Tuesday, 10 April 2007

It Looks Like a Duck, Quacks Like a Duck...Part II

In Part I, I wanted to give an introduction and overview before I got to the meat of the article--that being the question, "What *is* Ameritrash?"

The term has become much like a Rorschach test; and the difficulty in narrowing down the essence of Ameritrash is compounded by differing views on exactly what that consists of. I've even heard it suggested that Ameritrash is defined solely by what it is not--that is, a game falls into the genre by virtue of the absence of certain elements rather than by a common pool of traits they all share. Lastly, you have a lot of different backgrounds coming at the definition, and those backgrounds are by players who either have tired of Euros or simply prefer a different type of game.

You've got RPGers, CCGers, plasticfest lovers, wargamers, Games Workshop fans, gamers who grew up on Axis and Allies...we are talking about a diverse grouping of characters, all attempting to file in, to define essentially the "Non-Euro" as it were.

And why not? It is human nature to classify, but more importantly, it is human nature to want to "belong". Many gamers are completely unique in their conformity (there's one to wrap your head around) and with the global community of the internet it is our natural tendency to seek out like-minded individuals. You don't think of the games you like as just being oddball offshoots or ancient dinosaurs...you want to group them, classify them, put them into a family if for no other reason than to legitimize them.

I can only speculate that this is why the "AT Movement" such as it is caught fire--even if the term is distasteful to some. As a gamer who is fond of American-style designs (or British, in the case of GW--but hey, that's a colony thing), you check out the premiere boardgaming site on the internet but maybe find the overall conversation isn't bent toward your favorite style games as much as you like. But suddenly, there's an explosion and a bright light--"Hey! They're talking about games that *I* like! Games I played when I was a kid! Heck, games we just played last Saturday!"



So, then, I want your help. All of the gamers who were drawn to this discussion because of a love for a genre of games, no matter your background, I want us to work together to see if we can define what exactly "Ameritrash" consists of. This is completely a feedback-driven exercise, and maybe we'll be proven wrong--maybe these games are defined more by what they aren't than what they are....maybe our previous definitions have been far too broad...or, perhaps we can hand-pick some elements, come to a consensus, and validate the genre. I honestly don't know.


Here are some common elements I see in games I personally define as "Ameritrash".



1. Luck

Is this the most common element? Probably. Most Ameritrash games have randomizers in the form of dice, cards, or both.

The flagbearer here is obviously a game like Axis and Allies, where casualties are determined by rolling fistfuls of dice. Maybe your tank assault will wipe out the enemy's infantry front, or maybe your forces will be repelled by their unexpected valor.

Luck is appealing to Ameritrash fans because of the inability to "solve" a game, to turn it into a rote exercise. Also, there's the element of drama caused by the uncertainty of the results. Maybe your warrior will land the killing blow. Maybe your space fighter will make a brave stand and take a few ships out with him. Luck can go too far, rendering the decisions you make moot, but Ameritrash fans seem to have a much higher tolerance for this element than a pure Eurogamer would.



2. Theme

All Ameritrash games seem to share a strong marriage of theme and mechanics. Of course, just about all non-abstracts have a "theme", but there's a disconnect in the mechanics of many Euros and what the theme is supposed to be about. Even in strongly themed Euros such as Amun Re it's easy to pick apart the elements of the game and pare it down to it's barest abstract elements.

The level of theme in Ameritrash games is often referred to as "chrome". After spending a while in the gaming community over the past two years, I've come to realize that a lot of gamers use the term to mean, "a game possessing more rules than I care to personally deal with."

Ameritrash games certainly do have more rules than a typical Euro, and that usually seems to be driven by building upon an abstract model until it can no longer be easily stripped down to those barest mechanics. Once you start trying to represent a theme, you have rules that are added solely in service of that theme. Why is there a real Queen and fake Queen in Star Wars: The Queen's Gambit? Because that's how it was in the movie. Why are Sam and Frodo moving towards Mordor in War of the Ring? Because that's how it plays out in the novel.

So we're not talking about theme in the general sense--such as "you're a provost--let's build some stuff and try to impress...somebody!"--but more of a theme that is defined and supplemented by rules. In both War of the Ring and Queen's Gambit, stripping away the theme is very, very difficult because the rules have been built and predicated on the theme being represented.


3. Conflict

Simply put, it's a pretty rare thing to have an Ameritrash game that doesn't have conflict as a central theme. Of course, this begs the question of the definition of "conflict". Some would see taking the Builder in San Juan so your opponent can't have it as being a form of conflict, but the nature of that conflict is so abstract--not to mention it is missing a key element in the form of "zero-sum conflict".

I guess that's a more accurate description of what I'm talking about--"Zero-Sum Conflict". In other words, you have something, whether it is territory, or cards, or buildings, or resources...and I can directly attempt to take or destroy those resources. It is conflict based around the idea that one of us benefits and the other suffers.

This usually takes the form of military or armed conflict, but not always. It is hard to deny the prevalency of that element, though. Even most fantasy games that feature conflict will involve it by sword or sorcery. However, some games manage to feature it in a political sense, a form of conflict and power that is not represented in game by military might...but if you really look at those systems, they are merely ways of introducing an additional element of military-like might into the game. Hey, you passed a vote that hurts me--but how did you do that? Ah...you had political "power", a numerical value that at it's heart could be shifted to a military strength and would still be applicable.

However it is featured, direct conflict is generally an important feature for a game to have to be classified "Ameritrash".


4. Production Values

This is one I usually catch a lot of flak for. I come at the Ameritrash angle as one who is a devout fan of plastic bits. I've never been as fond of cardboard chits as I have those lovingly detailed soldiers, dragons, tanks, barbarians, helicopters, and knights...

But that's from a narrow perspective that I came into the hobby with. I saw games with nice plastic (or sometimes pewter) bits as having that "toy factor" that separated the more serious war games with their lighter, thematic brethren.

Whether you share that view or not, it is clear that at least from a modern perspective, a game produced these days is hard to define as "Ameritrash" unless it has great bits that were forged from the need to heavily represent theme. This is a tricky notion, however; many companies have really stepped up their production quality over the past few years, to the point where you have multiple companies who are putting sturdy, beautiful product out there--and not all of it would be considered "Ameritrash". Take "Fire and Axe", the recent Asmodee reprint--that's a gorgeous production...but is that Ameritrash? Take Mall of Horror, also by Asmodee, with its tons of plastic zombies. Is that Ameritrash? It's even got the theme!

Also, there is the fact that German-style games have had amazing production quality for quite some time now, though such production is not always driven by a need to heavily represent theme. The cardboard tiles in most Euros are thick and sturdy, the wooden bits heavy and numerous, the boards well-mounted and artfully done.

Then you've got the fact that there are plenty of games who have fairly shoddy production values but obviously would fit into the "Ameritrash" definition in almost every other way. Take "Wrasslin'", the subject du jour of Michael Barnes' last blog entry. Flimsy cards, hilariously bad artwork, but no doubt at its core an Ameritrash-style title.

So this is certainly an entry that is in need of better definition. I do know that many hardcore Eurogamers look down upon heavily-themed plastic pieces, so that is a vote for the "not Euro" viewpoint of defining Ameritrash. And it's fairly clear that games can have bad production values but otherwise qualify and then there are games that have insanely gorgeous production values but be strictly Euro, or at best a hybrid.



5. Player Interaction

This may seem like a retread of Conflict, and to a small degree it is. The type of Player Interaction I'm referring to is often driven by the element of conflict, though not necessarily.

Let's go back to a Euro I do enjoy, San Juan. There have been games where I get frustrated because my opponent is pulling away from me and there's little I can do about it. I can take certain roles to try and ping him a little, but that's about the best I can do.

Worse, the game could be played in complete silence, with each player simply making an optimal decision based on what's in hand and what's in front of him at the moment. There's no interaction there, as my buildings will never interact with yours. There's no "dealmaking" because we have no currency with which to trade. I could suggest to you, "hey, take Builder before Bob gets an extra card", but you know...whee.

(And this if for a Euro I really like!)


Maybe what I'm really referring to here is the metagame, that sense of dealmaking, of interaction that is encouraged by what is going on in the game. This is usually because each player is empowered to directly affect the game in a profound manner at any given time. This desire to impact the game is mostly held in check by a desire to win in the long term--I could throw all my forces at Dave over there, but why? I'll end up shredded and easy pickings for the next vulture to swoop in. Wait, Dave is going to win soon? Or you're going to give me Trade Goods to cripple his flank?

Perhaps together we can influence the game to both our benefits...but under what terms should that happen? Can I trust you? Should I help you when the chips are down in hopes that you'll return the favor?

This sort of goes hand in hand with Luck as keeping every game session fresh, but more importantly keeping players invovled in the game. It's important to think that you can have an impact on the game at any given time, or else you aren't motivated to continue. This is a sometimes discussed issue with Euros that do not feature player elimination--yeah, maybe I can't be eliminated, but remind me why I should care to go through the last three turns of a game I'm clearly going to finish in last place?

Eliminate me if I have no power. Otherwise, let me use that power to interface and interact with my fellow players. After all, that's why we're boardgaming instead of getting lost in some random MMORPG, right? We want to laugh, to cheer when things are going great, to groan and gnash our teeth when the chips are down, to enjoy that thing that no AI will ever be able to give us--Player Interaction.





And Now...The Floor is Yours!

These are seemingly the most common elements that Ameritrash games share, but the above seems to cast quite a wide net.

I didn't even get into the whole wargame/Ameritrash divide, which is a tad controversial in itself. Wargames seem to share their own distinct set of qualities, and while many have much in common with Ameritrash titles, there are sharp enough elements to remove them from the category and put them in their own area, where they rightfully belong and can co-exist with each other. I could be wrong, but there are conventions in wargaming that are sometimes alien to Ameritrash fans, and there is the issue of relative rules complexity.

