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John Bandettini
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In my reviews I concentrate on two aspects of the game. A look at what you actually get in the box. The components of the game, and a look at both the quantity and quality.

Secondly, my experiences with the game including what I like about it and anything I don’t like about it.

This time I am going to be looking at Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia. It's a game designed by Jamey Stegmaier and Alan Stone and published by Stonemaier Games.

This is Stonemaiers second game. Their first game was the well received Viticulture. Both games came through Kickstarter crowd funding. Both games have also had a regular retail release. There seems to have been a lot more retail copies available of Euphoria though. Viticulture was in very limited supply at the retail level.

The game is a worker placement game about living in a Utopia which is not perhaps as idyllic as it at first seems to be. The game is for 2 to 6 players. According to the box it takes around 60 minutes to play. You will be a little longer on the first play or two but I think that's about right when you have some experience with the game.




The image on the box is what I think of as old fashioned futuristic. It's almost like a promotional poster for Fritz Lang's Metropolis. It's kind of like how people used to think the future would look. What looks to be a supervisor or at least someone in charge on the left of the box, with the workers to the right.

I think it's a quite eye catching cover and fits in well with the futures not all we hoped it would be theme of the game.

It should be noted that my copy is the base retail game There is also a deluxe kickstarter version that has much nicer components. Though even the base game ones are of a very high standard.

Let's See What's In The Box

Of course you will find a rule book. It's well put together with plenty of illustrations and examples of play And the details of how the game ends are at the end of the rule book.

Although it has a full list of components, it does not picture them all. I personally prefer all pieces to be identified in the rule book, but it's not too hard to figure out which pieces are which.

Overall though the rule book is well organized and I found it easy to find the relevant section if I needed to look up a rule during the first couple of plays.





Before we look at the board it's worth looking at the worker pieces and the first thing you will notice is that they are dice. They look amazing, but I must admit to being a little disappointed to realise they were just normal six sided dice underneath the fancy design. Still it's typical of the care Stonemaier games take with their presentation, why do boring and plain when you can make it all look better.

Each player colour has four dice. You start with two and can acquire more during the game. Depending on what you do with your dice, the numbers can be important or not really matter and high is not always better. I'll explain more what I mean as we look at the board.





So here is what the board looks like. I must say my first impression was wow it looks like an amazing board but it looks very busy and highly complex. I wondered how complex the game would be. The good news is that the board is actually much more straight forward than it looks at first.

The city featured in the game has four factions, and the main part of the board shows the four areas of the city that are controlled by each faction. The areas of three of the factions are identical in their makeup and the forth is different but not that different. Apart from the faction areas, there are a couple of tracks in the top left and bottom right that help push the game along and in the bottom left are a couple of very specific placement areas. So the board turns out to be nowhere near as intimidating as I at first thought.

The game play is a classic worker placement, in a similar style to T'Zolkin (though otherwise the game is nothing like it) you either add one or more of your workers to the board or remove one or more workers from the board.

So let's have a look at the board in detail and see how it functions.





Above you can see the bottom left corner of the board. There are two things you can do here, retrieve your workers or obtain a new worker.

You don't need to use a worker when you retrieve your workers. You just need to decide if you are going to pay to retrieve them or not. If you choose to pay either one food or one bliss you add two to your current morale level, if you choose to pay nothing you lose one from your current morale level. The level of your morale determines how many cards you can have in your hand. Early in the game this won't be an issue, so the first time or two you retrieve workers you will probably not pay. (No penalty if your morale is already on one.) Later on in the game though it can be a tough decision whether to pay or not.

The solid grey outline around the food and bliss symbol shows the cost to do this action. Any actions with commodities or resources shown in this way means you have to pay those resources to take the action.


More workers are always good? Well maybe not always, the more workers you have in this game the more likely you are too lose a worker. To gain a worker you need to place a worker on one of the spaces shown here.

If you use the space on the left you have to pay three energy and in addition to gaining another worker you also lose two knowledge. (Though it might not sound like it, this is good)

If you use the space on the right, you have to pay three water and you gain two morale. (Again a good thing)

Both of the spaces where you place your worker have a dotted line and an arrow on them. This means that you can use these spaces even if they are occupied. When you use an occupied space like this, the displaced worker goes back to it's owner.





