Euphoria: Ignorance Is Bliss – Stonemaier Games – Review

It breathes life back into a modern classic. 

Theme and What is it?

The rulebook starts it right, “In the world of Euphoria, ignorance is literally bliss… or maybe it is the other way around.”  For those unfamiliar with the base game at all, bliss is a resource that players use to drug their workers.  It is important to keep your workers happy and ignorant of what is really going on in the dystopia you run.

The ignorance is bliss expansion takes a wonderful game and tweaks several small things.  The result?  An even better experience than before.  It gives a whole new set of faction recruits and buildings.  It also introduces an automa for solo play or enhanced two player games.

Gameplay Mechanics

There are some very exciting new changes that come with Ignorance is Bliss.  Notably a fully set of new recruits and buildings to experience.  The most unique new set of recruits are the factionless options.  The factionless recruits have powerful new abilities but do not benefit from any faction benefits during play.

The other change that made a huge difference in play is the antiques bazaar.  Rather than getting upset when one player just keeps drawing exactly doubles or the specific artifacts they need players can spend commodities to draft specific cards or take the next free card knowing what they will receive.  The reduction in randomness for the final key plays in the game makes euphoria into a better competitive experience.

The final change that we really loved was the restriction of using workers with the same knowledge by spending a morale for each additional worker used.  This keeps anyone from having particularly absurd dice luck giving them a free win.  It also means no one can get a huge jump on the game with their first placements at the start of the game.

Initial Impressions

For a small expansion, ignorance is bliss packs a powerful punch.  I particularly liked that it provided large resources so we didn’t have to use the 1x 2x 3x track ever again.  Everyone who played with me that already knew the original game were really happy with the new recruit powers.  Those who were unfamiliar with the original were surprised by the things we were calling changes as it seemed perfectly natural to them.  That is a great sign when everything fits so smoothly together.  I will not be playing without these changes.

Game Build Quality

The newer base copy of Euphoria with the game trayz inserts are amazing.  The large resource tokens to use as 5s make handing out resources so much easier.  I also really like that everyone gets their morale and knowledge track on their own player board instead of trying to keep the main board track updated.  The tunnel stickers go on easily and it was very considerate of the publisher to include ones for the original kickstarter boards as well as newer ones so everyone would have a perfect fit.

Artistic Direction

The artwork feels just like the original game.  And the original game has one of my favorite little add ons ever.  The artifact card with a viticulture box is great.  I love when a player first picks up a “cigar box” or something like that and then looks closer and goes “wait a second”.  The entire game delivers a wonderful look on the table.

Fun Factor

Can you get the right resources to drop your authority tokens fast?  Can you get in on enough of the buildings so the penalties don’t cripple you?  If not, your fun might be diminished.  The tension when you first reveal your chosen active recruit is palpable.  Who will be helping you achieve your dreams?  Will everyone be teamed up against you?  Ignorance is bliss helps out anyone who has less allies at the very least.  The game has a lot of things going for it.  I am not even sure what I think the most fun part is.  Let me put it this way, the game has the magic.

Age Range & Weight

10+ seems a tad low for the game.  Every aspect of the game is simple enough on its own.  But everything is very tightly coupled in how you collect commodities, resources, and leverage everything into placing authority down.  Keeping track of what building penalties apply to you can get a bit complex.  My opinion on the game’s weight is a bit higher than most basic worker placement games.  I would adjust the age rating to 12 or so instead of 10.

Conclusions

I always love worker placement games and dice as workers is a great mechanic.  The fact that the dice rolls matter but never in any way cripple your gameplay is great.  The values can effect your bonuses when gaining resources or give your workers enough knowledge that you need to… escort the most informed one out of the general worker population.  Feel free to give him electroshock therapy and bring him back later though.  Being able to do things like this are part of what makes Euphoria great.

Ignorance is Bliss adds so much replay value to a game we have loved for a long time and does exactly what an expansion should do after this much time.  It breathes life back into a modern classic.  Less times where frustration comes up from luck in rolls and artifacts combined with all sorts of new powers = a real win for everyone!