Euro style board games

A Eurogame is a particular class of board game that tends to have a theme, a reasonably short playing time and easy to learn rules. But don't think Monopoly or Trivial Pursuit, a eurogame requires more planning and thought than that. Eurogames are a relatively recent class of family strategy board games which I really enjoy.

Eurogames get their name because the main area of activity in developing them is in Europe and more exactly in Germany - they are quite often called German-style games. This community developed a style of board game which is not overly complex but still thoughtful. Good ones can easily be learned and played in a couple of hours but are interesting enough to come back and play again.

Eurogames have one or more of the following components:

Catan

Catan, originally called The Settlers of Catan, is a game for 2-6 players, each racing to be the largest settlement on the island of Catan by building small holdings, cities, and roads while acquiring and trading resources. Players collect resource cards like grain, wood, sheep, bricks or stone in order to build up their civilization and get the 10 victory points needed to win the game.

The setup of the game board in Catan involves laying out hexagonal tiles, which each show a resource or land type, randomly in a honeycomb shape and surrounding them with water tiles. Some of these water tiles contain ports. Each player is given two houses to use for their starting settlements. On each turn, two dice are rolled to determine which hexes produce resources. Mountains produce ore, forests produce lumber, hills produce brick, pastures produce wool and fields produce grain.

These resources are used to expand across Catan: you build new settlements and roads, or upgrade your existing settlements to cities. A road costs 1 lumber and 1 brick. If you don't have the resources you need then you can acquire them by trading with your opponents.

Players trade resource cards with each other, or with the bank at a ratio of four of any single resource for one of another. Players can improve the deal they get from the bank by building their settlements at ports (certain locations at the edge of the board), where they may trade with the bank at three to one or two to one ratios, depending on the location of the port.

Ticket To Ride

Ticket To Ride, published by Days of Wonder, is a cross country railway themed adventure board game where you collect matching train cards and lay claim to railway routes connecting cities across North America. The longer the route you build, the more points you score.

The mechanics of the game are simple enough to learn, making it ideal for younger members of your family, but it's still interesting and enjoyable for more advanced gamers.

The game starts with players getting dealt four train car cards as their playing hand. Three Destination Ticket cards are also dealt out which show a pair of cities on the map that represent two points which you secretly try to connect. You must hold at least two of these destination cards and place any unwanted tickets, if any, at the bottom of the stack. The destination tickets you hold onto must be held for the rest of game. You also get to select a group of 45 train pieces.

Each game turn has three actions a player can choose from although they can take only one of them per turn:

Ticket to Ride is a big format board game featuring high quality components and illustrations including 144 illustrated cards, an oversized board map of North America, wooden scoring markers and 225 custom molded train cars. It's author, Alan R. Moon, says the appeal comes from being forced to balance fear and greed - trying to add more cards to your hand versus losing a critical route to your competitors.

Race for the Galaxy

Race for the Galaxy has players competing to build the most powerful and prosperous interstellar civilizations using game cards that represent worlds or social and technical developments. Starting on your home world with each round you have the chance to take part in one or more of five phases. You can draw cards, build your cards into a tableau and then use those cards in your tableau to trade resources to build yet more cards and score those all important victory points.

At the start of each round each player chooses one of five possible action cards and those selected phases then occur. For these phases, all the players may carry out that phases related action, in the order Explore, then Develop, Settle, Consume, and Produce. A player who actually chose the phase gains a bonus when performing the activity. This can mean looking at extra cards during Explore or paying less cards to Develop or gaining a bonus card after Settling, etc.

The Explore phase lets the player add cards to their hand. The Develop action and Settle action lets the player put cards from their hand onto the tableau. In the Consume action players can draw cards and score victory points. The Produce phase allows for the building of goods that can be Consumed in later rounds.

The cards enable players to build more developments and settle new worlds, gaining both card powers and victory points that provide advantages in other phases of the game. The winner is the one who can best manage their phase and card selection and card powers in order to construct the greatest space empire and accumulate the most victory points.


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