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 the heading.

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


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 players.


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.


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

Formule De

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.]


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...

Business Games

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.

Die Hanse

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. 30 minutes.


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, 20+ minutes.


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.

De Ehrbaffer

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!


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.


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).


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.


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 much better.

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 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.


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 - 45 minutes.

This file was last updated Dec 20, 1994 by Brian Bankler

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