Review – Caper: Europe

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Designer Unai Rubio

Artist Josh Emrich

Publisher Keymaster Games

Category Card Drafting, Tug of War

Length 30 minutes

Release Date 2022

Player Count 2

Caper: Europe is a head-to-head game about pulling off the perfect heist. Over 6 rounds, players assign thieves to locations around Europe and equip them with gear. They have to balance preparing their own heist with outwitting their rival mastermind. Do you have what it takes?

Content Guide

The theme of this game involves theft. It is presented in an abstracted and silly way, but potential players should be aware of it nonetheless.

Review

In Caper: Europe, 2 players compete to steal jewels, art, and artifacts from locations across Europe. The goal of the game is to earn the most points. Points come from stealing goods, having influence in locations, and equipping a crew.

The game is played on a central board, with both players building a tableau on their own side. In each of the 6 rounds, players receive a hand of cards from either the Thief or the Gear deck, and they take turns playing them. The basic turn structure is:

  1. One player plays a card
  2. The other player plays a card
  3. Players switch hands

This sequence is repeated until each player has 1 card left; those cards are then discarded and a new round begins, using cards from the opposite deck.

During Thief rounds, players play Thieves to locations on their side of the board. Each side has 9 slots for cards, and each slot can hold a single Thief. Thieves often provide coins when played, and they may trigger effects based on their card icons, such as awarding endgame points or moving their location’s caper tracker (a tug-of-war mechanism).

During Gear rounds, players play cards to equip their crew. Most Gear cards have a coin cost, and like Thieves, Gear cards can trigger effects, such as gaining a loot token, burning a Gear card on the opponent’s side, or awarding end-game points. Gear cards come in different colors, each of which has a specialty (e.g purple cards typically move the caper tracker, green cards typically steal goods, yellow cards typically gain money, etc.).

Each Thief can hold 3 Gear, and if a player wishes to, they can discard Gear cards for 1 coin each instead of playing them. All cards at a given location work together, so it doesn’t matter which Thief a particular Gear card is played to—all cards at the location benefit from each other.

Players continue alternating between Thief and Gear rounds until the end of the 6th round, at which time they calculate their final scores. For each location, the player who moved the caper tracker closer to their side wins the location and earns its points. Then, all Thief and Gear cards are scored, plus any points gained from goods tokens, which score based on set collection. The player with the most points wins!


Caper: Europe is a splendid head-to-head game, one of the best 2-player experiences out there. It is a tense tug-of-war to build and equip a crew, steal artifacts, and keep the caper trackers in your territory. This game feels like a relative of the excellent Battle Line, in which players build a tableau on either side of a board and try to claim as many flags as they can.

Caper: Europe has a deep strategy space in which players try to outthink each other. They can’t do everything, so they have to pick their battles, knowing when to push for an objective and when to focus their attention elsewhere. Given that the hands get passed back and forth, both players generally know which cards their opponent has to work with, so they must consider how their opponent might use them. If someone plays a helpful Gear card, for instance, but then passes their opponent something that allows them to burn a card, the player might end up losing their new Gear right away.

The production quality of Caper: Europe is high, in line with other Keymaster games. The graphic design is clean and stylized, and the components and insert are well-crafted. Intuitive iconography helps the game flow smoothly, and the rulebook is clear and thorough. Overall, Caper: Europe feels like a sleek, professional product.

I am quite impressed with this game. I have played many of these head-to-head battles of wits, and Caper: Europe is among the best. If you enjoy tactical and/or 2-player games, I highly recommend checking this one out.

The Bottom Line

I am quite impressed with this game. I have played many of these head-to-head battles of wits, and Caper: Europe is among the best. If you enjoy tactical and/or 2-player games, I highly recommend checking this one out.

 

8.5

Author: Stephen Hall

A bard pretending to be a cleric. Possibly a Cylon, too. I was there when they dug up the "E.T." cartridges.