Dylan Matthews, writing for Vox, the recently launched site from Ezra Klein et al.:
More specifically, “Euro games” — the term gamers use for German-style board games that emphasize strategy over chance and generally revolve around managing scarce resources — have become increasingly mainstream. Comparing them to childhood favorites, it isn’t hard to see why. Games like Candyland or Snakes and Ladders are basically elaborately presented dice-rolling exercises, with no element of strategy or skill. Once you no longer have the brain of a seven-year-old, even games that are mostly rather than entirely chance (say, Monopoly) are boring and frustrating, and ones such as Candyland, borderline torture. The best Euro games eliminate chance almost entirely, and are way, way better for it.
The premise is simple: You’re a railroad tycoon attempting to link cities on a board. Players randomly draw “destination tickets,” which tell them what cities to connect (say, “Los Angeles to Chicago” or “Duluth to Houston”) and then buy up train tracks between the two cities until they’re linked. Players get points both for the tracks they buy and for completing destination tickets, and they lose points if they fail to link their cities. The player with the most points at the end of the game, naturally, wins. It’s simple, and it’s compulsively playable.
Power Grid looks interesting too.