Game: Caper: Europe

Release Year: 2022

Publisher: Keymaster Games

Designer: Unai Rubio

Player Count: 2 players

Play Time: About 30 to 45 minutes

Rules Complexity: Moderate

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I mostly play board games with my partner, which means two-player games should be my jam... but most two-player games fall short for me.

For me, most two-player games are simply too stressful. They tend to be zero-sum abstract strategy affairs where every move is a clear gain or loss, and you're expected to look ahead several turns to figure out the best path forward.

Caper: Europe bucks that trend.

Here's everything you need to know about Caper: Europe, how it plays, what my experiences with it have been like, how it stacks up against other two-player board games, and whether it's worth adding to your collection.

This review is based on my own personal copy of Caper: Europe, which I bought new from Miniature Market. Not a free review copy.


Caper: Europe is an elevated card game for two players only. Each player is the head of their own heist crew and you're each vying for control over three Locations. You gain control by assigning Crew members to each Location and equipping them with Gear so that your Crew outmatches your opponent's.

Mechanically, Caper: Europe is a closed card drafting game with notable emphasis on set collection and tableau building.

Every round, you each start with a hand of cards. You pick one to play, then pass the remaining cards to your opponent. You receive their cards as well, from which you pick another to play, then pass the remaining back to them. Repeat down to the last one, which you discard.

These rounds alternate between Crew rounds and Gear rounds:

  • In Crew rounds, you're drafting Thief cards and assigning them to Locations. Thief cards tend to have scoring conditions on them, but they can also affect the gameplay in other ways (e.g., earning Coins, moving the Caper Tracker on a Location towards you to signify control of that Location).
  • In Gear rounds, you're drafting Gear cards and attaching them to Thief cards that you've already played on Locations. Gear cards usually help Thief members fulfill their scoring conditions, but they can also do other things (e.g., destroy an opponent's Gear, steal Goods from a Location, etc.).
Example Thief cards on the left and example Gear cards on the right.

Most Gear cards have a Coin cost, meaning you can't draft one unless you have enough Coins to pay for it. This introduces a small but crucial economic element that influences what you draft and in what order.

The economy also has a special rule: There are only 10 Coins in Caper: Europe. If you ever earn Coins and there are none left in the supply, you take Coins from the opponent. This not only prevents one player from hoarding Coins, but also creates a subtle pressure to spend Coins while you have them.

These Gear cards show their Coin costs on the top left.

After a total of 6 rounds—3 Crew rounds and 3 Gear rounds—the game ends. (Each subsequent Crew and Gear round is shorter than the last.)

Then, you tally up your points across all your Locations, Thieves, and Gear, and whoever has the most points wins.

Setup and Table Footprint

Caper: Europe has a little more setup than I normally like in a two-player experience, but it's far from terrible and certainly isn't a reason to avoid playing. Plus, the cleverly designed box insert makes the process that much smoother.

Setup for Caper: Europe involves:

  • Placing the game board between you and your opponent.
  • Selecting 1 of the 4 City decks, which provide City-specific cards that get shuffled into the core Location, Crew, and Gear decks.
  • Shuffling the Location deck and drawing one to each spot on the board. These determine the scoring condition of each Location for this game.
  • Placing a Caper Tracker on each Location on the board.
  • Shuffling the Goods tokens and distributing them so that each Location has four random Goods at the start.
  • Shuffling the Crew and Gear decks and placing them on the board.
  • Placing the Round Tracker on the board.
  • Placing the 10 Coins next to the board as a supply.

It's more straightforward than it sounds, but don't expect the kind of game where you just pull a deck out of the box and you're ready to go. I can set up and be ready to play Caper: Europe in about 4 to 6 minutes.

As a game that's mainly about set collection and tableau building, it's no surprise that Caper: Europe demands some table space. However, I'm pleasantly surprised by how clean it is—and that it's not so bad as to be a table hog.

The inclusion of a game board really helps to keep the game space organized and readable, and the tableaus never spiral out of control because the game forces a limit on how many Gear cards can be attached to a Thief.

Caper: Europe's game board is a smidge over 30 inches long and a little under 4.5 inches wide. That's small enough for any standard card table or coffee table.

Learning Curve

On the whole, Caper: Europe is a straightforward game that isn't hard to grasp. You draft cards back and forth, assign the cards you draft to the game space, and try to collect synergistic combos that score more points.

But creating those point-scoring synergies relies on understanding the different mechanisms, and there are a handful at play here:

  • The Locations and their scoring conditions.
  • The Caper Tracker on each Location. The more influence you have over a given Location, the more points you can earn from it.
  • The Goods at each Location, which earn you points for collecting sets of them.
  • Your Thieves and their scoring conditions.
  • Your Gear and their scoring conditions.
  • The special actions on certain Thieves and Gear, which you'll need to play at the right time in the right way to maximize their value. You'll probably refer to the rulebook several times as you internalize these special actions.