Ameritrash games seem to seek out a medium-weight ruleset--enough to reinforce theme, and enough to place it several levels away from abstraction, but no farther. Even that isn't hard and fast--there are plenty of Ameritrash games with rather thick and complex rulesets, such as Magic Realm.

That's why I'm looking for your feedback. What did I miss? Where did I go wrong? Do you agree with this assessment? Is the net too broad?


In Part III, I have a game or two in mind that I'm going to dissect using these criteria to specifically see where these categorizations fail. Your feedback will help shape that article. I look forward to seeing where this discussion goes.


103 comments:

Shellhead said...

Ken,

I think that you're right on target. I read a pretty good wiki on this subject a while back at the Geek, and you hit all the same major points. That wiki went one step farther in trying to identify the basic motivation of euros, AT and wargames. Euros strive for elegance, and usually at least achieve efficiency. Wargames are focused on simulation, and will sacrifice lots of efficiency in order to achieve a more accurate simulation. The AmeriTrash games strike more of a balance between efficiency and simulation than either Euros or wargames. AT games emphasize drama, which is best served by heavy theme, direct conflict, player interaction, and enough randomness to leave players uncertain about the outcome.

There was one factor that you left out which I would include: length of play. Euros tend to last less than 90 minutes, while war games often take at least that long just to set up. AmeriTrash games tend to last more in the 2-4 hour range, and this also serves the requirement of drama. You can't really get attached to your strategy and role in the game (role = general, king, hero, god, monster, whatever) unless there is at least a couple of hours of play involved. This also allows for more of a sense of an epic story being told in a dramatic narrative. Compared to that, a wargame is more like a history text and a euro is more like a set of graphs and charts presented with the latest quarterly financial statements.

I do disagree somewhat regarding the production values. There are plenty of Euros with high production values, and some great old AmeriTrash games with low production values. And plastic figures are not always the best way to go in terms of production values. When different pieces have varying combat values and movement rates, it may be better to use cardboard chits to display that information right where the players need it, on the unit itself. These chits can be cheap and very thin cardboard, like in the mini-games of the early 80's (Vampyre, Intruder) or very fancy with a linen surface like the modern version of Arkham Horror.

I agree that there are definitely hybrid games that seem to include traits of both Euros and AmeriTrash. I even designed an AmeriTrash game for White Wolf that was gradually turned into a hybrid. But I think that most of these hybrids are intended to serve as AmeriTrash, in terms of drama and interaction, and merely do so with an efficiency that we all associate with Eurogames.

Acutally, I just thought of one more trait that I associate with AmeriTrash games in particular: player elimination. Eurogames leave everybody in the game, even when somebody has zero chance of winning or even influencing the outcome to any significant degree. Wargames usually handle casualties of war in a realistic manner, leaving wounded units and retreating units after a battle, making complete elimination nearly impossible before the scenario ends. But in certain AmeriTrash games, there exists a very real possibility, sometimes even the necessity, of eliminating another player. This takes drama, conflict and player interaction to a logical though extreme conclusion, and I personally find it to be a very satisfying element. Even being eliminated is not so bad, because complete eradication at least offers a sense of closure, unlike a game where you are required to continue participation even when your position is ruined.

Ken Bradford said...

Shellhead, that was some freakin' fantastic feedback. Thanks, that was awesome!

Game length is one I did miss out on, though there are AT titles that play in 90 minutes or less. Nexus Ops comes immediately to mind. It's not that AT titles strive to be longer than they need to, it's just that they're not afraid to punch through that barrier if the theme and rules warrant it.

I tried to cover player elimination woven into the article itself, but that may have warranted its own entry.

Julian said...

Hi Ken,

I have a few random comments. First, I think that you are right that War Games and Ameritrash are two different genres. I think that that is born out by the fact that many people only play one or the other.

Before saying where I agree with you, and what I have to add, I'll just mention a general observation about characterizing things. There's a philosopher named Wittgenstein who said that types were like family resemblaances. People in a family tend to look alike, but that doesn't mean that they share all the same features. There might be a hair colour they have in common, but not everyone will have that hair colour, or they might have a distinctive nose, but not everyone will have the same nose. I think its the same with genres of games. So there are a bunch of different features that ameritrash games have in common, but you don't have to have all of them to be an ameritrash game.

That being said, I think you've missed the most important defining feature of an ameritrash game:

Narrative

I think that the primary emphasis in an Ameritrash game is telling a story. That's why individual games can be memorable years later. It's also why they are quite interactive. You can't have a story with a bunch of people doing their own thing. Thay also have luck to add drama, and they tend to play out more differently that Euro's because its dull to tell the same story over and over. (By the way, that's an area where there has been a lot of improvement since the games of the 80's.)

In contrast, the highest priority of War Games is simulation. As an example, the emphasis on narrative in Axis and Allies over simulation is why it's a war themed ameritrash and not a real war game.

I think that the defining feature of Euro's is elegance. That's one thing they have right on BGG. Whereas the defining feature of mass market games is accessability.

On your four points.

I agree with you luck is a feature of all ameritrash for the reasons I give above. However, the luck is used for drama and risk management. Mass market games tend to have a lot of luck as well, but I think the motive there is to give all the kids a shot at winning. By contrast, I find that some people are often much better at Ameritrash games than others, because they are better at taking risks.

Theme, I think, is vital in an ameritrash game, because you need it to tell a good story. Extra rules are worth it to make the story seem more real. That's why ameritrash games can't be rethemed without rule changes.

You can't have a good story without conflict. Euro's often suppress conflict. They can get away with it, becuase they aren't telling a story.

I don't really agree with you on Production Values. Euro's have high production values as well, althoough they prefer wood to plastic. I make my own Ameritrash games, and often the pieces are a bit of card board with one of my doodles on it. On the otherhand, I think Ameritrash works better if there are good production values, because it allows for more immersive play. Perhaps an ameritrash game is a game that calls out for little plastic pieces, and gorgeous paintings of dragons and/or wrestlers whether it gets them or not.

I'm glad to see you guys are still at it. BGG is a dull and lifeless place without you.

Julian said...

I see Shell head beat me to my mian point. I also want to agree with him on player elimination (although you definetly don't have to have that to be an Ameritrash) and length.

I think that length is directly tied in with narrative/drama. You usually need a little bit of time to tell a good story. We could half the length of movies, but that wouldn't make them better because you couldn't develop as much story.

Ken Bradford said...

I once read that dreams are actually just flashes and images in our head, and our brain makes connections between them during the intervals. That's why you'll be having a dream about being at the carnival or something, then suddenly find yourself at the mall or something--and your brain connects the dots as though it's the same story, same narrative, just "later".

The point to that comparison is this--are AT games good at delivering true narrative, or do we extract narrative because of adherance to theme?

Let me clarify that a bit...in AT games, theme and rules dictate our short term decisions. But often those short-term decisions really have no basis in what would be considered a "true" narrative. Take Twilight Imperium, for example. You may have an overreaching goal, but most of your decisions are of a short-term nature.

It's only when the game has progressed and you draw the dots between those short term decision points do you really get true narrative. Is this a trick of the mind? Is the game itself delivering the narrative to us, or does the evocative theme cause us to connect the dots artificially?


Of course, I run into a game like Fury of Dracula and see that as delivering true narrative--but that's probably because you have two sides with clear, story-driven goals.

I do think that many times we are giving credit to a game for giving us narrative when we are clearly doing some of that work ourselves.

TheRankO said...

Solid observations, by and large, but I'll have to disagree with the sweeping statement about wargames. In my opinion, the border between AT and wargames is much more nebulous than described. Granted, a hardcore, old school Dunnigan creation like NATO Division Commander is about as un-Ameritrash as one can get. But Avalon Hill's Guerilla is inarguably a wargame -- and AT enough to earn a place in Robert Martin's Ameritrash Hall of Fame. And how about FFG's War of the Ring? The game fits both categories equally. And I'll say TSR's Divine Right is Ameritrash until my dying day, when they pry The Scum chit from my cold, stiff fingers.

Perhaps categories like "Ameritrash" and "wargame" are better used as gaming adjectives than gaming nouns -- descriptors as opposed to things in and of themselves.

And that's all I've got.

Anonymous said...

Why do you guys keep whining so much? Why can't you just like _all_ games? It's a matter of personal preference. I choose to like all games and not marginalize myself with these labels. It just creates division in the universal love-brotherhood gathering of board game fans. I never thought that there were different "kinds" of games until you guys started all this and now look what's happened. :-(

Julian said...

I think its true that we connect the dots in an Ameritrash game to make the story, but that doesn't mean that the game isn't designed for us to do that. For instance, in War of the Ring the game has some large scale decisions, but a lot of the decisions are small scale. But the game is so well designed, that it all comes together to make a story, usually with an exciting climax.

Ameritrash and RPG's were developed at about the same time. RPGs are just a bunch of rules that allow you to create a story. In an Ameritrash game you are more bound by the rules, so the story is more confined, but I still think it is designed to make a story, and a lot of the enjoyment is out of the story.

When I discuss a Euro afterwards, everyone tends to talk about mechanics whereas when I discuss a n Ameritrash we talk about as a story. For instance, in PR I think the theme is relatively well developed, but you'd never talk about the game as a story. In TI you pretty much always do that. That can even happen during the game, such as when my Son in our last game violated the Neutral Zone by moving in his War Sun and forcing me very reluctantly into an armed response.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that Ameritrash games are designed for you to turn the play into a story. That's what the chrome is for.

Ken Bradford said...

