Get into Eurogames – 5 Starters for your Collection

There’s a joke in the first series of Friends. Actually, there are several. But one in particular is relevant to this article.

They’re having a barbecue and, on the balcony, Ross tells his boys that he’s going to China for work. Joey sees it as a good excuse to get over his secret crush on Rachel, and encourages him to “Go to China, eat Chinese food.” To which Chandler says, “Of course, there they just call it ‘Food’.” (RIP Matthew Perry, thank you for giving me my personality.)

To that end, I’m sat here in my London flat to tell you all about Eurogames. We are in Europe and here we just call them “games”.

TikTok informs me that ours is a continent that utterly baffles anyone west of the Atlantic, primarily with some form of belief that we resent hydrating ourselves and if we ever DO drink water we will never have ice in our glass. Both of these are entirely unfounded, but we are not without our quirks, one of which is a deep love of inserting strategy and individual decision-making into our board games.

Sweeping generalisations are being made here in the name of being silly, but to really hone in on what can be defined as a “Eurogame”, I strongly encourage you to take a look at Laurie’s explainer video here:

 

The long and short of it is that a Eurogame is built around simple play, where strategy takes precedence over luck and where there are multiple paths to securing the win. Laurie explains it brilliantly in more detail, not unlike the history bit in Bake Off. But while you’re watching, here are five games you can pick from to introduce yourself and your merry band of gamer pals to the Eurogame.

Ticket to Ride

One of the unquestioned classics that sort of demands its place on any list about Eurogames, it’s fair to say Ticket to Ride has earned that distinction. Partly because it’s an excellent example of the Eurogame that will introduce any new player to the genre, but it’s also a great choice to bring a non-gamer into the hobby. If a loved one thinks all board games are Monopoly and Cluedo, this is the way to coax them out of their cynicism and have a lovely time.

It’s such a simple premise – building train routes on a map of America and picking up secret route cards that will gain or lose you points at the end of the game. But it’s that simplicity that makes it an enduring classic because it can help rewire your brain into thinking like a Eurogamer. Which strategy do you want to go for? Immediate gratification or playing the long game?

If you want to go even more Euro with your Eurogame, get the Europe edition of the franchise. And for an added bit of spice and tension, especially around tables with people you don’t know that well, just occasionally mutter “Maybe we SHOULD have another referendum…” and see what happens!

Lords of Vegas

Possibly a controversial choice, but it’s my list and I absolutely adore this game. It’s got atmosphere and theming out to the wazoo, and to date, I have a 100% victory record when playing. Winning isn’t everything, folks! It’s the ONLY thing.

Where Ticket to Ride is almost a dictionary definition Eurogame, this one does push the definition a little bit by virtue of having a luck element built in. Dice rolling is an important part of the gameplay – but then I suppose luck comes with the territory in Vegas, and here you’re using strategy almost to bend luck to your will.

You’re buying and building casinos on various blocks, piling your tiles together to really try and mitigate the impact of any rolls upon your own fortunes and that of your fellow players. Combining tiles and building upon your casinos, in this regard, means that thinking on your feet and coming up with a plan can have a far greater effect on your ability to win.

Point Salad

Many of the games on this list, and indeed in this genre, have various elements to them. Artwork and components are an important part of Eurogaming, with the components, in particular, being a signature that is usually made of wood in counterpart to their plastic and metal cousins in other games.

But this is a super simple card game that only requires a bit of table space to get started. This makes it a perfect candidate to introduce new gamers to the drafting mechanism, and you’re likely to hear the immensely satisfying sound of your friends sighing with satisfied comprehension.

The game has six vegetable cards, and each of those cards has a different point scoring method on the back. On your turn, you can pick up two of the vegetable cards or a point scoring card. These scoring cards prompt the strategy you’re going for to win this particular game, and the abundance of different scoring cards means that replayability is massive here.

So if you’re a nervous gamer or someone who thinks that their brain isn’t wired for strategy, having the cards present as a prompt to indicate how you’ll want to go about playing this particular round is really helpful.

Takenoko

I mentioned the importance of artwork and components to a eurogame, and nowhere is this more evident than in the beautiful Takenoko.

You’re growing bamboo in a garden, planting tiles next to each other to connect to the water supply in the centre of the tiles such that the bamboo can grow. That’s already delightfully twee but get ready to scrunch your face up in furious glee because the game also features a little panda.

This little panda gets moved around the tiles to eat your opponents’ bamboo, thus cutting off their rhythm and giving the game a competitive edge that isn’t strictly usual for a eurogame, but works fantastically here.

There are additional strategy elements that come from your secret objectives. Each player has one – whether it be placing tiles in a certain pattern or having the panda eat a particular amount of bamboo – and thus everyone is playing their own game and trying to think a step ahead of their fellow players to make sure they’ve achieved their objective. It’s just lovely.

Carcassone

Like Ticket to Ride, this is another classic of the board gaming hobby that fits the entry-level criteria, being a cosy and fun game in and of itself, but also being a perfect stepping stone for less regular gamers to play something with a bit more meat on its bones.

It’s a tile-laying game, where you’re building a landscape. Roads connect to roads and cities to cities, but the real strategy comes in the placing of your Meeple (little wooden tiles to whom you will get emotionally attached and there’s no stopping it.)

You place the meeple on your tiles and get points depending on certain conditions. If they’re on a road, the length of that road when it’s finished brings points. Similarly, they’ll gather points if they’re in a completed town, or even a monastery.
But here’s where strategy comes into play: you can run out of meeple very quickly. Once they’re placed on a tile, they stay there. And if, say, you’ve placed them in a town, and another player does the same, if their meeple outnumber yours, they’ll rob you of your points. So you have to be smart with both timing and placement, adjusting your strategy as you go.

If you want to pick up any of these games, check if they’re in stock at Zatu. Buying them there supports No Rolls Barred via our affiliate partnership. Read more here.