Caper: Europe is definitely a hobbyist's two-player game. A non-gamer will likely struggle to keep track of everything, but it should be easy enough to grasp for anyone who has decent exposure to modern board games. I'd say it's slightly more complex to learn than Ticket to Ride.

Game Experience

Decision Space

You only make a single decision every turn—"Which card am I going to draft from the ones in my hand?"—but there's a lot that goes into that decision each time.

Here are some of the key factors involved:

Which Locations am I going to prioritize? Each Location has space for 3 Thieves, meaning a total of 9 spots across all 3 Locations. But you're only drafting a total of 6 Thieves during the game, so you need to decide how to distribute them.

One option is to send 2 Thieves to each Location, which spreads yourself out and allows for more opportunities, leading to more versatility. Alternatively, you can send 3 Thieves to two Locations and abandon the last Location, making you more likely to win the focused Locations at the cost of giving a free Location to your opponent.

But there's another layer to this decision because...

How am I going to compose each Crew? The Thieves at each Location comprise your Crew for that Location. The resources and scoring conditions that each Thief provides are only applicable to the Crew they're part of.

This Location has 3 Thieves with a little bit of synergy. Purple Gear cards played to this Crew will trigger The Colonel's ability and contribute to The Dame's scoring.

So it's not just about sending Thieves to certain Locations, but pairing Thieves with other Thieves who are complementary in some way. In fact, some Thieves might have totally opposing goals, which could really set you back if you send them to the same Location (because scoring for one may take away from the other).

How am I going to outfit each Thief? During each Gear round, you'll draft 5 Gear cards to attach to your Thieves. That's 15 total Gear cards over the course of Caper: Europe. Each Thief can have up to 3 Gear, but you'll end up with 6 Thieves so it's impossible to max out the Gear on each Thief.

This Thief has 3 Gear cards equipped and can no longer equip more Gear cards.

Assigning Gear to a Thief can help you score the Thieves at that Location, but it can also help you steal Goods at that Location, influence the Caper Marker at that Location, or even score for the Location itself.

So, not only do you have to decide which Thieves you're going to focus your Gear cards on, and not only do you also have to decide which 3 Gear cards best fit each Thief, but you may also have to sacrifice some Gear slots for other objectives.

All of these decisions are informed by your overall strategy. With four different ways to score points, you have a wide mix of options as far as which scoring paths you're going to focus on and how to pursue those paths.

Are you going to blitz two of the three Locations? Are you going to ignore the Locations and focus on Crew compositions? Maybe you'll focus on stealing as many Goods as you can while focusing on Thieves who score via Goods? Or maybe you'll put all your eggs in a single basket and try to wring out a ton of points with one Crew that's extremely synergistic?

These decision factors are what make Caper: Europe so engaging. Because you have multiple reasons to draft every card, there's seldom a "right answer" as to which card you "should" draft. That uncertainty is fun to play around.

Luck Factor

There's definitely some luck involved in Caper: Europe, and there's enough of it that you'll probably want to avoid it if you prefer strategic, deterministic games.

Luck rears its head in two big ways:

First, when you draw the initial drafting hand in each round. Caper: Europe is very tactical in the sense that you draw a hand of random cards and must figure out the best way to make lemonade from those lemons. If you draw a weird hand, it can be tough to squeeze anything good out of it.

To be fair, your opponent also has to deal with those lemons because you're passing your cards back and forth as you draft from them. But if your opponent's initial draw is really good and yours isn't, you could argue that it gives them a small advantage—and if it happens every round, it could add up.

Second, when you commit to a strategy in the first half of the game. When you play a Thief to a Location, that decision is permanent. You can't move them again. And when you play a Gear to a Thief, that decision is also permanent.

So, when you decide to draft certain Thief and Gear cards, you're committing to their particular strategies. You're banking on the fact that you'll be able to draft synergistic cards in future Crew and Gear rounds. If your opponent gets first dibs on a card you need, they could screw you over—and it's up to you whether you want to hope for the best and lean into a strategy like that.

You'll see every single Thief card and Gear card throughout the game, but not all of them will be played because each player discards one card every round. You don't have to worry about whether a card will or won't show up; you only have to worry about whether you'll have the chance to draft it.

On the one hand, Caper: Europe is a game about adapting to changing circumstances, about pushing your luck and seeing how far you're willing to risk a particular strategy, about shifting plans before it's too late. On the other hand, it sucks when that synergistic card just never shows up.