Here are a couple of tracks that can be found on the top left of the board. This is where you track each players current level of morale and knowledge. Once more you could have just got cubes to use here but you don't. Each player gets a head and a heart shaped piece which they use on these tracks.

The level of your morale is the maximum number of cards you can be holding. This is something that becomes more critical as the game progresses. There are a number of ways you can increase your morale including paying to retrieve workers and activating new workers.

While you want to get your morale higher during the game the opposite is true of the knowledge track. When you retrieve dice you have to roll all the dice you have retrieved. You add to the total you roll the values of any unused dice that you had not previously played and the current value of your knowledge track. If the total is 16 or greater, your worker (dice) of the highest value has found out the truth about the city (It's not a good place to be) and so quits and leaves the city.

So basically the higher your knowledge the more likely you are to lose a worker. This can be very frustrating especially if you just got a new worker. So knowledge management is a very important skill to master.





At the beginning of the game each player will reveal a recruit card. (We will look at them in more detail soon). This gives the players an allegiance to one of the factions in the game. In the bottom right corner of the map you will find the allegiance track. This shows tracks for all four factions and the benefits you receive for being aligned with that faction.

Each of the factions start with a marker in the start space of the track, as the faction marker moves, cumulative advantages for that faction are activated. The first space moved into will allow players aligned with the faction to gain an extra commodity when they get one or more commodities.

The forth space moved onto allows the player to get a resource and artefact card when contributing to that factions tunnel. (Before that it is one or the other). The Icarite track is different as there is not an Icarite tunnel. Here you gain the ability that every time you place a star in an Icarite location, you draw an artefact card.

The seventh space moved onto allows you to reveal your other recruit card. (You start with two).

And finally when the marker reaches the tenth space you get to put a star on any recruits of the same faction.





The main part of the board represents the four areas of the city as controlled by the four factions in the game. Each faction produces one specific commodity. Three of the areas are identical for game purposes. The image above is for the Subterran area.

Each player starts the game with ten stars of their colour. The object of the game is to get all ten of your stars into play. The majority of them will be placed on the board.

On the left of the Subterran area you can see the Free Press of Harsh Reality. If you place a worker there and discard three artefact cards (two if they match), you can advance the Subterran marker on the allegiance track and place a star in the Subterran area. You can either play your star to a built market that you don’t have a star on or the territory area.

To the right you can see two spaces where markets may be built. There are a lot of different market tiles. (We will look at some a bit further on.) At the beginning of the game two will be played here face down at random. To the left of the market space you can see the cost to build each market. The top one costs one gold and three stones, while the lower market costs one brick and three stones.

To build the markets players place their workers on the resource spaces and pay the pictured resource. The market is built when all the required resource spaces are filled (Varies by number of players). The market tile is flipped over and every player that contributed at least one resource puts one of their stars onto the market.

Once a market has been built, you can use it to place stars and advance the subterran marker on the allegiance track. The cost of doing this is different depending on the market tiles.

The almost star shaped area in the middle of the board marked Subterran Territory is one of the places stars can be played. Each area of the board has a Territory similar to this. The number of available spaces is equal to the number of players.

Below this area is the Aquifer. This is where you can gain water commodities. There is a large grey area on the left, there is no limit to the number of player workers that can be placed here. This is however one of the places where the number on your worker (dice) matters. You add up the value of all the dice in the area and the chart on the right shows your reward.

If the value is 1 to 4, you gain one water commodity and move the Subterran marker one space along the allegiance track. If the value is between 4 and 8 you gain one water commodity and loose one point of knowledge. If the value is 9 or more gain two water commodities and gain one knowledge. (If you have a Subterran recruit and the Subterran marker has already been moved, you gain an extra water commodity each time you place here)

Finally to the right of this picture you can see the start of the Subterran tunnel. To advance a space along the tunnel, you place a worker and pay a water commodity. You then receive your choice of either a stone resource or an artefact card. When the tunnel has been advanced six spaces all players with face down recruits of the matching faction can turn them face up. When the tunnel is completed, it opens a special space where only a player with a recruit of the matching faction can place a worker. When you do this you take three commodities of the area you have tunnelled into. (In the case of the Subterrans you gain three food from the Wastelanders)

Apart from different commodities and resources the Euphorian and Wastelander areas are functionally the same as the Subterran area.





