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Subject: The Death of the Mid-Weight Euro rss

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Rob Doupe
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Remember when euros revolutionised boardgames by maximising game depth with a minimum amount of rules and mechanics? When a game with six pages of rules, like Modern Art or El Grande, could offer tremendous scope for competition and replayability? When direct, sharp-elbowed interaction wasn't confined to Ameritrash games?

Yeah. Those days are long gone.

The euro genre has split into two distinct sub-genres:

1) Very light, social games.
2) Baroque point-salads heavily larded with mechanics.

Virtually gone are the mid-weight euros that require more investment than Codenames or Splendor, but don't present the shameless excess of a Terra Mystica, La Granja, or Great Western Trail. Where are the modern counterparts to Ra, Santiago, and Taj Mahal?

We are in an era of heavy euros where more is more. More actions. More things to convert. More tokens, More tracks. More cards. More ways to score points. And most of all, more icons. Icons with cubes. Icons with arrows. Icons in every colour. When it was published, Puerto Rico was considered a heavy, brain-burning euro. If it were released today, I doubt it would have enough mechanical cruft to appeal to today's heavy euro enthusiasts.

So what happened? My theory is that medium euros fell victim to the trend of diminishing interaction in euro games. As the player-base became less comfortable with direct interaction in the form of auctions, area majority, and other mechanics that rely on evaluating and messing with the positions of other players, engine-building games filled the gap. All those goods and conversions and tracks offer players the satisfying engagement of crunching numbers and manipulating valuations with little interference from other players. Medium euros, lacking that mechanical heft, usually have to live and die by interaction.

That's my theory anyway. I'd be happy to hear others.
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Daily Grind
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Rob Doupe wrote:
Yeah. Those days are long gone.

Wait, did someone come into my house and take my copy of Covert, Shakespeare, Coal Baron, Istanbul, Rococo and Grand Austria Hotel ?

Nope.... whew.
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Fernando Robert Yu
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I disagree. There are a lot of great new "mid weight" euros out there. Istanbul, Quadropolis, Five Tribes are all recent euros with a light ruleset but have great depth. Ditto with Imhotep, Splendor. Some of those games mentioned are also quite interactive. Triassic Terror is also quite recent and that is VERY interactive, as well as Evolution.

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James Wahl
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Rob Doupe wrote:
My theory is that medium euros fell victim to the trend of diminishing interaction in euro games. As the player-base became less comfortable with direct interaction in the form of auctions, area majority, and other mechanics that rely on evaluating and messing with the positions of other players, engine-building games filled the gap. All those goods and conversions and tracks offer players the satisfying engagement of crunching numbers and manipulating valuations with little interference from other players. Medium euros, lacking that mechanical heft, usually have to live and die by interaction.

That's my theory anyway. I'd be happy to hear others.


My theory is that most new heavyweight games are entirely derivative, and since the classic-medium weight games they're imitating were pared to the bone, in order not to be simple rethemes the imitators need to smash multiple games together, creating heavyweight point salads that still manage to feel samey.
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Kate
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Sounds like there's some confirmation bias in your theory.

You probably have a point, but I don't think you can claim "those days are long gone" without examining every single new release. I know that I tend to seek out games that are familiar to ones I already like, so I'm always in a nice Euro bubble and have little awareness of games with direct conflict or big thematic dungeon crawler things.

...regardless, I'm not sure why you'd make this thread. So chumps like me can reply to it, I guess.
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Adam Kazimierczak
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___A___ is dead. All people want to play is ___B___ or ___C___. Gone are the days of ___A___. And keep those damn kids off my lawn!
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Duo Maxwell
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Raiders of the North Sea
Champions of Midgard are Euro-ish although they do incorporate some Ameritrash elements.
In the Name of Odin is Euro.
I think Outlive will be medium weight as well (to be released this year).
Islebound is medium weight also.
Scoville is medium weight and just released an expansion last year.
Via Nebula is light to medium weight imo.

I think there are still quite a few medium weight Euros out there.
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J H
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Concordia would like a word with you.
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Cyrus the Great
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See the excellent Classic Eurogames vs Modern Eurogames — The Importance of Distinguishing between the Two.
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Corey Hopkins
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From the last few years of Spiel- and Kennerspiel des Jahres nominess and winners, I see

Imhotep
Isle of Skye
Colt Express
Broom Service
Camel Up
Splendor
Istanbul
Concordia

All of these seem like easy-to-learn Euros with decent player interaction. They may not always be at the top of the hotness, but there are plenty here who play and appreciate them!
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Justen Brown
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pharmakon wrote:
Rob Doupe wrote:
My theory is that medium euros fell victim to the trend of diminishing interaction in euro games. As the player-base became less comfortable with direct interaction in the form of auctions, area majority, and other mechanics that rely on evaluating and messing with the positions of other players, engine-building games filled the gap. All those goods and conversions and tracks offer players the satisfying engagement of crunching numbers and manipulating valuations with little interference from other players. Medium euros, lacking that mechanical heft, usually have to live and die by interaction.

