Please note that past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Also, please note that not only am I not financial advisor, I do not play one on TV. Taking any investing advice from me with regards to money which you own in the real world is bordering on insanity.
Airlines Europe is a new 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!