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Subject: What is the difference between Euro or Ameritrash? My system of classification. rss

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Brook Gentlestream
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I'm posting this because I think it would be helpful to have a system of comparison between these two hypothetical genres. Of course most games are hybrids that fall somewhere between these two extremes, but I still find this dichotomy useful. These are simply loose genre classification -- I don't think any game out there is strictly a perfect example of euro or a perfect example of ameritrash.

My goal is to try to show why fans of each genre like their games, and present the two genres in a way that doesn't "bash" either one.

None of these are strict rules, but rather just a system of general classification based on tradition. I still find the terms useful.


Competition
- Ameritrash games tend to focus on direct conflict between players, balancing attacks and defenses.
- Eurogames tend to focus on outperforming the other player in some way, or seizing opportunities before they do.


Central Focus
(All games share both these qualities, but each category emphasizes one of these aspects much more than the other.)
- Ameritrash games tend to focus on balancing probability and evaluating risks.
- Eurogames tend to focus the distribution of limited resources


Information
- Ameritrash games rely on changing conditions and/or concealed information. Keeping secrets, bluffing, or having to deal with a game changing event you weren't expecting is all considered fair play in Ameritrash.
- Eurogames tend to provide all information to everybody. Anything that can't be specifically predicted and prepared for is believed to interfere with the player's strategic competition.


Strategy
- Strategies often have to be re-evaluated in response to attacks, luck, or changing conditions in the midst of the game. Adaptation is quick thinking is highly prized here.
- Eurogames tend to focus on mastering a particular strategy, and executing it flawlessly from turn one, slightly adjusting it only when your opponent denies your move in some way. (Which, due to perfect information, you likely saw coming anyway.)


Randomness
- In Ameritrash games, a random element often follows player decisions, often determining how successful or effective those decisions were.
- In Eurogames, any random elements usually occur before players make their decisions, so they generally know the consequences of their actions.


Winning
- The winning player is generally regarded as the one who was able to balance risks, respond to events, and trick his opponent. The winning player may change over many times but is usually obvious to everyone at any given time.
- The winner is generally regarded as the one who had the best strategy at the start of the game or who made the least mistakes in executing their strategy, but that may not be known until the game's end.


Theme
- Ameritrash games are usually high on theme, often trying to simulate a thematic situation or setting with lots of mechanics. Gaming is something of a story-telling experience here.
- Eurogames do not necessarily have mechanics that go with the setting, as the story a game tells is seen as less important than the competition it provides.


Rules
- Ameritrash games tend to have lots of mechanics, options, avenues of strategy, and optional rules. Variety is highly prized. Ameritrash designers often look for ways to include more of everything in their games - more units, more options, more battlefields, more cards, etc.
- Eurogames tend to focus on restrictions, or restricted actions, and so often have less rules and options available to the player. Almost all resources are limited in some way, keeping things to a small and forcing hard decisions, issues of timing, and opportunity costs.


Endgame
- Ameritrash games tend to end with an event, such as the annihilation of the opponent, the completion of a special in-game construction, acquiring a certain number of objectives, etc.
- Eurogames tend to have an internal timer that keeps the game going up to a certain length, at which point victory is determined.


Declaring Victory
- Since Ameritrash games tend to end on an event, the winning player is usually trying to end the game while the losing players try to drag the game out until they can become the winning player.
- Eurogames often compete for points, trying to acquire more than an opponent. The game ends at some point and then the winning player is determined.

------------------------------------------------



Ameritrash
- Competition in the form of direct conflict, balancing attacks and defense.
- Central focus on evaluating risks and probability.
- Information is fluid. Secrets and bluffing are common.
- Game conditions are random or changeable.
- Strategies must be constantly re-evaluated due to changing conditions and luck.
- Random elements often follow player actions, determining success or effectiveness.
- The winning player managed risks, responded to events, and tricked his opponent.
- The winning player may change many times, but everyone always knows who is in the lead.
- High on theme, often trying to simulate a thematic situation using lots of mechanics.
- Lots of mechanics, strategies, optional rules. Variety is highly prized.
- There is usually an in-game event that causes the game to end.
- The winner is usually trying to end the game while other players try to draw it out until they are winning.


