Mini-Reviews of Cool European Games
In general, all European games have a very high production
quality. No plastic playing pieces (except chips), only wood or
high grade cardboard. Artwork is generally very nice. Typically
the only weakness in the game is the translation, which is generally
made by the store that sold you the game. In addition, these games
are hard to find. Check out our list of
stores that cater to Eurogaming.
I don't really have a rating system, but since I think I should:
a quick way to tell how I feel about a game is to look at the size of
Games where you Build Things
Tal De Koenig
Incredible. A game with a little bit of luck (drawing
blocks out of a bag in groups of five. The blocks are of different
colors), a lot of pyschology and strategy. Players are trying to
build pyramids (to appease the pharoah) out of colored blocks. Should
you try to make a big, one-color pyramid? Layer the colors? Just get
the damn thing built? Should you work on building only, or send some robbers
over to steal blocks from other players? Simple rules, incredible game.
Great production quality, you actually build pyramids with blocks.
2-4 players, under two hours. The only drawback is the price...$80.
2-4 Players try to get the most points while building towers in 6 cities.
You get points for each tower you own, for each city you dominate and,
of course, for having the world's tallest tower. Each player has 24 pieces
(ranging from 1-4 stories) and gets 4 cards, which dictate which sector
of each city (but not which city) you can play in. Before each round, you
pick 6 of your 24 pieces to use, then play 6 segments, playing one piece
per segment. You can play on any tower you control (your piece is on top)
or that is open. You can play on someone else's tower (taking control)
if you control at least as many stories as they do after you're placement.
This game takes about 45 minutes, and is much cheaper than Tal De Koenig.
(And, for free, check out our variant rules!)
Games of Politics and War
Apocalypse This is diplomacy set in the modern day. Players make
deals, and try to gain control of Europe. Of course, the nuclear weapons
liven things up a bit. The only problems with this game are that is for
2-4 players (really only 4 works out) and it can be very long.
Die Macher THE
game for those who like political/election battle.
Each player controls a faction trying to get control of the German
Parliment. Players must try to influence public opinion, stay popular,
work with a shadowcabinet, form a platform, organize the infrastructure,
and manage the money in order to win. Easily the most complicated game
in this list; but well worth learning. 4 players, 4 hours with experienced
Koalition A quick card game, where each player tries to become the
leading power-broker in thew new European coalition. Players control
politicians from all parties and, when the majority fails to form, have
to cut the deals to form the coalition in each country. 3-8 players
(best with 5-7), about 1.5 hours, I find that the game ceases to be
fun after 45 minutes.
Banana Republic A bizarre little game. Every player is trying to
control the republic by bribing officials. There are various ways to
control an official (similiar to the gamblers/officers of Razzia) and
players play in order. But the catch is, all fo the cards are played face
down, and you can only look at part of the board _after_ your turn to play.
3-6 players, about 45 minutes.
Games where you make deals
Kohl, Kies and Knete is a game by Sid Sackson, where (much
like the current baseball strike) 6 players try to divide up a lot of money.
Each player controls investors (which is determined by cardplay) and tries
to negotiate a deal where they get money. Each deal requires from 2-5 of
the investors to support it, and the deal must determine how the money is
split. A helpful way to understand the baseball strike. This game is
only as much fun as the sharks who play it.
Rette Sich Wer Kann
The english title (the German may be wrong) is "Every Man for Himself."
Players control people on life-rafts after their ship has sunk. Each
turn players vote on which ship springs a leak
and which ship advances towards
safety. If a full lifeboat springs a leak, players vote on who to throw
overboard. If a lifeboat ever gets more leaks than people on it, the
entire boat sinks (all hands lost). Finally, players must have one
of their tokens jump out of one lifeboat and swim to another (possibly
drowning). Each player scores points for getting tokens to land.
The only down side of the game is the 'voting wheels' which are cute
but could have been done with tokens or somesuch way. Assembling them
is a minor pain. About an hour and a half to play, 3-6 players.
Intrige A wonderful game about bribing other Italian houses to hire
your nephews, while having to hire the sons of the other houses. No luck,
but the game allows for a lot of psychology, posturing, and brow-beating.
