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Airlines Europe - Board Game Box Shot

Airlines Europe

The age of passenger aviation has begun. Courageous entrepreneurs establish the first airlines and compete for the few available licenses in the European air space. The rapidly growing market and the chance for high gains attract high-powered investors. But only the ones that use their influence skillfully and their cash wisely will turn their investments into the most profitable airlines.

Airlines Europe game in play
images © Abacus Spiele

User Reviews (7)

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148 of 155 gamers found this helpful
“A decidedly different ticket”

Airlines Europe is a recent game by designer Alan Moon – known mostly for the Ticket to Ride series of games. In Airlines Europe, 2-5 players ages 10 and up, take on the role of investors in the early age of commercial airlines in a game which averages about 75 minutes.

Before continuing, I need to make one thing clear. In Airlines Europe, you do not control a specific airline – and hence, you don’t own a specific color which represents you or your company. This concept almost universally confuses the newcomer to the game.

As the player, you represent yourself – an investment mogul – driven to by your desire to be the most notorious of your peers. You accomplish this by helping better those airlines in which you have a vested interest – and possibly hindering the development of your opponents interests.

Each player starts with a handful of stocks and some cash. Game play is fast and simple. Each turn you a presented with three options – expand an airline, add stocks to your portfolio or obtain more “seed capital.”

When you expand an airline, you buy the rights to fly from one European to another by paying a certain amount to the bank. You then take a colored plane marker and place it on that route. This action moves up the reputation of that particular airline a number of spaces corresponding to the cost of that route. After claiming a route (or possibly 2 if so desired, and funds are available) that player is able to claim a stock certificate – either one of the five available face up in the stock market, or chancing a blind draw from the stock pile.

After a stock certificate is taken, it is immediately replaced with one from the stock pile and the next player takes his turn.

Another option for a player turn is to lay down a number of stock certificates in front of you – creating your portfolio. Until stocks are in your portfolio (as opposed to your hand), they are considered out of the game for scoring purposes – so it behooves players to occasionally get those stocks on the table before a scoring round appears (more about that in a minute).

When a player puts stocks into play, he lays any number of same-colored certificates in front of him – into his portfolio (you can also play two different colored certificates if so desired). By doing this, income is earned based on the number of certificates played per turn.

Finally, there will be a point in which a player can neither improve and airline, nor lay down certificates. The final option is to receive “seed funding” from the bank – giving that player a nice bit of cash, but ending his turn immediately.

The name of this game is fame and notoriety however – and gaining fame is more important than fortune in this game. Fame is scored three times per game at semi-random interval, after a stock certificate is drawn from the pile. If a scoring card is revealed, the game pauses while the score is calculated. Each player adds up the stock certificates in their portfolio for each airline. A score track on the perimeter keeps track of how powerful that airline is – granting more fame to those players who have the most stock in that company. Fame tokens (victory points) are handed to each player until each airline has been accounted for – and the game continues as before.

Airlines Europe is a joy. A new and interesting mechanic, combined with Alan Moon’s wonderful talent for balance and simplicity make this a fantastic “next step” game for those Ticket to Ride players looking for something a bit different. Just don’t get your heart set on being the Red plane!

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148 of 156 gamers found this helpful
“Acquire + Ticket to Ride it is not…”

Airlines Europe is a game where players connect paths between cities to build powerful airline business empires. I enjoy it and I think most gamers will as well.

Airlines are grown by purchasing routes between cities and marking the routes with small plastic airplane tokens that match the color of the airline. Each airline begins in one home city and can spread out from there in any direction. Growth is limited by the number of tokens each airline has to spend and some airlines start with more than others. For those with limited growth potential, bonus points are awarded to the airline (not player) when a long chain of connections are made between two predefined cities.

Stock is available for each airline and can be collected to gain victory points during 3 scoring rounds. Anyone can grow an airline and anyone can collect stock in it, so the basic strategy is to build out airlines when you have more stock in it than other players.

The game is played on a colorful board with victory point scoring tables based on the size of airlines listed around the sides of the board. Components include cash for purchasing routes, stock certificates, victory point chits and airline tokens. Everything is well made and the game is quick to set up.

Play is quick with little downtime and player interaction, while not fierce, is definitely present when vying for majority of stock in the largest airlines and/or blocking an opponent from expanding their routes in their favorite airline.

I wouldn’t say it’s a TTR/Acquire amalgamation — though at first glance, one might assume so. You do connect paths between cities like TTR (but unlike TTR there are no private “destination” tasks) and there are stocks like Acquire, but you can’t merge airlines together and cash is more a means to an end rather than the end goal itself in Acquire.

This is a somewhat light game, fun, to be sure, and a nice next step for bringing someone towards the light after hooking them with a couple good gateway games. It’s probably has too much going on to make a good gateway itself but should appeal well to most gamers who are looking for an engaging filler.

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Mage Wars fan
Novice Reviewer
I play yellow
151 of 164 gamers found this helpful
“Great game...just go buy it already!”

The game has players investing in the early days of the commercial airline industry. Essentially this is a stock/speculation game – that may sound boring…no actually it DOES sound boring, but with designer Alan Moon of Ticket to Ride fame, it is anything but!

The game is simple to learn, and moves quickly with little down time before you do one of 4 actions available on your turn:

1. Buy one or two planes of an airline and place them on a route on the gameboard – thereby increasing the value of one of the 10 available airlines. Take a share card.

2. Play share cards. You receive cash for each card played.

3. Trade “normal” airline shares for the special Air Abacus share cards. The majority owners of the Air Abacus shares gets a substantial victory point boost during the 3 scoring rounds. You almost have to keep pace with the other players investments in Air Abacus or you could find yourself falling severely behind.

