Wednesday, 19 September 2007

The Golden Age

A year ago today- September 19th, 2006- a crude nuclear device was detonated at the very heart of the online board gaming community at Boardgamegeek.com. There were many casualties, measured chiefly in wounded and shaken Eurogamer sensibilities, and a breach was opened whereby the glorious Ameritrash games of the past, the present, and future would return to prominence alongside the countless non-confrontational, family friendly Eurogames that had seized control of the hobby for nearly a decade- the era we know now as the Eurogamer Occupation of Hobby Gaming (1996-2006). The incident was a rallying cry for those who never gave up on TALISMAN, DUNE, AXIS & ALLIES and the like in favor of penguin games and train games with rules that could fit on post-it notes. It was a call to put down the meeples and pick up the dice, to beat the plowshares back into swords, to stop bidding and start kicking some god damned ass.

Of course, this act of revolutionary terrorism was disguised as a Geeklist, and that Geeklist was Robert Martin’s “A Tribute to Ameritrash”.

It’s hard to believe now, looking at the current state of the Leading Board Game Site, that something so volatile- as well as vigorous and vital- happened there. It was something different, something that was a lot more meaningful and relevant to the state of the hobby and where it was going than the usual suggestions for “girlfriend games” or “games I like to play” fare that populates a huge percentage of the online discourse there. People who had rarely posted- like myself- suddenly became regular participants in discussions and overnight the conversations became intensely passionate and increasingly irreverent. We talked games the same way we played ‘em and found out that some of us didn’t really belong- or want to belong- in the politically correct, “friendly” society there. It was interesting, exciting, and most of all fun- even if during the course of it all we found out just how deadly serious some people take their boardgaming.

Looking back on it, I think the most thrilling part of watching the aftermath of Robert’s list was seeing people come out of the woodwork to say “Hey, this list made me realize how fed up I am with playing PUERTO RICO every week!” or “This list has helped me find my identity as a gamer- an Ameritrash gamer”. It was also terribly amusing to see the Eurogamers and other Ameritrash detractors wander into the threads and proceed to play directly to the “Eurosnoot” stereotypes we were mocking all along, lobbing personal attacks with enough frequency to somehow completely blind the administration there from taking any action as they lodged their passive-aggressive comments about everything from the Ameritrash name to my avatar. I think the list revealed a lot of things that weren’t really talked about before, like the bias against Ameritrash-style games that had existed from the site’s very beginnings and subtle double standards that existed in a community that had intimate beginnings but had grown to something much larger.

I remember going to a game event sometime late last year as BGG and its old guard of “familiar avatars” were still scrambling to to adjust to a shift in the zeitgeist and a revolutionary change in tone. I heard these guys- none of whom I had ever seen before in my life- talking about how a game they were playing was definitely “Ameritrash”. At that point, I knew that Robert’s list and everything it precipitated had made an impact on board gaming culture. It was a little odd, to be honest, to hear strangers referencing something that was rooted in kind of an in-joke between Robert and I- we had a laugh about this customer of mine who called me an “Ameritrash apologist” and thus the concept for the list was born. That Ameritrash- despite all the dense-headed literalists unable to grasp the concept of irony flustered over the “negative” connotation of the word “trash”- is a significant marker in boardgaming history. That it matters, is significant, and important. Whether you like it or not.

So here we are now a year later and Ameritrash style games are everywhere, and publishers are eager to bring back canonical AT games via high-profile reprints. Thanks to the innovations brought about by Eurogames Ameritrash titles being published today are every bit as good as- and in some cases better than- 20 and 30 year old classics that we still play and love today. Enthusiasm for the latest Alea game or whatever mediocre crap Hans Im Gluck is cranking out for Essen is the lowest it’s been since middle-aged hobbyists gave up on model trains and got into ELFENLAND back in the late 1990s yet excitement over the Fantasy Flight production schedule is high while publishers of games like LAST NIGHT ON EARTH are enjoying great success with hardcore and casual gamers alike. Even at BGG, the front page shows a lot more interest and content related to Ameritrash games than the typical Eurogamer fare. People are still stepping up to voice their frustration with the stagnate state of Eurogame design and more and more people are discovering both new and old AT titles. The Ameritrash badge is everywhere, the games are everywhere and being played by gamers of all persuasions, and despite the desperate “can’t we all just get along” pleas of gamers who foolishly believe that there’s no fundamental difference between a game like NUCLEAR WAR and one like DUCKLING DANCIN’ the Ameritrash genre has come into its own as a permanent fixture of the hobby gaming environment.

So it's a year on from Robert’s list and considering both all that has passed in its wake as well as the direction that our beloved hobby is heading, I have to say that I truly believe that we have witnessed the first year of an Ameritrash Golden Age. Let the nukes fly.

97 comments:

Ken B. said...

Yeah guys, thanks for leaving me hanging for a full year!

;))


Thankfully or no, my attempt to do the same thing with the derogatory term "Ameriplasy" didn't catch on. Probably because I was a n00b when I did the list.


