However you want to measure the recent renaissance of tabletop gaming, it got its start with the eurogames boom of the later 20th century. Yes, the renaissance started in Europe… that’s probably the first time anyone has ever said that.
Games like Settlers of Catan, Puerto Rico, and Ticket to Ride created the tabletop culture we now love, and yet some these games have drifted into the background. You can find your way back to the world of eurogames with some of the great options on this list.
Agricola, one of the all time greats of eurogaming, has a brand new, streamlined edition which was released earlier this year. This game where players take on the role of 17th century farmers is surprisingly intuitive, fun, and replayable. This new version tweaks the rules only very slightly (mostly by adding a selection of cards from expansions to the base game) but really improves the board and quality of pieces. Finally, your little hard-scrabble family can be represented by meeples and not flat blue disks. Agricola is one of the best games ever made and if you don’t already own it, this improved edition should be more than enough reason to grab it and try it out.
ALHAMBRA (BIG BIG EDITION)
Speaking of classic eurogames with new editions for eager gamers, Alhambra had a “big box” edition drop a few years back which contains the base game and five of the expansions. In this game of competitive 13th century palace building, each player wants the most glamorous Alhambra, and the expansions add new rules and mechanics which make that even more possible. While the game has a hidden complexity, it’s also simple enough to teach easily and play casually. Once you get going, it’s easy to see Alhambra becoming a regular game night favorite.
THE CASTLES OF BURGUNDY
A combination dice and set collection game, Castles of Burgundy excels in replay value as the game’s randomized setup makes for very different runs each time you play. Each player is trying to build the greatest French Princedom by grabbing the right combination of tiles from the central supply. The twist is that you can only grab tiles (or place them in your castle) by rolling the corresponding number on one of your two dice. This means you often have to make the best of what you can take, not what you would take in an ideal world.
Managing a tribe of early humans was never so fun than in Stone Age. This worker placement game also incorporates dice and has a slightly faster style than other eurogames in the same genre. It’s fun, it’s smart and, as you can see from the above episode of TableTop, you can try to win by making babies. This game has food mechanics that require you to feed your workers. It also has a clever way of dealing with what happens when you fail to do so, and it’s not the game-ender you might think. Personally, I think this is kind of a brilliant. Nothing kills your desire to play a game like watching your whole population starve to death. Boring!
LORDS OF WATERDEEP
This is by far my favorite eurogame for bringing players back into the fold. While it’s mechanically very similar to everything we’ve discussed above, it has the action-y feel of an American style game (sometimes called an “Ameritrash game”… go USA!). The game also features an exceptional design with everything from worker placement to hidden role dynamics and much more. For me, the builders’ guild has always been the extra icing on the wonderful cake that is Lords of Waterdeep. There is something about adding buildings to the map that makes the game seem fresh, and it doesn’t hurt that you get paid whenever anyone else uses them.
Furthermore, I can’t be the only player who’s got an active D&D campaign that occasionally plays in Waterdeep. It’s fun when the game universe and my RPG universe collide.
Tell us what eurogames you love and think should bring people back to playing in that style. Tell us in the comments below. That’s also a good place to include your favorite Brexit gaming joke. We know you have one.
Header Image Credit: Wikipedia
Image Credit: Mayfair Games, Ravensburger