....if you're serious, who's whining? This is a celebration, not a wake.

...if instead you forgot your [sarcasm] tag, well done.



Wargames, man....heh. I've really opened my eyes to those based on some pretty wrongheaded opinions I used to have on them.

I'd say Divine Right was...a hybrid AT/wargame!


Hey, we all win!

TheRankO said...

I'd say Divine Right was...a hybrid AT/wargame!

I wholeheartedly agree: that's almost exactly how I described it for my (now defunct) BGG rating.

Fellonmyhead said...

BGG was not the "premiere boardgaming site" for some time; prior to that there were many groups discussing all genres and subgenres of boardgame. Perhaps this is why many people incorrectly perceive the sudden focus on the "Ameritrash Movement" as an "explosion" when in truth it was around long before all this fuss was made. Indeed, the games themselves were being talked about and discussed online long before somebody stood up and said "hey, nobody's talking about our games". All I'm saying is that Ameritrash (ugh, an ugly term) was being lauded, discussed and slated long before any of you guys had even heard of BGG - because it was here long before BGG existed.

Anyway, enough ranting; onto the meat of your article. My first point is I don't think a single person is going to agree with you on production values; not unless their argument goes unsupported.

Second, there seems to be far too much cross-genre interference for anybody to truly classify Ameritrash out on its own. This in turn seems to imply that something is not necessarily Ameritrash alone. I'm almost certain the following points will indicate why I think this.

Third, luck is prevalent in the games Ameritrashers appear to have chosen as their nemeses - namely Euros (ugh, that term). This is because the designers of such games reached a point of enlightenment eons ago; that point being that without the uncontrollable element of randomness then the freshness of a game will be affected. The effect is most discernable where one player wins 100% of games amongst the same group of players. The level of randomness is not really that much different for games aimed at similar groups in both types; this can be proven mathematically (but probably not by me right now). The real difference is the Ameritrash game's general reliance on active probabilities and risk-taking; something which is generally less prevalent in the "opposing" group.

By "active probabilities" I mean those which are influenced directly by player action; thus in A&A if the Germans advance on the Eastern front their chance of success is measurable before the player makes his decision whereas in a game such as Puerto Rico the probabilities are passive - you can't influence which plantations appear regardless of how probable it is coffee will show up.

Fourth, strength of theme is an extremely grey area. There are, I suppose, games which you might refer to as "true Euros" in which everything is very abstracted and the theme is easily substituted. I have presented arguments on this elsewhere, as have others:

The Theme-Mechanism Relation

Bridge, by Wolfgang Kramer

Fifth, conflict is something prevalent in both genres also. It's difficult to segregate these types based on a theme so common throughout. I mean, if it's unacceptable for either genre to be placed under the class of "wargame" then likewise it is difficult to accept that involving the subject of actual conflict allows a game to fall under the Ameritrash list.

Sixth, I don't see player interaction as something which could be used to distinguish them either; the trouble is a hell of a lot of games described as Euros (and I'm talking as pure as they come) involve direct interaction between the players. I'm not just talking the odd auction or the indirect interaction you might experience when you tell Jim to take the builder before Bob; I'm talking direct, full-on competition, trading, conflict, backstabbing, negotiation and any other form of player interaction you can think of. Naturally the level will vary from game to game, but how is that any different in an AT title?

And finally, as it seems I must accept the term as written, I would like to suggest a definition of "Ameritrash". The trouble is I can't; I always viewed many of them as light wargames (I expect some wargamers - I consider myself a wargamer- would object, but all I can say is if you think Eurosnoots are bad...). At least, that was, until you decided Wrasslin' and other such titles are AT - now I am at a loss. It seems to me that AT doesn't know itself what it is; how can anybody possibly create an acceptable standard from that?

I suppose if we take extreme examples of both Euros and AT then we would have something rather sterile versus something rather vibrant; yet we'd also have something rather elegant versus something rather fiddly and also something rather deep versus something rather shallow.

My hat goes off to you for trying; the best I can contribute is to tell you what I think isn't (but then you probably won't agree so I'll save that for later).

Ken Bradford said...

On the contrary, fellonmyhead, your commentary is insightful and I appreciate it.

Here's a counterpoint that's food for thought...just how broad IS the "Euro" label? I mean, that covers everything from Ra to Traders of Genoa to Die Macher to Niagra to Pillars of the Earth....


Is it so bad that the American-style game classification would be similarly broad? Need we narrow it that far? Only abstracts, I think, have such a narrow definition of inclusion. Even wargamers disagree from time to time on what should be included in their camp, and there's a pretty wide selection of potential games that might or might not fit in that camp based on complexity, level of simulation, handling of theme, historical accuracy, etc.

Ken Bradford said...

And here's a follow-up thought:


If some games are certainly NOT Euros...

Shouldn't that mean that they would have some other classification?



The commentary thus far has been amazing, I knew you guys wouldn't let me down.

ubarose said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ubarose said...

Luck alone is dull. Candyland, Chutes & Ladders, and Hi Ho CherryO are luck games. AT games are about gambling. Julian calls it risk management. But let's call a spade a spade. The skills required to play an AT game well include calculating the odds and counting cards.

Additionally, the meta-game is often poker-like. Player interaction is often about bluffing, baiting, and feinting. It's about outwitting your opponent rather than out calculating him. AP in a Eurogame means the player is taking a long time crunching numbers. AP in a AT game means the player is thinking "But it's so simple. All I have to do is divine from what I know of you: are you the sort of man who would put the poison into his own goblet or his enemy's. . ."


Ken asked I do think that many times we are giving credit to a game for giving us narrative when we are clearly doing some of that work ourselves.

I think that we do nearly all the work ourselves. The game just provides a skeleton upon which we hang our story. A great gaming experience often depends upon the knowledge of a fandom that the players bring to the table. Wrasslin' would most likely be a rather dull game for me as I know zero about professional wrestling. I know that the reason I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer is that the people I play with and I have seen every episode of Buffyat least three times. I have a gamer friend who has almost zero exposure to Fantasy literature or movies. She finds the whole elf, dwarf wizard think down right stupid and confusing. However, she is a train and railroad history buff. She is able to find narrative in Railroad Tycoon

Bugman said...

....slowly creeps from the dark depths of lurking......

First I would like to say great writing and I agree with most points.

I would like to expand on the interaction some more.

First a little back ground...

With my gaming group I am known as "The Negotiator". Some may say Table talker some may say bullshit artist. Suffice to say I rarely shut up when playing a board game, unless the rules state that I must.

This is, in my opinion, one of the best parts of the game. Convincing someone to take an action that benefits you and actually hurts them is pure joy!

.....back to the original point...

The impact that a good negotiator can have on your standard AT game is huge. As an example in Bootleggers you need to be a good negotiator or you are at a distinct disadvantage.

....did I actualy have a point...

Not sure but just wanted to bring this more to the front of the interaction section.

Please resume your regulary scheduled disccusion.

Bugman

.....slinks back to the shadows...

Shellhead said...

Anonymous guys keep wandering into Fortress AmeriTrash to complain that our movement is meaningless and our games are no different and no better than any other games. Or maybe it's the same whiny Anonymous guy. No way to be sure.

Anyway, that's just crap. I've been playing boardgames for decades, enjoying some and suffering through others, all because I lacked a logical framework through which to analyze these games. Thanks to the AT movement, I understand that I love AmeriTrash and hate Eurogames, and more importantly, I understand why. No cowardly little anonymous bitch can take that away from me, so they all might as well give up and slink back to the Geek.

Fortress AmeriTrash is great. There is no other place that I have found where I can engage in intelligent and entertaining discussion of my favorite genre of boardgames. This current thread is crucial, because we absolutely need an open discussion of the common and defining elements of AmeriTrash games. We won't come to an absolute agreement, given that we all enjoy such confrontational games, but I expect that a reasonable consensus should emerge from this thread, with some lingering questions that we can enjoy debating from time to time.

Fellonmyhead said...

Ken:

Here's a counterpoint that's food for thought...just how broad IS the "Euro" label? I mean, that covers everything from Ra to Traders of Genoa to Die Macher to Niagra to Pillars of the Earth....

I don't know; does it provide a counterpoint to anything or just cloud the issue a little more?

Judging from the descriptions and/or criticisms of Euros I have seen in this blog, the title "Euro" is a pretty narrow description. That isn't helpful in describing them either, I'm afraid; I guess I just think the borders are a lot greyer than most do.

But if I was to take a Euro in comparison to an AT then narrowing one category to see how the other doesn't fit seems to work; that's what I was getting at with the "what isn't" bit.

For example, we can most certainly agree that, say, Ra is not AT. Why? Well that's what we need to establish; but there have to be multiple facets that make up the big picture.

If we say it is because of a relatively abstract theme-mechanism relation, the same is not true of (for example) Die Macher.

If we say it is down to a lack of player interaction the same is not true of Traders of Genoa (which has it in bucketloads).

If we say it is because of the short playing time then games such as Die Macher or Age of Steam refute this argument.

If we use the distinct lack of plastic miniatures, well Through the Desert has those.

However, if we say it is because of the strict, sterile and ordered approach the same is probably true of most (if not all) other Euros (and perhaps quite a few games currently classed as AT - unfortunately this brings a solution no closer). Furthermore, the theme is not one of conflict (ignoring how strong or weak it may be); and although there are now many games involving warfare of a sort in tandem with the Euro-style ordered approach, Euros do tend to be war-free.

Therefore it would seem we are left with two of the strongest elements which could describe AT games and NOT Euros - a warlike theme (however thick or thin-layered) and a less ordered system.

The latter part I will elaborate on; when I say "less ordered" what I refer to is not necessarily the organisation of, say, a player's turn; rather I am referring to the freedom a player has within the bounds of an AT game's rules.