Funny thing is, though, is that this all seemed to lead into an event that was building over time. Even though I was quite new to BGG, my list did get a lot of thumbs and more importantly, a lot of people adding me to their Buddy lists. There was this early vibe of, "Hey! Me too!"

Some of this had to do with the fact that theme-hungry gamers had migrated to CCGs in the 90s, as that was where all the action was. There was no Gamemaster, no GW worth having, and everything else was dry German-style games.

Eagle Games and later FFG saw that void, and as people got burned out on CCGs, those companies were waiting with theme-rich plastic-filled dicefests that were just like the games that gamers like me had been missing all that time. Poor Glenn was plugging away at that market before it had been fully realized...plus, he was out there putting stuff into the market without all the playtesting information we have now. He was trying to bleed cleaner Euro-style gameplay into American games, but these things take time and he took a critical beating from the illuminati at BGG who saw this stuff and looked down their noses at it.

There wasn't an entrenched AT presence there yet, and these games suffered because of that. I only just played Age of Mythology this year and it's quite good. Yeah, it needs the smallest of fixes to the combat system (5s and 6s versus just 6s), but that game is very, very good. You wouldn't know it from some of the reviews and comments from Euro fans back in 2003 that slammed the game HARD just due to this one little problem.

Michael Barnes said...

Good points Ken...you're the Tesla of this operation and Robert's the Marconi.

I think it's an interesting observation that the CCG and miniatures game "bust" really left a lot of gamers who might have migrated to AT-style games in the lurch- I mean, if you're a 16 year old kid who's been weaned on video games and MAGIC: THE GATHERING, are you really going to be interested in playing games like IMPERIAL or PORTOBELLO MARKET? It's a different demographic, and it's really kind of unfortunate for retailers, distributors, and gamers that the emphasis on AT-style games came along a little late to get some of those migrants into board games rather than going straight to WORLD OF WARCRAFT.

And the thing about Eagle Games is that Glenn was both behind the times and ahead of them...if his early stuff had come out in the 80s, they'd be AT classics. If they came out now, they'd likely benefit from smarter, more savvy design. Either way, I always felt bad for the guy watching his creations, his business, and even his person get savaged at BGG. The same thing _was_ happening to Fantasy Flight for awhile, but of course many seem to have forgotten those prejudices were there at BGG.

Ken B. said...

Where does "Five Man Acoustical Jam" fit into all of this?

jon said...

Speaking of nukes, it would be nice to see Supremacy re-released (with some patching, of course; it was far from perfect). Maybe that's what FFG is looking for from Reins of Power, but it seems like the development team is stuck.

As to the thrust of your article, the AT moniker only really makes sense in the cloistered, isolated world of online forums, where I agree the conversation appears (or did appear) one-sided. Kudos to you guys for throwing a wrench into the works. I think everyone's better off for the shift, even if some of the particulars became a bit unpleasant.

From a personal perspective, I've long been an "omnigamer"; I started out with Chess and Go, then wargaming, then the Gamemaster-type lighter wargames, then CCGs, then was looking for something that I could play (and actually enjoy) with my wife and other couples, so I found euros. I was occasionally defending Fortress America and Illuminati now and then on BGG, but I was (and am) glad to see a thriving subset of gamers who are into these "anti-abstract" games.

There's still a lot to like in each genre, but of course genuine originality is getting harder and harder to come by, and I think euros are hardest hit by that right now.

Jack Hill said...

As I tend to hang out on a Euro site, the fervor for those games has not really diminished.

Part of your perception is skewed by the folks you encounter. The Euro crowd has actually usually in fact been a minority. Z-Man sells a lot more Grave Robbers copies than any of their Euro stuff, and the same drive is the only reason Steve Jackson stays in business.

BGG started out as a haven for Eurogamers, and the old guard are mostly still from that pool. It still isn't entirely representative of gamers as a whole.

The big change is that the AT crowd and Beer and Pretzels gamers are speaking up more. (I actually think that "Beer & Pretzels" is what AT games were called before Rob's list. Blame the wargamers. )

Michael Barnes said...

Quiet, Jack! Can't you see that this is a propaganda piece!

NeonPeon said...

"Fortress: Beer and Pretzels" doesn't have quite the same ring to it, though it does sound like a fun place to hang out.

Congrats on the Ameritrash anniversary, dudes, which is incidentally the same date as National Talk Like A Pirate Day.

Malloc said...

One year!

I certainly remember finding that list. I had written a list in May of 06 stating how bored eurogames were getting for me. I thought that I was getting bored with the whole board game scene until I saw Rob's list and found that I was not alone. I found the games to fill the Void in my gaming soul.

Ameritrash has taken root. I hear people speak the word often these days and not only when talking to me. I see interest in AT titles on BGG up in the part 12 months, I like to think it is due to some of the noise made by those who agreed with Martin and Barnes.

Happy Birthday AT. Here's to many more!

-M

Jack Hill said...

Oops. AT games are better than Cats. I'll play them again and again.

the*mad*gamer said...

Congratulations to Robert and Michael!

