Essence of Euro-style games

Lewis Pulsipher’s article The Essence of Euro-style Games was published in The Game Journal. It describes what makes Euro games, particularly in opposition to war games. I don’t think the article is that great — there’s little new in it — but it had one interesting point:

Euro games are very pacific. At PowWow04 Stephen Glenn stated (paraphrased) “if this were a Euro game, you would prevent someone from building up, rather than tear them down.” Not surprisingly, this leads to a solitaire aspect (almost inevitable if you don’t want to allow tearing down).

The inability to tear down what others have built also leads to a game that continuously moves forward! I think that’s a lot more important. If players have a goal of building stuff and other players can keep on tearing it down, there’s a chance the game will never end. If the only thing you can do is to slow the other players down and prevent them from building, the game system never goes back — only its speed of advancement is slowed.

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6 responses to “Essence of Euro-style games”

  1. There are some euros where you can tear down your opponents. Euphrat & Tigris and almost all of Martin Wallace’s designs are some examples…

  2. Tigris & Euphrates is different: there’s no personal property as such, and every war moves the game further towards the end (as it makes the tiles end faster). It’s a driving force in the game, not something that slows down the game.

  3. In Elasund, you can build over another player’s buildings to reduce their VP. Theoretically, two players could spend all their time knocking down & re-building the same buildings without progressing the game.

  4. And — to kind of prove my point — that was exactly what bugged my friend in Elasund to such degree that he suggested some limitations to building over other players’ buildings.
    If something like that is possible in a game, the game is flawed in my opinion.

  5. Mikko, I think it’s theoretically possible, but not really a concern. Usually, previously constructed buildings can only be destroyed if a larger building is built, so there’s a limit to how long you can keep knocking players back. If you spend Influence cards, you can wipe out a building with a same-sized building, so that’s where the theoretical endless game can come from. But this is expensive and just doesn’t happen; someone will place their tenth cube sometime, if only by building things which can’t be destroyed (city walls and Church tiles). This may not change your opinion of the game, but it truly isn’t a problem. As my friend Stven Carlberg said when someone mentioned that a game could theoretically go on forever, “You know, I’ve never seen that happen!

  6. I don’t consider Elasund flawed, I was just speaking in general terms. I have never played it, so I can’t really tell. I understood it’s not a common problem, though.
    Still, my friend doesn’t like destructive elements in games and that one thing really irritated him, so there’s definitely a destructive element in Elasund.