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10 Days in Europe
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You have 10 days in Europe -- Chart your course from start to finish using destination and transportation tiles. With a little luck and clever planning, you just might outwit your fellow travelers. The game contains a game board map of Europe, destination tiles representing the countries, and transportation tiles for making connections by plane or boat.
Average Rating: 4 in 3 reviews
Great game for the whole family. Best Geography lesson ever. A must have.
Short summary of the above review - I loved the system and still often continue to play it, mainly with my wife, as the 10 Days system is one that just works incredibly well as a "couple" game. As soon as I brought 10 Days in Europe home, we immediately cracked it open - expecting more of the same enticing play.
Europe is currently my favorite of the series - the map of the countries just lends itself to this type of game more than the others, and the addition of Ship Tiles are more interesting than the car tiles in the other game. Let's briefly discuss these:
- The map has countries that often border quite a few other countries. The Ukraine is connected to nine other countries, as is Germany. Other countries touch five or six countries, making them very valuable for a player to have. Some of the more critical countries - Germany, France, Norway, Russia, and Spain - all have two tiles each, as does Denmark, although I'm not sure why. There is only one card for Ukraine and Serbia, which makes getting them a bit luckier; but it seems to even out during the game.
- There are several countries that touch only one other country, such as Portugal, Ireland, Wales; and one that touches none - Iceland. This difficulty can be mitigated by airplane tiles, although this is difficult, but is more easily vanquished by the Ship Tiles. There are nine ship tiles that are split up amongst the three major bodies of water: Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, and Baltic Sea. Players can place a ship tile between any two country tiles that both border the sea. The map designates the seas in different shades of blue, so that it's obvious which countries touch which sea. The Baltic Sea is the smallest but can be critical, as the countries up there have fewer countries that border them. The Atlantic Sea should never be discarded, if possible - it's that useful. It's Iceland's best friend and also helps connect the British Isles much more easily. I'm almost ready to say that the Atlantic Ocean tiles are TOO powerful; but since there are four of them, it evens out fairly well.
- A few countries are connected by "ferries" - black lines on the board. Any person familiar with Risk will recognize these, as they basically make the two connected countries adjacent. They really don't affect the game much - other than noticing them.
And that's basically all the differences in this version (the automobile tiles are not in Europe). To the casual onlooker, there might seem like there are some wild disparities between the countries - some have many connections, others only a few. Yet it all fits together in an elegant, fun way. Now, I'm not going to tout how 10 Days in Europe makes the other two games obsolete. But it is a little better; and if you only get one of the games, it's certainly the most interesting that I've found. Personally, I'm glad to own the triology, because it's like having three delicious varieties of the same game. If you enjoyed the other two but want something different, then Europe delivers. If you've never played any of the 10 Days series but are looking for a game to introduce you to the simplistic system, then 10 Days in Europe is your best bet.
"Real men play board games"
In early 2003, Schmidt Spiele released Europa Tour, a game designed by Alan Moon and Aaron Weissblum. In my review, I described it as “Rack-O with a geography lesson”. Although the game was short on strategy – as is Rack-O – I still found it to be quite enjoyable, particularly in a family setting or as a light filler between meatier games.
Shortly after the game’s release, Out of the Box announced that it would be releasing two new versions of the game, both set in different geographical locations: Africa and the United States. Now, nearly two years after their release, Out of the Box has introduced a third installment in the series: 10 Days in Europe.
Since all three games utilize essentially identical mechanisms, I thought it would be wise to discuss the entire series in this review. I’ll mention the differences between the versions where appropriate. You may also notice that much of the description of the games’ mechanisms is similar to that used in my review of Europa Tour; no sense reinventing the wheel! Well, unless, of course, you happen to be Goodyear!
The comparisons to Rack-O are inescapable. However, instead of attempting to get numbers in the correct sequence, players must plan a cohesive and logical vacation through the countries of Africa / Europe / U.S.A. This vacation will be planned by each player on their private rack, into which they will place the country and transportation cards in attempts to form a logical path for their whirlwind tour.