This is the Icarite area. There are two main differences here when compared to all the other factions. The markets are already built and there is no tunnel. There are three markets available, you may not place stars in them. The first market is the Nimbus Loft, here you pay any three resources to advance one space on the allegiance track and place a star on the territory space. The second market is the Breeze Bar, here you pay one bliss and one of any other commodity to gain two artefact cards. The third market is the Sky Lounge, here you play one Bliss and one of any other commodity to gain two resources of any kind.

At first look the Icarite area does not look very inviting. There is no tunnel (How do you tunnel in the sky?) and as the markets are already built, only one place to play stars. But don’t ignore this area, the ready built markets are very powerful.





Here are some examples of the market tiles. At the beginning of the game you place them face down on the board, there are more markets than spaces on the board so you are never sure what will be built during a game.

Although they all give the same reward, a star and progress on the allegiance track, the costs do vary. For the Registry of Personal Secrets, you need to pay four bliss and one artefact card. For the Friendly Local Game Bonfire you need to pay a commodity and a board game artefact card. For the Cafeteria of Nameless Meat (Don’t you just love the market names) you need to pay four food and an artefact card.

The other really important thing about markets is that if you don’t contribute to building them, there is a penalty, which you can see on the bottom of the tiles. This penalty will affect you until you get a star on the market. The penalty for the Registry of Personal Secrets, is that you don’t get to use the 1st and 2nd bonuses on the allegiance track. For the Friendly Local Game Bonfire every time you roll a 4 you lose a commodity or resource. For the Cafeteria of Nameless Meat you lose an extra morale when you retrieve workers for free.





Here are some examples of the Recruit cards. At the beginning of the game you get dealt four of them. You choose to keep two of them and discard the others. Of the two you choose you start the game with one of them face up and active and one face down and inactive.

Each recruit card has a unique ability which you benefit from when they are face up. In addition you get to use bonuses from the allegiance track for any face up recruits of the matching faction. Also certain actions, like using tunnels to get bonus commodities, are only usable if you have a face up recruit of the applicable faction.

The three example recruits abilities all relate to putting workers on the board but there are lots of different abilities. Choosing the right recruits at the beginning of the game is a huge step towards winning.

As well as all the other benefits of the recruit cards, you also get to put a star on them if the end of the applicable allegiance track is reached.



Above you can all six different artefact cards. Artefacts are used to pay costs during the game. They can be acquired either through the tunnel action or in the Icarite market. They are mainly used to acquire stars, either in each areas territory spaces or as payment at a market.

When paying artefact cards, the cost is usually three cards, but you can pay just two as long as they are identical. The maximum number of artefact cards a player can hold depends on their current morale level.




This is an example of an ethical dilemma card. All players get one of these at the beginning of the game and can use it once during the game. Although the cards are all different, the only difference is the artefact card they have shown on them and the name of the dilemma. They all function the same way.

To use this card you discard the specified artefact (or two different ones) and then decide to either draw two new recruits and keep one or place a star on the card.





These are the pieces used in the retail game for the Gold, Stone and Clay resources. These resources are gained by taking a tunnel action or using one of the Icarite markets. They are used to build new markets and can also be used in some of the markets.





These are the pieces used in the retail game for the Energy, Food, Water and Bliss commodities. The commodities are gained by placing workers in the commodity area for each faction, completed tunnels and the Icarite markets. Commodities have a number of different uses.





Yet more examples of the great components in this game. The miners are used to keep track of the progress of the tunnels. The diamond shaped pieces are used to track progress on the allegiance track.





Here is a collection of individual player pieces. You can see ten stars. The object of the game is to get all ten of these stars into play. The heart and head pieces are used to track morale and knowledge. Finally the small board is used to keep track of resources and commodities. If you have three food, rather than taking three food tokens, you can take one and put it on the three row, to show you have three.





