Just Say "No" to Euros

Just Say "No" to Euros

As one of my friends would say, "Not even once"

I'm not quite that hardcore. I'll freely admit to not only liking a couple of them, but to owning four. One, Scythe, was a gift. Of the remaining three, I still well and truly like Power Grid, and Castles of Mad King Ludwig.

I cannot stand a number of the "classic" Euro games. Agricola - boring. Ditto Le Havre. Don't even get me started on Catan.

But first, what do I mean by a "Euro"?

Some may think "fiddly" - in which case I can only shake my head. Seriously - consider many of us who got into gaming in the 80's cut our teeth on AH titles like ASL and Starship Troopers, and Starfleet Battles.

Nor is it graphic design or using graphic design to eliminate tables and separate tracking charts, etc., where possible. See Talon, Commands and Colors, or the COIN games.

Basically, the thing most classic "Euro" games have in common is that they are conflict avoidant games. Many are "engine-building" economic simulations of sorts - almost effectively parallel-solitaire - and if there is interpersonal interaction, it is often of the passive-aggressive variety. Agricola, for example, depends on you obtaining resources, then using them to buy infrastructure, that you then use to develop even more resources, to buy more effective or efficiency infrastructure, and so on. Players stymie each other through worker placement, taking resources before others can - and the games often have explicit rules to keep those who are "behind" not only in the game, but to give them an advantage over those nominally in the lead. The robber in Catan causes anyone with more than 8 resources to lose half of them when activated.

This is a long, long way from the direct conflict of Chess, Harpoon, Car Wars, Battletech, Awful Green Things from Outer Space, Starfleet Battles, Panzerblitz, ASL, other old-school Avalon Hill wargames, or old school D&D. Even of the newer generation you have true wargames in Commands and Colors, the COIN series, Talon, Space Empires 4x.

Even Go, for all that it is a game of positioning and often somewhat indirect, still involves taking position to not only hold ground, but to cut off and capture/destroy your opponent.

I'll note that while both Power Grid and Castles are clearly Euros by the above definition and pedigree, I think the reason I actually like them is because there is a bit of somewhat direct competition via the bidding mechanics.

I can enjoy also a deliberately and overtly backstabbing game like Student Bodies - a game set in a zombie-infested high school where, as the old joke goes, you don't so much have to outrun the bear, or zombies, as outrun everyone else. Helping oneself by helping others into the zombies is the whole point.

And even then it's only in small doses.

So yes, "games" that are effectively solitaire, and even where they are not, are passive-aggressively backstabbing, are not my cup of tea - at least not when I want to play with other people.

About Last Redoubt

Ex nuke mechanic, jack of all trades.