Boomerang: Europe

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RRP £14.99
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Boomerang: Europe, like its sister games Boomerang: Australia and Boomerang: USA is a “draft-and-write” game. It features a unique blend of set collection and card drafting with the approachable feel of a roll-and-write game. Draft locations from across the European continent as you collect sets of activities and try delicious food to gain the most points. Boomerang: Eur…
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Category Tags , , , , SKU ZBG-MTGSBOO002664 Availability 3+ in stock
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Awards

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • Unique combination of close drafting, hand management and flip and write
  • Fast
  • Easy to learn
  • Best at 4 players

Might Not Like

  • Luck of the draw can be frustrating particularly at lower player counts
  • Scoring pad is too small
  • No solo mode
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Description

Boomerang: Europe, like its sister games Boomerang: Australia and Boomerang: USA is a "draft-and-write" game. It features a unique blend of set collection and card drafting with the approachable feel of a roll-and-write game. Draft locations from across the European continent as you collect sets of activities and try delicious food to gain the most points.

Boomerang: Europe is a stand-alone game in the Boomerang family that plays similarly to the original Boomerang, but has some rules differences and new ways to score.

I love roll and writes and flip and fillers. They're portable, versatile, accessible, easily scalable, and can be fast and fun or chunky and crunchy. Boomerang Europe from one of my favourite designers, Scott Almes, 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.   

The objective of the game is to tour around Europe on different methods of transport, visiting as many countries as you can. Whilst doing so, you'll be trying to visit national treasures and sample their finest cuisines. Played over 4 rounds, the traveller with the most points at the end is declared the perkiest passenger!  

Set Up And Play

Easy peasy Europe squeezy! Everybody gets a sheet and a pencil. The 28 country cards are shuffled, and each player is dealt 7 as their starting hand. Each card has a bunch of symbols including a number in the top left hand corner.  The rest go into a pile ready to be added back in just before the next round. 

Your first card pick is called your "Throw card" and goes face down in front of you.  The difference between the number on this card and the 7th card you draft ("Catch card") is important as you get that number of points at the end of the round. The rest of your cards are then passed to the next player.  

Out of the new hand of 6, everyone simultaneously picks a country card and this goes face up in front of them. The passing and picking is then repeated until everybody has only one card left in their hand aka the Catch card. 

Round Scoring 

At the end of the round, it's time to score your first of 4 holidays. You get points for lots of different things: 

  • Throw/Catch differential 
  • Countries - 1 point per unique site visited  
  • Cuisine bonuses valued up to 7 and then rounded down to the nearest half for anything 8+ 
  • Transport bonuses for pairs of matching vehicles used
  • National Treasure bonuses (optional and based on the number of matching treasures collected by every other player that round) 
  • First player to visit complete region bonuses 
  • First/second/third player to visit one country per region bonuses 

Once your score sheet has been marked, shuffle all 28 cards and deal a new hand to each player. After the 4th trip round Europe, the game is over.

Final Thoughts 

We are enjoying Boomerang Europe. It plays super quick and is very generous in terms of how many different ways there are to score. But balancing them all against each other is where the challenge lies.  

Pushing your luck comes into practically every choice and starts with the Throw/Catch dilemma. You are likely to have a low 1 or 2 value card at the beginning of the round. But, as the game goes on and you know what other players are collecting, letting a key country slip into the hands of your opponents could be a bad idea! Particular as you have no idea what your final Catch card is going to be. That could be worth a big fat zero if you end up with an identical value card at the end.  

Same with food and drink. You could be hovering around the 7 mark point for maximum scoring (yes!). But then receive a round ending Catch card that tips you over into 8, thereby reducing your points down to only 4 in total.  

Thankfully, the game is flexible enough that your scoring strategy can boomerang back and forth too. You might start off laser focusing on certain regions hoping that all the countries you need will come up. But then, if that doesn't play out, you can then switch to a more scatter-gun approach to be first to visit lots of regions.

If countries just aren't coming up roses, smart picking in transport, treasures, and food points might just keep you in the game. The fact that the different transport types are worth different point values adds another dimension to your decision making. And if none of those are working for you, you can always just hit the nuclear button and block everyone else's journey planning!  

Admittedly, luck of the draw plays a big part, particularly at lower player counts. We play mostly at 2 player and some country cards never come into our hands simply because they aren't in play during the 4 rounds. And that can be frustrating in terms of planning, plus some of the region bonuses are never available during those games. With 4 players, all cards are in play each round. You might not get to pick them of course, but at least there's a chance!  

The game is super simple to learn, and the rule book reflects that - very straightforward to follow. No solo mode I'm disappointed to say, but no doubt a clever gamer will come up with some fan rules at some point. It's also trying hard to be thematic.

The food bonuses go up but then reduce if you overindulge. Likewise, the transport points differ based on the mode being collected. Having the name of each country printed in the local language is a nice touch, and I like the artwork depicting each place.  

The only negative thing we have found with the components is that the double sided score pad is very small. The box could have definitely accommodated a larger version. As victory depends upon keeping tabs on what other players are collecting (not to mention national treasures where you gain points based on their choices), the meagre pad size makes this difficult to do.  

I know Boomerang Europe is classed as a roll and write/flip and write game. But it feels more like a close drafting, hand management game that you happen to score on a sheet as you go along. Which is cool because that works well. Trying to keep tabs on all the symbols and end of round scoring on tracks would definitely be less elegant.  

Overall Boomerang Europe is a quick, budget friendly fun filler that we are glad to have in our collection. It's full of simple decisions presenting lots of different potential ways to score with some hate-drafting encouragement thrown in for good measure!  We might just need to blow up the size of the sheets for our ageing eyes!  

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.

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • Unique combination of close drafting, hand management and flip and write
  • Fast
  • Easy to learn
  • Best at 4 players

Might not like

  • Luck of the draw can be frustrating particularly at lower player counts
  • Scoring pad is too small
  • No solo mode