That's my theory anyway. I'd be happy to hear others.


My theory is that most new heavyweight games are entirely derivative, and since the classic-medium weight games they're imitating were pared to the bone, in order not to be simple rethemes the imitators need to smash multiple games together, creating heavyweight point salads that still manage to feel samey.


It's a pretty shoddy theory considering heavyweight games like A Feast for Odin were built on 10+ years of iterative design and other Euro game companies like Splotter have been doing heavy games for decades as well.

Here's my theory: the market is swelling and designers are creating projects to suit that market. Medium-weight Euros aren't dying, they're just sharing space with increasingly more heavy Euros.
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Rouslan S
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Not dead at all.
For example: Ulm https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/191876/ulm
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Derry Salewski
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I think you just see the hype on these big games.

Kinda like movies. The ones that get the most buzz are the big budget, loaded with stuff ones.

There are plenty of good movies still being made though that are not as ambitious or sprawling.

But it also could kinda be like tv. People are maybe a little smarter, or at least conditioned to consume more complicated, targeted, involved stuff. TV compared to twenty years ago is astonishingly more varied and complicated. If you just want to watch another cop show, soap opera or sitcom though, you still can.

I think plenty of people have pointed out newer games that seem to be popular and not overly burdened with stuff, though.

It doesn't help that publishers let things go out of print, either. Can I get el grande right now? (I don't know, I heard someone say it was scarce) T&E was oop for a while and remade at a pretty high price point. Endeavor has been out of print forever. R&D games have varying degrees of rareness and a refusal (probably justified) to reprint most of them.

*shrugs*

I don't think you're on to anything.
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Drew
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Havox wrote:
Concordia would like a word with you.


I just played a 2 player games yesterday of Concorida and it is a wonderful example of a mid-weight euro. One of my all time favorite games.
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Kyle
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What about Terraforming Mars, last years great big hit. Solid mid weight. (dull as bones, but such is life)

chopkins828 wrote:
From the last few years of Spiel- and Kennerspiel des Jahres nominess and winners, I see

Imhotep
Isle of Skye
Colt Express
Broom Service
Camel Up
Splendor
Istanbul
Concordia

All of these seem like easy-to-learn Euros with decent player interaction. They may not always be at the top of the hotness, but there are plenty here who play and appreciate them!


Splendor and Concordia have decent interaction? The above is all pretty light fair regardless.
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Scott Burns
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You're right, if you ignore what doesn't fit.
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Corey Hopkins
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darthain wrote:
What about Terraforming Mars, last years great big hit. Solid mid weight. (dull as bones, but such is life)

chopkins828 wrote:
From the last few years of Spiel- and Kennerspiel des Jahres nominess and winners, I see

Imhotep
Isle of Skye
Colt Express
Broom Service
Camel Up
Splendor
Istanbul
Concordia

All of these seem like easy-to-learn Euros with decent player interaction. They may not always be at the top of the hotness, but there are plenty here who play and appreciate them!


Splendor and Concordia have decent interaction? The above is all pretty light fair regardless.


I actually haven't played splendor, but it seems like you would be keenly interested in other the players' plans. As for Concordia, yes, it does. Try teaching any of these games to my in-laws then come back and let me know how light they are.
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Rob Doupe
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Renaissance Man wrote:


Yes, that geeklist addresses the matter nicely. Elaborate mechanics with multi-step conversion engines have largely supplanted interaction in euros. Heaviness today is measured in system weight, rather than in player vs player choices.

Sure, there are still some medium-weight euros being designed. But they tend to have less interaction and more complexity than their counterparts in the heyday of euros. I don't recall a whole lot of interaction in Concordia, and it has quite a few moving parts. Maybe it's simply a matter than it's extremely difficult to design a compelling game today that has only two mechanics.

And when they are published, mid-weight euros don't seem to make much of a splash in the community. Games like Il Vecchio disappear without a ripple.
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Rob Doupe
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cafin8d wrote:
Rob Doupe wrote:
Yeah. Those days are long gone.

Wait, did someone come into my house and take my copy of Covert, Shakespeare, Coal Baron, Istanbul, Rococo and Grand Austria Hotel ?

Nope.... whew.


I've played Istanbul and Grand Austria Hotel and neither has much player interaction. The latter is also considerably more complex than a Mexica, Santiago, or Ra. The most recent game I can think of that is both a true middle-weight and highly interactive is maybe Lancaster.
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Brett McLay
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Rob Doupe wrote:
The euro genre has split into two distinct sub-genres:
1) Very light, social games.
2) Baroque point-salads heavily larded with mechanics.

