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How To Play Boomerang Europe

Boomerange Europe

Most flip and writes or roll and writes are self-explanatory. Roll. Write. Flip. Write. But Boomerang Europe keeps me coming back because there’s more to this game than just a pencil and some paper!

Boomerang Europe is a pen and paper game for 2 – 4 players with a bit of a twist. Instead of rolling a dice or flipping a card to determine your action, you have a hand of cards which you will be picking and passing. Yep, it is a closed drafting-writing game of a kind we hadn’t seen or played before. But don’t worry as I am here to guide you through the twists and turns of your travels around Europe!

Set Up

Start by giving everybody a sheet and a pencil. Then the 28 country cards are shuffled, and each player is dealt 7 as their starting hand. If playing with fewer than 4 people, the rest of the cards go into a pile off to one side, ready to be added back in just before the next round. Done!

Card Anatomy

Each card has a bunch of symbols on it including a number in the top left hand corner. This is your Throw number. There are also scoring icons (transport, food/beverages, and national treasures), the location of the country on the score sheet and the place name. There’s also a very lovely scenic illustration to make you think you’re actually there!

Game Play

The game is played over 4 rounds (“holidays”). Each turn you’ll be keeping one card from your hand of 7 and passing the rest on.

Your first country card pick is called your “Throw card” and goes face down in front of you – this one is your secret to keep for the round! The difference between the number on this card and the final 7th card in your hand (“Catch card”) will become important at the end of the round as you get the difference between the value of both cards as bonus points at the end of the round.

Once your throw card has been chosen, you pass the remaining 6 country cards to the player on your left.

Then with everybody having a new, reduced hand of 6 cards, each player simultaneously picks another country card from their hand. This time, their selected card goes face up in front of them for all to see. Ooh! Now’s the time to start thinking ahead!

The passing and picking is then repeated until everybody has only one card left in their hand. This becomes their Catch card.

And that is your first holiday done and dusted!

Round Scoring

At the end of the round, it’s time to score! Grab your pencil and your score sheet because it is crossing off time!

At the end of round one in Boomerang Europe, you’ll be filling in the boxes in the first column on the right hand side under the number “1”. And like the best holidays, you come back with lots of lovely stuff!

  • Firstly, you’ll get points for your Catch (i.e. the bonus points for the Throw/Catch differential as described above). This value goes in the boomerang column.
  • Next add up any green cuisine bonuses on all your cards and put this number in the first column next to the green icon. The maximum value you can score is 7 and then your points will be rounded down to the nearest half for anything 8+
  • Then you’ll score the value of the transport bonuses for pairs of matching vehicles within your hand of 7 cards. This number goes in the first column next to the yellow icon. This is usually the highest number of the three.
  • Finally, you can (but don’t have to) score a National Treasure – so long as you have one in your hand, you can opt to get points for each matching treasures collected by every other player that round. You might wonder why you wouldn’t score this, but you’ve got to think ahead. If you use up your mountain NT now and next round everybody has cards with mountains on them, that’s a whole heap of points gone! As the game nears its end and everybody can see what NTs are left to score, it also gives a clue as to what cards you might be hoping to collect. Did somebody say hate drafting?

Once your score sheet has been marked, shuffle all 28 cards and deal a new hand to each player. Scoring continues in this way until you have scored your 4th trip round Europe. Your newly scored sheets (conveniently showing some emerging favoured regions (!)) must remain visible for all players to see!

Scoring Notes

  • If you have a card for a country you have already visited (i.e. crossed off), you do not cross it off on your sheet again at the end of that round.
  • At the end of any round, if you are the first player to visit all the countries in a complete region, you circle the yellow bonus next to that region and nobody else can claim it. If more than one player achieves it on the same round, you each get the bonus.
  • At the end of any round, if you are the first/second/third player to visit one country per region, you’ll get the blue passport bonus – circle the relevant position.

At the end of the 4th round scoring, don’t put your pencils (and passports!) away just yet. There are some final bonuses to be had!

  • Countries visited – you get 1 point per unique place visited i.e. every country crossed off – this goes next to the red push pin icon in the top left corner.

Once all the numbers have been crunched. Add up each row and total your points in the bottom right box. Whoever scores the most points is the best backpacker in town!

I hope this helps to make your first trip around the cultural capitals of Europe a smooth and lightly strategic one!

If you like the sound of Boomerang Europe and want to know more about the tactics and my overall thoughts, check out my full review here.

And if you really like it, there’s also Boomerang USA and Boomerang Australia.