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New To The Hobby: What are Eurogames?

Many people have preconceptions and expectations of all boardgames based on childhood experience with such games as Monopoly and Risk etc.

Certainly speaking for myself for many years these two games, and the Warhammer series, very much coloured my ideas of what games were.

There's nothing particularly wrong with that, but recent years have seen a major increase in games from Europe that are very different from these and also different to common party games such as Balderdash, Pictionary etc.

The name coined for these games is "Eurogames" though many popular examples are by American authors (most notably Alan R. Moon's Ticket To Ride).

So what is a Eurogame? And how is it different to those long dull games of Monopoly I remember from childhood?

Firstly, like all such terms, the blanket nature of the word Eurogame is slightly misleading in that all sorts of settings, or 'themes' are present and the games very wildly. I anticipate many will disagree with one of my definitions or descriptions of what it means. This is a function of how varied the choice of Eurogames is.

I maintain though, that there are some factors more common to Eurogames than in traditional games;

No player elimination
Firstly, the worst part about those long games of Monopoly for me were when you were the first to be eliminated, meaning you were excluded from the next two hours of fun. Many, if not most Eurogames get rid of elimination altogether, favouring a points scoring system of victory rather then a last man standing approach. This means that no-one should be sitting on the sidelines during a game while their friends continue playing.

Less (or no) dice:
Victory at many games is determined by dice rolling more than anything else, and while random elements are common in Eurogames, they are greatly reduced from the "roll and move" games like Monopoly in which a bad roll may well mean the whole difference between victory and defeat. Most Eurogames attenuate the role luck plays in your games by either having the same rolls affect all players or the whole game (such as in Settlers Of Catan) or keeping the rolls to a minimum.

Multiple Paths To Victory:
The use of an abstract Victory Points system enables designers to incorporate several different ways of achieving victory, creating points through different methods so that when you play multiple times you can do different things each time and keep the fresh feeling of your first game. In fact, think of it like this; if you win by having the most money, how are you going to make the most money? Sell your own goods? Make something out of them and sell that? The second option will be more expensive, but may be more lucrative...

Shorter Playing Times:
Thirdly, Eurogames tend to take less than two hours and since everyone is involved all the way through no-one should feel bored by the end. This is a crucial improvement on the games from my youth. A four hour game from which you got eliminated three hours before the end? No thanks!

As time has gone on, various of the boundaries in gaming have become blurred, and many games have been designed that share many ideas and mechanics with more "Ameritrash" style games (notably Conan) and could probably be dubbed "hybrids", but to my mind there are only two types of game - Good and Bad.

While you may have a hankering after more Eurogames, there are so many great games around at the moment, I wouldn't limit myself by sticking to one type - try something new and you may find all new ways of having fun and excitement!


(I apologise for the negative attitude to Monopoly, I realise many people like it.)

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