Thurn and Taxis

Thurn and Taxis is a game for two to four players designed by Karen and Andreas Seyfarth. In Thurn and Taxis, players pick up cards, place them on the table and later discard them in exchange for placing wooden houses on the game board. Points are rewarded based on how many cards are placed on the table and on how many, and where, wooden houses are placed. The person with the most points at the end of the game wins.

In Thurn and Taxis, players take the roles as postmasters, building a postal system in southern Germany and a few bordering countries. During the course of the game, players get to build post offices in different cities and claim new routes to build the largest network of post offices. But, just like in reality, being the first actor on the market is often rewarded – as such, there’s a race to be the first to do long routes, claim different regions and being active in many different regions. It’s a lovely game full of amazing artwork and with references to an interesting historical development in the postal services industry.

I must admit that it’s quite difficult not to compare this game to Ticket to Ride. Unfortunately, that’s not necessarily fair. This game is a game of connecting nodes and claiming/scoring routes. But there are so many differences between the games that I feel a bit ashamed of doing the comparisons. Both are great games that in no way make the other obsolete.

Components

Game board

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This game takes place in southern Germany and parts of a few boarding countries. Cities act as nodes with roads connecting them to one another. The cities are assigned colors that become important in the scoring mechanism.

The board has a lovely antique color theme on it and it has dedicated spots for cards and bonus tiles, sparing some of that precious table areas.

We are still working on a good way to take pictures of larger pieces in general and game boards specifically. Scanning them is an option, but we aren’t really satisfied with that solution. If you have any good suggestions, please reach out to us!

There is one game board in Thurn and Taxis.

Houses

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The houses (post offices) come in four different colors, one for each player. They are placed (with a few restrictions relating to the color of the cities) once a route is scored. The routes are not forced by mission cards (as they are with tickets in Ticket to Ride) but can be, somewhat, freely distributed across the map as long as the player has the appropriate city cards.

The houses are made of wood and have beautiful shapes; they aren’t in the ordinary “shoe box” shapes with a roof. This makes it seem like a cozy cottage once the post offices are spread out across the map. The antique colors from the playing board works extremely well with the houses and their clear and standard colors that could’ve come directly from MS-paints ordinary palette.

There are 20 wooden houses in each of the four colors, 80 in total in Thurn and Taxis.

City cards

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The city cards are used in Thurn and Taxis to create routes. Routes aren’t claimed and owned in the same way as they are in Ticket to Ride. The post offices are placed in the cities instead of on the roads and players are allowed to place their post offices in cities that already have post offices of other players. We’ve created a house rule based on this mechanic, see the segment below.

There are six city cards placed face up next to the draw pile. Players get to choose whether they want to go with one of the face-up cards or one random one from the draw pile. This diminishes some of the randomness associated with having only a drawing pile (this is another one of the similarities to Ticket to Ride).

Every turn, players are forced to pick up one city card and play one city card to the route. When playing a card, the city on it has to connect to the route’s end-cities (either to the left or to the right). This means that players can’t wait around for the best cards, as is often the case in Ticket to Ride. As a contrast, Ticket to Ride introduces the element of stress in the fact that a route can only be claimed by one (sometimes two) player(s).

The cards have a few elements on them. The name of the city is at the bottom. It is written on a color background that corresponds to the color that the city has been assigned on the map. This is partially used for locating the city. In comparison to the Pandemic alternative with zoomed-in maps, I find this to work quite well and at the same time not being an obvious locator. There aren’t that many cities and there are eight zone colors to narrow the search. Most importantly, this leaves room for some more artwork (that takes up the major part of the card)!

There are 66 city cards, 3 for each city, in Thurn and Taxis.

Principal firm cards & Carriage cards

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The principal firm cards are color-coded and assigned to each player once the game starts. This is the stable with which the brave postal system builders all start.

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The carriage cards are not only placed on the principal firm cards to show how players improve from the small stable, to a luxurious carriage and a pompous mansion. The cards are also used in the scoring system. Players get rewarded with the points in the lower left corner if they score a route with the number of cities stated in the upper right corner. They are, however, required to score them in a sequential order. It is not allowed to go for the seven-city route directly and score the ten points. (Scoring the seven-city route is also an end-game trigger)

There are 4 principal firm cards and 20 carriage cards in Thurn and Taxis.

Bonus tiles

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Different bonus tiles are rewarded to players for a number of reasons. Players can get bonus tiles by placing a post office in all cities in one region or one city in each region. There are also bonus tiles for the lengths of the routes (five through seven).

The tiles are designed so that the first player to fulfill the requirements picks the top tile with the most points. The tiles are worth one point less for every player that completes the mission. This adds an element of race / stress to the game.

There are 30 bonus tiles in Thurn and Taxis.

Summary cards / reference cards

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I love summary (or reference) cards. For Thurn and Taxis, they are made out of cardboard and look exclusive. The rules for this game are really simple, making this useful primarily for new players.

Every turn a player also has the choice to get the help from one city official. These are described both on the reference cards and on the game board. I don’t think this was necessary, though. Adding them to one was necessary to keep players from needing to keep the rulebook nearby, but the second one is simply artwork as the information was already available to the players.

There are four summary / reference cards in Thurn and Taxis.

House rules

#1 The player that has the most post offices in cities that just have one post office in them gets an additional three points at the end of the game. The reasoning is that more post offices in one city increase the competition. If a player is the owner of the only post office in a city, the inhabitants have no choice but use that person’s services (unless they want to jump on their horse and deliver the post themselves, of course). This works best for three or four players (otherwise it’s just a reward to the player with the most post offices in total).

Colorful Neighborhood

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Colorful Neighborhood was created using pieces from Thurn and Taxis, as presented above.

Version

Thurn and Taxis

Publisher: Rio Grande game

Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any product identification number.

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