In Caper: Europe, the better player will win more often than not, but it's also possible to play well and lose if you get a string of unlucky draws.

Fun Factor

Caper: Europe is a game with few surprises.

Since cards are passed back and forth while drafting, you know every card that's in play during a round. Your opponent may surprise you by drafting a card you didn't expect they would, but even those moments aren't that surprising.

For me, the fun in Caper: Europe comes down to two things:

First, evaluating the cards in your hand and picking which one to draft. With all the factors mentioned above in the "Decision Space" section, the decision to draft one card over another is rarely obvious. Figuring out how you want to proceed is half the fun here, and it's satisfying when your plans come to fruition.

Second, pushing your luck and having it pay off. As you're deciding on which cards to draft in a given round, there's a sense in which you're really just laying the foundation for the next round. You're thinking ahead to what's probable, then choosing the cards that align best with that probable future.

And when the next round comes and you draw a hand that plays well with the foundations you've laid, you can't help but feel clever. It feels so good when you aim for a certain strategy, when you hold out for a certain card, and it finally appears.


I really appreciate the pace of Caper: Europe.

You play a total of 6 rounds that alternate between Thief round > Gear round > Thief round > Gear round > Thief round > Gear round.

But each Thief round gets progressively shorter because you draw fewer cards in subsequent rounds. So, in the first Thief round, you draft 3 Thieves; in the second, you draft 2 Thieves; in the third, you draft 1 Thief. (Meanwhile, every Gear round is the same and you always draft 5 Gear.)

Not only do you feel that the game is accelerating towards its conclusion, but each subsequent round has fewer decisions to make, meaning each decision carries more and more weight. Tensions rise until that final card is played by both players.

It's a satisfying game arc that starts slow and builds to a proper climax—and you don't know who's actually winning until you tally the score, which also serves to keep the suspense high throughout.


Caper: Europe isn't always at the top of my list of two-player games to table, but it's perfectly replayable and will remain in my collection.

For starters, the core gameplay is satisfying. See the above sections on "Decision Space," "Fun Factor," and "Pacing" to understand what makes the game click for me and why I find it an engaging experience.

Here are the four City decks and the unique cards they inject into the basic core decks.

But Caper: Europe also has a bit of variable setup that makes each game different from the next, including:

  • The Locations are different every game.
  • The Thief deck and Gear deck are modified by the City you choose to play at the start. Each of the 4 Cities has 5 unique Location cards, 3 unique Thief cards, and 6 unique Gear cards. (Each City revolves around a unique mechanism.)
  • The distribution of Goods tokens per Location is randomized. This distribution might influence the strategy you choose to pursue.

Even though the differences aren't so strong that they change the core gameplay, the variations in setup nudge Caper: Europe just enough to feel different. There's a good amount of content to explore in the box, but I'd be fine playing the same City over and over again. The core gameplay is rewarding enough for me.

Production Quality

Even if I never played Caper: Europe again, I'd probably keep it in my collection because the production is so charming. I'm impressed.

The theme and aesthetics perfectly capture the European heist vibe. Indeed, the vibe might be one of my favorite things about Caper: Europe. The colors and patterns evoke feelings of cozy, high-end casinos and rag-tag misfits who are both whimsical yet sophisticated. It's unique and I find that it draws me in.

The cards, tokens, and markers are tactile and feel great to handle. You have chunky but lightweight wooden markers, large cardboard coins, and cards that have a subtle linen finish and feel premium in hand. The components scream attention and care, and that makes me want to play with them.

The iconography has a bit of a learning curve, but is ultimately helpful. There might be more icons than you'd expect in an otherwise simple set collection game, but they look great and they all make sense once you're acquainted with them. They help with language independence, too.

The player aid references are even more helpful. Caper: Europe knows that it sits on the edge of complicated, so it's nice that they included two player aid references (one for each player so you don't have to share). The reference explains core icons, game rules, and end game scoring.

The box insert is compact, organized, and snug. I love games that don't waste any space in their boxes, so Caper: Europe stands out in this aspect. Every component has its own dedicated space, and it's quite satisfying to take it all out or put it all away. The insert also comes with a plastic cover that keeps everything snug in place, so you can store the box vertically or carry it around without making a mess inside.

The Bottom Line

Caper: Europe

Recommended Score Guide
  1. Tactical two-player gameplay with engaging decisions
  2. Strong game arc, good tension, reliable pacing that accelerates
  3. Extra content and variable setups help to extend longevity and replayability
  4. Incredible production quality, a joy to handle and play with
  1. There's some luck involved, but you have control over it
  2. Setup is a tiny bit longer than I'd like for a two-player game
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