Who likes oppressive dystopian settings in Art Deco flavor? The answer is “Everyone”, unless you need to be sent to the reinitialization chamber, friend.
Euphoria is a boardgame set in a weird future where the “Incinerator of Historical Accuracy” is a thing and the stupid workers are valued more than the intelligent. It looks wildly complex, but once you get your head around the idea that your dice are your “workers”, it becomes fairly simple.
I’m told that this game was kickstarted to 500% or something, and as such, the play pieces/materials got a good amount of polish. See that gold ingot? It’s not real gold, of course, but it’s a better gold marker than a little block of yellow painted wood, isn’t it?
Anyway, you have two “character” cards, a whole board of things to make your workers do, four factions to build up as they serve your interests/apply to your chosen character cards. The Euphorians have the power, the Wastelanders have the food, the Subterraneans have the water, and the Icarians have the Bliss (little green clouds). The Icarians were an extra thing funded via Kickstarter, and they are less a part of the cycle as such, since they don’t build any tunnels or even really relate to the ground-dwelling factions, but that wasn’t something we really considered our first time through. They do strike me as a bit of a late-game faction, though, since they’re not picky about what resources you spend in their fixed markets and give almost anything you could need to win, short of straight authority tokens.
On the board (the blue M’s) are six markets to build. It is better to participate in building the markets, because if you don’t, the market usually has penalties for anyone who didn’t help chip in to build it. With six players and four resources, it’s possible (and somewhat inevitable) to lock people out of markets to kick them in the nadgers. (For example, one market actually outright denied Icarus to anyone who didn’t help build it.) You can fix this by deploying an authority marker onto it (which is how you win the game anyway) but who knows what trouble it’ll do you in the meantime.
Each player has a number of dice. Each dice is one worker. The workers are oppressed and generally not too bright… However, putting too many workers in one place to gather commodities (food, water, electricity) will raise their intelligence, among other penalties and player effects. You can’t lose automatically when they’re at 6 intelligence, but every time you pull back a worker, you re-roll it to see how smart he is. If the combined total of all your workers + the intelligence bonus is higher than 15, then they wise up to your tricks and you lose a worker. With 4 (the maximum) workers, this is hard to avoid, and you don’t need education encouraging your peons to jump ship. (You get more at the reinitializing station where you electrocute/waterboard more workers into submission. Presumably. There are two slots, one costs water, the other costs electricity, and while the former generates morale, the latter strips two intelligence off your peons)
The game is over when someone manages to deploy all 10 of their Authority tokens — either by digging up and cashing in artefacts, helping build markets and even using said markets. In our pictured game, I came very close, with two tokens left to get on the table — albeit with one fast way to get at least one of them done in the next turn. The winner won by using the Bemusement Park, which has a weirdly specific requirement for a popped balloon artifact and any sort of commodity for one point.
Euphoria: It’s not just for atheists. Find a box. Find people who don’t mind a little pretend-oppression. Set aside an afternoon and go for it.
Oh, and if you like your dystopia less colorful, the other side of the board has a more black-and-white color scheme.
You know, I’ve seen this game, but this is the first time I’ve heard anything about it. This is way more twisted than I expected.