Europa Base Alpha – Wizkids – Review

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If you’re looking for a solid game that can be played in under an hour, and has a good balance of strategy and luck, Europa Base Alpha might be what you are after.

Heather Swanson

MeepleGamers

8/10

Theme and What is it?

6/10

Are you ready for another cold war?  Well, this time it will be on a little-known moon of Jupiter.  Welcome to Europa Base Alpha.

As with any good cold war you are going to need to expand and build your powers.  Got Nukes?  Get started building communication towers, missile silos, global command centers, personnel bunkers and intergalactic transports.

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Gameplay Mechanics

10/10

So, you need to build a bunch of moon bases to win, right?  How do you go about building these wonderful bases?  Wouldn’t it be great if winning wars just required building better things than another country?  We’d all be a lot better off.  But, I digress.

So, back to Europa. You are going to be building bases by rolling dice.  On these dice are the requirements you need to build different kinds of baes.  How do you build a base?  Well, you need things like command centers, personnel bunkers, com towers, transports, and of course missile silos.

Each base is represented by a card.  The requirements for that particular base are listed at the top next to a point value.  Roll all the correct dice on your turn and you get to snag the base and its points.  Get the most points and you win. That’s all there is to the game?  But wait, there is more.  Each of the cards also have sections which can be used to undermine others, enhance your dice rolling efforts, and plan for the future. Each player has a hand of 5 cards.  At the beginning of each round players pick a base they want to build and reveal it all at the same time.  Then, each player takes their turn one at a time.  Before they start rolling dice, time is allowed for other players to play an undermining skill from one of the remaining cards in their hand. Undermining makes it harder for players to build their base.  It may add requirements, alters results of die, or just make their future plans fail.  Once all this sneaky business is over the player begins to roll their dice. Players roll and keep the results they desire.  They may reroll unwanted results up to three times.  If things don’t work out well, they can use the ingenuity on the cards left in their hand.  Mind you, using undermining or ingenuity skills results in discarding the card.  You start with 5, lay one down to build, perhaps play undermining skills on other players, and then use ingenuity.  You can run out of cards if you are not careful. You might want to save a card for the end of your turn.  If you were successful building your base you can play another card and attempt to build another base.  Other players can still play undermining skills on you like before so be careful.  If you fail to build the second base you lose the first as well.

At the end of your turn you have the option of doing some future planning.  If you have any cards left you can use the text on the bottom of the card.  It allows you to keep some skill or attribute for the rest of the game.  Or, until someone undermines your efforts.

There are 4 rounds in a 2-4 player game and 3 rounds in a 3-player game.  At the end, everyone tallies the points on the bases they built and subtract points from where they cut corners in building.

How can you cut corners building a base on a moon?  Scary thought.  If a player rolled the star symbol and used it as a wild to reach their base building goals, they have cut corners.  Each time this happens, players take a cut corners token.  Each one counts as -2 at the end of the game.  Cut corners tokens can also be earned through undermining efforts.

There is an expansion called “Invaders” that comes with the base game.  It includes 12 additional cards, and 4 invader dice.

The invader dice are available when one of the expansion cards comes into play and allows its use.  It adds the benefit of possibly rolling double wilds or double missile silos.  However, if you roll the invader side you have to eliminate another one of your dice in the current building you are working on.

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Initial Impressions

6/10

I can’t say that this game interested me much.  The cover art reminds me of old games for some reason.  It isn’t flashy.  Dice always catch my attention but, from the looks on the back of the box, there wasn’t much more to look at.

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Game Build Quality

8/10

Everything in the box is good quality.  The player boards and cutting corners tokens are thick cardboard.  The cards are on good stock.  The dice are large and easy to read.

The instructions are written very well.  They are easy to read and reference.  Information is laid out logically and sectioned off into parts well.

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Artistic Direction

5.5/10

There is only one piece of artwork in the game and it is on the cover of the box.  It is used for the cards and the cut corners tokens.  The only other designs are the symbols on the dice.

It’s a nice picture but I feel like there could have been more artwork in the game.  Perhaps some variety on the cards with the moon bases would be nice? 

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Fun Factor

8/10

I enjoy engine building games and I like how the future planning cards can work for you.  However, you have to be very wise and manage your hand well. 

You only have 5 cards each turn and they need to be spread out and used for building a base, undermining, and future planning.  As well, you need to think about how you will mitigate the rolls of the dice using ingenuity.  This all has to be balanced with how many points you think you can get from each base.

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Age Range & Weight

9/10

Europa Base Alpha is rated for ages 14+.  Younger kids can play if they just want to chuck dice and hope to build a base.  However, the real depth in the game comes from managing the cards in your hand.  Most kids are not going to see that strategy.

This game is easy to learn and teach.  It takes longer to think about the strategy and do well.  Fortunately, there are only 5 cards to agonize over which tends to keep things moving along.

To play this game well you also need to be watching what others are doing.  Again, kids are not going to catch all of the nuances.  Planning which cards to keep in order to undermine others is part of the challenge.

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Conclusions

8/10

 

 

Europa Base Alpha is a tight engine building, hand management, take-that, dice and card game.  There isn’t any visual pizzazz.  It is a game with little flare.  You are going to want this game for the mechanics, not it’s looks.

 

There are a number of things I enjoy about this game.  I like the amount of tactical and strategic options and I love the dice.  I also find the cold war on Europa both humorous and ridiculous at the same time.

 

The tactical options are great because there are only 5 cards that all need to be weighed and used in the best manner.  Will you build the base with the highest point value but the most difficult to roll options?  Or, will saving that card for undermining an opponent be more fruitful?

 

The strategic options go the same way.  Will you determine what cards will be used based off which one you want to use for future planning?  Will giving it up mean a tactical loss when you might need the ingenuity listed on the card?

 

This is a game you are going to enjoy for its tight mechanics and balance of luck and strategy.  It isn’t about the bling in this game.  I would not say this is an intro game to the hobby for this reason.  This is going to appeal to you if you like the way it plays.

 

If you’re looking for a solid game that can be played in under an hour, and has a good balance of strategy and luck, Europa Base Alpha might be what you are after.

 

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Editor's Rating:
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