Be prepared to hear "Vile Knave, you'll get nothing from me!" 3-5 players,
About 2 hours.
Games where you Race
Players race Formula One cars through one of many different maps.
The game has a lot of luck, but also a lot of skill. 10 Players can
play a 2 lap race in under 2 hours. Best bet for finding this game
is through Games By Mail, where it costs $55. Expansion maps cost $23.
6 Day Race Bicycle racing game with very little luck and loads of
strategy. Just as in the real world, being in the lead is often a poor
choice, unless you are crossing the finish line. Plays with any number
from 3 to 8, from half an hour (a few races) on up.
Hare and Tortoise A wonderful game that was designed for children.
Players play rabbits racing...but in order to win, you have to go backwards
and usually you never move as far as you can. Just enough luck to keep
the game interesting. 2-6 Players, under 2 hours.
De Marrage A much more complex, luck based bicycle racing game, still
with quite a bit of strategy. Each player (up to 4) plays a team of racers.
each of which has different strengths (climbing, sprinting, overall). A
wide variety of optional rules (including some amusing ones, such as drug
testing and crashing) can taylor the game to taste. 2-4 players, 1 hour and
up. Note -- This game is also produced in German ( Um Reifembrante
, or something similiar). My copy of the game had mild inconsistencies in
that the board was from one game, the score pad from another, the rules
from a third variant from some other country...but it was still quite good.
Production values are a bit lower than standard european games, but better
than most american games. [This game is also called Homas Tour.]
Wurmeln is worm racing at it's finest. No board, just 7
hemispheres that make up your worm (they must be touching) a start line,
a finish line (that can move!) and some dice (used for bidding). If anyone
knows where to get 3' hemispheres cheaply, we'll play on the lawn...
Schoko & Co
A snazzy little business game for 4 players, who buy Cocoa, run a
factory to convert it into chocolate, bid on contracts, and have
secretaries and bookeepers process them. You have to balance buying,
selling, and running an office. The only random events (apart from
whimsical players) are the once per turn Event cards (which you can
look at in advance...for a fee). If you get this game, you should
get a set of variant cards (proposed by Alan Moon, see below). (The
variant cards are done by hand). A game can last any multiple of
four months, with 4 months being around 45 minutes. 8 Months is
a reasonable game. If the owners are willing, you can mix two sets
to play an 5-8 player game.
Knock Out lets you be Don King. You have to talk a good fight,
but throwing it might make you more money. There are regular (1 season)
and professional (2 season) rules, so this game takes 1 or 2 hours.
Each player controls 1/2 of a two different ships in the 12th(?)
centurey Hanseattic (sp?) shipping league and tries to get certain goods
back to the warehouse. Of course, your partner might not want what you
want. Fairly simple game, beautiful
with excellent construction values,
plenty of diplomacy. But after all that, I don't play it too much.
3-6 players, about 2 hours.
Auf Heller und Pfennig
A 'fill in the squares' type of game. You can fill in a square with
a shop of yours, or a shopper or thief. You get points for each shopper
on your row and column after all placement, and lose points for each
thief. A few special tokens add some other changes. A fast game for
2-4 players, HuP takes about 45 minutes. I just don't like this game.
Games that are tough to categorize
A psychological variant of Rock-Paper-Scissors (but where each
choice is based on the layout of the board). During a round, each player
can play a card, sending either a gambler or the police to one of six bars.
If you send a gambler, you get all the money if he was alone. Two gamblers
compete for a pot. 1 Officer busts all gamblers and gets the money, but
gets nothing if no gamblers were there. 2 officers bust the gamblers and
have to compete for the pot. Cute little game. 4-6 (I believe) players.
