Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia review

We picked this guy up from our anniversary purchases. I’m quite fond of it.

Euphoria. Legitimately beautiful board.
Early play in Euphoria. Legitimately beautiful board.

Euphoria is a dice placement eurogame with a great theme and a bunch of interesting twists. You play a middle manager in a world crushing dystopian society and you’re just trying to get your job done. To do so you use your worker dice, and the larger the dice score, the better the dice works in some jobs, but if they get too smart then they will make a break for it and run away from the dystopia. Then you gotta go spend resources to birth new ones from the tanks.

The game also includes 4 factions. All buildings have allegiance to one of them, and every time you use that building it gives that faction a bit more strength. Players have employee cards, active employees give let you use those buildings more efficiently.

Your goal is to put down all your stars onto the board. Doing so requires building markets and trading ancient artifacts (from before the dystopia) in those markets. Getting those requires trading with the Icarites (the sky faction), or digging tunnels to allow some factions to steal from the other factions.

The final tier of dynamics are the aforementioned markets. They’re set up so that not all players can contribute to their building, and once they’re build everyone who didn’t help has a new game rule placed against them until they donate some artifacts.

You should start to get a feel that this game includes lots of things happening at once, and I can vouch that that’s in a good way. First you want to ride the balance of most use you can get out of your workers without losing them cause they got too smart. Second, you want to advance the factions you have employees with so that they get more efficient. Third, you want to make sure to be early to contribute to market building so that you don’t get locked out of game benefits, again for maximum efficiency.

There’s also a nice natural narrative to the game, sort of nice in a euro. The game goes through distinct phases of first general start and dice generation, then a digging/building phase, and then a maximum speed race for artifact generation and placement. This helps prevent the sensation of sameness that occurs with some euro games.

Euphoria, top down
Euphoria, top down

I genuinely like this game. Great theme, great art, great tokens, and most importantly genuinely interesting gameplay. My only quibble is that the box and board feel just a bit light and it makes me a bit worried whenever I move it, but it’s a really really minor concern and in no way makes pulls me away from recommending this game fully.

Merchant of Venus 2, review

Slight posting break for my bronchitis. How sick was I? Sick enough for a week break, no joke.

In that time, our ill gotten gains from the FFG clearance sale showed up, and the first to hit table is Merchant of Venus. Inasmuch as “ameritrash” is a word that can be used to describe something, it would describe this game. There’s a mountain of tokens, there’s not only movement but dice driven movement, and even a little control board where you can keep track of your spaceship’s stats.

Merchant of Tokens
Merchant of Tokens

We’re not kidding about tokens. There’s 14 races, each with 3 race tokens, 4+ goods tokens, 2+ tech upgrades, a stack of passengers, a stack of pirates and asteroids, giant stack of money, optional market demand tokens, and that’s before the cards.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE: since this is a remake of an older board game, FFG included free of charge the original game in full, with extra tokens to play that version if you so desire. Which we didn’t, we went with the new version in our playthrough.

The only exception to this is ameri-ness is there’s an element of dice placement, but since the amount of upgrades you can place dice into is so small, it’s more of an optional activation than a hard choice most of the time.

So how is it? Pretty simple all considered: buy goods, then sell them somewhere else. It’s not really possible to lose money and even a broke merchant can still deliver passengers for cash, so the game is basically a race for most money without too much stress. It’s also not a very player-interacty, other than in grabbing passengers and, in 4 player games, possibly running out of a good.

Angelica's closeup of Merchant of Venus
Angelica’s closeup of Merchant of Venus

All of it makes a pretty low stress game. Roll dice, go bounce around space, sell stuff, collect tokens and cards. It’s fun, but not a very deep experience. The no stress sci-fi version of Arkham Horror.