Did you anger the dice gods in a former life?
Are you sick of hearing your opponents shout “That was all luck!” after you trounce them in a game?
If so, it may be time to delve into the world of Eurogames where skill and strategy reign and dice jails are a distant memory of the past.
🏆 Our Top Picks:
In a hurry? Check out our favorites below.
What is a Euro Board Game?
Before we get started, let’s talk about what a Euro board game really is.
The term “Eurogame” is actually pretty vague. There are no set criteria for what is and isn’t, and there’s no council of board gamers that decide what officially determines what game is called what. It’s a community of like-minded people sort of agreeing to terms that shift constantly.
Eurogames are typically defined by several characteristics:
- High emphasis on strategy and skill over luck.
- No direct player confrontation.
- Economic themes.
- No player elimination.
Euro board games were originally called German-style games and you can read more about their origination and history here.
#1. Brass: Birmingham
Brass: Birmingham is probably one of the prettiest games I’ve ever seen. It captures the Industrial Revolution in fantastic detail.
Set during the industrial era in England, players take on the role of entrepreneurs looking to expand their wealth as new industries explode. You’ll need to manage your cards to build up your industries and buildings. Simply producing goods isn’t enough, though. You’ll need to build up the networks to take them to market and there never seem to be enough actions or resources to do everything you want.
Pick your industry from pottery, breweries, coal, or manufacturing. Brass offers a huge economic system that gives an incredible story of the Industrial Revolution. Brass presents itself with a lot of fiddly bits but it’s built on solid mechanics that create a maddening game of strategy that shifts constantly and no two games are ever quite the same.
- Birmingham tells the story of competing entrepreneurs in...
- As in its predecessor, you must develop, build, and establish...
- Tweaked rule set and balance improved 2 & 3 player rules provide...
#2. Terraforming Mars
Terraforming Mars looks upward for inspiration. The terraformation of Mars is in the hands of several competing corporations. Each has a vested interest in the overall quality of Mars but they’re also worried about their own economic gains on the Red Planet.
Players will need to work together to terraform Mars as a whole, but will have individual projects that they’ll need to compete for victory points. Mars isn’t static either. You’ll need to contend with resource outages, natural disasters, and equipment failures throughout the process. It’s not easy, but it’s one of the best hard sci-fi games out there today.
- Compete for different milestones and awards worth many VPS
- Over 200 different projects to complete
- 1 to 5 players ages 12 and up
#3. Great Western Trail
Growing up in Arizona, I’ve always had a soft spot for southwestern and cowboy themes. Great Western Trail focuses on actual cowboys instead of the gunslingers that the southwest was known for.
In Great Western Trail, players become cattle ranchers. The largest cattle ranchers raise the cattle in Texas but then need to transport the cows up north to Kansas to sell them. The journey historically wasn’t easy and it was the careful attention of the cowboys that got them there safely.
As a cattle rancher in Great Western Trail, you’ll need to send your most valuable cows up north and keep them safe by hiring cowboys to watch your individual herds. You’ll also be able to build up the infrastructure along the cattle drives. Build your own buildings to make your journey easier and you can even build up the rail network to move your herd more efficiently.
#4. A Feast for Odin
It’s not all about pillaging and raiding with Vikings. In A Feast for Odin, you’ll need to manage all aspects of Viking society.
You’ll need to explore and settle as well as deal with the day-to-day operations of trade and goods production. At its core, A Feast for Odin, is an intricate worker placement game.
There are dozens of options to choose where to place your workers and just as many different paths to gain victory points and win.
A Feast for Odin also pulls double duty by coming with a pretty impressive solo variant.
- Innovative home board mechanic.
- Fun and fair dice-managed actions.
- Over 200 occupation cards.
#5. Terra Mystica
Time to get back-to-basics and enjoy some good old-fashioned homey landscapes. Although… that may be somewhat relative with 14 different fantasy races who all have different definitions of “homey”.
Mermaids enjoy a dip in the water while the witches like to prance around in the forests. You get the idea.
Terra Mystica is about terraforming the world to best suit your race, while everyone else is trying to do the same thing. It’s a great example of a perfect information game, in which all the moves, knowledge, and information is right there in front of you. You just have to figure out what you’re going to do with it all.
- Fun strategy game with a simple game principle and very little...
- Govern one of 14 factions trying to transform the landscape on...
- Large number of possible games keeps it entertaining every time
Number 6 takes us back to the glory of Rome! Normally, when you hit a Roman Empire-themed game we’re talking legionaries, Gauls, and great battles… But an empire isn’t built on conquests alone.
Concordia looks at the infrastructure of empire-building as you attempt to create your own economic dynasty.
Concordia uses a really cool follow mechanic during each player’s turn. If a player uses a card to perform an action, each player has a diplomat card that they can use to perform that same action for free outside of their turn.
This cranks up the tension and forces players to be aware of everyone’s moves on the board at all times, so make sure to keep your cell phones off of the table for this one.
#7. Caverna: The Cave Farmers
Caverna is the successor to the wildly popular Agricola, and personally, I think they outdid themselves.
Caverna puts players in the roles of dwarves looking to carve out a piece of cave-sweet-cave to call home. To that end, players need to mine out rooms, gather livestock, farm, and even go on a few adventures to build up their dwarven homestead.
The scoring system and mechanics have all been improved and give players a lot more freedom to build. It’s a lot more freeform and less rigid than Agricola. Plus, I’ve always been a fan of dwarves.
#8. Clans of Caledonia
Our next stop is Scotland. During the 19th century, Scotland went through a period of industrialization. Scotch and textiles became huge exports and completely changed the landscape of Scotland to accommodate economic growth.