The racks in the Out of the Box versions are constructed of sturdy wood. This gives the game quite a bit of weight. They are linear as opposed to the curved plastic racks in Europa Tour, so they do occupy a bit more table space. Still, the feel of those hefty racks is quite nice!
The tiles, too, are very thick and nicely illustrated. The tiles in the Europe version were initially stuck together, and took a bit of work to separate. Fortunately, they were not marred. Each tile contains a snippet of information about the country or state, including its capital, population and geographical size.
Unlike the board in Europa Tour, which was so small that it made it difficult to distinguish the various countries, the maps in the Out of the Box versions are large and colorful. The various countries are easily distinguishable, with the colors used being bright and very distinct. Not all of the countries in Africa or Europe are depicted on the map, with several of the geographically smaller nations being deliberately omitted to better facilitate game play. None of the 50 states in the U.S.A. version were omitted, although future expansions may delete California and Louisiana, as they are both likely to slide into the sea sometime in the near future!
On all three maps, the countries and states are divided into various groups by easy-to-distinguish colors. Missing is the delightful cartoon artwork that was endemic to each of the countries in the Europa Tour version. Granted, that likely would have cluttered the boards a bit, but it was amusing trying to figure out the meaning of each of those drawings.
Countries (or states) can be connected in one of three ways:
Land: If countries / states are geographically adjacent and share a common land border, then they are considered adjacent. In the Europe version, there are lines connecting a few countries that are separated by a narrow sea. For example, England and France are connected in this fashion, apparently in recognition of the “chunnel”.
Air: If two countries / states have the same color, they can be connected by an air route, provided a player places an airplane card of the same color between the two countries on their rack.
Car: Any two countries / states can be connected by car, provided there is one intervening country or state that shares a common border with both of those countries or states. For instance, a player can travel from Texas to Kansas by car, since Oklahoma shares a border with both of those states. Of course, a player must place a car tile in their rack between the Texas and Kansas tiles.
Ship: The new Europe version does not contain cars. Rather, it contains ships that can traverse one of three seas: Atlantic, Mediterranean or Baltic. Any two countries that border the same sea can be linked by the appropriate ship.
The game begins with each player randomly drawing tiles one-at- a-time from the face-down stacks until their racks are filled to the ten tile capacity. As in Rack-O, a player may not move tiles around within his rack. Once they are placed, they will remain in that position unless discarded on a future turn. The challenge, then – and the frustration – is to get them into the proper sequence.
From the remaining tiles, three are revealed and form the “draw” piles. On a turn, a player may select one of the three face-up tiles, or take the top card from the face-down draw pile. He must then discard a tile from his rack and replace it with the newly drawn tile. Or, if he so chooses, he may simply discard the tile he just drew.
The idea is to form a connected network of countries / states. Countries (or states) that share a land boundary need no intervening form of transportation between them. However, if a player wishes to travel by air between two countries, these countries must be of the same color and a player must play a plane card of the same color in his rack between those two tiles. There are only two plains of each color in the mix, so this can be tricky. If a player wishes to travel by car between two countries or states, the player must place a car tile between those two countries or states. Remember, there must be an intervening country or state between these two which shares a common border. Car tiles are not color-sensitive. Since many countries and states share common borders, it is possible to reach numerous other countries or states via the use of an automobile. Thus, these tiles are very valuable and should be scooped at every opportunity. They rarely go to waste. Ship tiles work in a similar fashion, but the ships are limited to specific seas as listed on the tiles.
The first player to complete his vacation by logically connecting all ten tiles on his rack is victorious and enjoys the fruits of a will- planned vacation.
My summary of these three games is the same as that of Europa Tour. These new versions are not rocket science. There are no deep levels of strategy or numerous tactics to be employed. That doesn’t mean, however, that they are completely bereft of strategy. One should place tiles so as to keep as many options available as possible. For instance, in the Africa game, placing Chad of the Democratic Republic of Congo near the center of your rack is usually a wise move since these are connected by land to numerous other countries. Madagascar, on the other hand, is much more restrictive, with only two land connections. So, spot the countries that give you the most options and try to utilize these in your rack.
