Game Buzz – Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia

A few weeks ago, I put up an article about dice allocation games.  Several designers commented to let me know about their own games that fit the catgeory, including

image by BGG user jameystegmaier
image by BGG user jameystegmaier

Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia is a game currently on Kickstarter, designed by Jamey Stegmaier and Alan Stone.  It is being published by Stonemaier Games, is for 2-6 players, and takes around an hour to play.  In the game, you are living in a post-apocalyptic future, and are trying to lead your workers to build it to your own advantage.  Four factions – the Euphorians, the Subterrans, the Wastelanders, and the Icarites – are battling for control, and you are trying to spread your allegiance to the strongest sides.  The Kickstarter campaign met its $15,000 goal in one hour, and has raised nearly $200,000 so far with a week to go, so I think it’s a safe bet that this one will be funded.

The game comes with a board, 48 unique recruit cards, 36 artifact cards, 6 secret agenda/reference cards, 24 six-sided dice, 12 player tokens, 27 resource tokens, 48 commodity tokens, 7 progress tokens, 60 star-shaped ownership tokens, 12 unique square market tiles, 6 multiplier tiles, and 8 circular allegiance bonus markers.  Each player begins with a multiplier token, a secret agenda, four recruit cards (from which you will choose two to keep, one active and one hidden), and two dice (workers) in your player color.  To determine player order, you will roll your two dice, with highest going first.  The number should then be kept as it represents the starting knowledge of your workers.

On your turn, you either place a worker on the board, or you retrieve some/all of your workers.  Normally, you can only place one die at a time – however, if you ever have multiple dice with the same knowledge (number), you may place all of them.  There are temporary spaces (which you can bump other workers off of), one-time use spaces (which have a cost, and you cannot be removed from), and multi-use spaces (any number of workers).

So where can you place your dice?  Well, there are many different locations:

  • Worker Activation Tank: You begin with only two workers, but through the tank, you can increase up to four.  Put a worker in one of the temporary spaces of the Tank, which will allow you to pay three energy and lose two knowledge, or pay three water and gain two on the morale track.  Lower knowledge allows you to keep workers – at the time of a reroll, if the knowledge of your dice plus the knowledge level is greater than or equal to 18, you’ll lose a worker.  Higher morale allows you to have a larger hand size of artifact cards.  The worker you gain here is rolled immediately and added to your available pool.
  • Commodity Areas: This includes the Generator, the Aquifer, the Farm, and the Cloud Mine, where you can gain energy, water, food, or bliss, respectively.  These are multi-use places.  If there is 1-4 knowledge present on the commodity area, you gain one commodity and an allegiance point.  Allegiance points give you certain benefits are certain tiers are reached (extra commodities, artifact cards, placing ownership tokens), and allow you to reveal hidden recruits if the faction’s track reaches 8.  If the total knowledge is between 5 and 8, you get a commodity and reduce your knowledge by one.  If knowledge is at 9+, you gain two commodities and one knowledge.
  • Tunnels: There are three different tunnels on the board as the various factions try to break into their enemy’s areas.  To help dig, add a worker to the temporary action space and pay the cost.  This gains you an artifact or a resource.  When the tunnel reaches level 6, hidden recruits of that faction are revealed and their benefits can be used.  When the tunnel has reached level 9, a new action space will become available to people who have active recruits of the indicated allegiance.
  • Construction: At the start of the game, six markets are dealt out face down in the indicated spaces of Euphoria, Subterra, and the Wastelands.  Icarus has its own preprinted markets.  To construct these markets, place a worker on one of the one-time use spaces, paying the cost on the space.  When all spaces are simultaneously full, the market is flipped over and everyone retrieves the workers, placing ownership tokens for each one on the market.  This is important because anyone who did not contribute to the construction of that particular market has some personal freedoms taken away.
  • Market: A completed market has a temporary space that you can occupy and pay a cost to place an ownership token in the star for the region.  Icarus has its own markets already on the board.
  • Artifact Market: These are preprinted, and hexagonal.  They have a temporary space.  To use them, you must discard three artifact cards, advance the associated allegiance token, and then you can place an ownership token in the star-shaped region of the territory or on a constructed market you don’t already have ownership in.

If you don’t, or can’t, place a worker, you can retrieve any or all of them by paying a cost.  You can pay either food or bliss, or you can pay nothing and lose one morale.

The game ends when one player places their tenth ownership token.  They win.

This seems to be an interesting mix of dice and worker placement.  Unlike most dice allocation games, you don’t roll your dice and place accordingly.  The only two things you need to pay attention to are whether you have multiples of the same number (so you can get extra turns) and the amount of knowledge you accrue.  I think the knowledge system is a very thematic way of keeping your dice in check.  You don’t want your workers knowing too much…it is a dystopia, after all.

Speaking of the theme, I like how the designers went to some effort to explain some of the rules thematically.  It’s a different kind of dystopian game in that you’re not struggling against the establishment, but rather ARE the establishment.  I like the suppression of knowledge, and the different ways the different factions can try to go after each other.  I also like the idea of losing personal freedoms – you are penalized if you do not help construct markets.  Very interesting.

Overall, I’d say this looks like a pretty entertaining game.  It’s one I’m going to continue to keep an eye on, and hopefully will get to play sometime.  It’s one I would seriously consider backing if finances allowed.  If you’re interested in backing, you have a little less than a week.  Thanks for reading!

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4 comments

  1. You explained our game extremely well here–thank you for taking the time to read up about Euphoria! I’ve followed this blog for a while now, and I’m honored that you chose to write about our game here. Thanks

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