Clans of Caledonia takes this time in period and gives its players a fantastic economic system. As players buy and sell goods, the prices rise and fall with an intuitive market mechanic and although it looks like Clans is a monster of a game, the player boards and guides do an amazing job of keeping everything clear and concise during gameplay.
May I suggest a bottle of Talisker Skye single malt while you play?
#9. Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is a household name in the board game world, especially if you’re a fan of strategic gameplay.
Each player is a regional governor of Puerto Rico and will need to build up their infrastructure and economy. Players also need to balance their own building with exports.
Although there’s no direct conflict between players, Puerto Rico uses a follow mechanic that allows every player to perform the same action you choose. This is where a shrewd strategist and one of the best parts of the game comes into play.
Can you figure out a move that benefits you while simultaneously leaving nothing for your opponents?
Puerto Rico is a rabbit hole type of game. Every playthrough will reveal something new that you haven’t thought of or a new avenue/strategy to explore.
#10. Power Grid
Power Grid is one of the quintessential Eurogames. Players need to connect a predetermined number of cities to their power grids.
Sounds easy enough… right?
Players must balance an entire economic and bidding system to create the most efficient use of their time and resources. Sure, the coal plants create more energy, but they need to be supplied with resources for them to run. Going green can be more expensive, but windmills will continually supply power without any resources.
On top of all that, as power plants are purchased, newer and more efficient technologies come into play that can help your opponents. Is it worth getting a steal on a new plant if your opponents get first shot at new tech?
Power Grid is extremely deep and if you’re looking for a highly strategic and analytical game, you’ve found it. It hits almost every single item on the Eurogame checklist and you’ll be 100 games in before you feel like you’ve mastered it.
#11. Architects of the West Kingdom
The year is 850 AD, and the most ruthless enemy you could ever make is an architect.
The Carolingian Empire is expanding and a flock of architects has traveled in to earn a name for themselves, and they don’t particularly care how they do it.
Mixed into this worker placement game are all the usual mechanics you’d expect to see, but with a twist. You’ll have your army of meeple people ready to sally forth and gather resources and there’s strength in numbers.
Players will see exponential growth for the number of meeples on any given location. If you place one meeple on a forest tile, they’ll gather one wood. Next turn, you can place a second meeple down, and instead, you’ll get 2 wood. Be wary though, because rival architects can bribe the town guards and have everyone on a location arrested and sold back to the jail for ransom.
There’s a ton of different avenues for success and I haven’t quite figured out a winning strategy yet (I’ve lost every game I’ve played). I have had a ton of fun figuring out what makes Architects tick, and there’s still more to uncover.
- West Kingdom adventure with beautiful artwork and great quality...
- Become an ambitious royal architect to impress the king by...
- First stand-alone game in the West Kingdom Trilogy
Keyflower is a game that will absolutely destroy you on your first playthrough. There’s nothing for it… but stick with it. It’s a worker placement game in which players will use their meeples to build up their own little slice of paradise, but they’ll also have to auction and use other player’s tiles to gain victory points.
It’s not as difficult to learn as it seems on first glance, but the nuances of the game won’t be grasped until you get a playthrough or two under your belt.
- 64 hexagonal tiles for different variations
- For ages 13 and up and from 2-6 players
- Key flower, a joint design between Richard Breese and Sebastian...
Everything about Trajan is beautifully done. It has a mix of several different mechanics that make up one of my absolute favorite games. It’s part worker placement, a dash of Euro, and even a bit of Mancala.
Named after the Roman emperor of the same name, Trajan puts players in the heart of Roman politics. You’ll need to juggle your standing within the senate, northern conquests, infrastructure in Rome, and trade throughout the empire… all at the same time.
Trajan balances a lot of the historical aspects of Rome and binds it all together using a Mancala like mechanic. It’s incredibly tricky to master with all the different tasks to juggle but is extremely rewarding to play.
- Outmaneuver your opponents to build up The growing city of Rome.
- Choose your actions carefully from your personal roundel.
- Created by famed designer Stefan Feld
#14. Stone Age
Now it’s time to head back in time to when things were… simpler?
In Stone Age, players control a small tribe of prehistoric meeples that try and survive the world by, of course, obtaining victory points.
Stone Age was probably the first worker placement game I ever played, so there’s always the nostalgia factor when I talk about it. To be fair, though, it’s one of the games I own that consistently hits the table. There’s a ton of different avenues for success in this game and if you play your cards right, you get bonus points for almost every action you’ve taken in-game.
I’ve managed to try out a new strategy every time I’ve played, giving it pretty high replayability in my opinion.
Players need to balance food stores, buildings, population growth, technology levels, and trade. That’s a lot of different ways to play/win and the best part is that its relatively easy to learn, making it an excellent gateway game.
#15. Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King
Isle of Skye is a simple tile-laying game. If you’re familiar with Carcassonne then you’ll have a bit of an idea of what you’re in for. Isle of Skye, however, really shines and ratchets up the tension to 11 by having players bid on the tiles they get.
Instead of simply dropping tiles willy nilly, you’ll have to plan out values and potential values of tiles. Maybe you’ll be able to fill up and score big in the final round, but the board is ever-changing and there are, of course, your opponents who have their own goals in mind.
The Isle of Skye is one of the prettiest places on Earth and the artwork of the game is extremely well done. If you’re still not convinced, there’s a free mobile app that you can try to learn the rules as well, so it’s a win-win.
We hope you enjoyed our list. There’s nothing quite like winning a Euro game against a group on highly-strategic players. There’s, of course, something to be said for wagering everything on the line with a roll of dice but with Euros, you rise and fall with your own actions.
Did you have a recommendation or did your favorite not make the list?
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