The territory star areas should have as many spaces as there are players. If playing with less than six, these pieces are used to block off unusable spaces.

So what do I think of the game?

Let’s get one thing out the way straight away. It’s Stonemaiers second game so how does it compare to their first, Viticulture? And I must say I don’t think it’s as good. The main reason I don’t think it’s so good is that I cannot see as many distinct strategic ways to approach the game. In Viticulture you can concentrate on buying buildings, you can try to get maximum workers as quickly as possible, you can try to get as many visitor cards as possible, try to make lots of cheap wines and more.

It might just be me, but as far as I can see you really need to do a bit of everything in Euphoria. You just need to do it a bit better and more efficiently than the other players.

In my review of 2013 I did name Viticulture as the best game of 2013, so saying it’s not as good is not really that bad a thing. I think Euphoria is a very good game and there is always a lot going on and a lot of tough decisions to be made.

Once again Stonemair have made a game that supports 2 to 6 players. From my own experience I think it plays better with more players, but it is certainly playable with the lower player counts. The main problems with two or three players are that the tunnels rarely get finished and the markets once constructed rarely get used.

The hardest thing in the game is probably managing the market construction. In theory you want to get in on all market constructions, in practice it’s not going to be possible. Especially in a five or six player game where a market can be started and completed before you get an action.

Why are the markets so important? Well on one hand, you get a star on the board for every constructed market you contribute too, and star are what win the game and on the other hand you get a restriction put on your options for every market you don’t contribute too. One restriction is a nuisance, two makes life quite difficult and three is pretty close to losing. I can guarantee you will miss out on some markets during a game, so try to make sure you are in position to get a star onto it quickly after it has been built.

The other thing about building markets is when to commit to building one? If you are the first one to contribute to a market you are then waiting on the other players to join you. While in theory you can build a market all by yourself, you really don’t want to. It means you are using more resources and more actions than you really want to and although you will get a star out of it, you will be falling behind the other more efficient players.

If when it’s your turn and a market build is underway, especially if it already has two or more workers committed, it’s pretty much a no brainer to jump on if you can. But when can you start a new build? It probably depends on how you are doing? If you are clearly in the lead, you will likely find no one else joining you, and then you have to decide whether to press on by yourself or give up and write off the resource and the action.

On the other hand if you are doing poorly and start a market, the other players will jump on as quick as they can.

The other important skill to manage is having the right amount of workers. More workers means more choice and more actions, right? Well maybe, of course it also means you increase the chance of losing a worker and as workers have costs associated with acquiring them , you want to get as much benefit as possible from any extra workers you purchase. One way to do this more efficiently is to keep your knowledge as low as possible.

You can of course choose not to retrieve all your dice at the same time. This reduces the chance of you losing dice, but if you don’t retrieve all your dice is it really worth having that many?

The tunnels are an interesting part of the game. They tend to be fairly popular as they are a source of resources and or artefacts. Also when they reach a certain stage, players with the right faction can flip there second recruit card face up. The down side is that they tend to get finished (if indeed they get finished) very late in the game and rarely get used to get extra commodities. (At least in the games I have played).

A bit like Settlers a game can almost be won or lost before a turn is taken. The choice of which recruits to keep and which one to start in play is very important. Some of the recruits are much more valuable earlier in the game than others, so having a good early game recruit can give you an early boost.

It’s a clever twist on a worker placement mainstay that in most cases an action is not locked just because another player already took it. You can still take the action, but the ‘penalty’ is that the player who already took the action gets a free retrieval.

So all in all an enjoyable game with lots going on. I’ve also found it’s a game I enjoy more the more times I play it, so if you feel a bit meh, after your first game try to give it another go. As I said I think there is only one overall approach to the game as you really need to do at least a bit of everything, (Happy to be shown that I am wrong) which I think is the games biggest weakness.

Just one last request for Stonemaier games, you’ve shown you can make very good worker placement games, how about something different next time?
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James Cheng
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Thanks for the review!

I notice that the picture of dice shows wooden stars, but the retail version only gets card board chits.
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John Bandettini
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eunoia wrote:
Thanks for the review!

I notice that the picture of dice shows wooden stars, but the retail version only gets card board chits.


