I’ve Been Drinking on the Railroad – A TransEuropa Review

All aboard – and a plethora of other train puns too unbearable to publish – this week, a look at TransEuropa! Yes, yes, I can hear the collective groans now; a million (ok, a couple hundred) voices crying out, “Another train game?” Yes, dear readers, another train game. Bear with me during this brief review, though – a) it’s fun, b) you can play it blitzed, and c) it has about as much to do with trains as colored cubes do with making burgers.

In TransEuropa, each player randomly selects five differently colored cards, each with a Eurasian city on the face. The goal for each round is to place little bits of “track” on the board (which pictures Europe and bits of Asia, naturally) in an effort to connect the five cities shown on the cards. The first player to do so wins that round, meaning that their little wooden train stays right where it is on the scoring track, while everyone else has to move their train a number of spaces equal to the tracks that they failed to place in trying to connect their cities. Sound easy? You bet it is – and there aren’t many more rules to cover!

At the start of a round, after cards have been selected, the player holding the Start Card chooses any city on the board and claims it with their colored wooden token. Start city selection continues clockwise, and after every player has chosen, the game begins. During a turn, a player can place up to two bits of track on the board, as long as the track is connected to their “network” – in other words, anywhere that the player has connecting track. There are certain spots on the board designated by a double line, rather than the usual single, and track laid along this section counts as two bits of track, thereby eating up a player’s entire turn. Once a player places track that connects to another player’s network, those networks are combined, and all connected players may then place track anywhere along the newly-combined network. Play continues until enough track is laid to connect all five of a player’s cities, at which point they yell “Bingo!” or “Eureka!” or “I rule!” or some other such exclamation. Points are then tallied, and if no train has reached the end of the scoring track, all track is cleared from the board, all cards are reshuffled and randomly selected by players, the Start Card is passed to the next player, and another round begins. Repeat as necessary. And that’s pretty much it.

Needless to say, TransEuropa is insanely simple, but simplicity can often be a good thing – especially when playing while drunk, for example. I can safely say that TransEuropa can be played competently while getting loopy; I have road-tested that bit, personally. Not only that, but TransEuropa is a near-perfect game for Sally Thinksalot and Johnny Adderall. There are lots of decisions to be made in the game, which can be dangerous for Sally, but those decisions are typically made quickly and instinctively. Since players can only lay two bits of track during a turn, gameplay tends to be lightning fast, which is good news for Johnny Adderall.

TransEuropa is also ridiculously easy to walk away from for a few minutes and then pick right back up without any hesitation. This is great news for playing at the local pub – hopefully playing competently while getting your buzz on. I’ve mentioned before on Dice Hate Me that Monkey238 and I like to play games with our favorite bartender and barback – Jarrod and Michelle – over at West End Wine Bar each week. We typically play on Sundays when the bar is quiet, but despite the slow trickle of patrons, Jarrod will sometimes have to step away to refill a drink or feign interest in a drunken story at the other end of the bar. Because of this – and despite us selecting games with lighter rules and a quick playing time – Jarrod’s losing streak is infamous. He still loves to play, but it’s hard to be the best bartender in the city and still hand somebody their butt in Chrononauts. To reflect TransEuropa’s pub-playing power, Jarrod won the first game we played. In fact, he creamed us.

In summary, TransEuropa’s simplicity, speed and overall versatility in play styles makes this game perfect for those who love their beer and board games. I’ll drink to that!

“Man, this game is all about touching!” – Michelle, our barback

Gameplay/ReplayComponents & ThemeFun
Gameplay is extremely simple, but elegant. Replay ranks high, as every single round will play differently because of the random city card selection. Repeated plays also provide opportunities for exploring alternate strategies; starting in the outskirts and letting other players do the dirty work of networking, connecting with one or more players immediately, and learning to hate and avoid wasting time on some of the more stubborn cities (ahem, Plymouth, I'm looking at you).As with any Rio Grande Game, the components and artwork are excellent, just not extraordinary. The board is a bit warpy in spots, but some gentle massaging will usually straighten out the kinks. The train theme works well enough, but it seems like someone just thought a train game might sell better than, say, a game where you connect dots with little black wooden matchsticks.Yes, TransEuropa is fun. It's a game that a lot of different types of people will find fun, from your grandmother to your wargamer (well, maybe your wargamer). It also has the added bonus of being just as fun when under the influence. It won't supplant the meatier games on your shelf, but it's a nice addition to any collection that can be brought out for a quick and easy-to-play session of Tanqueray and trains.
Overall score: 14 out of 18 - I've got your ticket to ride, right here.

TransEuropa is a game for 2-6 imbibing engineers, ages 8 and up, from Rio Grande Games. It retails for $32, but you can get it much cheaper online at Funagain Games, or at your favorite local game store after you get a few beers in the owner.

Did you know that when you buy from Funagain Games that you’re helping out this site? It’s true! Get games, help out your favorite blog. It’s win/win!

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3 Responses to “I’ve Been Drinking on the Railroad – A TransEuropa Review”
  1. Although I agree that TransEurope is a fun game, I find the map for TransAmerica to be more balanced. You already know all the rules, only the map changes. Of course, I would recommend using the Vexation rules before you start drinking.

  2. dicehateme says:

    Yeah, my FLGS only had TransEuropa and I had some store credit, so I took a shot. I had seen TransAmerica before, and it looked cool. I figured since I had Ticket to Ride with the American map, I’d give Europe a chance with another game. I do agree that Vexation is probably best played sober. 😉

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Chris K., Chris K.. Chris K. said: Chug, chug, chug… no, that's not the sound of the trains in TransEuropa – it's the sweet sound of a downed brew. http://bit.ly/em9FWn […]

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