Take one of your AT mainstays, Axis & Allies. Every nation plays in order and every nation's turn has specific phases. But what goes on in those phases is almost completely uncontrolled by the game system. By "uncontrolled" I mean anything can happen. It's difficult to express what I mean; I am not saying the decisions are unmeaningful in AT games or that play is extremely restricted in Euros (though in some it is). What I am saying is that Euros will be very specific in limiting player creativity whereas AT will often take the opposite tack.

Again, this doesn't mean they are at opposite ends of the spectrum, but I hope this goes some way towards helping with your classificartion of AT. For me it still doesn't take it out of the realm of light wargame; but then I still can't see how a game like Wrasslin' fits in.

Julian said...

I just want to throw my 2 cents in on Anonymous and Ken's and Shellhead's comments on him.

Ironically, I think my biggest problem with anonymous and all the other people like him, is they are crippling any thoughtful discussion of Euro's. I have to admit, that after Ameritrash, my next favorite genre is Euros. But the whole Euro crowd is so anti any intelligent discussion about game genre's that other than the observations that Euro's are elegant and have Meeples, I feel I know nothing about them.

For instance, a lot of Euro players still seem stuck in a luck is bad mentality (along with a blindness to the fact that random card pulls or random tile pulls usally involve more luck than rolling a six sided die.

For a movement that celebrates their intellectualism, they sure seem opposed to analysis. I wish that there was a group of Euro players who were doing what the AT group are doing, so that I could understand Euro games better and make better purchases.

Incidentally, as I've found the advice of Euro gamers unreliable, I wouldn't mind feedback on whether Power Grid, Bohnanza, and Mission Red Planet are worth buying. Also is Caylus really that bad? I like PR if that's any guidance.

Ken Bradford said...

I haven't played Bohnanza, but we've played 2 player Al Cabohne and I enjoyed it. It's silly, relatively quick, and has a few mean but indirect gameplay elements that still let you screw with your opponent.

Power Grid gets the highest praise wherever it goes, truly the shining example of a crossover hit with staying power.

Mission: Red Planet I haven't tried but I'm pretty fond of Faidutti's designs, so I'm guessing I'd like that one too. Heck, I even liked Draco and Co.


Fellonmyhead: Man, you are really cooking. I think you're on to something I didn't even think of touching on: larger decision trees.

Usually this is due to theme granting players lots of addtional actions. Let's compare to Ra--I can draw a tile, or call a bid. That's pretty much it. In War of the Ring, the order that I spend my action dice is completely up to me; each die can be used for a selection of different actions (a character die moving all the different Fellowship character, moving the Fellowship itself, playing an event card with a character icon, or moving an army led by a Fellowship character); and each action can be carried out different ways (moving an army to one territory as opposed to another).

There is structure there, but also much more chaos than you'd find in a more rigidly structured Euro. Take Verrater; you choose the roles, you play your cards, you enact the roles, determine the results, and repeat. You have only a few decision points each turn and they occur at exactly the same intervals turn after turn.

Fellonmyhead said...

Julian, you're wrong on at least two counts.

First, the Euro-crowd are not against intelligent discussion; this misconception is perhaps due to how BGG looks these days. For years I have seen folk in other groups discuss how they no longer have any interest in BGG because of the low signal-to-noise ratio - in other words the Euro-intelligentsia left long before any recent episodes (and those that still lurk only pop up now and again to help out people and try to avoid the myriad pointless discussions about elegance/meeples.

Secondly, there is a group such as this one which concentrates on Euros. There's not much in-your-face discussion going on over there, but intelligent analysis, reviews, views and so on can be seen there all the time. Of course, it's been around a long time and dates from before weblogs reached any sort of popularity; so it's a simple forum with a simple format. Spielfrieks; concentrates on "German games" (aka "Euros").

As for advice on Euros, I am quite happy to give it where I can (even if this isn't the place). I like Power Grid a lot; but it is very mechanical and can feel rather dry so now and again I put it to bed for a while. Bohnanza is a fun, short card game about trading and planting beans (sounds naff, but the game is a riot - especially with the right kind of participants ). Caylus is a little over the top, but it grew on me.

Actually I have written about at least two of those over on my blog (accessible from my profile) - and blogs about Euros you should never be short on, so F:A is perhaps not the place to discuss.

Julian said...

Fellonmyhead

Thanks for all the feedback. I agree that Fortress Ameritrash is not the place for Euro recommendations, so I'm glad to have guidance on places to go.

I'm still thinking about your observation about complex decision trees. Its quite brilliant.

Thanks for the help.

ubarose said...

I’m going to go way out on a limb and make a sweeping generalization. In my mind I feel that I can classify a large portion of games by identifying the game’s closest relative.

Ameritrash: If a game’s closest relative is war games, role playing games, craps or poker, you’re probably playing an Ameritrash game.

Eurogame: If a game’s closest relative is chess, go, bridge or rummy, you are probably playing a Eurogame.

For me, the interesting discussion begins with the games whose closest relative is not as easy to identify, or isn’t one of these above eight.

TheRankO said...

Wow -- Ubarose nailed it.

A buddy of mine once forwarded a tongue-in-cheek theory that Eurogames are just some holdover Axis project from World War II.

Fellonmyhead said...

I don't know Ken; I think what I was saying was more about effect than cause.

In AT games there is often no decision tree as such, or rather there isn't a fixed one. The tree evolves at a much greater rate than that of a Euro, which is probably confined inside a particular model and will not violate the integrity of that model.

That doesn't mean there is nothing (or less) to decide in your average Euro it just means the decision tree won't grow a great deal(Bonsai decision tree, I suppose).

Back to my A&A example: If I have a choice of several regions to attack with my German army, but it boils down to just two after initial analysis I might choose to open up the Eastern front and ignore the other, expand into allied North Africa and ignore the other, or do both. But while I am only faced with two branches I can't see what branches off from them until I take them. Thus the decision to attack the USSR might take me to Moscow, allow Soviet forces through my back door, ensure North Africa remains under allied control or all (or none) of the above.

If this were a Euro there would undoubtedly be more certainty as to where the branches will lead. Thus, a good player in Ra will know if he lets the current set of tiles through to the next player, he will not gain the last bid and thus will not gain the best chance of gaining that flood tile he needs. He can see all of the branches, and it's simply (well, not quite "simply") a matter of which one is chosen by each player in succession that will determine if he gets the result he is after.

So I think the tree thing is close, but the way I see it, it's more a matter of how the tree is presented and perceived in both game types.

Wargamer66 said...

"First, the Euro-crowd are not against intelligent discussion; this misconception is perhaps due to how BGG looks these days. For years I have seen folk in other groups discuss how they no longer have any interest in BGG because of the low signal-to-noise ratio - in other words the Euro-intelligentsia left long before any recent episodes (and those that still lurk only pop up now and again to help out people and try to avoid the myriad pointless discussions about elegance/meeples."

Euro-Intelligentsia? You have to be kidding. C'mon, who are these people who meddle in the affairs of the little folk like gods on Olympus?

This cult of personality stuff is really a thing among eurogamers, whats up with that?

Quit drinking the Kool-Aid Fellonmyhead, i'll bet if I sat down one of those Euro-Gods and yourself, you would give me advice on game purchases that are just as good and valid as any Tastemaker (as Barnes puts it) around.

robartin said...

I don't think your typical AT fan thinks to himself, "Gee, I sure love Dungeonquest's decision tree. It's really big." That's not what it's about.

Eurogamers talk mechanics, Ameritrashers talk story. That is the fundamental difference.

BagpipeDan said...

Eurogamers talk mechanics, Ameritrashers talk story. That is the fundamental difference.

I'm gonna give a double amen to that one.

Shellhead said...

And not only do AmeriTrashers talk story, but the story is a lively one, full of action and drama. To the extent that Euros have a narrative at all, it's extremely static and limited. "I built a nice building" or "I delivered the goods more efficiently than the competition" or "I outbid the others by two." These are not entertaining stories, not even by corporate standards. Bleah.

Anonymous said...

I'm an oldschool gamer. Started with wargames and have pretty much played all types of games. Was out of the hobby for years and upon getting back into it am pleased to see many types of games fitting my description of what I see folks calling "Ameritrash". Here are the qualities of a good "Ameritrash" game.

Shooting/stabbing/punching
Trash talking
Nice playing pieces
Plays well with booze - not overly complex.

robartin said...

Here are the qualities of a good "Ameritrash" game.

Shooting/stabbing/punching
Trash talking
Nice playing pieces
Plays well with booze - not overly complex.


Brilliant.

Michael Barnes said...

Yep, that pretty much sums it up...of course, what classifies as "overly complex" might be an issue here...

I'd also add that the game makes you say "hell fuckin' yeah" instead of "Oh my, how clever".

rayito2702 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fellonmyhead said...

wargamer66:
This cult of personality stuff is really a thing among eurogamers, whats up with that?

Actually, it's a throwback to the whole wargamer/grognard thing - but you'd know that as you call yourself one.

Sorry, I am not biting - if you've got nothing useful to contribute, why bother?

Professor Euro said...

Ahem... Well... Yes, on the one hand yes, of course, but on the other, no, no, not really, not at all.

It's all a matter of paradigm, really. You see, we here in Eurosnootia believe that a game should be designed with a focus on solid mechanics, elegant, yet mathmatically interesting play options, and, of course, balanced sides. You know, the IMPORTANT parts of a game. Oh, certainly, we do of course "dress it up" a bit, give it some nice colorations, perhaps a picture of a hippopatomus or something for the children, but it's the MECHANICS that make the game!

