In Defense of Eurogames

European Style–With Meeples!

eurogames collage from

European (okay, mostly German-style) board games are responsible for the renaissance of hobbies among adults.

Remember, it was a then-obscure German game named Settlers of Catan which brought eurogames to the mainstream.

We previously looked at Ameritrash games, high on theme and conflict.

But what about their cousins from the other side of the Atlantic? How do they compare to American-style games?

Unsurprisingly, each style reflects the cultural differences of the country that created them.

Yes, I am biased towards American-style games.

7 Wonders is deceptively simple but full of strategic decisions

And yet, some of my favorite games are eurogames. Actually, lots of my friends’ favorite games are euros too.

Games like Carcassone, Ticket to Ride, Voyages of Marco Polo, Power Grid, Agricola, Settlers of Catan, 7 Wonders, Splendor, Stone Age, Pandemic, Fresco, Stone Age, Trajan, Dixit, Castles of Burgundy, and so many more are emblematic of the fun eurogames provide.

Some of those games made my top ten board game list, and with good reason.

By the way, eurogames are more than just pushing cubes. It may seem like it, but there is more to them than that. Stop perpetuating this myth.

Eurogames are for everyone. Allow me to explain why.

Why Eurogames Rock?

Stone Age is one of my favorites. And look at that board!

  • No ‘take that’ game mechanics.

Some people are not in conflict. They just want to have a good time without resorting to one-upmanship. It is not in their nature. Eurogames are perfect for them to play.

  • No player elimination.

Ever played a game and got eliminated early and had to wait for everyone else to finish their game so you can enjoy yourself? It sucks, doesn’t it? Eurogames keep everyone involved until the endgame condition is met. Moreover, most times no one knows who the winner is until the very end.

  • Focus on the distribution of limited resources.

What is with Europeans and their obsession with the allocation of resources? It does not matter. If you want to teach kids about business administration and decision making, eurogames have a leg up over their American counterparts.

  • They take less time to play.

I love Twilight Imperium world-building and political/military space opera saga. But the game takes hours to set up and a whole day or two to play. Likewise for the Lovecraft-inspired Arkham Horror. Even Eldritch Horror which was supposed to streamline Arkham’s gameplay can take three hours or more to play. I can finish at least three games of Ticket to Ride in the meantime.

  • No concealed information.

Unlike Ameritrash games, eurogames do not try to hide information. Everyone knows the rules and gameplay conditions. Everyone is on even ground. No asymmetrical play or changing conditions, which brings up…

  • Zero randomnesses.

Europeans dislike randomness and surprises. Therefore no dice and games that do use dice do not use them for player movement.

  • Low on theme.

If American games are heavy on theme, on most euros the theme is pasted on at best. And yet, you still learn from different historical periods, cultures, and historical figures. But the theme could be easily exchanged for another without losing game mechanics.

Granted, not everyone cares for a theme (I do). They just want to play and have fun.

Is there a Downside to Eurogames?

youtube image from the nail-biter Pandemic board game.

To be honest, eurogames may not be for everyone. Some people may complain about the different colored cubes and may lack the imagination to pretend the cube may be a worker or a rare resource.

Also, for people raised on Clue, Risk, Monopoly, and Parcheesi, eurogames may not feel like a “real” board game.

Some games disregard the actual board for interchangeable hexagons and modules. In others like Alhambra and Carcassonne, the board is emerging.

Some people like player elimination and may not find euros as much fun. They may also find them hard to play (although games come in different weights and there are gateway games as well as family-friendly games).

Finally, and this is a valid criticism, eurogames sometimes feel like playing multiplayer solitaire. There is not a lot of playing interaction.

Granted, this feature attracts introverts. Extroverts may not feel satisfied and I can understand. If you are playing with other people you don’t want to lose the social aspect of it.

Why Should You Play Eurogames?

Fresco is one of the prettiest games in my collection.  Image from

Everyone should give eurogames a try and discover for themselves why their popularity is increasing. Also, they are fun and competitive in their own quiet and unassuming way.

Second, they are more psychological in nature. Part of the strategy is to learn to read your opponent and guess what hand or tactic they would play and come up with a counterstrategy.

Third, player mechanics like area control, worker placement, set collection, auction, tile placement, trading and negotiation, and time management, teach valuable lessons you can apply to your job performance and personal life.

Fourth, since their focus is on creating something rather than destroying something, they also force you to think, use your creativity, and outperform your opponent. These are useful skills to learn beyond the game club.

Finally, eurogames are becoming a big part of fandom and conventions. They allow strangers to come together and interact in a safe environment. They bring people together while having a good time.

Also, meeples are cute in their abstract, wooden way.

Reader, are you a fan of eurogames? How many have you played? What is your experience like? Or would you rather play Ameritrash? Share in the comments section.

No Responses

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

March 2023