Euro
- Competition in a performance race or attempting to seize an opportunity first.
- Central focus on managing limited resources.
- All information is open to everyone so players can make the best strategy.
- The game environment is constant so the best strategy will prevail.
- An overall strategy must be chosen from the beginning and executed flawlessly over time.
- Any random elements usually occur before players declare their actions, rather than afterward.
- The winning player is the one with the best strategy and who was able to predict his opponent.
- The winning player is not usually known until the end of the game.
- Mechanics don't necessarily go with the theme - story is less important than the strategic competition.
- Limited options and scarce resources to force players to make hard decisions.
- The game usually has a built in timing mechanism, so that the game ends after a certain length.
- Players are usually competing for points, trying to have more than the opponents when the game ends.




Note that quality is not a factor in these traits unless you strongly associate with one type more than the other, in which case the other type just sucks.

I'm posting this up for reference. I'm not really interested in using this thread to debate which are better, or which games fall under which category. Please be civil.
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Martin Larouche
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I said it in other threads and i'll say it here too:

"Euro" games focus on creating.
"Ameritrash" games focus on destruction (or has it as a major part of it's mechanics).

So far, no games i found has escaped that definition, though some are more ambiguous than others, mainly the civilization games.

When we don't know on wether it's a "creating" or "destruction" game, people also argue as to wether it's ameritrash or euro... they are the ambigous cases.
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David Boeren
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Not so sure about the open information criteria...

Plenty of ameritrash games are perfect information, and plenty of eurogames feature a hand of cards, face-down tiles, or other secret factors.
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What the op is going to find is that there are going to be dozens of responses ripping apart his definitions. Everyone has a differing opinions on the differences between AT and a Euro game...and all of them are right.

When people ask me what the difference between an Ameritrash game and a Euro game, I just tell them:

"I know it when I see it."

Usage of the term Ameritrash was never meant to be held up to scrutiny. It was just fun conversation piece.
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Now if the OP would just explain the difference between the Strategy Games, Family Games, and Thematic Games subdomains of BGG. . . .
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Good job. I too find the distinction useful when thinking about and describing games.
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deedob wrote:
I said it in other threads and i'll say it here too:

"Euro" games focus on creating.
"Ameritrash" games focus on destruction (or has it as a major part of it's mechanics).

So far, no games i found has escaped that definition, though some are more ambiguous than others, mainly the civilization games.

When we don't know on wether it's a "creating" or "destruction" game, people also argue as to wether it's ameritrash or euro... they are the ambigous cases.


Yeah I feel like people don't understand that American games can be "Euro Games". Ameritrash is used because most these "destruction" games come from America.
Also people forget that the majority of American games are actually "Party" games.
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BoardGameGeek » Forums » Gaming Related » General Gaming
Re: What is the difference between Euro or Ameritrash? My system of classification.
deedob wrote:
I said it in other threads and i'll say it here too:

"Euro" games focus on creating.
"Ameritrash" games focus on destruction (or has it as a major part of it's mechanics).

So far, no games i found has escaped that definition, though some are more ambiguous than others, mainly the civilization games.


Tigris & Euphrates?
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Anthony Simons
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I appreciate the effort you've put into this, Brook; however, I disagree with quite a lot of it.

Open information, mastering a particular strategy, lack of thematic mechanisms and distribution of limited resources are most certainly not Eurogame characteristics.

Likewise, Ameritrash games tend to rely on chance devices rather than hidden information, playing to a strict strategy to balance the chaos and frequently disregard theme so as to avoid the use of too much heavy chrome.

Oh well, each to his own...
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Anthony Simons
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rshipley wrote:
deedob wrote:
I said it in other threads and i'll say it here too:

"Euro" games focus on creating.
"Ameritrash" games focus on destruction (or has it as a major part of it's mechanics).

So far, no games i found has escaped that definition, though some are more ambiguous than others, mainly the civilization games.


Tigris & Euphrates?


I think this is one of those "more ambiguous" titles. To be fair, it is mostly about creating the civilization - you only destroy bits of it (most of the time).
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Shelby Cinca
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I love Eurotrash games and AmeriGames!