What a great article by Michael today! Like so many great articles he has written in the past and with the help of Robert has changed the hobby of boardgaming for the better.

I credit both of these gentlemen for inspiring a new found enthusiasm for boardgaming in me and so many others.

When I first read reviews by Michael, I said to myself,

"This guy gets it!"

Like so many other zombies I was just following blindly along kidding myself that "Puerto Rico" really was the number one game. But if this was true how come nobody remembered what fun it was the next day?

I saw the light just like many other people have. I don't know how many times I would read a review on BGG and say to myself,

"What did this guy just say?"

But with Michael's reviews there is no gray area. You know how he feels without a doubt.

This is to be admired.

I doubt very seriously if the AT movement would have taken off without Michael.

Those that think Michael is a nut are so sheltered within the halls of BGG that they have lost all sense of reason. The mere fact that GameShark has picked up Michael to do writing shows that his talent was recognized no matter how many middle aged Miss manners men tried to dismiss him as a fool.

While Robert provided the all important document, it was Michael who spread the news like a burning wildfire.

I was so inspired myself that I decided to do a Podcast. This is more telling than you can possibly realize. Those that know me, would be amazed that I would put forth that effort for boardgames.

Some have said that I did the Podcast to promote my music. This is false. Actually, the only reason I put the music in the Podcast was I thought that there was no way I could talk that long without a break, so That is why I chose the "radio format"

I have watched with great amazement as the Hobby has changed due to the AT movement. The change is in the right direction!

This time next year, the meeple will be standing by the buggywhip.

J de said...

Happy Ameritrash Day y'all!

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

Man, it's been a whole year and Ameritrash games still suck, FFG is still releasing bloatware dust collectors, and tanga is dumping Tannhäuser at bargain basement prices. Valley can't even get 750 pre-orders for Titan to save it's pitiful outdated life while Essen preorders are selling out like hotcakes...

Long Live Ameritrash(but probably not) :)

Michael Barnes said...

Chapel, you're as much a part of this as anybody. Bless your simian Eurosnoot ass.

Juniper said...

I have watched with great amazement as the Hobby has changed due to the AT movement. The change is in the right direction!

Uh, the hobby changed because Fantasy Flight Games improved the quality of their titles. Remember the flimsy old boxes with the ads (!) on the side panels? The planet-sized boxes that are filled with more injection-molded pieces than there are carbon atoms in the galaxy are a relatively recent development.

What really happened is that the American hobby game publishers figured out how to manufacture stuff in China at around the same time that they got good at playtesting and learned how to write nice rulebooks. I think it's unfair to attribute FFG's recent spate of exciting product releases to a fucking geeklist.

Ryan Walberg said...

Those were the days... now it seems like everyone's back humping the first box filled with wooden cubes and the promise and irresistable allure of Prestige Points.

swordwielder said...

I wasn't around on the Geek when all of this started (unfortunately) but I saw it left consequences... People are in constant fear... They always look around like scared little rabbits just sitting on a road... Waiting to be run over by a AT truck...

Reading "A tribute to Ameritrash" made me realize I AM one!

Rock on! Make your sword clash...

Happy Ameritrash Day to you all...

Juniper said...

You're a truck?

TimB said...

Reminds me of Reagan taking credit for the fall of communism and the fall of the berlin wall.

Sure he was involved but would have happened whether he was there or not.

Same thing with ameritrash. the games were getting more attention before the list and that would have continued to grow whether the list existed or not simply because the number of high profile releases were continuing to grow.

Egos are amazing things.

Rliyen said...

Those were the days... now it seems like everyone's back humping the first box filled with wooden cubes and the promise and irresistable allure of Prestige Points.

*reminds self to "impress" some Mon-Keigh with a shuriken catapult tonight*

Tim said...

OMG, just look at the second list comment: Barnes is already making negative personal comments about the personal attributes of people.

No one takes the bait.

So on page 4 he starts up again with the namecalling and insults.

Still no one takes the bait.

Eventually on page 5 someone that likes both euros and ameritrash says it just sounds like wussie whining and just another form of elitism but no eurofans complaining.

So Barnes makes more negative personal comments about people eurofans on page 6.

Eventually, on page 7 of the comments someone starts defending eurogames. They only talk about the games and not the people who play them or play ameritrash.

No direct response from Barnes.

Instead on page 8 another post with namecalling and insults.

Finally, someone takes the bait and responds in kind with namecalling.

Took some time and failed effort after failed effort but he finally was able to get at least one person to stoop to his level.

Barnes response: "I find it very telling that most of the serious, unironic negativity and personal invectives in this list have come from the pro-Euro camp."

This after he called people everything from ignorant to homely!

Whacko alert! Whacko alert!

This guy has really lost touch with reality!

the red phantom said...

oh dear!

Look, I don't care if you want to give Robartin a tiara for his questionable services to the cult of AT (I've got a tattoo!), but can you dredge him out from the Chateau D'If-style prison where Vasel has incarcerated him and make him write some content?

Thanks much, because if I have to read crap like this anymore...

