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While board games can appear almost primitive in the digital age, eurogames--also known as German-style board games--have increased in popularity nearly concurrently with the rise of video games. Eurogames have simple rules and short playing times and emphasize strategy over luck and conflict. This book examines the form of eurogames, the hobbyist culture that surrounds thWhile board games can appear almost primitive in the digital age, eurogames--also known as German-style board games--have increased in popularity nearly concurrently with the rise of video games. Eurogames have simple rules and short playing times and emphasize strategy over luck and conflict. This book examines the form of eurogames, the hobbyist culture that surrounds them, and the way that hobbyists experience the play of such games. It chronicles the evolution of tabletop hobby gaming and explores why hobbyists play them, how players balance competitive play with the demands of an intimate social gathering, and to what extent the social context of the game encounter shapes the playing experience. Combining history, cultural studies, leisure studies, ludology, and play theory, this innovative work highlights a popular alternative trend in the gaming community....

Title : Eurogames: The Design, Culture and Play of Modern European Board Games
Author :
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ISBN : 9780786467976
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 262 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Eurogames: The Design, Culture and Play of Modern European Board Games Reviews

  • John
    2019-05-11 20:23

    In this book, Stew Woods documents the nature of the Eurogame phenomenon with particular emphasis on the nature of play related to those games and hence the culture surrounding them. I have to admit up front that I'm intimately familiar with the environment he's documenting (I get an entry in the bibliography), and as an insider I have to say he's got it exactly right. Everything he says seems spot-on correct.On the down-side, and this is hardly Stewart's fault, as an insider he's telling me stuff I already know. I know some of the people quoted, I know most of the games, I know the culture, so there weren't many revelations or insights for me. That's just how it is. I would say as a piece of social science research / documentation, this book succeeds admirably.However I'm more of hard-core a scientist, and as such the observations in the book (which I agree with) worry me, because I'd like to see proof of such observations. For example, there are some relatively detailed statistics on game mechanics in an attempt to characterise Eurogames, but I was left feeling, from a mathematical point of view, that the characterisation was not necessarily supported - i.e. my confidence that Eurogames are as Stew said they are was about 75%, as opposed to 99%. As a player, I believe him, but as a scientist I have doubts.On the other hand, Stewart avoids the pitfall of just saying stupid wrong stuff. The quote on page 189 "It is quite simple. When you play a game, you want to win. Winning makes you happy, losing makes you unhappy." from Juul is perhaps the stupidest thing I've ever heard said about games. The great point that this book makes is that the (Euro) gaming culture is not one in which losing makes you unhappy - players play to achieve the goals of the game (mostly) but also to achieve various meta-game goals (e.g. to make friends) - but indeed the process of the game makes people happy whether they win or lose. Given that I've lost many thousands of games, I should know.My feeling is that this book accurately characterises the Euro-gaming culture in that it depicts the relationship between the abstract level of the game and the social level of the game environment. That social level of the game environment is where I draw most of my friends from. If you're an outsider, this book may be astonishing to you; to me it's the story of my life.

