You are a student, attempting to backpack your way across Europe with only the lint in your pocket and your skills as a travel writer. Travel Blog was the closing game from our Educational Games evening and it might not be a game you are familiar with.
Designed by Vlaada Chvatil and published by Czech Edition Games this small box game did not get the reception I think it deserved from the gaming community. The problem here was the price point, Travel Blog should have occupied the £19.99 price bracket, however instead it was nearly double that coming in around £35. Neither the game's complexity or components seemed to justify this price point and as such the game languished on store shelves and now seems like it’s no longer in print.
Anyway, that’s enough preamble, let's get to the review.
A Quick Overview
Travel Blog is a simultaneous play game which isn’t a surprise given that Vlaada was the designer and that mechanic is somewhat of a signature for him. A board is placed in the centre of the table and 7 cards are dealt face up from a deck of destination cards. Which destinations you use depends on whether you are playing the Europe or America map.
Once all players have had a moment to study the locations a start destination is drawn and all players must, simultaneously play one of their player chips onto a location. The aim is to get as close to the start destination without being next to it. Players then pay €10 for every border between the start destination and their chosen end destination, plus €10 for every player chip beneath theirs. If the start and end destinations share a border an additional €30 cost is incurred.
Once everyone has paid their dues another 7 cards are dealt and the second round plays out. After every two rounds the players receive a stipend and the rules change slightly. In rounds 3 & 4 the players receive a second player chip and must now travel through two destinations using the shortest route. In 5 & 6 the players must draw two starting locations, their journey must start at one and end at the other while passing through both of their chosen locations. Finally in round 7 the players flip the script and score (instead of paying) €10 for each border they cross, attempting a world tour to score the most money.
The winner is the player at the end of the game that has the most euros.
Why Choose It?
I had a couple of reasons for choosing Travel Blog, the first was that it fit the theme. Each round the players read a small section of text from the included travel guide about their starting location. This will tell you about the location pictured on the card, population data and other interesting facts. It’s a gentle amount of learning with some genuinely interesting facts and statistics scattered in there.
The second reason was that the game is simple. Travel Blog is one of those games I love because it teaches itself across the course of the game. Like Legends of Andor or Blood Bowl Team Manager or even Vlaada’s own Space Alert, Travel blog introduces the core concept in round one, cements it in round 2, changes things up in 3 and again in 5 and 7.
My final reason however was futureproofing. I knew I would want to return to simultaneous action selection games in the future so I dropped this one in to give my players a taste of what those kind of games are like.
Did They Like It?
Yes. We played both Europe and America and the general feeling was that we know nothing about American geography, which meant that the second game was really just a crapshoot but it was still fun. There was some disagreement on the adjacent border rules, Bob thought they were stupid. Bob is wrong.
Travel Blog is a fun game, it’s short and it’s colourful. It combines geography and general knowledge with simple rules and frantic simultaneous gameplay. This one is no longer easily available but if you see a dusty old copy lying forgotten on your game store shelf or perhaps a bashed up old copy in a charity shop, then I highly recommend you give it a whirl, you never know, you might just learn something!