The chits are shown futher on, that photo was just to show the dice. Sorry for any confusion.
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Eric Hogue
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JohnBandettini wrote:
Each of the factions start with a marker in the start space of the track, as the faction marker moves, cumulative advantages for that faction are activated. The first space moved into will allow players aligned with the faction to gain an extra commodity when they get one or more commodities.

The forth space moved onto allows the player to get a resource and artefact card when contributing to that factions tunnel. (Before that it is one or the other). The Icarite track is different as there is not an Icarite tunnel. Here you gain the ability that every time you place a star in an Icarite location, you draw an artefact card.

The seventh space moved onto allows you to reveal your other recruit card. (You start with two).

And finally when the marker reaches the tenth space you get to put a star on any recruits of the same faction.


That's actually the second, fifth, eighth, and eleventh spaces. You put the allegiance markers directly on the word "Start" at the beginning of the game.

While the commodities are not pictured in the rule book, they are pictured on the back of the multiplier cards.

You can win Euphoria by specializing, but only if you have the proper recruits.
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Jason Speicher
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i personally love Worker placement games, stick with what they do well IMO, but yah, stray from your sweet spot slowly.
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Jamey Stegmaier
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John, thanks so much for taking the time to play, explain, and review Euphoria. I really, really appreciate it.

As for your final challenge, you'll be happy to know that none of the designs I'm currently working on are worker-placement games.
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Jamey Stegmaier
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Silver: I think it's just the lighting in the photos. We haven't experienced any issues with mispainted tokens.
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John Bandettini
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silverbowen wrote:
Your resources/commodities seem mispainted. The ingots should be golden and the ore (round pieces) should be gray. The bliss should be lime green.


The gold and ore look fine too me. That photo is one of mine, the photo which has the bliss in it is not one of mine. I think it's just the lighting making it look a bit off.
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Kadian O'Reilly
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jameystegmaier wrote:
John, thanks so much for taking the time to play, explain, and review Euphoria. I really, really appreciate it.

As for your final challenge, you'll be happy to know that none of the designs I'm currently working on are worker-placement games.


I'm hoping you bring out a fun Dice rolling Ghost game
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Andy Andersen
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A fantastic review.
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Richard Morgan
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Good review but how you can say the awful boring Viticulture is game of 2013 is beyond me!
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Adrian Koester
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Where did you get the spiffy cubes for storing the dice/player bits?
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Jason Speicher
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jameystegmaier wrote:
John, thanks so much for taking the time to play, explain, and review Euphoria. I really, really appreciate it.

As for your final challenge, you'll be happy to know that none of the designs I'm currently working on are worker-placement games.


looking forward to more updates on BGG
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JohnBandettini wrote:


You can of course choose not to retrieve all your dice at the same time. This reduces the chance of you losing dice, but if you don’t retrieve all your dice is it really worth having that many?


Yes, you leave them there to block some spaces and to force some players to give you back workers for free.
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Bill Eldard
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Great review!

I've only played this game once. It was with 3 other players (1 had played before), and while the game system works and the artwork/components are first class, I just don't see enough variation between it and other worker placement games I own to go out and purchase it.

But I would certainly play it again, and I could change my mind about it.
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John Bandettini
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richiebabes wrote:
Good review but how you can say the awful boring Viticulture is game of 2013 is beyond me!


It might sound slightly strange thing to say but it surprised me too. Every year I do a geeklist of my favourite games from the previous year. I recently did the list for 2013.

I start by listing all the 2013 releases that I played and then try to put them in some kind of order. In 2011 and 2012 I knew what would be number 1 before compiling the list (Kingdom Builder and Terra Mystica respectively). For 2013 it was not so clear cut. I knew there were a lot of games I had enjoyed but not one that I obviously loved more than the others.

But as I started to play with the numbers and started to try to come up with some kind of order, it started to dawn on me that there was no game that I had enjoyed as much as Viticulture and it was looking like a number 1.

Obviously it is a personal view, but I particularly enjoyed the way you have to choose how many workers to carry over to winter, I like the variability of the visitor cards, and I like the way there are lots of different strategies that you can use.
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