Further, when discarding a tile from your rack, you are usually free to discard it atop any of the three revealed stacks of tiles. Try to cover tiles that you don’t wish to use, but which may be beneficial to your opponents. This will thwart their plans and often force them to completely rearrange their itinerary.
As in Europe Tour, there is certainly a degree of frustration involved. It can be quite maddening to never have the tile or tiles you need surface, or to have them scooped by an opponent before you have the opportunity to grab them. Often, you find yourself being forced to re-plan your itinerary, which is time consuming and fraught with its own perils. And, there is always this nagging feeling that your opponents are one step ahead of you in the rust to complete their vacation plans. These elements are what makes the game “click”, however, and help make the game quite enjoyable and moderately tense.
The game can be played with 2 – 4 players and is quite enjoyable with any number. With two players, however, it is a bit more strategic, as you can plan your discards and control your tile choices with a bit more certainty. Maneuvers can be made wherein you discard a tile, only to pick it up on your next turn in order to position it in your rack more advantageously. With 4 players, this tactic is much more difficult as the likelihood that the discarded tile will be taken or covered by an opponent before your next turn arrives is far greater.
However, there is no escaping the fact that, like Europa Tour, these versions are primarily light, family games. Don’t enter it expecting it to rise to the same level as meatier games such as Age of Steam or Puerto Rico. Rather, these games are much more appropriate in family gaming situation or as light fillers. Further, there is a healthy dose of luck involved, and some folks might find this aspect not to their tastes. I’ve always enjoyed Rack-O, however, so I can enjoy any of the ”10 Days” games for what they are: Rack-O with a geography lesson.
The Moon and Weissblum team have been cooking up quite a few things lately, and Europa Tour represents the lighter end, but not the lightest, of their recent output. The goal is simple: create a continuous tour of Europe by getting ten connected cards in a row. Cards consist of countries (one card per country), ships, and airplanes. The first player to create a connected tour wins.Each player has a plastic form that holds the ten cards in tour order, and begins with ten face-down cards. One at a time, these are placed into your form but once placed they cannot be moved. When play begins, players choose from one of five face-up cards or draw blind from the deck, and they can replace one card in their form with the new card. Sound vaguely familiar? Yes, this is a modern take on Rack-o, but done in a better and more enjoyable form. The airplanes and ships add to the updating, too. The board shows a map of Europe with countries in five colors. Some countries have shipping lines that extend from their borders and connect to specific other countries. A tour is connected if you can walk from one country to another (they share a border), take a ship between the two (three cards total: departing country card, ship card, and arriving country card), or fly between the two (three cards again: departing country card, airplane card in the same color, arriving country card of the same color). Ships and airplanes cannot start or end the tour, but they give good flexibility within. The five cards available for choosing can be stacked as play continues. If I draw from the deck, for example, the card I return to the table can cover an existing card. Staying flexible in the game is important early on; those who wait for the only country that can connect each end of their form are likely to be disappointed. It is better to build the middle of your tour first and move toward the ends, rather than try to connect in the middle. As play proceeds, you get some information about what others are doing but usually not enough to affect your own play. Most games end before the initial card stack is depleted, and what looks like a complete unconnected mess at first can quickly move into a logical approach with the right country or airplane card. The board is printed on both sides, one showing the country names in German and the other side showing the country names in their own language. The cards show both names, and either side will help the geographically-challenged learn which countries are close to others. I strongly recommend taking the board to a color copying machine and reducing it 50%, then making a copy for each player. This makes the game easier to play and allows each player to plan their tours without giving away what they're looking at. Marcia and I have played this as a two-player game requiring a twenty-card tour, and I recommend it this way. The card distribution is the same as a four player game, but having twenty spaces gives some good flexibility and it really doesn't last much longer than normal. This concept has obvious applicability for other continents as well, so I expect that soon we'll be seeing tours of new places. Europa Tour is fun and given the Spiel des Jahres's voting over the last few years I would not be surprised to see this nominated or even make the top three. The game is light enough to play with families or in schools but has a dose of strategy in the card selection and replacement to be comparable to jury favorites like TransAmerica. Along with New England, this gives the Alan/Aaron team a solid one-two punch.