If Chaos in the Old World touches one end of the gaming spectrum then Airlines Europe certainly hits the other. This is a very family friendly game designed by the fellow who brought us Ticket to Ride.
In Airlines Europe the players invest in airlines and then try and make their stocks as valuable as possible. The game has two mechanics. The first involves a board which resembles the Ticket to Ride boards. Players pay game money to add cities to a given airline's network. Each time an airline gets a new city it's value on the stock market increases. There are some simple rules governing adding new cities to an airline that result in some tough gaming decisions but the key here is that the rules are simple.
The second game mechanic in Airlines involves purchasing stocks. Players may opt in their turns to "buy stock" in an airline. You have a random selection of stocks to purchase so you may or may not be able to get the stock you want on the turn you want it. If you have the most stock in a given airline the you can score points and the player with the most points wins.
The game play end up with players trying to pump up the values of certain airlines and then desperately trying to buy that airline's stocks. Of course, once the players see an airline's value going up they will All try to buy that stock. What results is a very interactive game that rewards a player who can pay attention, make the most of the stock they can get, and make the most of the resources they have at hand.
Airlines has a lot going for it. It is very, very far from the group solitaire type of game- players really need to watch what their opponents are doing and buying. I liked the fact that you can slow down an opponent but never really demolish them. Thus, the game is competitive but not viciously so. Finally, it's surprisingly exciting for a game based on airline stocks.
That does touch on Airline's weakness. Unlike Chaos in the Old World, which is about a very dramatic process, Airlines is a little dry. As a gamer I enjoy it but I suspect that a typical 17 year old boy will gravitate to Chaos. Saying that this is the most exciting game of airline stocks I've ever played pretty much says it all- I would absolutely play it again and even buy it to play with genteel friends, but Airlines is a game for gamers.
In summary, I really enjoyed this game. I reminded me of Ticket to Ride (for good reason) and it shares Ticket's strengths and weaknesses. It's a great family or group game as long as the players have the interest.