I'm a self confessed board game addict and tend to buy a lot every time we head out to a car boot sale. Explore Europe was another of these bargains and a game we haven't stopped playing.
~~ Contents ~~
Playing board (double sided)
168 Destination Cards with pictures
28 Instruction Cards
6 flight plans
Sounds alot but it really is a simple game.
~~ Preperation ~~
Handing out the cards and placing your pieces on the board takes a whole 2 minutes and your game is ready to play. What more could you ask for?
~~ What is it? ~~
Explore Europe is a board game where strategy means everything. Each player is dealt one of the destination cards and this is their starting and finishing place. One player will get a blue card, the next a red then the next a yellow and back to blue. I should point out that each set of cards cover a different section of the board so you can be lucky and get the middle of very unlucky and end up on an island with few choices for movement.
Each player is then dealt 6 destination cards (2 of each colour) and the aim of the game is to reach your 6 destinations and go back to your home square to win the game. Sounds easy right? Well there are a few obstacles to the game and some of it can depend on sheer luck!
~~ The Rules ~~
The rules state that the youngest player will always start the game and that you will play in a clockwise direction. We usually play like this is there's a younger member of the family player but if it's just adults we rely on the good old fashioned roll of the dice.
The board has coordinates around the side with numbers across the way and letters vertically. Each destination card includes a coordinate so you can identify where the towns are very easily.
You get your starting town and your destination cards and find the quickest and easiest route for you to finish. This isn't as easy as it sounds and you will most probably end up going up and down the board and to the other side over and over again. You also need to throw the exact number to reach your destination so be prepared to walk round in circles for a while! Once you reach your destination you hand in the card and start your journey to the next destination. Sounds a bit boring doesn't it? Well there are a few added additions and twists to help you along the way.
You can only move along the same path once in a turn and you can't land on a square where your opponent is. I've quite often deliberately sat on someone elses square if I haven't rolled enough to reach my own. It not only irritates them but quite often moves them further away from where they wanted to go.
If you roll a 1 you have the choice of picking up an instruction card or moving 1 space. Most of the time I pick up a card because a 1 really doesn't get you very far and it would be a very long journey if you did that every turn. The instruction cards can vary from miss a turn, move an extra 4 spaces and go straight to your destination. The cards which add a number of spaces onto your roll usually come with a general knowledge question about the country you're standing in. There are no obvious labels or anything on the map so if your geography is as bad as mine, you'll be taking a lot of wild guesses. The cards that usually stump me are the name a river in the country that you're standing in. First I have to work out which country I'm in and then try to think of a river. My worst guess has been guessing the country to be Turkey because there was a picture of a Turkey on the country. I was actually standing in Poland and have never lived it down. At least I know where Poland is now though! lol.
The road markings on the map are shown by a solid line connecting one place to another. There are also Sea Markings on the board which are a bit more difficult to move across and even more so if you have a bad memory! If you need to go by sea you would stop at the port and end your turn there - whether you had finished the number on your dice or not. The next turn you don't roll the dice but move across the dotted line to your destination. You then have to wait for your next turn to roll the dice and continue from there. This can really slow down a player in the lead as it is essentially 3 turns to move across by sea. So whilst your opponent could have moved 18 spaces, you've taken 3 turns to move 3! I should point out that if you forget you're going by sea and roll the dice, you then have to move your piece and can't stop at the port until your next turn. If you do it again after that then you're just completely silly like me and waste around 6 turns doing nothing productive!
There are also airports on the board and players can use the number on their dice to fly between zones and reach their destinations faster. It's hard to explain without showing the flight cards but I'll do my best. Airports are marked with a red dot and tend to be the major cities such as they are in real life. The board is split into 6 zones - 2 across and 3 down. If you roll a 2 on your dice you can fly to another airport within the zone you're standing in. If you roll a 3 you can fly to another airport in the same zone and then move 1 (or move 1 and then fly). A 4 on the dice means you can fly to a zone next to you either horizontally or vertically. You can't fly diagonally and you can only fly once in the same turn. A 6 just means you can use the 4 to travel to the next zone and then move 2 or the other way around. You can't move more than one zone in a turn so depending on where you're going it can be a big help or you can still spend ages. Of course if you roll a 3 but need to move zones you can't so it's a hit or miss when you're planning your route.
~~ Enjoyment ~~
I personally love this game as does my sister and the winner will probably be a different person every time due to the luck of the dice. It takes some planning to finish your cards first and I should mention it takes luck to get easy destinations to reach and not all of the islands.
The instruction cards have a been a great introduction into the game but I think it should have been made mandatory to pick up a card as some really disrupt even the best of players by sending you to the other side of the board.
I love the fact you can fly between zones and you have to wait to sail by sea but I feel they could have made it harder for players by allowing them to disrupt each others travels in some way. I know you can by sitting on their destination but there's only so long you can do that for without being forced to move.
It is great for a childs and probably your own geography as I've learnt quite a bit about where places are and what rivers they have and capital cities etc. Each destination card has it's own picture of the place and a description about its main attractions. Some look a bit out of date now as it was made in 1992 but the majority of things have stayed the same.
I have to admit that we've changed the rules quite a bit to change the length of the game and to cater for whoever might be playing at the time. It's never too early for children to learn through games and I would recommend this one from around 6+ rather than the 10 years stated on the box. I know they won't know much about general knowledge but with a little help, the excitement will show whilst they are learning about their continent.
~~ Our Twists~~
I said above that we like to change the rules around to suit who is playing and to vary the length of the game. It usually takes around 30 minutes to complete the game but you can never be sure how quickly people will advance around the board.
Put a time limit on the game. We're recently started playing in a slightly different way by putting a time limit on it so we would finish at 8pm. Instead of dealing out the destination cards at the start to everyone, we all take a card of the same colour and take a new one once we reach that destination. It does stop you from planning your journey and you can be racing from one side of the board to the other in minutes but it means at 8pm you can say stop and the game will stop. The player with the most destination cards is the winner. You can even add a bonus destination card to the person that gets back to their starting square the fastest. I personally like this method of playing as everyone can agree the time limit and the game won't drag on and on all night.
Deal more/less cards. If you want a longer game or more challenging then deal out more than 6 cards at the start of the game. If you don't want a long game or want to give a child a taster then only deal out one of each colour so the game will end quicker than usual. If we're wasting time on a rainy day then we'll often deal out 10-15 cards each and let the time fly by and have some laughs along the way.
Have a colour each. If you get frustrated by jumping around the board then try for a more precise game of taking a colour each. Each colour roughly covers a section of the board but will overlap with another colour. It means you have to throw more precisely and can actually be more frustrating than moving around the board.
Those are just a few of the ways we play - if I list them all then the review will be never ending and you've probably given up reading already!
~~ Value For Money ~~
We picked up our copy at a car boot a good few years ago for £1. We've spent many afternoons playing it and I'd pay up to £15 for it and still say it was value for money.
~~ Overall ~~
I couldn't recommend this highly enough. It's educational, fun, frustrating and can cause more laughs than computer games do. Pick yourself up a copy and begin your journey around Europe... who says you actually have to travel to see the world?
I've hopefully covered everything you would need to know but if I've missed something feel free to leave a comment. I also apologise for the length of the review... had no idea how much I'd written!