You Americans design games the same way you design cars: an emphasis on bluster and bravado, angry rams emblazoned on grinning metal grills, faux humvees for overprotective mothers, gigantic gas guzzling trucks for suburban weekend warriors who spray the beds with a fiberglass protection and refuse to help anyone move; but you cut corners when it comes to what really matters: craftsmanship; reliability; well built, efficient engines.

Your games and your cars simply don't work that well. Oh, certainly, there's an initial rush when you take it out of the box and see all the sparkly parts, but that rush is mitigated right into oblivion when you actually try to play the damn thing and see what a mess it really is!

And then you wonder why the game companies that produce your precious "trash" (Avalon Hill, Eagle, etc,) inevitably fall by the way side, much like the once great American car companies of yore... How's Chrysler doing, by the by? Oh, a shame. Not even German igenuity could save it this time, you lot screwed it up so badly. Tut, tut, tut.

An earlier post aligned the Ameritrash aesthetic with the old He-Man cartoons, and I quite agree: candy colored crap for kids. Now run along, the adults wish to play a real game.

BagpipeDan said...

And then you wonder why the game companies that produce your precious "trash" (Avalon Hill, Eagle, etc,) inevitably fall by the way side

You're right, the only companies who become titans of the industry are Ameritrash companies. Good observation!

Professor Euro said...

Titans, yes, overthrown and imprisoned beneath the earth by their superiors!

Anonymous said...

I think we're painting Ameritrash with too broad a brush - it sounds like we're going for "if it ain't a Euro, and ain't a hybrid, it's Ameritrash." Ameritrash deserves it's own definition that doesn't simply encompass everything else.

I think Luck should go. Nearly every Euro has a luck element in some form or other, and while there's an argument that AT games have "more" luck, it's not so much that it deserves it's own category.

Production should go as well. Some of the commonly listed AT games have crap production values, and what first set Euros apart was the excellent production values. It may be worth noting instead either Chrome or Miniatures.

I think player interaction is also problemmatic, regardless of metagame perspective or not. Most Euros would arguably have superior player interaction.

I would recommend:
1. Theme and Narrative. I think this is the most important one.

2. Conflict (though maybe it's more appropriate to say Direct Conflict or Domination).

3. Chrome, especially miniatures and/or tons of Bits (often in the form of lots of cards or chits).

An Ameritrash game would have all of the above 3 items.

We could also develop a good list of, say, 10 common attributes, a majority of which present in one game would suggest it was AT.

David (published anonymously only 'cause I'm too lazy to set up an account).

Different anonymous said...

Agreed, theme and narrative seem to be the most important Ameritrash characteristics. With Euros, you easily forget the theme once you start playing and concentrate on points and resource optimization.

I think the Ameritrash label is pretty useful. Like someone else said, I used to think of Ameritrash as "light wargames," but it's nice to have a label that includes light wargames as well as adventure boardgames (Heroquest etc.) and other stuff not fitting the wargame label.

And there is a difference between the consim style wargame and Ameritrash. I know players that wouldnt touch the consim stuff but love the less complex (and usually less historical) Ameritrash.

Mr Skeletor said...

Incidentally, as I've found the advice of Euro gamers unreliable, I wouldn't mind feedback on whether Power Grid, Bohnanza, and Mission Red Planet are worth buying. Also is Caylus really that bad? I like PR if that's any guidance.

Power Grid is a very good game worth owning.
Bohnanza is the best game I found to play with non gamers. I have yet to play this with anyone who has not really enjoyed it. I highly recommend it.
Never played Red Planet or Caylus so I can't comment on those.

Back on topic, I think trying to define AT in such a detailed manner is akin to pushing shit uphill. That being said this thread has been excellent. I still say the broad brush definitions are best though, such as the one at the geek (sorry, forgot who came up with it) and Umbarose's. When you try and get to the nitty gritty it just falls apart, just like trying to define "sex".
Oh and Professor Euro is a fucking champion. I do suspect it's really Hugh incognito though ;)

Anonymous said...

robartin may be right in that eurogamers talk mechanics and ameritrashers story, but that's certainly not the case with the games themselves.

Especially in the case of older ameritrash games, mechanics are purposefully made opaque and pushed to the forefront. Dice, cards and a shitload of bits aren't considered dirty or shameful in ameritrash. They are celebrated in all their fiddly glory. Eurogames, on the other hand, are all about hiding mechanics during actual play. They're about flow and what eurosnoots call elegance (mechanical transparency is probably a better term).

The art world is filled with examples of similar conflicts between the opaque and the transparent. When photography "obsoleted" realism in paintings, we got modern art with all its cubism, dadism and expressionism. The focus was shifted from the content to the medium itself.

lemon

Alan Polak said...

Good debate so far. Nice to see the anonymous crowd have the usual to add to ANY debate. ANYWAY I am digging this whole discussion and want to throw this out there. I agree it’s in our nature to want to categorise things so I started looking at the way other things are categorised; mainly books. Different books fall into different genres. It’s how bookstores get you to buy more stuff when they put the books that are alike all together. How do they do it? I worked for years in the book trade and can tell you that there is no rhyme or reason to where most books get put. Obviously some are no brainers. Agatha Christie is mystery/crime right? The Lord of the Rings is fantasy right? Or is it? There are a lot of books that don’t fit so neatly into one category over the other and some that exist in both quite happily; Harry Potter is read by kids but by adults too, this is why it’s put in fiction and the kids section. The Lord of the Rings, is it fantasy or Literature? The list is almost endless. Books are happy to do this. Music is the same. Is Prince R&B or is he pop/rock? The store by me thinks he’s the latter. I think he’s a bit of both; sometimes on the same album, hell, sometimes in the same song. It’s the same with games. It’s not easy to come up with a foolproof way of deciding what Ameritrash is. Some are obvious titles; I can’t see anyone objecting to Doom or Twilight Imperium. Or are they? Some would say that conflict, which in TI’s case most would see as military conflict i.e. warfare, is such a small part of the game that it doesn’t count as one of Ken's, excellent by the way, list of things that make it AT. It is possible to win at TI using political and economic means to achieve victory. Some people think Doom is a wargame. So is it really AT? I would still say yes on both btw. Thing is the guy down the road may not agree with me. So what’s the point here? Well I think that some titles are gonna give people problems when it comes to defining them. That’s just the way it is. Lord of the Rings Confrontation? I mean we could be here all day coming up with exceptions or multiple genre games. I do think this is an interesting debate though so I’m not for a second suggesting I have any solid answers to this. Personally I agree with all those who spoke about the story aspect of these games. If I enjoyed the narrative of the game as it occurred, the events of the game as story not mathematical formulas and probabilities, then chances are I’ll play it again and defend it as a good game if people start slating it. We like what we like right? Some of us never wonder why we like what we like (hello Misters Anonymous). We just blindly and anonymously tell others that they’re wrong. I would like to think a better way would be with reason and debate. So back to you....

Patrick H said...

Well I'll chime in here again. AT can be more described by the experience rather than the mechanics. There is certainly strategy however any old grognard can tell you that both euro's and AT games are "beer and pretzel" games. The difference is that typically in an AT game you are cursing and laughing much more and periodically sending the latest victim to the fridge for more drinks with insults in tow. The euro games I have had so far are much more subdued as they are attempting to appeal to a different crowd.

During a game of "Arkadia" I had recently my comments of " Oh shit, you'll pay for that!" were generally not well received. This is a new group I joined that are solely into euro's and card games. It was a different experience and not at all like the wargaming/AT gaming I had done for years. It's not a bad thing but just not my bag. There is a certain enjoyment in breaking alliances, backstabbing, crushing the weak, attrition and submission.

You can dress up just about any game mechanic in the right theme and end up with either an AT or euro game. It depends on your target audience.

Does anyone take Christian Metal seriously? You could easily make a Carcassonne expansion with cavalry and pikeman meeples but would it sell? What is the target audience? You could call it the siege of Carcassonne where meeples are removed from play for each turn under siege due to starvation. I could run with this but no one who truly enjoys this game would go for it.

In a nutshell AT games are like most in trying to achieve balance along with player interaction. But like I said earlier there are certain qualities that make a good AT game.

Shooting/stabbing/punching
Trash talking
Nice playing pieces
Plays well with booze - not overly complex.

And of course the "Fuck Yeah, in your face!" fun.

Tide of Iron - I will classify this as "Amerigrogtrash". Bring it on.

Ken Bradford said...

Ha! I'm imagining a somber group of gamers looking at you in stunned silence after you said, "Oh shit, you'll pay for that!"

Fellonmyhead said...

I'm not being funny, but the eurogamers you lot encounter sound like right killjoys and nothing like the eurogamers I play games with.

Is this just a cultural thing (I'm in Britain) or are you fellows just not experiencing enough of your fellow gamers?

All these characteristics you describe as only occurring in AT games are prevalent in Euros (even the not overly-complex bit); so it has to be the players and not the game that are the spoilsports for you.

Sure, I meet serious gamers everywhere but that isn't exclusive to Euros (I have a little anecdote about how I never got to learn how to play Pinochle because of one such player - another story for another time). But I see where youse are coming from; the type of game your typical AT game is positively encourages that behaviour.

ubarose said...

All these characteristics you describe as only occurring in AT games are prevalent in Euros (even the not overly-complex bit); so it has to be the players and not the game that are the spoilsports for you.

I think that you are correct that who you play with can make or break a game. We had to make a rule in our neighborhood that Attika could only be played if children were out of earshot, due to the amount of swearing that goes on. That said, I have found that many Euros, particularly those with a VP mechanic, result in silent games with very little social interaction due the fact that people spend most of the game crunching numbers in their head.