4. Take money from the bank, the only way to get cash other than playing share cards.

It sounds simple enough, but money is extremely tight in this game and the decisions you are faced with each turn are excruciating. Should you buy the routes you want now or next turn? Buy the ever important Air Abacus shares instead? Lay down some shares to generate some cash? Where should you place the planes you purchase? Which route will grow your airline the most and possibly interfere with the growth of competing airlines?

All game reviews are subjective but I can’t recommend Airlines Europe highly enough. It’s a game with enough strategy to interest gamers but simple enough to appeal to non-gamers and those looking for the next step up after Gateway games like Ticket to Ride. The game moves quickly with minimal downtime even with 5 players.

The game looks great as well, especially once those planes start to fill up the board. Overall just a great game.

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Smash Up: Trickster Faction Fan
146 of 166 gamers found this helpful
“Great game, but "Ticket" fans should not be fooled. ”

Okay, Alan Moon’s name on the box, a transportation theme with plastic planes and routes, this is a re-packaging of Ticket to Ride, right? Wrong.

This is actually a repackaged, streamlined version of one of Mr. Moon’s earlier games, Union Pacific. Although I never played the original, I find myself enjoying this game very much.

The issue with most economic games is that they tend to be one-dimensional and a little dry. This game, however, has really good interactive play and great mechanics for increasing the value of your stock. The game plays as a basic set collecting game, but allows you the ability to expand an airline’s influence, thereby increasing the value of the stock. There are also a lot of neat twists and turns as well, such as having one airline with different rules regarding shares acquisition and valuation, airlines of different size, and bonuses for completing certain routes for specific airlines (ok, that part’s a little like TTR).

Teaching it was a little complex, but we all had it down after the first game. I would recommend this for any family game night or for fans of Acquire-like games.

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Knight-errant Beta 1.0 Tester
Intermediate Reviewer
The Big Cheese 2012
147 of 170 gamers found this helpful
“Ticket to Ride please meet Acquire”

After finishing a single play through of this game, I found that it wasn’t a bad time, but it wasn’t something I was really interested in trying again. The one thing that I realized after playing through and trying to reflect on what I did not like, is that I almost never looked at the board. I didn’t study it for strategy; I only really looked at it when I went to place a plane. The part of the board that I studied constantly was the track around the outside that tracked the value of investments.

The gist of the game: There are a number of different airlines (based on different colors) based on the number of players. The players represent investors into the airline industry. Throughout the game, players take turns making investments in an airline, acquiring money, and purchasing planes for any of the airlines and placing them on the board. At a few times throughout the game, a scoring phase is initiated. During this time, a player scores a number of victory points based upon how valuable each airline is that they are invested in and how much they have invested in the airline.

Replay Value: some gamers that enjoy this sort of game may find that the interest in playing again is much higher. I do not doubt that this game will be successful, but I am more of a war gamer and role-player. This game allows for neither itch to be satisfied.

Components: The tickets don’t match up very well with some of the airlines that they are supposed to represent. A couple of the plastic airplanes of different airlines are barely a different color. This makes some purchases and investments a bit confusing.

Easy to Learn: There are almost 2 different games going on here, one with placing the airplanes on the board, and the other with the investment cards. The game is not complicated. Figuring out how some of the fiddly bits go together can sometimes get confusing. Also forgetting to move the planes around the scoring board after purchases can just about ruin the game if they are not caught.

2-5 players Playing with 2 players would be a fairly straight forward and boring ordeal. The more players the better for this game. 13+ is probably not totally accurate for age. 10+ might be a better gauge of the game. Though some aspects of the game might be missed on a 10 year old, they would probably still have fun. 75+ minutes is an over exaggeration. Playing this game in an hour seems totally feasible once all the players understand the rules of the game.

This game would have a place on my shelf if I did not already own Ticket to Ride. I understand that this game does not fulfill quite the same role as Ticket to Ride does, but it is fairly close. Airplanes: Europe will definitely satisfy some gamers. The guys that I played with found it more enjoyable than Acquire and it truly fulfilled that niche. I only wish that the board had meant something more. I came in second place in the play through and hardly had to study it. Moves on the board were about half as important as your investment strategy and what airlines you extended.

It may just be that there were too many spots on the board available and hardly any reason or ability to really block another player’s move. There may be a level of strategy with placing the planes and investing in certain ways that escaped me. I am just not sure if the time invested into this game necessary to discover them would really be rewarded by that much more fun.

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United Kingdom
83 of 98 gamers found this helpful
“Excellent game. Very suitable for recently introduced gamers!”

I’ll keep it short as the other reviews give enough detail of the game workings…

Airlines is a superb game. Enough strategy to keep regular gamers occupied but simple enough that it’s not too taxing and doesn’t cause too much ‘Analysis Paralysis’.

If you’ve introduced non-gamers (especially those through Ticket To Ride), this is a perfect progression. Particularly into share-based mechanics. It’s a step up from TtR, involving deeper strategy, but not enough to make it daunting.

Oh, and a ton of miniature Junkers 52′s? Awesome!

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El Dorado
I'm a Gamin' Fiend!
Rated 100 Games
100 of 136 gamers found this helpful
“Not really TTR... more like its older brother.”

I really liked this game the first time I played it (that doesn’t happen too often). It was especially notable because I didn’t do that well. But it was one of those games that I wanted to play again soon to improve my performance.

Yes, there could be comparisons to Ticket to Ride (same designer, laying down airline routes instead of trains) and it definitely has the same good quality of components you can expect from Rio Grande. However, this has added economic components like stock options that give it more sophisticated gameplay and a deeper strategy (Not that I’m ragging on TTR! Love that too!)

Overall, if you really like TTR (or any game with a map like I do) then definitely check this one out. It’s like graduating to the next level. I’ve been thinking about getting my own copy for a while and might have to bite the bullet.


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