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In 4 turns of the game, players remake the history of Europe since 1945, and project it into the future as far as 2030. What will the face of Europe be then? It's up to the players to decide.
The game of EUROPA is not fought with tanks or soldiers. It's a battle of ideas: Each player represents a European political party who is trying, with each election, to advance its own European ideal. Events such as the fall of the Berlin Wall and the disintegration of the Soviet Empire cause the risks of war to increase and even threaten the creation of a unified Europe.
In order to defeat the different nationalist parties, players must learn to cooperate and compromise. To advance their ideals without losing sight of the common objective--the European Union--that is the goal for the players of EUROPA.
EUROPA mixes politics, diplomacy, history, and geography, to offer players rapid and intense play with amazing realism. This game will help players learn more about Europe so that they may better understand what's really at stake.
Yesterday: 1945, Europe lies in ruins. After 1500 years of internal conflicts, the Second World War again plunged the nations of Europe into barbarism and horror. Is Europe doomed to be plagued by eternal conflict?
Today: 50 years later, despite the many obstacles in its path, the Union has become reality. Rejecting the specter of hatred and the folly of war, 15 countries have already made the choice to build their future together, while others are preparing to join.
Tomorrow: Can Europe serve as an example for the whole world? Yes, if the Europeans are capable of putting an end to all of the conflicts in Europe itself. The Union has the means to put all of the xenophobes in their place.
All that Europe still lacks is a uniform political will, expressed loudly and clearly. In its own fashion, this game seels to capture that collective conscience.
Again, if you like the Pablum for the Masses type of games where it's not right to play tough at the game table, then you won't like Europa. However, if you like DIPLOMACY, and have problems finding 7 players who can commit an entire day to negotiate, then this is a great alternative. The game works with 4-6 and plays in 2-3 hours. My main piece of advise is to be somewhat strict about the rules regarding discussions during the elections so that the game doesn't drag out too long.
Another strength that this has over Diplomacy is that it is much simpler. It takes an average gamer 2-3 games to get used to the mechanics of writing attack, support and convoy orders. It also has a BORDERLANDS aspect to it in as much that even though all of the pieces are in plan sight, you might be quite surprised by how a round is played out. This means that players need to be engaged with one another.
Keep in mind that this reviewer enjoys games where you are playing against the other players moreso than the game system itself.
The old adage is that You cant judge a book by its cover. These may be words of wisdom, but lets face it most people DO judge books, games, movies, etc. by their cover at least initially. Perhaps thats why I havent heard that much about Europa 1945-2030 (Eurogames, 1998 Duccio Vitale and Leo Colovini). The cover has almost nothing to do with the game (a huge baby crawling through a background of blue.), and doesnt really inspire interest. However, when opening the box one finds some of the most fantastic components ever to be put in a board game. Yet again, when I went to www.boardgamegeek.com, I discovered that the average rating was close to 5, which is an abysmal number for that site. Yet, inspired by one positive review, I decided to try it out and Im glad I did.
After playing it, I understand why many dislike the game. Because of the mechanics, its very simple for a game experience to be ruined if some players play a specific way. And yet, I really enjoyed the game. Sure, I was enamored by the components, but more than that the negotiations were really enjoyable and a tad less cutthroat that those of the classic game Diplomacy. The theme went over like a bomb in our group but the puzzle pieces overcame that. The game looks good, plays well, and truly is educational if you wish.
The theme of the game starts after World War II, and involves players trying to convince countries to join the European Union (EU). A large game board is set up in the middle of the table, denoting a current map of Europe. Several overlays are placed on the board, covering up many countries (notably the small countries that were formerly the U.S.S.R.). leaving fifteen countries showing: Great Britain, Ireland, Iceland, France, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland. Each player places one meeple (pawn) on a political track starting number of political points is determined by number of players (from 20-40). Each player also receives a certain number of meeples (2-4), depending on number of players. Turn One (of Four) is ready to begin.
Each turn is composed of five phases.
- The first phase determines turn order. On the first turn, this is done randomly, but after that, the player whose meeple is highest on the political track goes first, with the next highest going second, etc.