Wow, I just realized one of the reasons I like Mission: Red Planet and Attika : No number crunching and lots of trash talking. But don't like Cleopatra and the Society of Accountants or Torres: Games played in silence while every one adds points in their heads over and over again.

Patrick H said...

Don't get me wrong, this wasn't so much a cultural ( I live in Montreal Quebec and the crowd was as diverse as you'll find in North America )as a gaming culture difference. My comments were more met with that tolerant look and smile while one hand is reaching under the table for the panic button.

It was funny when I asked for a few D6's to toss in order to attack the yellow worker who just blocked my building. I think I ruffled sensitivities with the suggestion that we should introduce mafia style theme into this game. I mean doesn't everyone know that payoff's, shakedowns, intimidation and union control are as much a part of construction as concrete?

I thought the tan workers were thugs?

Just kidding.

Nice group of people and I'll go back to try more euro games but I started to understand the difference everyone was talking about. My copy of Fortress America (with the Saddam cover) that I brought along stayed in the car and will not make the next trip.

Malloc said...

Ok Prof. EG ... lets see.



You see, we here Eurosnootia believe... You know, the IMPORTANT parts of a game.


Right so play balance to the point where the game itself maintains that balance, not the players. Replacing the Fun of playing a game with the "Fun" of letting a gsame play you.


but it's the MECHANICS that make the game!

Its the Mechanics that make any game, The Problem is that Eurogames only focus on a few mechanics, Tile laying, Auctions and aera control. While Ignoring mechanics like direct player interaction, random elements, and player elimination.

Euro's are like Taco Bell, its the same 5 fucking ingredients mixed up in different orders.


You Americans design games the same way you design cars:...
Your games and your cars simply don't work that well.


Cute, but not true. American games work at least as well as
the average Euro game.
They just give more freedom to the player to manage events. Freedom, you know liberty... Its a fading concept in a socialist leaning europe but the idea is that the player is responcible for winning the game not the game itself. How many euro games have artificial reign in the leader mechanics built in.

"No no Dieter, don't worry about sucking at this game you still have a 50% chance to win in the final auction round. "


the adults wish to play a real game.


Yes games about trading goods in Italy and building castles for the King are oh soooo Adult.

This is perhaps the most asinine statement I have ever seen posted about Eurogamers.

(And yes I got the sarcasm.)

-M

Michael Barnes said...

Euro's are like Taco Bell, its the same 5 fucking ingredients mixed up in different orders.

Likely the best statement ever made about Eurogames.

And much like Taco Bell's promotion of "Fourthmeal", to encourage already morbidly obese people to eat a fourth time each day, Euros also promote a similar gluttony- keep buyin' them 45 minute games you'll play twice and you'll see what I mean.

Regarding Professor Euro's statement about "adult" games...that is probably the single most ironic thing about the Eurosnoot mindset...AT-style games are regarded as childish or somehow immature but those bastards love everything from TICKET TO RIDE to LOOPIN' LOUIE- and those are _clearly_ children's games, designed specifically for children.

Patrick H said...

The short play time is perhaps the most redeeming feature of these games. Despite all of the complaints I'd rather play Zombies!! for 2 hours over attempting to mastermind the business of trading and building in the same time frame.

Crumb said...

I just want to say that "the premier boardgaming site" needs more Euro fans like professor euro. Seems like he can take it AND dish it out. :) Rock on!

jr said...

"I have found that many Euros... result in silent games with very little social interaction due the fact that people spend most of the game crunching numbers in their head."

I have found this also. These types of Euros appear to be designed to be quiet games, where you are busy calculating your next move even when it isnt your turn, just to keep the downtime manageable. (Or you could just play more casually, but my player groups usually dont.)

And it is the worst kind of downtime in these Euros: analytical downtime. You cant talk because you will distract the player who is taking his turn. If you've finished figuring out what you will do on your next turn, you just sit there, bored.

Ameritrash games have more interesting downtime, because the player who is going is often DOING stuff, not just thinking. It's more fun to watch someone rolling dice and move their pieces, than it is to watch them sit there and think over their options.

Fellonmyhead said...

Michael Barnes:

Regarding Professor Euro's statement about "adult" games...that is probably the single most ironic thing about the Eurosnoot mindset...AT-style games are regarded as childish or somehow immature but those bastards love everything from TICKET TO RIDE to LOOPIN' LOUIE- and those are _clearly_ children's games, designed specifically for children.

Considering we all have to cope with outsiders (i.e. people who generally don't play games except with their children) I find this very hard to believe. I've met people who turn down particular games because there are too few decisions, too little control and so forth, yet they go on to play games such as Igel Ärgern or Flying Carpet.

Both of those were undoubtedly designed for the family market, yet these gamers who are very particular about what they play do not cast them aside as "childish"; such criticism is beneath them, not the games themselves.

The real reason a lot of Eurogamers avoid particular games is because the way those games work just doesn't appeal to them; you're just going to have to accept the truth - it's probably the one thing every AT'er has in common with every Eurogamer.

The way things are looking around here, I would be able to show you half a dozen AT'ers with this cynical, snobbish attitude for every one eurogamer that has it (and I'm being generous with that ratio). Sorry, guys; as much as I'm prepared to listen to a lot of what you seem to find fault with in Euros this escalated bitching process proves only that you do a lot of bitching (about nothing).

Michael Barnes said...

The way things are looking around here, I would be able to show you half a dozen AT'ers with this cynical, snobbish attitude for every one eurogamer that has it (and I'm being generous with that ratio).

The difference, Fellonmyhead, is that I think those dozen ATers would realize how ludicrous it is to engage in any kind of serious "snobbery" related to games...sure, I take shots at some gamers' choice of games but ultimately, what does it matter? Not a god damned thing. But I do get entertainment out of seeing folks try to defend their choices as more "mature" and "sophisticated"- like that stupid flying carpet game- simply because they weren't produced by a US-based mass market company.

Regardless of the fact that I _do_ appreciate your comments and challenges...do I need to point out the irony that it's _you_ who are contributing the atmosphere of bitching here more than anyone else?

As far as that one Eurogamer with the snobbish attitude...can it be Natus? He keeps saying we like games marketed to teenage boys and that hurts my feelings. :-(

Fellonmyhead said...

Michael Barnes

...do I need to point out the irony that it's _you_ who are contributing the atmosphere of bitching here more than anyone else?


The irony is that I'm bitching about bitching; if I was just bitching it wouldn't be ironic, would it? Nice to see some of you Spams* are finally grasping the concept, though.

Naturally I have taken all your other points on board; even though I doubt anyone has defended Flying Carpet as anything other than what it is (a mass-marketed family game, possibly better produced than most). It's good to know you have feelings - is it true all Eurogamers simply have logic?

*slang term for "Americans"; I've heard nice and not-so-nice versions of its etymology - I assure you I use it in the nicest possible sense.

Michael Barnes said...

C'mon 'Head...don't pull any punches, let us dirtbag imperialist yanks have it..."Spams" is pretty good though...

The irony is that I'm bitching about bitching; if I was just bitching it wouldn't be ironic, would it?

This is why I like you. Wanna play stuffed animal parade?

Clarissimus said...

American games . . . give more freedom to the player to manage events. Freedom, you know liberty... Its a fading concept in a socialist leaning europe but the idea is that the player is responcible for winning the game not the game itself. How many euro games have artificial reign in the leader mechanics built in.

An excellent point, and one of the reasons I don't care for Power Grid. How much fun is a game that penalizes success? It should be the competing players that gang up on the leader, not the game that hamstrings him.

And if you disagree, you're a traitorous pinko :p

robartin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael Barnes said...

I think what's worse than "reign in the leader" meechanics are the games that reward players simply for following the rules/procedure rather than rewarding successful strategy/planning/risk management resulting in games where even stumbling newbies can feel competitive.

Case in point- PILLARS OF THE EARTH. As long as you take your turn, you'll get just about as many points as every other player. The game is built around incrementally increasing productivity until the last quarter of the game when a player manages to squeak ahead to win by a couple of points.

I've seen time and time again the Euro crowd complain about games where players "beat up on the leader"- witness Greg Schloesser's review of VENUS NEEDS MEN*. I've never understood what's elementally WRONG about that. If someone is winning the game and the best I can do to challenge them is to plunk down a masterbuilder on a space before they can then the game fails as a competition altogether as far as I'm concerned.

(*-Attention publishers- if you feel that your game might be remotely described as AT, or if they have dice at all- DON'T SEND THEM TO FOLKS WHO ARE GOING TO MAKE PASSIVELY NEGATIVE COMMENTS AND AFFECT THE SALES OF YOUR GAME! Instead, send them to "Michael Barnes, C/O Fortress Ameritrash...")

Ken Bradford said...

Yah, CC me on that too, game publishers. Christian Petersen, you listening?

Tom Vasel said...

I still find it fascinating that I'm included in with the [idiotic label] Eurosnoot [/idiotic label] crowd. I'm even a public enemy of guys who have never even made an attempt to communicate with me!

I think one of the problems with this movement is the constant degradation of Eurogames and the people who play them. I certainly understand that a certain snootiness can exude from those who play games that folks call "elegant". Really, Chess and Go players are often the snootiest of all!

But that elite feeling doesn't simply eminate from Eurogamers, you can also find it at Consimworld from the wargamers, at miniature sites from those gamers, etc. And now you are starting to feel it from this blog here.

What I feel is happening is that this movement isn't a celebration of a type of games, but more of a retaliation against Eurogames. You are lumping a TON of games into a genre that simply could be redefined as "Not Euro". Even Euro games are often maligned unfairly, shoved into a stereotype. The same people who complain about "boring", quiet games are the same ones who say Power Grid is a good game. Sure, some Eurogames are boring and analytical. Some American games are luck based. But to shoehorn them into a genre based on what they are NOT seems ridiculous. Let's look at my favorite games, and see how I would classify them.

