This is going to be an ongoing series where I discuss my favorite mechanisms and the scoring mechanisms who love them. All credit goes to Jamey Stegmaier of Stonemaier Games, except my writing which is 100% mine and copyrighted. So, get your filthy hands off. He has an awesome YouTube channel where he just smiles a lot and discusses his favorite mechanisms. There is an amazing amount of content on that channel and an amazing amount of charm in that smile. In honor of that contribution to this blog, I’m going to start out with one of Jamey’s games, Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia.
The theme of this game drew me in instantly. I’ve started a description of the game with, “It’s about a Dystopian world where,” and people just yes “Yes, please.” Dystopia is a hot commodity.
I’m going to reach for the stars here. My goal is to dissect the mechanism, see how and why it works and what other fundamental mechanisms are required to make my favorite work. Then I want to take a look at the scoring system and see how it works as well.
My absolute favorite mechanic in Euphoria is worker control. And by this I don’t just mean worker placement. Your works are represented by regular D6. You start with 2 and you can have up to 4 by cattle prodding them out of their cages or giving them the hose. No… I mean like shooting a fire hose, nevermind… pervert. It’s really easy to get all of the workers placed. you simply drop them in the squares, the dotted squares, or the rectangular boxes. If it’s not one of those then find somewhere else to drop it.
However, each time you take an action to reclaim your works from the board you must roll all of the dice you collected. If the total of that roll plus your workers’ intelligence is higher than 15, than you lose one of your precious workers, which you desperately need. But the more dice you have the better chance you have of rolling doubles which allows you to place two dice at once, getting ahead of your opponents. And the odds of rolling doubles on 3 dice are better than rolling on 2, and so on.
It’s just fantastic! The push your luck element that is added to this mechanism works flawlessly and adds a certain amount of tension to every recall.
The theme can get a little real because, really, what I’m doing right now is the same thing rich white people have being doing for over 2000 years. Finding life sad and broken beause of all the great pleasures that surrounds us. This lavish lifestyle is just a facade, and we realize life is lived by the ones we exploit. We punish them for living, until we find a means of escape. And still, I’m using anyone I can to escape the dreadful banality of my own existence. Hooray! Do you think we really have to go into a Dystopian Future? t’s here… Let me show you the face of the the Dy…
What’s really clever is that there’s a way to cheat the whole losing workers thing when you’ve finally collected all 4. You simply don’t pick them all up when you retrieve them. You can pick up as many or as few as you like. So if you’re a dangerous fella with nothing to lose, or your workers are just really, really stupid, you can pick up all four and try your luck. But if you’re the kind of guy who carries an umbrella on a sunny day, you might just pick up two from areas where they would stay and use those two to push other workers off their position and pick them up for free.
That’s another cool thing. Your workers often push other workers off their current placement and those can go back into your worker pool. You can create these loops where you might never need to recall workers at all.
Granted, most of the worker placement and retrieval can be gripped right out of the chest of the Manhattan Project, its heart still beating. But that’s not what makes Euphoria’s mechanism so special and so much darned fun.
It’s the risk factor inherent in those dice rolls and how you can go about mitigating it. Keep your workers stupid. Treat them like the mindless hamsters you know them to be, give in to the darksid…
Those doubles and triples you roll save a lot of time. So, sometimes it’s just worth the risk to roll a bunch of dice and hope for the best, especially after some of your mines have been busted open and certain “necessities” become much cheaper.
Sometimes it’s best to leave a couple on the board. Especially, when you have to race to get building components so you won’t be penalized socially for not being a drop in the bucket of the wave of the future. Because if you don’t contribute to building that neato new store you’re friends have been raving about, you’re going to take some kind of nasty hit for it.
Do the dice in my favorite dice placement game connect in someway to the scoring system? Well, yeah… sort of. You see, you’ve got these 10 stars at the beginning of the game. And even though they look like accomplishments, they’re really the chains of this stark reality which you have to escape.
To remove these weighty stars you have to do things, terrible, unspeakable things like, produce buildings for your well to do, sycophantic friends; or decide to call the guards on that guy you see in the alley, who you could’ve just given a couple of baloons to. Or you can go where they keep the drugs and loot the place and unload your burdens by giving them a busted up teady bear, broken eyeglasses, and some old books. Don’t forget the books, for the traditional book roasting contest on Thursday, after the mandatory sex and drugs.
It’s all completely acceptable behavior because you—much like a horse on the plains of Wyoming, most likely on a movie set, probably Upstate—have to be free of this weary world and escape. Preferably, with the horse. Because otherwise it’s probably going to get pritttttty lonely out there. I mean, who else is going to want to miss out on the mandatory sex, and drugs?
Good night dear readers.