- During the second phase, players determine who receives more meeples. The number of meeples they receive is equal to 1/10 of a players political points (rounded down).
- Phase three determines the election order. The corresponding card for each country is shuffled, and then placed face-up on a card track on the board. This shows the order in which voting will occur in each country. A numbered counter that corresponds with a cards position is placed in the matching country.
- In turn order, during Phase four, the player places half of their meeples on one or more of the available countries that turn. They can place them on any open country in the first turn, but after that, are limited to countries that are connected to countries already in the EU. After all players have placed, they again place the other half of their meeples in one or more countries, in turn order.
- The heart of the game is the fifth phase elections. Each country has an election to see if it will join the EU. The elections follow the order that was chosen in phase three. If a country has no pawns in it, the evil nationalists (how DARE a country not want to join the EU!) win, and nothing happens. If there are meeples in a country, however, it is possible for that country to join the EU. Each country has a number in a black circle from 1 to 6. This is the minimum amount of meeples who must be in that country. That does not ensure that the country will join the EU, however. Each country is worth a certain amount of points, from 2 to 48. The player(s) who want those points must form a coalition that meets the following requirements. 1: A maximum of three players may be in the coalition (one is allowed). 2: The coalition must have a majority of the meeples in the country. 3: The coalition must meet or exceed the number in the black circle. If a coalition succeeds, the country joins the EU (hooray peace on earth!), and a blue puzzle piece that is the same shape as that country is placed over it, signifying that it has joined the EU. The corresponding card for that country is removed from the game, and every player in the winning coalition gets one victory point chip. Also, each player splits the points the country is worth and moves their meeples on the political track according to the points they received. Finally, the winning players may move ONE of their meeples from this country to any other country that has not yet had an election. All other meeples are returned to the box.
- In the third and fourth turn, there is an extra phase, called Risk of War. This phase occurs before phase four on those turns. Two ten-sided dice are rolled six times. There is a chart on the side of the board that the dice are compared to. Each country whose number on this chart is rolled gets a Tension marker. If the country already has a tension marker, a War marker is placed in the country. If the country already has a War token, all countries next to that one get a tension marker, which could produce a chain reaction The General Level of Conflict is then calculated, with each tension country adding one point, and each war country adding double the value of their black, circled numbers. Once a total has been reached, players must try to stop the tension and war. All players secretly bid an amount of their meeples. If the total number of pawns is equal to or greater than the conflict total, then the player who bid the most meeples gets four victory points, the second most gets two victory points, and the third most receives one victory point. All tension and war markers are removed from the board, and people in all the countries hold hands and sing merrily. However, if the total meeples is less than the conflict total, the player who kept the largest number of meeples back (did not bid them) LOSES four victory points, the second most two victory points, etc. Then the player who did bid the most meeples uses the meeples that were bid to remove at least some of the tension and war chips. In elections, the black, circled number is increased by one, and countries that are at war cannot even have an election.
At the beginning of turn two, some puzzle pieces are removed from the board, adding new countries - Spain, Turkey, etc. - to the game (their cards are shuffled into the deck for the next round.) At the beginning of turn three, the USSR breaks up, and a LOT of countries are added to the game. After turn four, the game is essentially over. The player with the most political points is elected president of the EU, and gets 3 victory points. The player with the most victory points is the winner! (Although the rules compare your victory with how many war and tension markers are still on the table!)
Some comments on the game
1.) Components: Except for Days of Wonder, nothing much can beat the quality of a big-boxed Eurogame. Everything in the box (aside from the box art) is fantastic, and if you are a meeple fan, as I am this game comes with 120 of them! And there are meeple men and women how cute! (Ahem.) The map is huge, and looks really striking on the table. All the numbers are easily read (except a few of the black ones). The cards are a nice size, are easy to shuffle, and have some good information about each country on them (for educational purposes). The number one striking thing about the components, however, is the puzzle pieces. Each of the many, many puzzle pieces fits snugly over the exact country on the board. Finding the right piece, and laying them down is really a lot of fun and its really kind of fascinating to watch how an ocean of colors slowly but surely turns to blue symbolizing the growth of the EU. A great plastic insert holds all the pieces well including the little victory point tokens. Tons of components are present in this game. Even if you dont like the game, but are an aspiring game designer theres a lot of stuff here for you to play with.