  • Johnny
    2019-05-15 20:30

    Until I read this fascinating volume, it hadn’t registered with me how very, very different German culture is from Anglo-U.S. culture. After all, I knew that Sid Sackson’s Acquire (3M Games, later Avalon Hill) had sold incredibly well in a German edition and I knew that some of the best players in the world at Magic: The Gathering were located in German and Scandinavian countries. Some years ago, I was at a game design conference hosted by Wizards of the Coast and remember Reiner Knizia saying that the German marketplace preferred games with new mechanics as opposed to new applications of familiar mechanics. With the current explosion of Eurogames as a global market, that may not be as true as it once was, but it was still true enough for Woods to state, “Eurogames tend to be accessible games that privilege the role of mechanics over theme in gameplay. They typically facilitate indirect rather than direct conflict, de-emphasize the role of chance, offer predictable playing times, and are usually of a high standard in terms of component quality and presentation.” (p. 79). Woods establishes that, with a few exceptions such as the games of Sackson and Frances Tresham, the Anglo-U.S. tradition tended to be heavy on conflict and displacement as the path to victory. The board game tradition was heavy on elimination of one’s opponents and relied heavily on the military gaming tradition. In Germany, the ban (at least as far as juveniles were concerned) with regard to anything that might glorify the National Socialist regime and suspicion (as far as adults were concerned) with regard to anything with Nazi symbolism or references seemed to limit the wargame tradition. Woods offers the example of Australian Design Group’s Days of Decision III with a very small swastika counter representing Adolf Hitler. This straightforward game in many countries became an under-the-counter item in many shops, akin to pornographic magazines in the United States (p. 57). So, it is no surprise when Woods quotes Reiner Knizia one page later as stating, “I don’t like bloody games.” (p. 58)Again, I had observed in my personal experience that Europeans enjoy a higher level of abstraction in their games. For me, theme and color (in terms of chrome and detail) are vital. “The majority of eurogames, however, take place on a miniaturized representation of a real-world geographical location or a stylized rendering of an imagined setting.” (p. 81) Woods goes on to state, “Although the environments in these eurogames echo the spatial emphasis of wargames and Anglo-American hobby board games, they are typically abstracted and/or stylized to a far greater degree, often falling closer to traditional abstract games in terms of fidelity to the represented environment.” (p. 81) I also liked Woods’ observations about the rules in such games, noting in a quotation from a think piece by a blogger that, “Now a game’s theme was built around its rules, and no longer burdened by a need to create levels of simulation…” (p. 83) Some people call that “elegant;” I call it “arrogant,” but I’m a simulation player at heart and actually enjoy even a number of “failed” games because of their simulation value.Perhaps, some of the most interesting data in the book pointed to the use of primary mechanics in eurogames. After delineating 40 common mechanics in eurogames, he drills down to the 14 most commonly used “primary” mechanics. Of these, the top five (5) are clearly: 1) Choosing, 2) Placing (hence the proliferation of “worker placement” games), 3) Point-to-Point movement (simplifying the structure of movement but reducing the “freedom” of choosing a route in some cases), 4) Bidding (becoming more common in Anglo-American hobby games, as well), and 5) Building. (p. 85) It is interesting that when he looks at the missing mechanics: “…only two involve conquering and one attacking/defending.” (p. 86)Another fascinating data point was when he quantified endgame goals in the games. By far the dominant goal was accumulation with racing and accomplishing in distant seconds and thirds (p. 100). Subgoals reflect the endgame goals with gaining ownership, creating optimal configurations, making connections, completing traversals, and collecting being right behind (p. 102). I also appreciated his discussion of how loose the relationship between theme and mechanics usually is in eurogames. In this argument, he cites the fact that Ra with its Egyptian “theme” and Razzia with its mafia theme would each be essentially the same game (p. 107). One startling fact I didn’t realize when looking at eurogames was that science-fiction is considerably underrepresented in the game style (p. 109).The latter portion of the book, circa p. 110ff, feels like additional material added to fill out Woods’ dissertation material. His long discourse on the boardgamegeek website has a few insights, but it doesn’t really advance the psychographic of gamers beyond Gary Fine’s groundbreaking work of the 1980s. Of course, he’s very right that gaming is still primarily the “hobby of the over-educated” (p. 125). And I loved the goofy story behind Cleopatra’s Caboose (p. 139) And, I whole-heartedly approve of his quotation of Nicole Lazzaro’s 2004 work where she identifies four emotional keys in playing: 1) “hard fun” in problem-solving; 2) “easy fun” from immersion; 3) “altered states” reflecting one’s mental experience of involvement; and 4) “people factor” derived from the social experiences surrounding games (p. 147).I also approve of his use of Lew Pulsipher’s 2009 material dividing the player experience into interaction with the system and the psychology of the game (“figuring out how to forecast and to manipulate the other players”—p. 156). Yet, most of the concepts in the last two chapters are readily available in other formats.Still, as a person who used to despise eurogames and still only plays them on rare occasions, I find this to be an enlightening source and I’m glad I purchased it.

