial long tickets. The three best are Palermo-Moskva, and Kobenhavn-Erzerum and Brest-Petrograd (in that order). The other 3 long tickets (Edinburgh-Athina, Lisbon-Danzig and Stockholm-Cadiz) are mediocre. I used to think Edinburgh-Athina was particularly bad, but now I regard it as usually better than the other two. With Edinburgh-Athina, you can either go up through Italy or around the other way. I usually choose the latter route and try to get the 6-long tunnel, but that depends to some extent on what my other tickets are and how many locomotives I get.

Of course, you don't have to keep your long ticket - you could drop it and keep 2 or 3 of your shorter tickets instead. This is most attractive if your other tickets are in the East, or along the East-West spine from Central Europe to Russia. If you use this strategy, consider interfering with your opponent - grabbing 4s and longer routes that you think your opponent is likely to need, and forcing him/her to use stations. If you block your opponent's route (and force the use of a station), it will cost them a turn (to play the station), a color card (used for the station), 4 points (the "cost" of the station), and generally will allow you to get the longest route bonus (worth 10 points). It is quite viable to beat an opponent with superior tickets if you block them and force them to use a station or two.

Other notes:

* Avoid ticket fiending late in the game, as you will most likely get low value tickets that don't help much. If you think you must ticket fiend, it works best when you've got a western route connecting in various directions, and when you start ticket fiending relatively early.
* Learn the long tickets and consider blocking your opponent if you are moderately confident that he/she is playing one of them.
* To avoid being blocked yourself when playing a long ticket, start with the middle of the route and work out towards the ends. Many long tickets end at points that are easily blocked. But it's better to be blocked at the end than in the middle, as with the former, you still have a shot at the longest bonus.
* Try to grab at least one, and preferably two of the three long routes. Generally, they are played from top to bottom - the 8er first, then the middle 6er, then the lower 6er.
* If you are forced to play with only 2 short destination tickets, consider trying to grab all 3 of the long routes, then complete your short destination tickets and try to play out quickly while interfering with your opponent. If you grab the 3 long routes, you will have burned through 20 color cards (the best your opponent can do in 3 plays is 12), and earned 51 route points (the best your opponent can do with 3 plays is 21). With a 30 point lead in route points, and an 8 card advantage in playing out your color cards, you can often afford to give up longest and win, even with low value destination tickets.
* It is often best to grab the 6er tunnel first. With that in hand, you are likely to get at least two of the long routes (as your opponent is unlikely to play the 8er and the 6er ferry, as they are too far apart to connect. If you play the 8er first, and your opponent has been saving up a lot of one color, he/she will often "spend" those colors on the 6er tunnel. Plus, being in a central location, the 6er tunnel is easier to tie into various build paths than either of the other two long routes.

ii) Multi
I have played relatively little multi Europe, so consider these strategy suggestions as rather tentative...

In 3 player, consider grabbing some of the key short routes quickly if you need them. In particular, Paris-Frankfurt and Frankfurt-Berlin are key routes to grab early. Kiev-Bucaresti is also important.

In 4 player, blocking is pretty much a non-issue. There are a fair number of double routes and alternative routes, and since you also have stations, you shouldn't worry too much about being heavily blocked.

In both 3 and 4 player games, expect to use a station or two - when I say that blocking isn't so important, I'm going on the premise that although you may get blocked, you can get around blocks with stations.

I'm not sure I've every played a 5 player Europe game, but I'd think that the key routes on the map would go very quickly, forcing most players to use 2-3 stations each.

In 4 player (and probably 5 player), ticket fiending can be more attractive, especially if you initial ticket is western (Cadiz-Stockholm, Lisbon-Danzig, Brest-Petrograd, or perhaps Edinburgh-Athina), or if you dump your long ticket and keep a couple of shorter western tickets. Under these circumstance, it's fairly easy to connect a lot of tickets. If you do this, start drawing extra tickets relatively early, so you have more time to complete them.

[Updated on: Tue, 29 July 2008 17:20]

      
Zeno
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Re:TTR Guide - Europe Map, 2-5 Players Sun, 26 August 2007 04:13
very nice post. So much to process that I couldn't think of anything to add the first time I read it. Some thoughts to consider:

The importance of locos. On some long routes, you are more likely to need locos for ferries. As a result, blind drawing is important in EU most of the time except:

If you really want the 8-train tunnel up north (T8), then some players will draw open. In general it is not a strategy I use often, but you have to make sure that the person doesn't collect three colors and take all three long routes.

At the end of the game, so long as you have enough locos, drawing open is more common than in US, due to the number of gray 4's. If you are lucky enough to be in the east, getting your hand into sets of four is best.

Card management is more difficult, and more important. In the US, you draw to near 44, and eventually draw up to 44 (rarely 43). As part of the end game you might draw an extra loco or pair. In Europe, you don't know how many cards you need for your 45 wagons, given the extra cards for tunnels and stations. Pay careful attention to how many extra turns you and your opponent are forced into, and adjust at the end.

The order in which the long routes are taken depends mostly on the long route:

Mos-Pal: F6, then T6, T8 a possible extension.

Kob-Erz: T8 for top route (preferred?) T6 for lower route, F6 a possible but tricky extension.

Bre-Pet: T8 for top route (preferred?) T6 for lower route, F6 a technically difficult method for extreme southern line.

Sto-Cad: T8, others are just for point grabbing, unless you can somehow work T6 into the line.

Dan-Lis: T8 possible extension, but you need to be inventive to grab it and get longest. T6 possible extension.

eD-ath: (nice anagram of Death) F6 for southern route through Marseilles, T6 for eastern route.

Blocking note: Since the long routes are 20-21, and including a second ticket increases the cost to perhaps 30, you allow for a tail of 3 fours. You can often take that tail through your opponents plausible route, eating up valuable real estate, and often putting them into a bind. You can do this prior to establishing your own route, but it is risky. Not blocking in the nastiest sense, but still a useful technique.

Paris-Frankfurt-Berlin are often taken in the early game, since they are very useful for the spanish long tickets, as well as Brest-Petrograd, and to a degree eD-ath and Kob-Erz. Taking them early helps if both players have either a spanish ticket or the Bre-Pet ticket, but puts you way behind in tempo if the person has Mos-Pal, and slightly behind if they have the other two.

Try dumping your long ticket. It should be a part of your game. It is especially nice if you can simulate one of the best long tickets and get the opp to interfere. It also sows the seeds of doubt into people you have done it against in the past.
      
    
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