Duel of Ages: Hybrid of wargame, RPG, and CCG.

Battlelore/Memoir: Light wargame

Cosmic Encounter: Negotiation game

Liberte: Eurogame

Wallenstein: Hybrid euro/war game

Twilight Imperium 3: Empire building game

Dungeon Twister: Hybrid abstract/battle game

Ticket to Ride: Eurogame

Railroad Tycoon: Train game

Heroscape: Miniatures game

Really, to try and classify them into sweeping, broad generalizations seem awfully stunted to me. Yet doing so seems fine, as long as you aren't criticizing the games that don't "make it into the category."

And to those who think Eurogamers are emotionally drained, you certainly must be playing with the wrong people. I've had a great time playing all kinds of games - it all depends on who I'm playing with.

I think that this movement would do better to focus on why the games they like are so good, rather than why the other games are so bad. Currently, I'm still getting the "American games are anything that aren't Eurogames" vibe. That seems too broad, and too divisive.

Mr Skeletor said...

I don't think you can call Natus a Eurogamer. He is a wargamer if anything.
Also I should get the free FFG shit. Because I'm the best. Ken you can get Steve Jackson's wank. Barnes can have any new AH stuff (hahaha!)

But that elite feeling doesn't simply eminate from Eurogamers, you can also find it at Consimworld from the wargamers, at miniature sites from those gamers, etc. And now you are starting to feel it from this blog here.

Starting? I think the elitism (at least from some of us) has been here since day 1.
But I can't help that I want to kill all Euros.

TheRankO said...

And here I was thinking that Fortress: Ameritrash was the one place Tom Vasel would never post...

sigh...

Michael Barnes said...

Hey, at least he didn't ask for money ...

Ken Bradford said...

Tom,

I appreciate your comments. For the record, I do not personally have an "Archenemies" list. And no person who lavishes such praise on "Duel of Ages" could possibly be a hardcore 'Eurosnoot'. I personally think you've done a lot for the hobby, even if you do give the reviews the ol' soft shoe sometimes. But that's not because you're trying to get free games; I think it's because you're a nice guy (and I've said as much on other BGG forums).

What I'm trying to do--and I can only speak for myself, but I think this is a shared sentiment--*is* celebrate this type of game. That's why I'm looking for a common vernacular, a point of reference, so that fans of this type of game have that grouping. Euros took a long time to get that following, that "brotherhood", if you will, and if nothing else I'm envious--I want that for American-style game fans, too!

(If for no other reason than to have more "friends" to stick the knife in during a game of Twilight Imperium!)

You say that trying to classify the genre is "stunting"--this is a criticism that I don't understand. You say that lots of games are getting lumped into the Euro group--but this was not done by us! This was done years before this "movement" (as it were) was even a twinkling in the eye of anyone.


I don't bash Euros, honest. Well...okay...I do bash the drier ones, they just aren't my bag. But personally, I've got a lot of respect for Knizia as anyone who knows me is well aware, and I have a mean San Juan addiction that the AI version is only making worse. I've become a mean, purple-building super-efficient 12-building machine, what can I say?


The thing is...Euros have that community there already to welcome these games, to lavish praise on them, to accept and embrace them. This community took years to form. I'd like to see us be able to do the same thing. It's not meant to be "divisive"...we all play games of all kinds. We may prefer a certain type, but most of us are capable of enjoying just about any GOOD game out there. That's subjective, of course, but most of us don't have blinders on to a certain genre of games when it comes to finding something that we will enjoy.


As for the "wrong crowd" or a game being a bad fit--that's a good point. We played Draco and Co. at work with a girl from the office and she turned that light game into an over 1-hour AP mess. Seriously, a few of her turns were five minutes long! But this was just a case of a game being a bad fit; we've played tons of others with her and didn't have this problem. Just...something about a random game with a thieving and drinking theme brought out the Kasparov in her. Looking back, I think the problem was she doesn't have the same CCG background as my brother and I do--we're used to looking at cards and quickly assimilating a ton of game text...I'm guessing that just reading and retaining what each and every card did slowed down the mental gears to someone not used to thinking that way.


Anyway, thank you for the feedback, I'm glad you gave us a look despite the animosity that's been out there as of late.


I was hoping that this discussion would give us our "Eureka!" moment, but I'm still left with the idea that Ameritrash is more of an artistic aesthetic than anything that can be concretely defined. This is compounded by the fact that people come at these games with such radically different viewpoints. Take Memoir '44...some would call it a wargame, but wargamers lament the lightness, slight Euro-fication, and lack of control. Some would call it Ameritrash, but that seems to pigeonhole the label back to the "light wargame" category (which may or may not be appropriate at this point, I don't know.)

Like I said, we can definitely say it's not a Euro...and why is that? Because German-style games have had a ton of focus over the past 10+ years. I've read about the same struggles that Euros went through--even arriving at the commonly used term "Euros" instead of "Designer Games" or "German Games".

The term Euro is VERY broad, and this was not by our creation. We're looking for a new category of games to catch those that don't fit into either Euro or Wargame.


As for Dungeon Twister...shhh, you're trying to muscle in on Part III.

ubarose said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ubarose said...

I've tried really hard to stay clear of the mudslinging, but I have a couple of things I have wanted to say for months.

1. Steve Week's trip is his own trip.

2. Yes, many of the people who are posting here have mocked Eurogames and Eurosnoots. But they have also made just as many jokes about AT games and AT gamers. Look around, see the funny.

Here are the qualities of a good "Ameritrash" game.

Shooting/stabbing/punching
Trash talking
Nice playing pieces
Plays well with booze

We can laugh at ourselves. Laugh with us or go away.

3. No one here is saying all Euros Suck (except for maybe Mr. Skeletor *wink*) What people have been saying for months is that the rulers that many of the gamers on the internet, in the game stores, in our game groups, have been using to measure games, aren't our rulers. We have finally found others who share our tastes. By talking about what we LIKE AND WHAT WE DISLIKE, we all have a better chance at finding games that we enjoy, instead of shoving money down a rat hole on games that sound good on paper, but disappoint on the table.

That is all. I will now go back to biting my tongue and rolling my eyes.

Ken Bradford said...

Yeah, it's a bit hard to take ourselves too seriously when we have an article comparing AT to He-Man. (That article was hilarious).

Really, if someone were to come to this blog with no context they'd think we want a plastic-laden light wargame with duck hunters and their crapping donkey mounts locked in battle with Terminators riding dinosaurs.

Julian said...

Ken,

That sounds like the best game ever! I hope Christian Petersen is listening.

Michael Barnes said...

It's nice for Tom to deign to post here and all, but frankly his comments are about the most clueless things I've read on this blog to date.

I get a strong sense that he really hasn't followed the AT phenomenon at all and knows it chiefly for its reputation. I also get a sense that he's ignorant of the fact that a big part of the AT mindset is often humored hatefulness and comedic curmudgeonry. The usual ephemeral charges that we "hate all Eurogames", are "divisive", and in league with Steve Weeks further indicate how out of touch he seems to be. "You're out of your league here Donny".

Further, his attempts at translating the typical finger-waggling "you guys should do it our way" pedantry that has done more harm to BGG than anything an AT badge holder ever posted over to F:AT is pretty sad. I don't need Tom Vasel to tell me how I should quantify or categorize games no more than I need to tell him that DUEL OF AGES would suck if it were printed on golden paper and inked with silver moonlight.

But at any rate, glad to have his opinion here- that's one thing I believe we have in spades here over other sites. We might think your opinion is just short of holocaust denial and attack it as such, but it's absolutely welcome and appreciated if you're willing to stick it out there.

Let's donate!

Malloc said...

Tom,

It is nice to see that you are stopping in every once and a while.

Thanks for the post and it is not without valid points.

The one that I think is most important, and that we as a group should not ignore is that regardless of how much some of us state that we are not just anti-euro game, the overwhelming impression by those not reading every post is exactly that.

I will point the finger a bit a the ultimate podcast. I think Steve does a good job with the show, it can be funny but he drives the whole "at war" thing better than the Bush Administration. In my mind there is no war, I am not so sure there is even a movement, just a bunch of gamers who like a style of game that is not favored by a mojority of gamers on BGG.

My goal is to raise awareness of these types of games, I guess in a way Steve has done exactly this, however I think he also painted us as a bunch of assholes who just want to piss off anyone who is not with us.

-M

TheRankO said...

I have to butt in here: "lame" is a generous way to describe Vasel's post.

For one, the admonishing conclusion makes no sense: "Currently, I'm still getting the 'American games are anything that aren't Eurogames' vibe." That statement is just moronic: American games arent' Eurogames. And no one is talking strictly about "American games" on this site -- this site is about defining, discussing, and celebrating Ameritrash. Anyone too squeamish to use the term -- a term he's publicly denounced -- should proselytize at another site.

For another thing, isn't categorizing one's favorite games by genre "classifying them into sweeping, broad generalizations" in and of itself? Someone could potentially disagree with every one of those categories. Why not categorize Ticket to Ride as a train game? It's about trains, for crying out loud. Hardcore miniature gamers would go into convulsions at the idea of including Heroscape in that category. And don't forget that the term "Eurogame" itself hasn't always been so universally embraced.

I also fail to see how "categorizing" by genre is any more "stunting" than, say, a Top 100 Games list. And did I understand him to say said categorizing is bad -- but acceptable as long as there's no criticism involved? Not only is it illogical -- that statement is unbelievably naive and, well, reactionary. Criticism and satire are a part of the world -- and they have their place in gaming, as well.

