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What is a "Eurogame"


Early examples of German-style board games, such as Acquire, appeared in the 1960s. However, the genre as a more concentrated design movement began in the late 1970s and early 1980s in Germany. Germany publishes more board games than any other country per capita, hence the name. Today the phenomenon has spread to other European countries such as France and The Netherlands. While many games are published and played in other markets such as the United States and the United Kingdom, they occupy a niche status there.

Settlers of Catan, first published in and winner of the prestigious Spiel des Jahres (German for "Game of the Year") award in 1995, paved the way for the genre in the United States and outside Europe. It was neither the first "German game" nor the first such game to find an audience outside Germany, but it became much more popular than any of its predecessors. It quickly sold millions of copies in Germany, and in the process brought money and attention to the genre as a whole. One of its most famous and successful follow-ups in the genre was Carcassonne.


As far as generalities can be made about such a large and diverse group of games, German games are usually multiplayer and can be learned easily and played in a relatively short time, perhaps multiple times in a single session. A certain amount of socializing and "table talk" might typically be expected during game play, as opposed to the relative silence sometimes expected during some strategy games like chess and go, or restrictions on allowable conversations or actions found in some highly competitive games such as contract bridge. German-style games are generally much simpler than the wargames which flourished in the 1970s and 1980s from publishers such as SPI and Avalon Hill, but nonetheless often have a considerable depth of play, especially in some "gamers' games" such as Tigris and Euphrates.


German games have themes (i.e., are not abstract, but are about something)?more like Monopoly or Clue, rather than go or backgammon. Themes are often very loose ? unlike a simulation game, the theme of a German game is often merely suggestive, and it is not unknown for a game to be designed with one theme and published with another, or for the same game to be given a significantly different theme for a later republication, or for two games on wildly different themes to have very similar mechanics. However, combat themes are uncommon and player conflict is often indirect (for example, competing for a scarce resource). While they often have a simulation-like theme, they are not simulation games per se, as many wargames are.

Example themes are:

  • Carcassonne - Build a medieval landscape complete with walled-cities and monasteries, roads and fields in the area around the French city of Carcassonne.
  • Puerto Rico - As a Governor of the island of Puerto Rico build a colony in the New World.

Games Made For Everyone

While many titles (especially the strategically heavier ones) are enthusiastically played by "gamers" as a hobby, German-style games are, for the most part, well suited to "everyman" social play. In keeping with this social function, various characteristics of the games tend to support that aspect well, and these have become quite common across the genre. For example, generally German games do not have a fixed number of players like chess or bridge; though there is a sizable body of German-style games which are designed for exactly two players, most games can accommodate anywhere from two to six players (with varying degrees of suitability). Six-player games are somewhat rare, or require expansions, such as Settlers of Catan or Carcassonne. Usually each player plays for himself, rather than in a partnership or team.

In keeping with their social orientation, numbers are usually low in magnitude, often under ten, and any arithmetic in the game is trivial.

Playing time varies from a half hour to a couple of hours, with around an hour being typical.

No Player Elimination

Another prominent characteristic of these games is the lack of player elimination. Eliminating players before the end of the game is seen as counterproductive. Most of these games are designed to keep all players in the game as long as possible, so it is rare to be certain of victory or defeat until relatively late in the game. Some of the mechanics, like hidden scoring or scoring at the end of the game, are also designed around this avoidance of player elimination.

Game Mechanics

A wide variety of often innovative mechanics are used, and familiar mechanics like rolling dice and moving, capture, or trick taking are avoided. If a game has a board, the board is usually irregular rather than uniform or symmetric (like Risk rather than chess or Scrabble); the board is often random (like Settlers of Catan) or has random elements (like Tikal). Some boards are merely mnemonic or organizational and contribute only to ease of play, like a cribbage board; examples of this include Puerto Rico and Princes of Florence. Random elements are often present, but do not usually dominate the game. While rules are light to moderate, they allow depth of play, usually requiring thought, planning, and a shift of tactics through the game and often with a chess- or backgammon-like opening game, middle game, and end game.

Design Quality

Great care is taken with the look and feel of the game -- they are made to be attractive games to own and play. They commonly have wooden pieces and good quality artwork.


Table of Contents

Page title Most recent update Last edited by
Games T-Z April 30, 2007 6:21 AM anonymous
Games R-S April 30, 2007 6:20 AM anonymous
Our Community Game Closet June 8, 2007 5:22 AM anonymous
What is a "Eurogame" August 26, 2012 8:06 AM anonymous
Online Play May 3, 2007 10:42 AM anonymous
Spiel des Jahres (German Game of the Year) Award May 3, 2007 11:41 AM anonymous
About Twin Cities Eurogames August 26, 2012 8:33 AM anonymous

Saint Paul, MN

Founded Feb 4, 2007


Aura Lee B. and 12 more…

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