2.) Rules: I was a little confused on the rules at first, and had to read them through twice to fully understand them. Once I got the hang of it, the game is fairly easy, although there is occasionally a snag up with elections. A sheet of errata including some rather important rules that were missed in the rulebook is included in the game. I found that the game is fairly easy to teach, but that most people take a bit to get the game.
3.) Theme: I dont want to start a debate on how good the EU is/isnt, but its quite evident that the designers think that its Gods Gift To Mankind. People who are heavy nationalists may despise the theme, as some of my history-buff friends do, but most people enjoy the game anyway. One history major I played the game with snarled about how evil the EU was, but won the game anyway helping expand the EU across Europe. I rather enjoy playing games that make people have fun, even though their ideology may be hurt. J One part of the theme that I really enjoyed was seeing the USSR break up, and turn into many different countries countries that very easily would break into war.
4.) Problem: There is one glaring problem with the game. If two (or more) people team up at the beginning of the game, not caring which of them wins, they are pretty much unstoppable. Everyone HAS to play for themselves, and only themselves. Alliances must be temporary, and I dont think I will be playing the game with any we love each other and cannot harm each other couples again. However, when I play the game, I state this at the beginning, and it isnt too much of a problem. The game still offers an excellent opportunity for king making, but so does every other diplomatic game.
5.) Diplomacy: I hate Diplomacy, and the destruction of relationships and friendships it causes (and the people who have every opening move memorized). However, I do like the diplomacy in this game its short, its open, and its rather fun. The countries are all numbered differently (although it seems that the designers may be biased into making some countries worth more than they actually are). Should I barter with Joe to take this country, and leave Mary Ann out in the cold? Or should I hook up with Mary Ann and Sue, leaving Joe with empty pockets? Or maybe theyll hook up and hang me out to dry! Negotiations are short, sweet (well, sometimes), and the game moves at a good pace.
6.) Fun Factor: Despite the fairly negative reviews Ive read on this game, I actually think its pretty fun. The pieces are great for sure, but the changing map, the naming of each country in their own language, and the stabbing of people in the stomach (they can see it coming) is frankly a lot of fun. The only people who wont have fun are those lovey-dovey couples who may just go home arguing all night.
Ill gladly play this game anytime, as long as I can get a group of like-minded people. Its fairly quick, fits up to six players (dont play with less than 4!), and looks absolutely stunning when set up on the table. I hear that this game is going out of print this year, so if you want to pick up this unfairly maligned gem, do it now! If you like European modern history, geography, diplomacy, and just fun then this is the game for you! If you like everyone, and never wish to harm anyone else well, then go play Lord of the Rings. I do think that most people, even non-gamers, will like this one and its a worthy addition to any game collection.
This game is one of the more underappreciated games on the market. Firstly, the bits are OUTSTANDING! The board is a giant map, with puzzle-pieces which overlay to represent all of the nations which have joined the European Union. The game has a cooperative goal, but a cutthroat feel, which is new to me. It requires all of the players to work together to form coalitions, and to make deals, while at the same time, all secretly trying to amass the most victory points for themselves. The player with the most political power at any one time, may not be the player who is winning, so it is always important to maintain balance, and to keep an eye on your opponents. If you like Diplomacy, and other games requiring a high level of negotiation, try Europa 1945-2030--you won't be disappointed. The gameplay is excellent, the board is phenomenal, and the pieces are actually made out of wood and not cheap plastic. The only trouble you will have with this game is convincing all of your wargaming buddies that a game with a baby on the cover is worth playing.
Here's your chance to follow Teddy Roosevelt's advice: "Be gentle and tender, as well as brave." The baby on the box represents an infant Europe that you must guide to maturity and unity. This largely cooperative struggle to unite Europe is no place for dictators or conquerors. Only those players who help overcome the native resistance to the Union and bring a country into the fold, through diplomacy and temporary alliances, earn Victory Points and political influence. Your diplomatic talents and already meager resources will be challenged to the max when the Iron Curtain falls, making conditions ripe for nationalistic unrest and warfare. But aren't you glad you took Teddy's advice?