  • Paul Schulzetenberg
    2019-05-08 21:21

    Quite the excellent summary of a small niche. I picked this up because I am a frequent gameplayer, and although I don't consider myself a Eurogamer per se, I definitely play more than a few.This is absolutely a book that's designed as research and academic material first, and as a hobbyist's read only inasmuch as it easily correlates with the first two goals.The part on the history of Eurogames is both well-written and incredibly well-researched. I buy Woods' distinction between the different markets and the theories on why the different approaches to gaming in Europe and America came to be is a very fascinating one. I have been in the hobby quite a while, and although I knew a lot of it, I certainly didn't know all of it. There's been a lot of digging, interviews, and general research to iron out the finer points of how Eurogames became a phenomenon.The second part of the book, a study of Eurogames from a formalist sociological and statistical point of view, is less convincing. It's a difficult task to define a Eurogame and generalize it. Woods makes an admirable and thorough attempt to do so, but there's a lot of things that don't quite match my (admittedly anecdotal) experience. Part of this, I think, is that Eurogames represent a moving target -- this is not a well-established form with hundreds of years of history, but rather a constantly evolving genre that's a young 30ish years old. Even within my 15 years of the hobby, what is understood to be a Eurogame is now is different from what a Eurogame was 15 years ago. Woods uses the Spiel des Jahres prize nominees to find a mechanical and formal traits of Eurogames, but it is a crude approximation. This is not entirely Woods' fault -- this is not an area where there is a well-understood way of categorizing what a Eurogame is. I'm not sure what I would have done to determine a Eurogame, but I do know that the dataset that results doesn't quite pass the "smell-test" for a modern Euro. As that is the basis for much of his statistical analysis, I wasn't convinced of that as well.For the hobbyist, however, this is definitely an alluring read. The history and sociological theories alone make the book worth reading. I'm hoping that it can spur further research in this area. There's more to be learned here, and Woods provides a great starting point.

  • Alexandre Rivaben
    2019-05-15 17:19

    Afinal, o que é um eurogame? Esta pergunta é respondida de maneira bem detalhada neste "Eurogames...".Stewart Woods aborda todo o início da história dos boardgames, passando pelos wargames, pelos family games, pelos card games e culminando no surgimento e evolução dos eurogames.Mais que isso, o autor se propõe a analisar quem joga e qual a motivação para participar deste hobby social - para tal, se utiliza de inúmeras pesquisas realizadas na enciclopédia de boardgames mundial: o BoardGameGeek ( lendo este livro que nasceu o meu desejo de visitar Essen, a maior feira de boardgames do mundo: nele, há um relato bem detalhado sobre como uma reunião de jogadores evoluiu para um premio e, consequentemente, para uma feira gigantesca, que atrai milhares de pessoas de todo mundo.Recomento o livro, enfim, para todos aqueles interessados em conhecer melhor a história e o comportamento dos geeks de tabuleiro (também há uma descrição detalhada de quem somos nós, este jogadores/colecionadores malucos!).Um problema: o livro é extremamente bem embasado. Ué, mas isso deveria ser uma qualidade, certo? De certa forma, sim. Mas a leitura acaba resvalando no formalismo dos textos acadêmicos, o que gera uma certa frustração: se você está lendo por entretenimento (o que foi meu caso), não é legal ter uma citação e referência bibliográfica por parágrafo... Aliás, por isso, demorei tanto a finalizá-lo.Ainda gostaria de ver algum livro com conteúdo similar, mas abordado de maneira mais leve e divertida, de modo a enriquecer ainda mais o nosso belo hobby.Quem topa o desafio?

  • Lucas Bleicher
    2019-05-21 20:16

    This is an outstanding review on modern board games (the *real* modern ones - as the author noted, many books on the subject stop at the Monopoly/Risk era), focusing on the German school that got worldwide attention in the 90s. It is derived from a PhD thesis, which means that sometimes it is a bit "academic", especially on the latter chapters. That does not prevent the book from being an amazing read, an impressive effort from an author that did a comprehensive research on the history of the genre, what caused the "euro revolution", the current state of the games, the industry and the community behind them. It is a must read for anyone minimally interested in board games.

