The Best Euro-Style Board Games In 2023

The year was 1995, when one of the first European-designed board games began spreading into other countries. Yes, it was none other than the Settlers of Catan. Originally designed by the late Klaus Teuber, the Settlers of Catan marked a huge turning point in the world of tabletop media as we know it. It ushered in a new era of games; ones that focused more on strategy and relied less on destructive themes and a heavy emphasis on luck. And yes, we’re fully aware that the Settlers of Catan features dice rolling, but it’s the tone and scope of Catan that classifies it as a “Euro game.”


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Some might even argue that a Euro game is plainly anything that hails from Europe (which also makes sense!). For now, we’re here to break down the best Euro-style board games that deserve a spot on your shelf.

The Best Euro-style Board Games

Scythe board game box

Scythe

Best Theme

A superb take on alternate WW1 history with meaningful choices

Scythe is a shoo-in for any gamer’s budding collection of Euro-style board games. It features practically zero luck, is set in alternative history WW1, and carries a heavy focus on resource management with a very contemplative approach to combat.

Pros

  • The gorgeous art truly evokes the theme.
  • The low reliance on luck means that winning a game is always rightfully earned.
  • The system of carrying workers and resources with your mechs is clever and not seen in many other games.
  • The large amount of expansion content opens up the decision space of the game.
Cons

  • Games can play out rather similarly after enough repeated plays.
  • First few turns can feel scripted, to an extent.

Scythe is as ambitious in its scope as it is stoic in its presentation. Featuring distressed, yet timeless art, the game beautifully captures what the world could look like in an alternate version of war-torn Europe during the 1920s. Scythe is a strategy game in its purest form. Every turn is packed with ample opportunities to grow your faction’s

Tikal Tabletop Game

Tikal

Best Exploration Game

Every turn in Tikal is a puzzle.

Tikal features strong notes of exploration, action selection, and area control as players’ explorers discover ancient sites in the jungles of Tikal.

Pros

  • Beautiful presentation.
  • Simple ruleset with a wide array of options on your turn.
  • Satisfyingly puzzly and promotes spacial awareness.
Cons

  • The fluidity of the gameplay loop is broken by the three intermitent scoring rounds, which makes the game a little clunky at moments.

Tikal pits players against each other as companies of explorers all trying to make the greatest discoveries in the jungles of Tikal. With a deceptively simple rules set, the game’s mechanisms get out of the way of the gameplay, so players can focus on outwitting each other to gain a majority presence over ancient monuments and dig sites.

It’s a clever game that gives players tons of meaty options on their turn and plenty of opportunities to swipe points away from others.

Great Western Trail Box

Great Western Trail

Best Euro Deck-builder

A satisfying gameplay loop that motivates players to get faster and faster at churning through their deck.

Cattle ranchers in the Midwest are herding their cattle for a big sale in Kansas City. Great Western Trail pays a heavy emphasis on curating the cards in your deck and building a reliable engine to generate the most money from your cattle sales.

Pros

  • With how the board is populated with buildings throughout the game, it offers immense replayability.
  • A puzzly action selection game.
  • An innovative twist on deck building.
Cons

  • Games can be long at higher player counts.

Great Western Trail positions you, the player, as a rancher in Texas, out to make the biggest sale of your herd of prized cattle. You do this by traveling through Midwest America, visiting vendors to buy, sell, and trade your cattle as you tread toward Kansas City. The game features a great loop as you circle the board from one end to the other, repeatedly making bigger and bigger transactions from your cows.

The board also grows as you play, since you and other players will be erecting new structures throughout the game, thereby giving you and others more places to visit.

Ultimate Railroads Tabletop Game

Ultimate Railroads

Best Worker Placement Euro Game

With quick turns and deep strategy, Ultimate Railroads doesn’t overstay it’s welcome.

The best expression of railroad-building using worker placement as the core mechanism. Another puzzly game with multiple avenues to victory as players race to complete their railroads.

Pros

  • Games are fast.
  • Multiple viable paths to victory, but it’s difficult to do everything in the game.
Cons

  • Players that know the game are likely to outperform new players.

Ultimate Railroads, an anthology of titles formerly called Russian Railroads is a game of building your own railroad network. You’ll do so with the use of placing workers around a central board to lay down tracks, which will earn you points throughout the game.

