Most people’s only experience with a board game is a family night when they fought over Monopoly or got bored with the game of LIFE. I used to be like that, but things have changed. Catan showed me a new type of game called a “Eurogame” that had more options, more pieces, and more depth. I’ve never turned around.
So, what exactly is a Eurogame? Eurogames usually have a lot of indirect ways for players to talk to each other. Usually, they have a strong focus on the theme and a lot of competition over resources or victory points. Most of the time, these kinds of games try to make skill and strategy more important than luck. Many Eurogames are also known for their parts, which are often made of wood and have a lot of details.
Even though the games are very different in how they work, you always feel like you have to make tough decisions and can’t do everything you want to do.
I like how these games make me think and use my brain. I like coming up with a plan and then putting that plan to the test. I especially like it when my plan works. When I play heavy Eurogames, I feel happy and satisfied in a way that I can’t find anywhere else. Here are some of the best Eurogames, in no particular order.
The Castles of Burgundy – Stefan Feld
In The Castles of Burgundy, each player gets a blank estate board with different colours on it. The sections of these colours are in the shape of a hexagon. During the game, each player will take turns rolling two dice, which they will use to take hexagonal tiles from a central supply and place them on their estates.
Each tile has a different power that is used when the tile is put down. For example, putting a Carpenter’s Workshop in your estate lets you put any face-up building tile from the supply into your storage area. Putting a Castle tile in your estate lets you do any of the actions. If a colored-in area is finished, the player gets points for the size of the area and bonus points for the round in which it was finished. The first and second players to fill in ALL of a certain colour on their estates also get bonus points. At the end of the game, the winner is the player with the most points.
One of the things I like best about this game is that some of the abilities of the tiles let me link the abilities of other tiles. There’s nothing like the feeling you get when you figure out how to do three things with one die. The hardest part of this game is figuring out how to use your rolls, whether they are good or bad, to grow your holdings. Even though that sounds easy, it never is. The Castles of Burgundy is on this list for these and many other reasons.
Caverna: The Cave Farmers – Uwe Rosenberg
In Caverna, each player is in charge of a growing family of dwarves who work to improve their cave home, build up their farm, and go on adventures. When the game is over and the dust has settled, the player with the best stronghold wins.
Caverna is a pretty big game, both in terms of how it looks and how it is played. The most important parts of the game happen on a central board where you choose what to do. At first, there are only a few generic actions to choose from, but each round after that, a new action is added. In addition to this area for choosing actions, there are a few smaller boards with different tiles that players can buy and add to their strongholds. With these additions, players will eventually get the victory points that will decide who wins the game.
The fact that you can go on adventures with your dwarves is one of the best parts of this game. Every time a dwarf goes on an adventure, he or she gains a level of experience. The player can choose from different rewards based on how much experience the dwarf has. Some of these rewards are very simple, like getting a free resource. Others are better, like getting a big discount on a pricey tile.
Caverna is a lot of fun and a very satisfying game to play. It’s very hard and has a strong sense of theme. You need Caverna in your life for many reasons, including these and the fact that it can be played by up to seven people at once.
Carcassonne – Klaus-Jürgen Wrede
This is an old favourite. There aren’t many rules. Take a tile and put it down. Then you can put one of your meeples on the tile as long as the feature you’re putting it on doesn’t connect to a feature where someone else has already put one of their meeples. If this tile placement finishes a feature, you get points and your meeple back. The game itself is anything but simple, though.
The only way to learn where to put your tiles and when to put your meeples is to play the game a lot. Your first few games will probably be friendly ones where everyone does their own thing, but you’ll quickly learn that this is not the best way to play. After that, it can get pretty rough as players try to use each other’s strengths against them and take away their chances to score.
That’s just one of the many reasons why Carcassonne is a great game. It changes as the people who play it change. Carcassonne also stands out because it has a lot of expansions that add a lot of new and interesting things to the game. With just a few extra tiles, some of these expansions change the game so much that it almost feels like you’re playing a whole different game.
Carcassonne is one of the best games ever made because it is easy to learn, can be expanded, and can be played over and over again.
Keyflower – Sebastian Bleasdale and Richard Breese
Most likely, Keyflower is best known for its unique auction system. There are several seasons in the game. Several tiles will be put up for auction each season. Your village will get these tiles at some point. The person who wins the auction for a certain tile will be able to add that tile to their own village. The players bid on these tiles with their coloured meeples, which they get as the game goes on. The different resources are made with these same meeples. Which meeples you use to bid and which you use to take actions depends entirely on the colour of the meeples and whether or not someone else has already used the action.
If you win a tile, you have to give up the meeples you used to bid on it. When you bid on a tile, fewer meeples are needed to make resources. So, do you use your meeples to make the resources you need to do things that earn you victory points, or do you use them to get useful tiles to add to what you already have? As the years go by, these questions become more and more important.
It’s not always easy to decide whether to use your workers to win tiles or to keep them around for other things. In fact, it can be painful to have to make these kinds of choices. But this is what makes this game so special and fun. Using your workers as bid chips is a brilliant idea, which is why you should put Keyflower on your game shelf.
Cephalofair Games Gloomhaven Strategy Boxed Board Game
In the board game Gloomhaven, players take on the role of a mercenary with their own unique set of skills and goals. In this made-up game, all the players have to work together to get through dangerous dungeons and old crypts. This game can be played by one to four people and takes about an hour to two hours to play.