Virtually gone are the mid-weight euros that require more investment than Codenames or Splendor, but don't present the shameless excess of a Terra Mystica, La Granja, or Great Western Trail. Where are the modern counterparts to Ra, Santiago, and Taj Mahal?

Thanks for opening the discussion. Perhaps this qualifies: Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia.
There are other hidden gems out there like Yunnan, IKI -- awaiting reprint or in distribution limbo.

Rob Doupe wrote:
So what happened? My theory is that medium euros fell victim to the trend of diminishing interaction in euro games. As the player-base became less comfortable with direct interaction in the form of auctions, area majority, and other mechanics that rely on evaluating and messing with the positions of other players, engine-building games filled the gap. All those goods and conversions and tracks offer players the satisfying engagement of crunching numbers and manipulating valuations with little interference from other players. Medium euros, lacking that mechanical heft, ... (usually) live and die by interaction.

Ya know, I feel it as well: the itch from multiplayer solitaire. I tend to soothe it with theme (The Manhattan Project: Energy Empire). Or I gravitate to wargame hybrids. Ever dare to consider GMT COIN Series?
... Star Wars: Rebellion?!

pharmakon wrote:
My theory is that most new heavyweight games are entirely derivative, ... creating heavyweight point salads that still manage to feel samey.

Agreed. Innovation is rare. Yet someone is going to take the immersive scientific brilliance of Terraforming Mars and swap in the interactive DNA of Hansa Teutonica. Who knows what the setting will be: space, medicine, fantasy or oil-shale production in the Arctic. Give them a year or more -- it's the way things go ... and grow.
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Isaac Shalev
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I think the OP is more right than wrong. With 1000+ games being published every year, there are still going to be some mid-weight Euros. But they aren't at the heart of the hobby in quite the same way. From my perspective, they've been marginalized by Splendor-weight games on one side and heavier games, including quite a bit of Ameritrash games, on the other. And let's not forget deck-builders.

Here's my theory. It has two parts. The first part is that cards became more popular, more affordable, more prominent in designs. And most card-driven games are heavier because, well, cards are themselves rules. Deckbuilders, hand-builders, LCGs, etc. I'm thinking games like Deus, Imperial Settlers, Evolution, and Terraforming Mars replaced a lot of cube-pushers.

The second part of that theory is that folks who love mid-weight Euros, over time, experience a kind of complexity creep. What we call a mid-weight Euro just seems heavier than in the past, and the market has followed them.
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Warren Adams
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chopkins828 wrote:
From the last few years of Spiel- and Kennerspiel des Jahres nominess and winners, I see
Imhotep - Isle of Skye - Colt Express - Broom Service - Camel Up - Splendor - Istanbul - Concordia
All of these seem like easy-to-learn Euros with decent player interaction. They may not always be at the top of the hotness, but there are plenty here who play and appreciate them!

Nice list but do you plan on considering the point of the OP?

Quote:
Remember when euros revolutionised boardgames by maximising game depth with a minimum amount of rules and mechanics? When a game with six pages of rules, like Modern Art or El Grande, could offer tremendous scope for competition and replayability?

Note: I have removed Concordia from the list of lighter fluff. I also don't like Modern Art.
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Warren Adams
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ender7 wrote:
The second part of that theory is that folks who love mid-weight Euros, over time, experience a kind of complexity creep. What we call a mid-weight Euro just seems heavier than in the past, and the market has followed them.
Absolutely. Having been on the commitee of the The West Australian Boardgaming Association for the past ten years there is a distinct difference between what we want to play now and what we played 5-10 years ago.

Back then we could easly add any new player into most of our games and teach them things like Zooloretto, Ticket to Ride, Stone Age...games that we were playing.

Now, we have to put aside the games we are playing (Concordia, Greater Western Trail, Terraforming Mars, Terra Mystica) to teach games to new players. We even have a specific tub of introductory games at each of our two venues aside for this purpose (WABA Starter Tub).
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Adam P
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Rob Doupe wrote:


That's my theory anyway. I'd be happy to hear others.


I feel players want new, fresh mechanisms, which are difficult to come by these days. So games are either pocket-sized (social deduction is common and still being explored) or complex to allow for a unique blend (Great Western Trial).

Something like Hellas by Stefan Dorra is just about in that middle-weight area.


There are still middle weight games, just less being released. I think it has nothing to do with interaction level.


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Matt Brown
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Havox wrote:
Concordia would like a word with you.


I would include Keyflower and Snowdonia, but those games are still 4-5 years old at this point.
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