This most politically correct of wargames pits players in a largely cooperative struggle to unite the nations of Europe into the European Union. Diplomats shuffle from country to country, trying to overcome by force of persuasion the native resistance to the Union. Only those players who help bring a country into the fold receive both victory points and political influence--but not every player can be involved in every country. As the game progresses and the Iron Curtain falls, the specter of nationalistic unrest and warfare haunts the players, taxing their already thin resources. This engaging blend of brainteasing and horse-trading will provide fresh challenges every time you play it.
If I ask you (nicely) to name your favourite game companies, most will plump for Avalon Hill, Wizards Of The Coast, Hans Im Glück or Kosmos. Why Eurogames fail to break into this perceived premier division is beyond me, particularly when their current catalogue includes Formel Dé, Condottiere and Serenissima. I hope that the weighty Europa tips the scales in their favour, because in my opinion, this was the game of Spiel 98.
On first viewing, the heavy premise of Europe's post-1945 integration does not look promising, and suggests an SPI idea from the 70s. Eurogames, though, sensibly looked beyond the theme and went to town on the editing and contents. In fact, there have been cries of "over-produced". But at 60 marks in Essen, this was hardly a credible argument.
Despite the daunting components, which include two mounted game boards, puzzle pieces representing each country who joins the union, initial historical overlays, a pack of country cards (to determine the election order), countless pawns in both male and female form, tons of markers, a full rule set, and, sensibly, two copies of the Quick Start rules (four A5 sides), which we used to learn the game. These were pretty complete, and any subsequent queries were thoroughly covered by their big brother.
Europa's victory condition is very straightforward: Earn victory point counters by defeating the Nationalists during individual country elections. These elections also provide Political Points, which are tallied on a surrounding track and which, in turn, earn "Europeans" (Eurogames' description, not mine) who are placed, Risk-style, to contest the infighting.
A run through of the Order Of Play (lifted from the abridged rules) should give a clear illustration of the objectives:
I alluded to Risk previously, and that game's "dispersal" rule is emulated in Europa. After each election, one pawn may be moved to an adjacent country. It is rational to relocate to a country which has yet to have an election, but this is not always possible. In any case, all "Eurogeezers/birds" are removed if the Nationalists prevail. Sticking with the above example, the points tally would be 10 each for Mike F, Alan and Bruce, despite Mike F's advantage. This is a clever rule, because it allows a minimal presence to affect the outcome, although if a player has the required minimum number of Political Points, he can take the spoils himself. So, if Mike F had positioned four "Eurothingies" in GB, the 30 points would have been his, and his alone. One Victory Point counter is awarded to all players who contested a successful campaign.
Once a country has been "Eurofied", a puzzle piece is added to the map for easy identification. As the board fills up with blue country pieces, you do get a sense of progress and history. And earlier chuckles prompted by their distribution tend to die away as the final contests are fought out.
Europa is played over four turns, with the above sequence repeated each time. For those wondering "where's the argy bargy?", an additional angle is added for turns two and three, and this will satisfy the warmongers amongst you. It is:
This element of Europa, although not particularly time consuming, does require sharp wits, and as it happens twice during the game, can provide a fatal blow if the wrong decisions are made.
If countries remain in high Tension, then the Nationalists prove more difficult to shift, the vote requirement being raised by "one". Elections are negated for countries at war.
As you trundle along, accumulating victory markers and making gains on the Political Point track, it is easy to see whose "side" you should currently be on. But players seemingly way ahead can be reined-in, and in each game I've played, the bonus of three victory tokens to the player furthest along the PP track has proved decisive.
For such an ambitious topic, Europa is surprisingly easy to assimilate and play. Even the election tallies prove painless, with coalitions usually self-evident, although back-stabbing is allowed and encouraged. Early alliances are quickly broken in the dive for the tape.
Sceptics, and there were many, quickly warmed to the ambitious thesis and magnificent production. At the end of the two hours or so required to play (and make sure there are at least four of you) nary a dissenting word was heard.