I only just played Age of Mythology this year and it's quite good. Yeah, it needs the smallest of fixes to the combat system (5s and 6s versus just 6s), but that game is very, very good.

...I think my eyes are going to explode.

Anonymous said...

the*mad*gamer said...

"What a great article by Michael today! Like so many great articles he has written in the past and with the help of Robert has changed the hobby of boardgaming for the better."

Still not over that man crush I see. While you are that far up his ass, if you could check for polyps, it will save him a trip to the doctor.

Universal Head said...

Michael once again desperately reminds us how important he is ...

... oh just kidding, I love your passion for games you whole pack of big geeky lugs!

Ken B. said...

I aims to please, Red Phantom. Enjoy your eye goo.

Anonymous said...

It's possible the AT "movement" could end up like "Heavens Gate" except much dorkier.

Steel_Wind said...

It is true that from a product standpoint, AT was moving in that direction because the market was demanding it and very willing to buy boxes stuffed with dice and plastic that had deep theme on thick chrome.

That would have happened without Robert's list and Barnes fanning the flames to nuclear meltdown. No question. You are right. Tide of Iron wasn't whipped up to make one of Robert Martin's geeklists.

Up to that point, you are correct.

But that's not all of it. Because something DID happen with the AT list and the accompanying furor and fallout which continues to echo to this day. AT acquired an identity and a sense of self-aware , in your face pride. AT fans were no longer going to be talked down to. They developed a love for their games and wore them on their sleeves on the geek - with no apologies and heads held high.

THAT was the change.

The likes, desires, wants needs - and yes - DISLIKES - of those partial to AT found a voice and a soul from that list. The games were being made, sure, but the self -proclaimed genre of AT was born there just the same.

Sometimes, for everyone to see their own reflection - they just need the right mirror at the right time - and that was what Martin's list did.

(By the way, as the BGG anon crowds seem to be flocking in to crap on Michael...)

The ad hominem attacks on Barnes really do kinda piss me off. Not because Barnes does not deserve them - he's in your face to provoke an emptional reaction and that's ok. What annoys me are those who dismiss Barnes as a crank.

Because that just isn't true. Barnes is usually on the money - entertaining and frequently insightful.

Which is more than you can say for all but a handful of other posters on the Geek.

Michael Barnes said...

Ahh...thanks guys, for feeding my rampaging, ravenous ego- I mean, after all, I am the living incarnation of Ameritrash and all Ameritrash exists to glorify my name. Thanks to all my "ilk" for your worship. I really feel like king of the shitpile now! Ken, be a dear and fetch me another lemonade...and please walk the peacock while you're at it. It's like PARTY MONSTER except with less drugs and more fat people. Tee hee!

J de said...

I want to have it on record that I'm not a Michael Barnes shill.

My ass belongs to mr Skeletor.

Juniper said...

My ass belongs to mr Skeletor.

Britney? Is that you?

Clarissimus said...

I remember when I first came to BGG I surprised that Age of Mythology was rated so low. The Top Ten were a bunch of games I had never heard of before and didn't look that interesting to me. But I confess my first reaction was to think that these games must be "better" than the ones I liked.

So even though I often get tired of the childish insults and other garbage you guys dish out, I'm still very grateful for helping me realize that Eurogamers dominate BGG and that doesn't make their games better (or more popular!) than mine.

Mr Skeletor said...

It's hard to believe it's only been a year.
I didn't seem to have commented on Robert's list. I must have been doing my hair.

We should do a podcast or something to celebrate.

Dan Daly said...

timb said:

"Reminds me of Reagan taking credit for the fall of communism and the fall of the berlin wall.Sure he was involved but would have happened whether he was there or not."

Well it sure wasn't going to happen with Carter in the White House. Now that guy was one of the worst Presidents ever. ESPECIALLY in the realm of foreign policy, and in a case of fact being stranger than fiction, he goes around now telling everybody else how to conduct foreign policy and the media treats him like an expert!

Anonymous said...

Barnes: Poke.

Others: ...

Barnes: Pinch.

Others: ...

Barnes: Kick.

Others: ...

Barnes: Slap.

Others: ...

Barnes: Punch.

Others: Poke back.

Barnes: OMG! I was just minding my own business and they poked me! I am a victim! It is an injustice! I am matyr!

JDiaz said...

"The ad hominem attacks on Barnes really do kinda piss me off."

Barnes started ad hominem attacks pretty much from the getgo and i cant find any that came except in response to those. Its ok for him to do it but when people respond in kind its wrong? Live by the sword, die by the sword.

the red phantom said...

Well it sure wasn't going to happen with Carter in the White House. Now that guy was one of the worst Presidents ever. ESPECIALLY in the realm of foreign policy, and in a case of fact being stranger than fiction, he goes around now telling everybody else how to conduct foreign policy and the media treats him like an expert!

Mistakes and all, I'd take Carter any day over the idiot child we have in the White House now, and most Americans would, too. What, has RedState released you into the wild already?

Juniper said...

"Well it sure wasn't going to happen with Carter in the White House."

Maybe you should ask your grandkids to explain the concept of analogy.

Anonymous said...