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rshipley wrote:
deedob wrote:
I said it in other threads and i'll say it here too:

"Euro" games focus on creating.
"Ameritrash" games focus on destruction (or has it as a major part of it's mechanics).

So far, no games i found has escaped that definition, though some are more ambiguous than others, mainly the civilization games.


Tigris & Euphrates?


Totally a Euro

What this does to the above definitions I don't know.

Good effort and attempt though!
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Hugo Olsson
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lordrahvin wrote:

Central Focus
Ameritrash games tend to focus on balancing probability and evaluating risks.


fellonmyhead wrote:
Ameritrash games tend to rely on chance devices


These are two ways of describing the same thing.
Die rolling is often passed off condescendingly as replacing strategy with just luck, but managing risk is absolutely central to much real-life decision-making.

That's not to say lots of dice make for a superior game, however - personal taste will decide that matter.
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deedob wrote:
I said it in other threads and i'll say it here too:

"Euro" games focus on creating.
"Ameritrash" games focus on destruction (or has it as a major part of it's mechanics).

So far, no games i found has escaped that definition, though some are more ambiguous than others, mainly the civilization games.

When we don't know on wether it's a "creating" or "destruction" game, people also argue as to wether it's ameritrash or euro... they are the ambigous cases.


Last Will is unquestionably a euro, and it's all about destruction. You start with a fortune, and you have to get rid of it as quickly as possible. You win by having nothing left.

Unless you want to argue that you're "creating" poverty.
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Andy Van Zandt
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Asmor wrote:
deedob wrote:
I said it in other threads and i'll say it here too:

"Euro" games focus on creating.
"Ameritrash" games focus on destruction (or has it as a major part of it's mechanics).

So far, no games i found has escaped that definition, though some are more ambiguous than others, mainly the civilization games.

When we don't know on wether it's a "creating" or "destruction" game, people also argue as to wether it's ameritrash or euro... they are the ambigous cases.


Last Will is unquestionably a euro, and it's all about destruction. You start with a fortune, and you have to get rid of it as quickly as possible. You win by having nothing left.

Unless you want to argue that you're "creating" poverty.


Last Will's goal is a matter of semantics, you're racing to a particular score- it is just presented in the theme as counting down to the win rather than up. Everything you actually do in the game is aquire and combine. It's definitely creating.
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Anthony Simons
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Ector wrote:
lordrahvin wrote:

Central Focus
Ameritrash games tend to focus on balancing probability and evaluating risks.


fellonmyhead wrote:
Ameritrash games tend to rely on chance devices


These are two ways of describing the same thing.

Yes; however, you cut off the rest of that, which said "rather than hidden information,..."; the point being that chance devices and hidden information are not one in the same thing.
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J C Lawrence
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A euro is a marketing construct that denotes a game aimed at the target demographic of a young(er) suburban and culturally active/aware couple, possibly with 1-2 kids in the 6-14 age range, who wish to play games as a family or couple and/or socially with a similar couple. This well-defined, identified and understood market is the focus of many designers and publishers.
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Hugo Olsson
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fellonmyhead wrote:
Ector wrote:
lordrahvin wrote:

Central Focus
Ameritrash games tend to focus on balancing probability and evaluating risks.


fellonmyhead wrote:
Ameritrash games tend to rely on chance devices


These are two ways of describing the same thing.

Yes; however, you cut off the rest of that, which said "rather than hidden information,..."; the point being that chance devices and hidden information are not one in the same thing.


Well, one might argue that the result of a dieroll is hidden from you until you actually throw the die. Hidden information. Much the same as for example the random draw from a pack of cards.
On the other hand there is a clear difference between a random dieroll and the planned hidden deployment by an opponent, where the information is known by one and hidden to another player.
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clearclaw wrote:
A euro is a marketing construct that denotes a game aimed at the target demographic of a young(er) suburban and culturally active/aware couple, possibly with 1-2 kids in the 6-14 age range, who wish to play games as a family or couple and/or socially with a similar couple. This well-defined, identified and understood market is the focus of many designers and publishers.


I think JCs got it, but it should also be noted that designs for that market focus on particular things (some of which are illuminated by the OP).

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Okay, I'll bite

lordrahvin wrote:
Competition
- Ameritrash games tend to focus on direct conflict between players, balancing attacks and defenses.
- Eurogames tend to focus on outperforming the other player in some way, or seizing opportunities before they do.