  • Daniel A.
    2019-05-18 22:29

    Ever since a friend introduced me to The Settlers of Catan (now known simply as Catan, at least in the American market) ten or so years ago, I've enjoyed so-called German-style board games more and more and the so-called "traditional" American games such as Monopoly, Risk, and even Scrabble less and less. That being said, I approached Stewart Woods' book Eurogames: The Design, Culture and Play of Modern European Board Games with a bit of trepidation. After all, it's so heavily footnoted and with a sufficient bibliography that I guessed, albeit without idea of my accuracy, that it was Woods' doctoral thesis. That being said, I very much enjoyed Eurogames and found it an interesting—and at times fascinating—study of German- or European-style board games.Woods delves extensively into the subculture of hobby gamers—of whom Dungeons & Dragons players such as myself number themselves—and he draws the general conclusion that those who predominantly play such hobby games have very different approaches to leisure overall, not just in terms of gaming, than do much—or even most—of the general population. Woods paints a picture of these hobbyists as extraordinarily social, devoted to their hobby, and—let's face it—pleasantly nerdy, and he celebrates them more than he simply observes them impartially, in part because Woods counts himself as such a hobby gamer.One quotation in particular, culled from Woods' interviews and surveys of several Eurogamers, stands out as embodying and epitomizing Woods' thesis:"'If you are a guest at someone's house for a game night you don't block their route in Ticket to Ride.'"All of my experiences with enthusiasts of Eurogames, whether Carcassonne, Race for the Galaxy, Catan, or any other of the "new wave" of games, fully supports Woods' thesis that Eurogamers would rather have a social experience in which everyone more-or-less has a good time than one in which any particular person wins, particularly at the expense of anyone else, and that makes Eurogames (the book, at least) resonate on multiple levels.It's refreshing and enjoyable to read even an academic book by someone who clearly took the effort as a labor of love, and Woods' book fits this bill quite nicely. Eurogames is a welcome addition to the annals of the study of popular culture, and it was worthwhile to have been part of Woods' elaboration on this fun part of my life.

  • Dann
    2019-05-01 20:19

    Because this book arose out of Woods' dissertation work, it's very academic, which is a good thing to know going into it. There's a lot of discussion of psychology and sociology in the later chapters, which could be off-putting to a casual reader. But if you're really interested in games—even if you're not a huge fan of euros—this is a fantastic resource.I found the earlier sections, which focused more on the game themselves, to be the most insightful, and the historical facts and stories to be especially interesting. I knew that eurogames tended to not be highly interactive or conflictual, but I didn't know, for example, that this was probably influenced by the German tendency to be very non-combative after World War II. Or that American hobby games arose out of the wargame tradition, while European hobby games arose out of the family game tradition.Interesting facts like these are all over this book, and it makes for a very entertaining read. As I mentioned, the sections on the players of these games as well as the culture surrounding them aren't quite as riveting, at least for me, but I still learned a lot from them.A good game for board game nerds, though it may not appeal to readers who aren't familiar with reading academic texts.

  • Dan Smith
    2019-05-02 19:32

    An excellent account of the development of Eurogames, written with passion but also some good quality analysis. Some of the statistical breakdowns are a little needless (I wonder what value one gets from knowing how many games have a renaissance theme) or baffling (surveying what single game mechanic players most look for in a game), and the whole thing is a bit of a love letter to the hobby - it certainly won't win over any doubters.But, it's without doubt the best book about game playing I've read in a long time, and the exploration of why we do it and what we don't like is fascinating, in particular the discussion in king-making and the meta-game: if you cannot win, is it acceptable to play your move knowing it will change the winner? Some people say no: optimising your own score is paramount; others yes: that's simply how winners win games where that's possible (providing the king-maker doesn't use factors outside the game eg favouring a spouse).Definitely worth a read by a casual or serious gamer.

