Euro games evolve and improve year after year, and 2018 was no exception. The euros of today are streamlined, polished, and have better art and graphic design compared with their ancestors. Here are our nominees for best euro games of 2018.
Key Flow is Keyflower the card drafting game, simple as that. Take the tense, brutal auction from it’s big brother and replace that with engine building, and an embarrassment of riches draft, and you get a very compelling sequel. Two of the most impressive parts of Key Flow are how well it captured the civilization building and worker placement of Keyflower and how quick the game plays at higher player counts. I highly recommend Key Flow to any larger groups who like thinky euros with a side of player interaction.
Publisher(s): R&D Games
Designer(s): Sebastian Bleasdale, Richard Breese, Ian Vincent
Artist(s): Vicki Dalton
Architects of the West Kingdom
Shem Phillips, perhaps best known for his game Raiders of the North Sea, begins a new trilogy of games with Architects of the West Kingdom. Set at the end of the Carolingian Empire, circa 850 AD, the players take on the roles of trying to impress their King and maintain their noble status by constructing various landmarks throughout his newly appointed domain. Architects uses a very clever worker placement mechanism wherein each successive worker sent to a location causes the action associated with it to become more powerful.
However, these same groups of workers can also be captured and imprisoned by the other players forcing their owners to waste valuable time and resources to retrieve them. The ultimate goal of the game, of course, is to score the most victory points by the game’s end and there are many avenues you can take to fulfill that mission. The variable player powers introduced on the reverse side of the player boards coupled with there being 10 different characters to choose from ensures that Architects of the West Kingdom will always present the players with unique challenges and fresh gameplay.
Publisher(s): Garphill Games
Designer(s): Shem Phillips
Artist(s): Mihajlo Dimitrievski (a.k.a. The Mico)
Newton is a hand management, card-based game in which players are scientists traveling around Europe, attending university, studying, and making tools. In terms of theme, Newton’s is probably stronger than many of the other euro games from 2018, but only slightly. In Newton, players are given starting cards depicting a symbol for one of the possible actions in the game. As players acquire more cards, they are able to make their actions stronger because the strength of an action (from a played card) is determined by the number of visible symbols on their player board.
Each round, a player will play 5 cards, but at the end of the round, they must tuck one of the used cards under their board before returning the remaining cards back to their hand. In theory, it sounds this would weaken their engine, but what it actually does is strength it. When a card is tucked, it can no longer be played, but its symbol is still visible (which, if you remember, determines how strong a player’s action is). Newton is full of tough choices, especially when you have to fall behind in some areas to ensure you get far enough ahead in others. If you’re a fan of Luciani’s other games like Lorenzo il Magnifico or Grand Austria Hotel, this will be right up your alley.
Don’t let the horrifically bland box cover dissuade you from playing Carpe Diem. This is yet another lovely euro game with no theme, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise to any Feld fan. In Carpe Diem, players move along paths, bouncing from one location to another to acquire tiles. These tiles (which are resources or buildings) are then used to build up a player’s personal board.
All this to meet objectives on goal cards and score prestige points. Goal cards are set up on the side of the game board and, during scoring, players will select goal cards to score using one of their player discs. However, the goal cards they choose must share an edge and must not have already been scored by another player. The gameplay begins quite wide open, but quickly becomes extremely tight as players struggle to complete and score their preferred goal cards. This is lighter than most of Feld’s games, yet it still feels like his style.
Designer(s): Stefan Feld
Artist(s): Lalanda Hruschka
Coimbra proves that good euro games can be colored with more than just chestnut, taupe, and tan (yes, those are all just shades of brown). It is filled with vibrant colors, wonderful artwork, and, of course, a nice pasted on theme. Coimbra is a dice drafting game in which players must carefully consider both the number and color of the die they select. The number is important in the beginning of the round as players fight over important citizens and their fancy powers. The color matters later in the round when players are determining which track they will activate to gain rewards.
There are many paths to victory in Coimbra as players try to synergize their dice with their citizens, expeditions, and monasteries. The real meat of the game though is in trying to balance and optimize every move you make (and you will have to if you want to do well).
Designer(s): Flaminia Brasini, Virginio Gigli
Artist(s): Chris Quilliams