Muskateer Another fast playing card game. Every player is dealt a
hand containing cards from 0-10 Each player selects 3 cards from his hand
as his prize and sets them face down. Then there are rounds. Each round
has the Cardinals guards field a value from 4-40 (higher numbers only in
4 player games). Each player plays a card face down, if the muskateers
win, the player who played the best card gets to double the value of one
of his prizes. If the players lose, the player who played the worst card
loses the value of one of his prizes. At the end of the rounds, everyone
totals their score, then plays another round (to a set score). 2-4 players,
Sticheln Another card game. Your basic trick taking game,
except that before the first trick each player has to pick a Sticheln
(Needle) suit. You get one point for every card you take that isn't
in your needle suit, and you get - Card Value for each card you take in
your needle suit. An amazingly complicated little game. 3-6 Players,
about 1 hour, more if wanted.
A quirkly little game about trying to force family heirlooms
into your greedy little hands. Others like the game, but it had too much
random luck for me. 2-6 Players, 1.5 hours.
A note about Alan Moon Games Games by Alan Moon (White Wind
is his company, although some of his earlier games are published by
other companies) tend to be fairly short, with simple (often similiar)
mechanics but many subtleties. I haven't seen an Alan Moon game that
I don't highly recommend, although Wehr Hat Mehr is really just
a variaton of Oh Hell!
Airlines Every player tries to get the most money
founding and building (gasp!) airlines. Airlines has been called Alan Moon's
version of acquire. 2-6 player (not really good with 2), about 1 hour.
ElfenGold Each of the 3-6 players races
around a map, digging for gold. Other players lay counters on spaces,
some are blank, some are rocks, which breaks the equipment of anyone
digging there. This has been called "The Mind Fuck Game" (by Jordan)
and the title is quite deserving. You can play almost any Moon game with
non-gamers, but this one will hook them best, I think. About an hour.
Try to get to each of 25 cities in
8 turns, players must plan their path, and buy the modes of transportation
(counters) that they can use (cards in hand) _and_ get them placed on the
board in the best way. A great multi-player version of the travelling
salesman problem. 3-6 players. 2-4 hours (depends on # of players).
Fishy The first game made by White Wind, Fishy is actually
a series of card/board games. I haven't actually gotten around to
playing my copy, which I got as part of the 1200 club. I've been
too busy playing the other games.
Frieght Train Players try to build the longest trains
with specific freight. A quirky little game, with the typical feel of
games Alan has produced. The production quality isn't that good, and
the game is somewhat derivative. 2-5 Players, about two hours.
Players try to expand the US railroad system
into cities they have cards of. Reminiscent of wildlife adventure.
3-6 players, about 2 hours.
Mush is the newest 1200 club game, released at Essen 94.
The subject is dog-sled racing, and the jury is still out. The rules
have quite a few vague points, but the basic idea seems to be somewhat
sound. I find that Hare and Toirtoise had the "slow race" idea done
Wehr Hat Mehr A card game based on Oh Hell. Stay away
from Angry Man. 3-6 Players, about 45 minutes to an hour, based on
players bitching about the hands they were dealt.
A note about Reiner Knizia Games by Reiner Knizia tend to
make Alan Moon games look complex, but are very elegant. His games
tend to be published by Hans Im Gluck, which may be on its way to making
a deal with Mayfair to import...
Modern Art Should have won game of the year award for 1992.
Players are both galleries selling pieces of art and collectors trying
to buy 'valuable' art. Of course, something is only valuable if it sells
a lot of copies...so you have to watch what you buy and sell. A very
good psychological game of selling and auctioneering.
The playing cards are all individual works of art, imitating some
famous artists. This game had more members of the CMU gaming club purchase
it than any other game (other than Magic:The Gathering) in the Fall 93 semester
(judging from reports). A few translations of the rules exist, but most of them
work out well.
Quo Vadis Players play Roman
politicians trying to negotiate their way into the senate. Very good
deal making/diplomatic game. 5 players, about 45 minutes up, depending
on time allowed for deal-making, and the intensity of the group playing.
I am somewhat dissapointed by the games I've played, as I feel the players
didn't make the best backstabbing deals they could.
En Garde A two player card game based on (surprise) fencing.
A few different variants of the rules exist, but this is a good little
game. 2 player, Less than 30 minutes.
Attacke Another card game. Players each try to win 5 jousts,
one of each different color. This game can take a highly variable amount
of time and is theoretically infinitie, but should be done in about 30 -
This file was last updated Dec 20, 1994 by Brian Bankler
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