The Day in Gaming, September 4, 2019: Thurn Und Taxis

I’m posting about a game every day in September! Here’s a link to yesterday’s post.

I scored a German copy of Thurn and Taxis last weekend at Strategicon and I brought it to game night tonight. After my first game I understand why it’s so highly regarded. It’s basically a next-step Ticket to Ride, featuring simple-and-familiar player turns with more depth and strategy.

In Thurns Und Taxis you’re creating postal routes in 16th-century Bavaria. The game is based on the historical Thurns und Taxis royal family, who were instrumental in building the postal service in Europe.

Ticket to Ride fans will feel right at home with the open market of cards, the map of connected routes, and the colorful pieces on the board. On your turn you draw a card, then play a card in front of you. You’ll eventually build a tableau of cards that represent your current route. If it’s at least three cards, then you can turn them in and place your post offices on cities matching your cards in one province OR in one city matching your cards per province. There are carriage bonuses from three to seven if you’re able to convert the appropriate route length.

What I liked are the optional abilities that four different characters give you once per turn: resetting the available cards, taking two instead of one card, playing two instead of one card, or claiming a carriage bonus even if you’re one or two short.

It’s a neat game of network building and offers a deeper layer of strategy than TTR. You don’t block your opponents from routes since any number of you can have a post office on any city; what you’re trying to do is efficiently place your post offices to maximize your scoring. It has a race element to it since the faster you complete routes and fill up provinces with your post offices you’ll receive higher bonuses.

Thurn Und Taxis was an instant hit for me and it seemed like my gaming group enjoyed it, too. It won the Spiel des Jahres back in 2006 and for my money it still holds it own today.