Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Purchase Decision - Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia

The game in question for this week’s entry is…

Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia

Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia ( Euphoria from now on ) is the 2nd game by designers Jamey Stegmaier and Alan Stone.
Their first collaboration was Viticulture which was recently released via Kickstarter.
Euphoria will be published by Stonemaier games ( which I assume is co-owned by Jamey and Alan ) and is currently up for funding on Kickstarter.

Game Info

Euphoria plays 2-6 players
Published playing time is 60mins
Mechanics – Worker Placement / Area Control / Resource Management / Variable Player Powers

How it Might Play

During setup, each player receives 4 recruit cards of which only 2 are kept. These 2 recruits will determine the player’s unique ability during the course of the game.
Only 1 of the recruit is active at the start of the game however, the other is inactive till further requirements are met. Each player also starts with 2 dice which signify the player’s workers, and one secret agenda card.

example of some of the recruits and abilities

Euphoria isn’t played in rounds but played from turn to turn until a player reaches the game winning condition – placing 10 of their influence tokens on the game board.

During a player’s turn, he/she has 3 options to choose from
1) Complete their Secret Agenda ( can only be done once in the whole game )
2) Place one available worker on the board ( or more if they are of the same dice value )
3) Retrieve as many workers as so desired ( paying the necessary costs )

Each turn seems to flow rather quickly due to the simplicity of the options available.
But the meat of the game comes from where you may place your workers, and what benefits they bring and costs they incur to you.

Examples of some actions that a player may take by placing their workers
1) Get more workers ( at a cost )
2) Help to construct a Market ( failure to build markets will place restrictions on the players )
3) Gain commodities / resources ( there are 4 different types of commodities and 3 different types of resources )
4) Visit one of four districts to place influence tokens ( at a cost )
5) Tunnel into a district / Advance allegiance in a faction ( this is how you are able to activated your inactive 2nd recruit )

example of some of the market tiles in the game

Euphoria also presents a slightly different twist to the worker placement aspect in games.
In Euphoria, there are 3 different types of worker placement spaces.
The first one is a temporary space where if one player has a worker placed there, the subsequent player may replace the previous player’s worker. So no blocking is involved, but you give the previous player their worker back at no cost.
The second type of space is your typical worker placement space. Once taken, always taken until the player willingly gives it up or once the action is completed.
The third and final type is a multi-use space, where any number of workers may be present. But the catch is that the benefit obtained varies depending on the total value of the workers in that space ( this is when the value of the dice / worker is taken into consideration )

So players keep taking turns to place or retrieve workers until someone manages to place their 10 influence tokens on the board, then that player is declared the best builder of a better ( or worse ) dystopia.

What I Like ( from reading the rules )

Theme / Setting and Art Style
The first thing that caught my attention for Euphoria was the setting and the art style. I loved the art in Viticulture and the same artist – Jacqui Davis – is doing a great job for the look for Euphoria. The setting of the dystopian world also appeals to me not because I am very much into science fiction, but rather, it is unique and different from a lot of other games out there.

Individual Player Powers
For those who listen to our podcast enough, you will know that I absolutely love individual player powers. And Euphoria has this by means of their recruit cards.
There are 48 unique recruit cards so each game will play out differently and will encourage the use of different strategies each time. Love the idea.

Market Tiles
The market tiles in Euphoria bring a very small push your luck element to the game. They are assigned randomly and all face down, so you don’t actually know what market it is that you are attempting to construct. All you know is that, if you don’t construct it, there will be a penalty imposed on you that may be one that you really didn’t want to happen ( some of the penalties are much harsher compared to others ).
There are 12 market tiles of which only 6 are used in each game.

Management of Workers
In Euphoria, one use of the dice values for your workers is that, if it exceeds your threshold ( which is determined by your knowledge level ), one of your workers will run away. This helps to ensure that players can’t just ride a worker-generation strategy to victory. Having more workers requires you to have proper planning and management, and of course some luck.

What I Dislike ( from reading the rules )

Possible Imbalance of Recruit Abilities
The multiple recruits is a double edged sword to me. I love the variability and the options they give, but also, it seems that some of the abilities may not be very balanced. And if you know me, as much as I like player powers, I dislike imbalanced player powers.

Scalability for less players
Euphoria is strange in a way that I start to wonder how it scales with fewer players.
Most games have scaling problems with a greater number of players, but in Euphoria, it seems to be the other way round.
The action spaces do not adjust to the number of players ( unlike how Viticulture does ), so I can see it being tight / just right for 5-6 players, but with 2-3 players it seems that everyone may be able to do something they want.
There are a ton of action spaces on the board, and with everyone only starting with 2 workers, in a 3 player game, 6 workers can easily find themselves a home on the board. And this may significantly reduce the tension in the game.

Poor use of Secret Agenda Cards
The secret agenda cards sound like something that I usually like in games, but this is hardly the case. The secret agenda cards are only different in name, artwork and requirements, but the benefits for completing them are the same.
This is truly an area of wasted opportunity.
Giving a one time benefit would have greatly made the cards more thematic and different from each other.  

3d Rendering of the Expected look of the game in play

Conclusion – Backed / Bought, and Eagerly looking forward to its Arrival

At the end of it all, I decided to go ahead and make the push for Euphoria to be published ( not that it wont be published without my monetary offering anyway, haha ).
I was greatly impressed by the production value for Viticulture, and I expect the same top-notch production value for Euphoria.

If you would like to hear more about Viticulture and Euphoria, do listen to Episode 10 of our podcast where we interview Jamey himself and put him in the ( very ) hot seat.

Push Ur Luck Podcast – Episode 10



basically the idea of "A Purchase Decision" is just to state out what i thought of while deliberating whether or not to buy a particular game.

i'm not sure how each of you decide on what game to purchase ( art, newness, designer, etc etc ), but for me, each purchase goes through a very vigorous and tough selection process, which usually also includes the reading through of the rule-set.
so i thought i would just list through my thoughts on how the game is going to play like and what i considered before i made ( or did not make ) the purchase

if you do read through it, i hope that whatever i had to say might help as well in your game purchasing decision ! :)

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