"It was also terribly amusing to see the Eurogamers and other Ameritrash detractors wander into the threads and proceed to play directly to the “Eurosnoot” stereotypes we were mocking all along, lobbing personal attacks with enough frequency to somehow completely blind the administration there from taking any action as they lodged their passive-aggressive comments about everything from the Ameritrash name to my avatar."

yes it was very unfair of them to come in and respond to your personal attacks with personal attacks. you are such a victim.

Mr Skeletor said...

It's been one year and still the Euro crybabies bore the shit out of me.

"Waahhh, waaahhh, Barnes started it! Can you believe Barnes started it now he acts like a victim! Waahhh Waahh!

Seriously, learn to insult properly or fuck off, you're boring me.

Anonymous said...

I was one of the ones who pointed that out and I am not a eurogamer.

I hate puerto rico because its too procedural.

I hate power grid because there is no way i am playing a game that i see people playing with calculators in their hands.

I hate caylus because the theme is lame and it is just a mishmash of mechanics.

I pretty much only play AT games and some wargames.

I am not sure why you think ATers can't see the hypocrisy and just how lame the boo hoo i'm a victim stuff is too but you are way way off base.

Is it really inconcievable that no one but a eurogamer could possibly be able to see what happened and what a distortion of reality his claims are?

Get a clue.

adrianbolt said...

BGG hasn't changed much. The significant event was the creation of F:AT and being able to read longer, more thoughtful articles. My congratulations on that and the coming year of good reading.

Underneath this 'Leave your comment' box is the following line of text: "Sie können HTML-Tags verwenden, z. B. < b >, < i >, < a >". Love the irony!

CConner said...

from what i can see barnes is the only one wah wahing and the others are just pointing out how hypocritical it is

Shellhead said...

Hahaha! Did the AmeriTrash movement get started on Speak Like a Pirate Day last year? That's great!

This whole thread seems like a fitting tribute to the launch of the AT movement. Sure, these games have been around for a long time, longer than the Euros, and companies like Fantasy Flight and Asmodee were already making great new AT games that have been selling well. But sometimes it takes a name to really get people fired up, a sense of identity.

I joined BGG less than a year ago, and I could immediately see that BGG was the reason why several of my gaming buddies kept trying to get me to play these dull accounting games with wooden cubes. Then I started looking around at the geeklists and the forums and saw the uproar over AmeriTrash. A few clicks later, and I knew that I was an AT gamer, and have been for decades.

It seems particularly fitting that some of the posts in this thread are from Euro twits who have stopped by to tell us how irrelevant AT games are. The irony is rich.

mtlawson said...

FWIW, Mike, I happen to enjoy the changes that Glenn did to the original game of Conquest of the Empire; no more 6 catapult ships dominating play. I've never played the Martin Wallace version, simply because I'm happy with the original.

If nothing else, I have to admire Glenn for bringing CotE back.

--Mike L.

Pat H said...

This site needs more articles and scoops. There are only so many times you can re-hash why AT mechanics are good and not bad etc... We all know how good AT games can be. The focus should start moving towards a proper website with forums dedicated to different subjects where the whiners can gather in their own forum and circle jerk. The pissing contests can take a back seat, and put the finger wagging, lame name calling to bed.

If only people would learn to say "Fuck off asshole" more often then we could skip through all of the useless internet jousting. The fact that everyone is still talking about something that happened a year ago in virtual space is fucking lame. I mean perhaps there is some significance to the hoisting of the AT banner however arguing about it today is just dumb.

Aren't there enough FFG nuthuggers around here that can provide a scoop? One thing this hobby is missing on the net is a comprehensive game site complete with status reports , hands on scoops and interviews. BGG is a great database and coffee shop but it ends there.

Boardgaming needs it's version of Gamespot or Wargamer. Some interactive shit, how about cross media appeal. I know there is practically no cash in this racket but Michael did manage to get another gig out of this shit right?

Juniper said...

So, uhm, who here has played Napoleon's Triumph? I got a copy this morning and I'm excited, by golly.

Juniper said...

Oh, and I forgot to mention that I'm eager to play 1960: The Making of a President, too. Ameritrash games are OK, I guess, but the really exciting trend in boardgames is that wargames are starting to evolve into something genuinely new.

And when the Valley Games reprint of Hannibal comes out, that will be a day to be celebrated and remembered!

Ken B. said...

I'll agree with you about that, Juniper. Wargames are really taking the best parts of other genres and also evolving into something better. Accessible, innovative, and often much cleaner than their forefathers would've dared to be.

Bonaparte at Marengo, Napoleon's Triumph, Twilight Struggle, Memoir '44/Commands and Colors, Hammer, Crusader Rex, the list goes on and on and on.

Juniper said...

OK, one last response-to-my-own-post:

It just occurred to me that card-driven games aren't readily internationalizable. There's too much text on those cards.

On that year-old geeklist, there was lots of speculation (much of it sarcastic) about the cultural differences between Americans and Europeans that account for the differences in boardgame styles. I think that a more realistic account of the differences between Eurogames and Ameritrash should consider that most Euros (and especially the ones that we get to see here in the English-speaking world) are internationalized and therefore devoid of stuff like flavor text on cards, lookup tables, and the like.