While the theme of this game doesn’t particularly shine too bright, the puzzle-based nature of optimizing your turns to ramp up your point gains from round to round is a satisfying procedure. The Ultimate edition adds a handful of modules you can throw in to make every game feel different from the last.

Caverna: The Cave Farmers Tabletop Game

Caverna: The Cave Farmers

Best Farming Game

Caverna gives players a lot of options on each turn as they transform their meager plots of vacant land into a bustling farm.

A charming sequel to famed Agricola, Caverna takes the best parts of its predecessor and streamlines gameplay to make one of the best farming simulations in board gaming.

Pros

  • If you’re into farming, then you’ll love Caverna.
  • Faster, simpler, and less punishing than Agricola.
  • A great meld of worker placement and resource management.
Cons

  • The “feed your people” requirement with each round can be tedious for some players.

2007’s Agricola stole people’s hearts for its quaint take on farming in medieval Europe and for the amount of depth in strategy that it offered players. In 2013, Caverna was released as a reimplementation of Agricola, and it was instantly loved. Caverna, like Agricola, features families of farmers working to diversify their farm with livestock and crops.

They’ll do this by collecting resources which they’ll use to obtain cattle, boars, sheep, watchdogs, wheat, and vegetables. At the same time, players will be doing a bit of interior design on their cave homes, building new rooms to score victory points. Caverna is great for how it stripped out the minutiae from Agricola, leaving a clean design that is quicker to play and has a good arc from start to finish.

Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition Collector's Edition Tabletop Game

Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition Collector’s Edition

Best Overall

Ares Expedition is the culmination of many games before it.

Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition is the culmination of the best Euro-style card games all condensed into a small package that is quick to learn, has a small footprint on the table, and packs a punch with its strategic variability.

Pros

  • Streamlined and faster than its predeccesor, Terraforming Mars
  • Great execution of the theme if you’re into sci-fi settings.
  • Excellent use of card-based tableau building.
Cons

  • Luck of the draw is a little more impactful in Ares Expedition than most other games on this list.

Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition is, as it implies, a Euro-style game about terraforming and colonizing Mars. It’s a deep strategy game that uses card combos and resource generation. It takes all the best parts of modern talbleau-building games by trimming the fat and, from a mechanical perspective, getting out of its own way.

Games that preempted and followed it (like Terraforming Mars, Ark Nova, and Earth) all accomplish similar things as Ares Expedition does, but they do so at the cost of having long play times, are more rules-heavy, and require a bit more mental taxation from the players. To some, that’s a great thing, but at the end of the day, what elevates Ares Expedition above the rest is its ability to abbreviate the puzzly nature of those games while still scratching the same itch in less time.

Lords Of Waterdeep

Lords Of Waterdeep

Best Interactive Euro Game

Lords of Waterdeep is the bridge for tabletop RPG players to try out Euro-style games.

Lords of Waterdeep borrows a lot of ideas from other great Euro games, but it does so with the added flourish of The Forgotten Realms. What came out on the other end is a majestic product that brings gamers of different ilks around the table.

Pros

  • Outstanding execution of the theme tied to the mechanisms
  • The experience is heavily amplified when you add the Scoundrels of Skullport expansion.
  • Simple to learn and play.
  • Huge emphasis on player interaction.
Cons

  • The few “take that” elements of some cards can be bothersome.

If you’re into D&D, Lords of Waterdeep is a game you have to try out. It takes every iconic reference we know and love from D&D tropes and inserts them into a simple-to-learn board game. The central mechanism revolves around players sending their agents to different locations around the city of Waterdeep, wherein they’ll recruit characters of the four main D&D classes: Fighters, Rogues, Mages, and Clerics. They gain this support, so they can ultimately complete quests, which, after completion, will reward victory points and other juicy benefits. It’s an approachable design that can introduce many aspects of modern Euro game designs, and is well worth a try.

FAQ

What is a Euro-style Board Game?

A Euro-style board game is any game that features heavy amounts of strategy, is usually non-confrontational, and has very limited uses of luck.

What is a dry Euro game?

A “dry” Euro game is any game that is focused more on the strategy and mechanisms of the game, with the actual theme and topic of the game taking a backseat (or barely even present).

Do All Euro Games Come From Europe?

Not anymore! While they were still gaining traction in the late ’90s and early 2000’s most Euro games hailed from Europe. But over time, more publishers around the globe adopted similar design styles in their own games and the phrase merely stuck, regardless of the origin of the game’s design and publication.

Next: The Best Worker Placement Games

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