Crown of Emara

Benjamin Schwer

Publisher: Pegasus Spiele

Schwer-ly he is an upcoming Euro designer?

Let’s start by getting this off my chest: Crown of Emara is just another Euro Resource Conversion game among the hundreds that are already out there. Do we really need another one? Are the in game design novelties sufficient to overcome the humdrum theme? Is this really “JASE” (Just Another Standard Euro)? I truly hate that label.

Yes, CoE is a hot title with many folks putting it high on their list, including a handful of my GeekBuddies. CoE has your standard resources like wood, stone, wheat and cloth which can be converted to a secondary, and more valuable resource like books, rings or coin which can subsequently be used to power VP engines to gain VPs’. CoE is all of that and then some more…. which is why I give it a “7” after my initial play. Mind you, this is not a 9. Just a 7.

I did enjoy my play of CoE and I can understand the love from others. At the heart of the game are two rondels: one to collect resources and one to convert the resources to VP. Players decide which rondel to move each round by playing cards to one of three preassigned slots. Each slotted card allows players to 1) move their meeple around the rondel based on which slot the card is placed; 2) trigger the action space after the rondel movement and 3) trigger the action on the card played on the slot. That’s it. Easy peasy. The card deck consists of 9 cards which are similar for all players. After going through 3 rounds, using up all 9 cards, players reshuffle the deck, playing 3 more rounds for a total of 6 rounds before the end-game is triggered.

The unique aspect of CoE comes from both the split rondel system coupled to the slotted card play. Players must decide between collecting resources or trigger resource conversion. Since only 3 cards are available each round, some amount of planning is necessary as one tries to move around the score track. The scoring itself is also unique. Players have two score markers denoting building points and meeple points. The building points are harder to come by, and so start at “40” on the score track with the meeple points starting at zero. During the game, players strive to earn points in both categories as meeple points are accrued much faster. The final tally is the lower of the two scores. Hence, focusing on a single track is not sufficient to win the game.

CoE is not a long game, probably 90 min with 4p. The actions are brisks and rounds are rapid. I like that aspect of CoE. However, the game has little to no direct interaction. The most common form of interaction comes from choice denial. There is also a race to collect noble titles with descending VP amounts. That’s about it. Players who love direct conflict or intervention, kindly look elsewhere.

That said, this review sounds negative. In actuality, CoE is a good, solid above average Euro. Coming full circle. one has to wonder how many resource conversion games do I need in my collection? Are the innovations good enough for me to put on my wish list. CoE has been on the list for a while now and likely will remain there if a cheap copy is available. However, in the grand scheme of things, I am pretty sure CoE won’t make the evergreen list and I am not sure whether we will still be talking about it two years from now.

My second play has warmed me up a bit more for the game. CoE remains a pure resource conversion exercise, but a clever one at it. The rondels, the slotted cards makes it interesting but it’s the multi-path victory conditions and the dual score track that elevates the game. CoE has so many ways to score points and requires you to focus on specific tracks but also divert enough attention to equal balance scoring between both tracks. OK, it’s a JASE, but a good one.

Plays well with 2! Bump up a notch on BGG. This game is a resource conversion gem.

Initial impressions: Great!

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