My point is that practical considerations like internationalization may explain, in part, the German publishers' abandonment of theme.

J de said...

I agree with Pat that F:AT needs a kick in the butt (see my comment a few days ago on the Hello Kitty post).

adrianbolt said...

On BGG there's a "Happy Ameritrash Day!" thread in which Michael is compared to Jesus. Last year he was compared to Satan (also Stalin and Hitler I think).

Michaels' Spin Doctor must be the best on the planet.

Michael Barnes said...

That's just dumb. I'm bigger than Jesus. Not quite as big as the Beatles, though.

Pat H said...

I dunno, by all accounts Jesus was 6-4 243 and could throw down if necessary....Jesus was documented overturning tables long before this was a common game feature today.

Michael Barnes said...

Yeah, but he just started doing that after watching Simon Le Bon in the "Hungry Like the Wolf" video.

If Christ Jesus is 6' 4", 243 then yeah, he's bigger then me. But I'm wiry. And I keep it real.

Pat H said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pat H said...

I guess the reclusive Robartin is Marx then?

mtlawson said...

Okay, one game that I'm patiently waiting for is the redo of Blackbeard. Everything I've read on it leads me to believe that Richard Berg has redone the game incredibly well, and the changes to it will make it a much faster, tighter game.

Okay, I'm also waiting for a review of Tannhauser, guys, but I haven't seen one yet here.

--Mike L.

Michael Barnes said...

I've got a TANNHAUSER review coming up on Gameshark. Maybe next week.

Anonymous said...

Just thought I'd pop in and say happy anniversary. I'd totally forgotten about this little crew. What's been up?

Shryke said...

Nice post Barnes. Has it already been a year?

Anyway, I don't think the Geeklist started the whole AT movement. It was the publishers, like FFG doing that.

I think what it did was make it acceptable. It let people who liked these kind of games feel like they weren't the weirdos of the game scene or something. That there were tons of other people out there like them. BGG is like a tiny like tight knit community of people who all like the same things, but aren't really representative of the scene as a whole.

I mean, I remember logging on and seeing Puerto Rico as the top game, with Princes of Florence and Caylus. And Settlers of Catan is way down at like number 25. And so I figure "Wow, PR must be good!". And it wasn't. It was boring and plodding and slow. And I suddenly realise the more I look at reviews and such, the more I don't like anything most of these people like.

I think there were alot of people like me, and things likr the AT movement came along and said "Your not alone. It's ok. Plus, things like Settlers out sell PR by tons!". Afterwords, me and my buddy looked at our combined game collection and realized 80% of it was from FFG, and that that was cool.

adrianbolt said...

Pat H said...
I guess the reclusive Robartin is Marx then?

Groucho, Chico, Harpo, or Zeppo?

Mr Skeletor said...

Yes this place has been stale of late and needs a kick in the ass, we are aware of that.

"Okay, I'm also waiting for a review of Tannhauser, guys, but I haven't seen one yet here."

My order went to 'dispatch' yesterday which means I should be getting the game today i think.
Also if I don't do my review of starcraft by monday I'll be handing in my resignation.

Baron von Doom said...

Geez, has it been a whole year?! Well, I've aquired a copy of Fortress America since then AND just found out how much my copy of Shogun is fetching on Ebay. I can't give it up, though.

Michael Barnes said...

Hey Shryke...I'm not trying to say that this list started the Ameritrash Movement...it was the galvanizing factor that brought together things Ken and Matt were already sounding out, the boom being created almost single-handedly by FFG, and a general sense of malaise infecting the Eurogame design scene. It was really the rallying point for all of us, the place where it really took of from.

I looked at BGG earlier today and I saw the list back up on the front page as a "hot" geeklist.

Mr Skeletor said...

My pre-oder Tannhauser arrived today but with no Wolf figure.
Someone is going to pay.

Ryan Walberg said...

First of all, Juniper, I've played Napoleon's Triumph three times so far (as the French) and I can confidently say it's an excellent game. Maybe not as dramatic as Bonaparte at Marengo, but an excellent game all the same.

Second, while I may not have approved of Barnes' method of changing BGG -- and indeed, I was vocal in my opposition -- he definitely left his mark there, and while his footprints are being washed away in the tide, those of us that were there were affected all the same.

Third, there's more Ameritrash threads and lists on BGG *now* than there were a year ago, so WTF?

J de said...

Just a quick summary using Marxian dialectics:

the Ameritrashers were long a class an sich, but Rob, Ken and Michael (and others) have been instrumental in giving AT a name and a voice, therefore making the Ameritrashers realise themselves and becoming a class für sich.

Of course, these developments in the superstructure were rooted in deeper changes in the mode of production (ie new AT games, cheap plastic etc).

Siow Hwee said...

despite the desperate “can’t we all just get along” pleas of gamers who foolishly believe that there’s no fundamental difference between a game like NUCLEAR WAR and one like DUCKLING DANCIN’ the Ameritrash genre has come into its own as a permanent fixture of the hobby gaming environment.