Professor Pac-Man said...

Tunnels are an excellent way to avoid any untimely chomping mishaps.

robartin said...

Tunnels are an excellent way to avoid any untimely chomping mishaps.

Great, thanks for that. Now how about some Rubik's Cube tips? I've been trying to solve mine since 1980...

Professor Pac-Man said...

I usually just take the !@#!@#$ thing apart and put it back together. Then Junior ate some of the cubes and I had to give him such a thrashin'.

Tom Vasel said...

My apologies for butting into your conversation. I certainly wasn't attempting to stir up controversy. I'll refrain from visiting here - and I want to again apologize, as it wasn't my intent to cause problems.

Julian said...

Looking at the last few posts, it occured to me that the reason why the whole ameritrash/euro war thing has gotten so out of hand is because of a huge cultural difference over Trash Talking. We all love trash talking, and find it funny. But with my very limited experience of euro players they are some of the people who least get trash talking that I've met. I remember in a game of Settlers of Catan doing some trash talking, and trying to extort with the threat of the robber, and that did not go down well.

Unfortunately, we keep trying to trash talk with the euro crowd, and with the exception of a few people like Professor Euro, they take it deadly seriously. First, we jokingly bash euros. They take it seriously, and come back with something nasty. Everyone gets bent out of shape. Tom Vasel thought we all hate Euros in a thread where I had asked for Euro recommendations, and none other than Mr. Skeletor had recommended Power Grid.

There are a ton of examples of this. For instance, when I heard of the Barnes chair throwing incident I decided that somehow or other I was going to have to play board games with that group before I die. Many in the Euro crowd did not get it, and really thought Barnes was a lunatic with an anger management problem.

Weeks is a good example of this. He calls his site the league of untouchable gamers, and I think that a lot of people believe that there is such a league and all the ATers are in it. So far as I know Tom Vasel has posted one more comment on F:AT than Steve Weeks has. No matter how obvious it is that Steve Weeks whole pod cast is a joke, many of the Euro players don't get that, and so can't tell the difference between Steve Weeks and anyone else. They don't get trash talk, and his pod casts are one hour of trash talk. There are just tons of people who take the list of enemies seriously, and so on. For what it's worth I think that Steve Weeks, as ubarose says, trip is his trip.

A lot of Euro gamers just end up filtering out all the trash talk about each other and AT games here and elsewhere. I still think the most effective lampooning of Michael was when Ken wrote a little comment on him as an internet personality somewhere in this blog. And Mr. Skeletor makes fun of AT better than anyone.

Anyway, I think the cultural difference over trash talking is the source of the problem. I wonder what euro gamers would make of me loudly trying to convice all the other players in an Ameritrash game that my girlfriend is evil, and needs to be immediately destroyed. (No doubt they would think that we had the worst relationship in the world.)

Julian said...

Once again my post is rendered irrelevant by the one posted before it while I was writing. But I think it somwhat proves my point. Although, I realise that there was more going on here than just that.

TheRankO said...

Personally, I see no problems or controversy -- just business as usual.

Ken Bradford said...

There's no controversy or problems, Tom--the discussion here is just very open. Note that even though it's wide-open season here, there have been very few personal attacks of any kind, whether against you, or even each other.

I mean, if you want to leave due to the conversation being uncomfortable, that's one thing, and understandable. But otherwise you haven't created any "problems" at all--in fact, you've put some good thoughts out there to discuss.


It isn't "our" discussion--it's EVERYONE'S discussion. That's the point of us being here.

robartin said...

Tom -

I want to point out that you're welcome here just like anyone else is. We don't want this to be an exclusionary or unfriendly site by any means. That said, spirited debate and irreverent trash talking is the norm around here, so be prepared to give like you get! Hope to see you back.

Ken Bradford said...

Yep. If we wanted this to be a private club, it's easy to make a blog invitation only. We're hoping everyone checks this out, to offer viewpoints from all sides. We don't want an "echo chamber". We want discussion, free from the yoke of a looming BGG admin, where we can speak our mind without getting "flagged" or chastised or whatever.

Mr Skeletor said...

My apologies for butting into your conversation. I certainly wasn't attempting to stir up controversy. I'll refrain from visiting here - and I want to again apologize, as it wasn't my intent to cause problems.

This ain't communist Russia, so stop acting like it is. Say whatever the hell you want, stir up whatever you want, challenge whatever ideas you want, but for goodness sake have enough faith in yourself and what you think so as to not immediately apologize just because someone loudly disagrees with you.

Michael Barnes said...

Tom, get over yourself. If you can't handle discussion- including criticism of your position- then don't let the door hit your ass on the way out. Go curl up in your Dice Tower where people keep telling you "Great review!" and you're treated like some kind of saint. Nobody attacked you as a person, your comments weren't nearly as "controversial" as you've tried to retroactively characterize them, and your hyperbolic statement really demonstrates where the divisiveness in this whole issue comes from. Furthermore, to "apologize" for your opinions is one of the most pathetic things you could ever have posted as far as I'm concerned. I'd rather you stuck around because you do articulate your position and I enjoy hearing from those I don't agree with but if you can't be a man and stand up for yourself than what good is _anything_ you say?

Julian is pretty much dead on with his comments about trash talking. I've argued a few times that the AT ideal has as much to do with how certain people play and enjoy games as it does with which titles fit the description and which do not. I like to be loud, have fun, tell everyone at the table that Robert Martin eats kittens and hates the Baby Jesus so don't trade with him...I like to laugh and be laughed at and just really get the most entertainment out of a game as possible.

We've seen over and over again that a large number of Eurogamers just can't grasp any sense of irony or humour- gaming is a serious, "sophisticated" endeavor for them. I can't help but wonder if lasting damage from getting picked on in middle school might be at the heart of the problem. Nonetheless, the inability to comprehend that maybe not everyone has fun the same way and the attendant "snootery" that comes with that needs to be crushed without mercy.

I'm perfectly willing to accept that some folks idea of pure gaming bliss is crunching numbers and saying "I'll go three"...but that ain't my idea. I'd rather talk trash and throw chairs- laughing and smiling the whole time.

Michael Barnes said...

And...just to reiterate...EVERYONE is welcome here, opinions are encouraged, and debate strongly favored over feebly agreeing with each other to generate some sense of ephemeral solidarity.

Professor Solidarity said...

Mike Barnes is RIGHT! I agree!

Lech Walesa said...

I generally consider solidarity to be a good thing.

Julian said...
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TheRankO said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Julian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael Barnes said...

Whoa, how did the BGG admins get in here?

Shellhead said...

Julian had a big double-post of his excellent earlier post about trash-talk. Maybe the other two deleted posts were also double-posts of earlier stuff.

TheRankO said...

Mine was teasing Julian about the double post. It lost its zing once he deleted it...

Jesus of Nazareth said...

Yeah, but how did my post backing up Vasel get axed?

Julian said...

The third post was also mine. I tried to figure out why I'd double posted and accidentally triple posted. Not so good at this technology thing.

Patrick H said...

I just wanted to say that (CENSOR) a loong way towards (CENSOR). IF you can't take a (CENSOR) to the (CENSOR) then you may as well (CENSOR). While we're on this topic I think that (CENSOR) fat (CENSOR) steaming (CENSOR) your skull.

Ah yes freedom to (CENSOR) while you are (CENSOR) with one hand can land you (CENSOR). Ten years is a long time!!

Shellhead said...

Ken: I was hoping that this discussion would give us our "Eureka!" moment, but I'm still left with the idea that Ameritrash is more of an artistic aesthetic than anything that can be concretely defined.

Ken, I still think that there are distintictive differences between AmeriTrash games and Euros and wargames that are worth identifying. It is challenging, because Euros and wargames seem to define the opposite ends of a spectrum, while AmeriTrash tends to fall somewhere near the midpoint of that spectrum. That doesn't mean AmeriTrash games fail to stand out as something different. To argue otherwise is like saying that there is no significant difference between red, green and cyan. Try reading your computer monitor without those colors... notice a difference?

Before the term "EuroGame" became popular, my friends called them "resource management games." Euro players compete to acquire resources, sell resources, trade resources or even build them... but AmeriTrash players (and wargame players) destroy resources. That's a significant difference. Wargames usually offer unbalanced scenarios (rebalanced by the victory conditions) because they are focused on faithfully simulating historical events. While AmeriTrash game might have varying starting positions or even unique abilities for each faction, the games generally allow players to begin with roughly equivalent forces. Many other differences exist, and by talking about specific games, we will be able to identify more of them.

Michael Barnes said...

Look guys, I've had it. It's time to wake up and smell the coffee.

AT is almost more a way of playing and enjoying gamer or a certain type of gamer than any comprehensive list of titles or mechanics...leave that sort of anal retentive quantification to the victims of the BGG OCD epidemic. It's an ideology that yes, does encompass games with certain traits but those traits and those games don't define all this.

For example- Tom Vasel, for all of his chaste, Christian and unconsumated (?) love for DUEL OF AGES will never be an Ameritrasher-why? Because he would like never stand up in the middle of a game of INTRIGE, stick your alchemist on the island, give you the finger and say "Go fuck yourself" in the face of a $50k bribe.

Michael Barnes said...

You know, that's the one thing BGG has on us...you can retroactively edit posts.

Hope you enjoy gamer as much as I do.

Mr Skeletor said...

For example- Tom Vasel, for all of his chaste, Christian and unconsumated (?) love for DUEL OF AGES will never be an Ameritrasher-why? Because he would like never stand up in the middle of a game of INTRIGE, stick your alchemist on the island, give you the finger and say "Go fuck yourself" in the face of a $50k bribe.

Don't agree.

Michael Barnes said...

Me either.

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