Posted by: gschloesser | August 2, 2011

Europa: 1945 – 2030

Design by:  Duccio Vitale and Leo Colovini
Published by:  EuroGames
3 – 6 Players, 2 hours
Review by:  Greg J. Schloesser

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?

Not if the European Union can help it!  This latest release from Duccio Vitale and Leo Colovini, published by EuroGames, is a game of elections, negotiation and cooperation, all in attempts to build a better Europe. 

For those unfamiliar with the game, it’s premise is the development of the European Union from the period following World War II into the future (2030).  Players represent different political parties and are trying to bring as many countries into the family of the EU as possible.  Elections are held in various countries each round and there must be sufficient votes to defeat the nationalists in that country.  Most of the time, this requires players forming coalitions in order to secure a victory.  Trouble is, no more than three players can be in any coalition, so usually one or more players are going to be left out.  This is where the negotiation and deal-making aspects of the game really get heated.

What is at stake are both Political points and Victory points.  Each country has a set number of Political points which are divided equally between the players participating in the winning coalition.  Plus, each of these players receives one Victory point regardless of the actual Political point value of the country in question.  Victory points ultimately determine the game’s victor, but Political points determine how many pawns a player has available for each round’s elections, as well as the order in which coalitions will be proposed. Further, at game’s end, the player with the most Political points is elected President of the EU and receives a bonus 3 Victory points.

What makes the election process even more interesting is that following a successful election in a country, resulting in that country being admitted into the EU, all players who participated in the successful coalition may then move one of their tokens from that country to any adjacent country OR any country bordering another EU country.  Thus, this creates a sort of domino effect wherein players shift tokens to new areas in attempts to capture elections which have yet to be held during that round.  This ability to move a token following a successful election becomes a MAJOR part of the negotiations during the elections:  “Hey, if we let John in on this coalition, he’ll shift his token to Hungary and we’ll be forced to include him in on that coalition, too.  Then, he’ll shift to the Czech Republic and win that election as well.  That’s too many points for him!”  Delicious fun, although it can get a bit heated and nasty.

During turns 3 and 4, the threat of nationalistic wars looms heavy upon the players.  During each of these turns, two dice are rolled six times to determine the locations of tensions in various Eastern European countries.  If a number is rolled twice, war breaks out and has the potential of spilling across its borders and escalating to major proportions.  Players must suppress these wars and regional tensions.  These suppression attempts are done in a unique and entertaining fashion.  Each player secretly commits a number of the tokens he has available to him that turn in an effort to suppress the revolts.  All are revealed and if the tension level is met or exceeded, peace is restored.  The player who committed the most tokens to this effort receives 4 Victory points, the second most gets 2 VPs and the third gets 1 VP.  The tokens players committed in this effort are not available for the upcoming elections.  It is a tough choice on whether to go for the Victory points by being the leader in the suppression effort (or try to avoid being penalized if the effort fails) or save the tokens for the upcoming elections.

However, if not enough tokens were committed to quell the revolts, then the player who held back the most tokens LOSES 4 VP!  The player who held back the second most tokens loses 2 VP and the third loses 1 VP.  Cruel, cruel, cruel!

After four rounds, the player with the most accumulated Political points receives his bonus 3 Victory points for being elected EU President.  Then, the player with the most overall Victory points is declared the victor.

I find the game to be very enjoyable with lots (maybe a bit too much) of heated debates and negotiations.  There are the constant warnings of ‘Darren’s winning’, which, of course, the standard reply is ‘No, I’m not.  Lenny is!‘  Since Victory points are kept secret, this becomes a bit of a guessing game (unless you’re playing with someone who can count cards). Thus, many players use the Political points, which are recorded on a public track’ as a gauge to determine the leader.  This is unfortunate, as it is quite possible to be leading on the Political point track but be way behind on the Victory point track.

A word of warning:  the negotiations can be EXTREMELY intense and heated.  I strongly urge anyone playing this game to stick by the rules that (1) disallow anyone not present in a country from participating in the discussions / negotiations for that country’s election; and (2) When reaching the actual Election phase, no further negotiations or comments must be uttered.  Only a simple ‘Yes‘ or ‘No‘ to the proposed coalition should be given.  Enforcement of these two rules will greatly speed up the game.

Some additional thoughts:  I have played with the both the rules as written and the variant wherein the player who has the fewest Political points gets to propose coalitions first in each election.  It was thought this would serve as an equalizer and there has been some discussion about this on the internet.  I’m not sure if it is better, worse or the same as the method spelled out in the rules wherein the player who is first on the Political point track proposes coalitions first.

As the rules are written, it would seem that this would be an unfair advantage for the player who has the most PPs.  In reality, however, even though this player proposes first, players tend to be reluctant to join in a coalition with this player due to his formidable position on the PP track.

Using the variant, it seemed that the first coalition proposed succeeded about 80% of the time as the person making the proposal didn’t appear to be the obvious leader.  This did take away some of the game’s excitement in the voting on various coalition proposals and the tension of ‘do I vote no even though he’s including me, but I don’t want him to get any more points, and hope I’m included in the next proposal, or vote yes just to get the quick points?’

I want to play the game a few more times using both methods in order to determine which I prefer.

A game of Europa 1945 – 2030 clocks in at about 2 1/2 – 3 hours with 6 players.  It is very intense but also very exciting and fun.  The components are top notch, as I’ve come to expect from EuroGames titles.  I will say that the game is a bit pricey, however.  My copy cost in excess of $50, but this price should come down as the game becomes more readily available on the market. 

EuroGames is planning on releasing the game in English, although the only real German involved in the European version is the names of the various countries represented on the boards.  This is not difficult to decipher at all and does not hamper play of the game whatsoever.

If you enjoy games with negotiations and deal-making, and don’t mind the constant finger pointing and whinings which go with players being a perceived leader (or the incredibly bizarre box cover), then Europa 1945 – 2030 would be a fine addition to your collection.  Recommended.

 

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Responses

  1. The ride may be better than the destination. I really enjoyed the negotiating during the game but like in life, if 2 or more players always work together, it can cause the game to not work so well. (6/10)
    If you can get in a game where each player is willing to change allegiance as necessary, the game is great. (9/10)


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