I am one of those who belong to the "can't we all just get along" camp. I would just like to respond that just because there are fundamental differences between AT and Eurogames doesn't mean we can't get along. I think that is largely the point. Happy anniversary.

CConner said...

Yeah, I don't get it.

What does "can't we get along" (stop with the namecalling - saying people that disagree with you are homely or fat is just a cheesy distraction tactic - and talk about the games instead) have to do with seeing a difference between those two games?

They are two completely unrelated issues and it makes no sense to link them. Sounds like another attempt to distract from the real issue. Its harder to argue against people saying the namecalling is just a distraction and pointless so link them to an issue that is easier to argue against even though it makes no sense.

Anonymous said...

It makes perfect sense. Distracting from the issues is the main tactic. The namecalling is a distraction so if 100 people complain about it and 90 are complaining it is dumb and pointless and 10 say there is no difference in games it only makes sense that the response would be to distract attention from the 90 and focus on the 10 because they are easier to mock. And dont be surprised if the next distraction is to pretend it just eurogamers saying it.

Anonymous said...

Along with the always popular "Its ok for us to be critical of others but if anyone is critical of us it is just wah wahing"

J de said...

The fact that people have such a warped idea of Michael Barnes' importance is that he never hid in anonimity.

The fact that its always the same wusses wah wahing back at him just shows they feel guilty about it.

Anonymous said...

Same wusses as what?

Anonymous said...

"wusses wah wahing"

Woo hoo! I had my money on "Its ok for us to be critical of others but if anyone is critical of us it is just wah wahing" so I win the pool!

Or does is "the same wusses" = old "everyone that is critical of us MUST be a eurogamer" fallacy?

Dang! Split pot.

Michael Barnes said...

Wow, all it took was a link on BGG to lure the self-righteous jackasses over here again...let the good times roll!

ES said...

self righteous?

pot. kettle. black.

JoePBerg said...

actually its all the standard responses in one!

its the 'all critics must be eurogamers' fallacy ("same wusses")

its the 'all criticism is just wah wahing rather than actually responding to the point raised' dodge

its the 'let's pretend all people taking a position are doing the same thing that only some people taking a position are doing' distraction (there are some anoymous responses but responds as if all are anonymous)

and adds one that hasnt been mentioned yet:

the 'our only critics are a cabal of users from BGG' paranoid conspiricy fantasy

The whole pool wins!!!

olgarey said...

what i think is hilarious is the way they cheer on being a self righteous dismissive jackass that talks down to people when it is their people doing it but get all flustered and dodge and distract and whine and get all paranoid when people do it to them. can dish it out but cant take it. typical bully behavior though.

Michael Barnes said...

Alright, it's just like a game of SUPREMACY...Nuclear Winter!

Michael Barnes said...

Seriously, is there a "responding to Michael Barnes" script out there?

Anonymous said...

"get all flustered and dodge and distract and whine and get all paranoid "

You left out indignant - see self righteous jackasses comment above.

Pat H said...

I have a hard time reading through these comments trying to figure out where people stand and on what topic? Is it just me or has this non-topic dissolved into it's own mess where the participants are the only ones who understand what exactly they are jousting about?

Get a fucking grip all of you douchebags and try to say something that makes sense.

sample:

"when you claimed to call a naysayer a sychophant thus rebutting the trend that has post haste started this whole you said it first stance currently undertaken by you first - na na na boo boo!"

What the fuck are all of you idiots talking about?

Shit like this is why people drink heavily. All of the morons who posted in this section need to look around their families and figure the link between their own frustrating behavior and the family drunk's situation (or meth/crack/Oxy).

XMX said...

The author of a piece whose main theme is what a righteous cause the list and the whole "AT movement" was and how what he did was for that righteous cause complains that peoples responses are self righteous?

this has got to be a joke right? there is no way anyone could be so hypocritical is there?

oh wait. this is the same guy who after calling people homely and porky and anal and grotesqely obese said that he never got personal and is still complaining about others lobbing personal attacks.

i guess it is possible.

Michael Barnes said...

I'm with you Pat...this started out as a "Hey, it's been a year since the AT ball really got rolling and there's been a lot of positive change so let's reflect on that" and that got hijacked by the usual "Barnes is a crybaby/asshole/hypocrite/whiner/etc." rhetoric or the typical "I don't like AT/AT is irrelevant/AT blah blah" stuff. Then someone even brought up the spectre of PERSONAL ATTACKS, which is the boardgaming community's version of "Witchcraft".

Of course, I should have ignored the assholes...but I didn't want them to leave disappointed.

Michael Barnes said...

BTW- notice that none of the bitchers on this forum EVER participate in any game discussions here.

Pat H said...

If that dude in your avatar is not careful he will wind up the victim of a drive by finger wagging...

TimB said...

Barnes said:
"Then someone even brought up the spectre of PERSONAL ATTACKS, which is the boardgaming community's version of "Witchcraft"."

