On The Radar: Euphoria (Kickstarter)

Posted by James (admin) on June 7th, 2013

Euphoria coverSome months ago, I posted about the wine-making game Viticulture which was being Kickstarted (and I will be reviewing that soon).  The same designers at StoneMayer Games are Kickstarting their new game at the moment called Euphoria.

Euphoria is set in a dystopian future and is a game of worker placement.  Workers are dice whose values are set by rolling them when you gain them or retrieve them from the board.  High value dice can be handy because some locations give a benefit based on the sum of the workers there; however, the numbers represent the worker’s knowledge of the world around them and too much knowledge on your workers who aren’t currently placed means they become too aware of their reality and run away.

On their turn, players can either place workers (one at a time, or more if the workers have matching values) or they can remove workers, but never both.  Placing workers allows players to use various actions which usually earn resources or allow a player to spend resources to gain things like workers, etc.

However, there are a few different types of area where workers can be placed.  For example, in some areas, workers don’t get returned to their owner until another worker is placed on the same area (which makes me think there may be opportunities to return a worker to another player specifically to try and cause them to run away if that player has several high-value, unplaced workers already).  Another example is that some areas can have any number of workers present on them and the benefit gained from placing a worker there is based on the total sum of the workers’ values.  These sound like nice additions to the usual worker placement mechanic.

Each player has a level of morale and knowledge.  The higher your team’s morale, the more cards you can hold in your hand.  The higher your team’s knowledge, the more easily your workers run away.  Performing various actions alter these values, so you’ll need to consider these when picking which actions to perform.

From reading the rules, there appear to be quite a few interesting game mechanic ideas going on in Euphoria too.  For example, players start with 2 recruit cards (one active and one inactive) and these each belong to one of the 4 factions.  Players receive various bonuses based on which faction their active recruit(s) belongs to; plus, player actions can increase a specific faction’s strength and this increases their bonus effect.  So, players will want to strengthen the factions their recruits belong to, although this will sometimes help their opponents too if they have recruits from the same faction.

Euphoria gameOne element I particularly like the sound of are the markets.  Multiple players can spend actions and resources over several turns to construct markets.  When built, the market reveals a new action that any player can use from now on.  However (and this is the bit I really like), players who did not help build a market suffer a restriction printed on it, i.e. they can’t gain any new workers, they can’t bump their own workers from action spaces, etc.  Players suffering these restrictions can remove them if they do a special action.

I really like the principles behind this game mechanic as (a) it incentivises players to help build markets together whilst they are all competing against each other; (b) players who didn’t help build a market suffer a penalty which isn’t simply that they can’t use the market; and, (c) players who build multiple sections of a market reduce the amount of other players who can be involved in its building.

The winner is the first player to place all 10 of their ownership tokens.  These can be placed on a limited amount of land spaces in each region (costing various resources and an action), placed on your recruits (each time your recruit’s faction’s strength reaches or exceed a high value), and placed on markets (that they helped build or joined later).

There are quite a few other game elements to Euphoria too.  For example, each recruit gives its owner a special ability so all players have a slightly different approach to the game.  Also, each player has a secret objective which, when fulfilled, they can reveal to get one of 2 benefits.  Plus, there are 3 tunnels that players can use actions to help dig which, when complete, open new actions that can only be used by players with recruits that match the tunnel’s faction.

Overall, Euphoria looks like an interesting worker placement game with some extra game mechanics to make it different.  The setting feels pleasantly different but with enough familiarity.  The designers say there are influences of Tzolk’in and Alien Frontiers and I can see how those games have shaped/inspired Euphoria without being a direct copy.  I’m looking forwards to trying it out.

There are just 5 days remaining for Euphroia’s Kickstarter which has already done amazingly well with almost $200,000 of pledges.  I think the price point which includes shipping to US, Canada or EU ($49) definitely helped too.  You can read more details and pledge on Euphoria’s Kickstarter page.


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