  • Brandon James
    2019-04-23 22:15

    If you're the least bit interested in "Eurogames", then there is a lot to love and a lot to learn from this book. If you're interested in the psychology of play and the culture of gamers, then the last third of this book would be great to dig in to. I'm very interested in boardgames and gaming in general and the first half of this book covers (briefly) the history of boardgames and spends a healthy amount of time on the development and arrival of Eurogames. From this history, I've got a new list of games to check out and from the thorough research, great notes and bibliography at the end of the book, much more reading to do.The last third of the book is a great look at the culture of gamers, why they do what they do in a game, what they look for in a game, how they play together. I was very intrigued by the section on self-handicapping and the reasons for doing so. While most of the book is very dry and "textbook", as a player I feel like I have a new set of eyes, or at least a vocabulary to apply during my next design or gaming session.

  • H
    2019-05-14 21:28

    Not bad per se...But for someone like me who already loves the bg hobby, this didn't teach me that many new things. In fact, so much was already known that I skimmed a good bit of this. I know of lots of the stuff like spiel de jahres, Catan, Germany's role, etc. So it came off as a scholarly, dry rehash of information. Did I like it, as a gamer? Somewhat. The statistics at times was interesting. I don't agree with some genre and categorical divisions though, and too much was already known or obvious to me to be particularly interesting and I didn't learn anything truly insightful.Not bad, but I'm not sure what audience it caters to. Maybe someone like me who is into bgs but hasn't gotten that far into the hobby/hasn't learned the stuff already on his own?

  • Michael
    2019-04-26 21:35

    If you play boardgames or ever wondered what makes them so interesting, this is your book. Based on the author's dissertation and research, you will learn about the concept of game design, the difference between US strategy games and Eurogames, and the the underlying fundamentals. The book is not an easy read if you want to absorb it all. It has great references and some cool pictures helping to get a better sense of the various concepts applied in games. The author, Steward Woods, seems to like his statistics as there are many tables of surveys provided. I promise you will look at the next boardgame you play with different eyes as your brain will be analyzing it through the eyes of Stewart Woods.

  • Serge Pierro
    2019-05-10 01:41

    Stewart Woods delivers an excellent overview of the Eurogame culture!Although somewhat "dry", the information contained within is quite comprehensive… covering the period of the game market pre-Euro and then it's arrival and impact. Of course, standards like Settlers of Catan and Carcossone are present, as are the designs of Reiner Knizia. Great insight is provided into the social playing of these games, and why people enjoy them so much. Anyone that has an interest in Eurogames, or even game design in general, will find this to be an interesting book. Excellent research throughout!!

  • David
    2019-05-08 20:22

    One third history of eurogames, one third description of eurogame mechanics and board game hobbyist, and one third analysis of the motivations and pleasures of play. The description of the mechanics and the players was a little dry for me because being in the hobby it's not news to me, but the analysis of the social situation of playing a game was very interesting, and gave me insight into my own hobby. Well done Stewart!

  • Tom Franklin
    2019-05-05 23:35

    A rather dry revision of a Doctoral dissertation regarding the popularity of Eurogames within the hobby gaming community. Woods is an avid gamer and made use of the web site to conduct his polling research amongst gamers. His findings were relatively unsurprising -- or, rather, my gaming experiences and regular gaming group fit easily within the Bell Curve average of his findings.

  • Derek
    2019-05-06 00:24

    Quite a thorough, studied look at the German/European board game phenomenon. I enjoyed the insights it provided into the hobby I've participated in over the past ten years. It even provided me some food for thought regarding my own gaming tendencies. Recommended for those looking for a deeper understanding of the hobby.

  • Garren
    2019-04-26 17:24

    A good introduction to the rise of hobby board gaming culture, along with interesting survey results about what players think of particular game design elements and social behaviors. This was written as an academic paper and it shows, which is great for references but less than great for being a consistently engaging read.

  • FranklinTV
    2019-04-29 23:16

    Book by Australian author on his PhD on board games - how cool would that have been to do. Sadly, whilst the historical information contained is interesting, the rest (including the actual PhD topic) is dry.

  • David C Pettit
    2019-05-07 21:29

    Excellent explanation of eurogames. I really couldn't put it down.

  • Tim Moore
    2019-05-01 18:16

    I really good overview, although much of what was there was not new to me.