Um, that was you (from the original article):

"[the Eurosnoots were] lobbing personal attacks with enough frequency to somehow completely blind the administration"

CConner said...

If I had to guess, I would say the reason that people are coming on here and saying all these harsh, nasty things is that Barnes and his defenders have said there is nothing wrong with behaving this way.

He went on BGG, said all sorts of overly harsh things, made negative comments about the personal characteristics of people that had opinions different from him, called people names and just generally was antagonistic to the 'in crowed'.

When people complained Barnes and his defenders said, "Hey, we are just talking about things the way we play games. If you don't like it, the problem is with you and you are just being a wuss and a crybaby."

The same exact thing is happening here.

People are coming in, saying all sorts of overly harsh things, making negative comments about people's personal characteristics, calling people names and are generally being antagonistic ot the 'in crowd'.

"Hey, we are just talking about things the same way we play games. If you don't like it, the problem is with you and you are just being a wuss and a crybaby.".

It looks to me like people are just giving Barnes and his defenders a taste of their own medicine.

Heck, they said over and over and over again that kind of behavior was ok and there is nothing wrong so their complaints about now it ring pretty hollow.

I suspect if Barnes would stop trying to play the innocent victim and matyr for a righteous cause who did nothing wrong, all of this would go away.

Anonymous said...

Barnes give up playing the innocent victim and blameless matyr?

Fat chance.

He obviously relishes those roles.

Still writing about it after all this time.

Michael Barnes said...

*Sigh*...is it worth it? Nope.

There's at least three threads on the front page of this blog directly about board games and you fuckers don't bother to post anything, join in any discussions, or participate in any of the interesting conversations that go on here. One post gets linked to BGG and you jerkoffs with a chip on your shoulder see it as an opportunity to hop on and have a crack at me. Did you have a good time? I did out of nostalgia, it reminded me of the good old days of BGG...now I'm pretty bored, since I've had enough finger-wagging and pedantry for the day. I think it's cute y'all come to F:AT to let your hair down and ditch the "passive" part of the "passive-aggressive" equation.

I'd really love to go back through you folks' comments and rephrase them to make you "wrong" or to demonstrate my amazing powers of nose-thumbing and moral/social authority like some of y'all love to do to me, but I either have no idea of who you are (Anonymous) or I've never seen, read, nor heard of anything you've ever written regarding board games, Ameritrash, or Michael Barnes.

But is it worth it? Nope. I know I've got better things to do with my life than to worry about what Michael Barnes said on BGG or F:AT. Do you?

Michael Barnes said...

Almost 100 posts of this crap, and Matt's excellent article on dice has 17 comments. Says a lot about you guys.

Anonymous said...

BGGers were pretty much invited to participate in this thread not the others so of course this one has the most activity.

Mr Skeletor said...

If I had to guess, I would say the reason that people are coming on here and saying all these harsh, nasty things is that Barnes and his defenders have said there is nothing wrong with behaving this way.

You guess wrong. The real answer is it's the same dickhead who obviously has nothing better to do on a Saturday night then log in under different usernames and cry like a bitch.

Here are some tips:
1) When you can't recognize one username from BGG, you know it's some tubby fuck who hasn't got the balls to put his real ID to his comments. All the lurkers don't come out at once.

2) If you are going to pretend your different people, at least adopt different insults and writing style for each one. All your dumb creations are simply carbon copies of one another.

3) I'm with pat H - make some fucking sense. It's not hard.

4) IP addresses are traceable.

5) You shouldn't throw shit around if you are boring. And believe me you are boring.

In short I really don't give a fuck what problems your dorky ass has with this site or AT, or whatever else. I understand that getting Barnes to write you makes you feel like one of the big boys, and gets you all sexually charged up, but if you keep it up you are simply going to get a messy keyboard, and nobody wants that.

Either go and get a life, or jump in front of a truck. I don't care, and long as I don't have to waste my mornings reading your inane, pointless and desperate horse shit.

Michael Barnes said...

But Frank, it warms their hearts when I write to them, it makes them feel like they mean something...it's like an internet reacharound for the soul...

adrianbolt said...

pat h said...
"I have a hard time reading through these comments trying to figure out where people stand and on what topic? Is it just me or has this non-topic dissolved into it's own mess where the participants are the only ones who understand what exactly they are jousting about?"


My eyes just glaze over. I think fans of some arbitrarily defined game sub-genre are insulting the fans of another. I think it's the 'pot kettle black' group attacking the 'wah wahing wusses'. There might be a 'passive-aggressive hypocritical critics conspiracy' contingent trolling members of the first two groups. Oh, and I think there's a 'lets be friends' guy trying to work out which group to join, or if any will have him.

Anonymous said...

I like how BGG "dusted off their microphone" and did some interviews recently, but only AFTER F:AT did a few first.

rooboy666 said...

Michael Barnes said...
Almost 100 posts of this crap, and Matt's excellent article on dice has 17 comments. Says a lot about you guys.

Well, really, what can you say about the awesomeness of dice? I mean, the question should be more, "Why don't more games use dice?"