OK.

Quote:
Central Focus
(All games share both these qualities, but each category emphasizes one of these aspects much more than the other.)
- Ameritrash games tend to focus on balancing probability and evaluating risks.
- Eurogames tend to focus the distribution of limited resources


In Ameritrash games the central focus is the theme, AT fans are drawn to the games by the toy factor and fantasy, not because they want to crunch probabilities.
In Euros the central focus is the competition to best exploit the games mechanics. The player who manages to get the best ROI from their resources will win.

Quote:
Information
- Ameritrash games rely on changing conditions and/or concealed information. Keeping secrets, bluffing, or having to deal with a game changing event you weren't expecting is all considered fair play in Ameritrash.
- Eurogames tend to provide all information to everybody. Anything that can't be specifically predicted and prepared for is believed to interfere with the player's strategic competition.


As others have stated, there are plenty of counter examples, but I agree that Euros tend to be more predictable, while Ameritrash games allow for large random swings such as devastating event cards or dice rolls.

Quote:
Strategy
- Strategies often have to be re-evaluated in response to attacks, luck, or changing conditions in the midst of the game. Adaptation is quick thinking is highly prized here.
- Eurogames tend to focus on mastering a particular strategy, and executing it flawlessly from turn one, slightly adjusting it only when your opponent denies your move in some way. (Which, due to perfect information, you likely saw coming anyway.)


I don't recognise your description of Euros here - you can usually remain flexible for the first 50% of a game or so while having an approximate idea how things are likely to pan out, while gradually committing towards a specific posture. Committing on Turn One is (in most games) an unnecessary gamble.

Strategy is less effective in Ameritrash games, because any planning will be dampened by randomness, or by other players teaming up. When you mention re-evaluating, quick thinking, changing conditions etc. you're talking about tactics.

Quote:
Winning
- The winning player is generally regarded as the one who was able to balance risks, respond to events, and trick his opponent. The winning player may change over many times but is usually obvious to everyone at any given time.
- The winner is generally regarded as the one who had the best strategy at the start of the game or who made the least mistakes in executing their strategy, but that may not be known until the game's end.


The Ameritrash winner is usually the player who rolled the most sixes, (or ones if it's that kind of game), got luckier card draws and didn't get screwed over by random events or coalitions of other players.

The Euro will normally be won by the player who made the best decisions (though some have a larger random factor than others).

Quote:
Theme
- Ameritrash games are usually high on theme, often trying to simulate a thematic situation or setting with lots of mechanics. Gaming is something of a story-telling experience here.
- Eurogames do not necessarily have mechanics that go with the setting, as the story a game tells is seen as less important than the competition it provides.


Yes. By the way a good litmus test is whether the game is primarily about killing things. Thematic = Violent.

Quote:
Rules
- Ameritrash games tend to have lots of mechanics, options, avenues of strategy, and optional rules. Variety is highly prized. Ameritrash designers often look for ways to include more of everything in their games - more units, more options, more battlefields, more cards, etc.
- Eurogames tend to focus on restrictions, or restricted actions, and so often have less rules and options available to the player. Almost all resources are limited in some way, keeping things to a small and forcing hard decisions, issues of timing, and opportunity costs.


I have found that in general, the big box Ameritrash games will be convoluted but strategically shallow, while Euros tend to be simple but deep. Yes, that's a big sweeping statement.

Quote:
Endgame
- Ameritrash games tend to end with an event, such as the annihilation of the opponent, the completion of a special in-game construction, acquiring a certain number of objectives, etc.
- Eurogames tend to have an internal timer that keeps the game going up to a certain length, at which point victory is determined.


Yes, Euros usually end either after a fixed number of turns, or when some kind of game resource runs out, or sometimes when a player reaches a target number of points.

Traditional Ameritrash games such as Monopoly and Risk were elimination games (last man standing), though in recent years there's been a shift towards the German trait of keeping everyone in the game until the end, with the result that Ameritrash is drifting towards the centre.

Quote:
Declaring Victory
- Since Ameritrash games tend to end on an event, the winning player is usually trying to end the game while the losing players try to drag the game out until they can become the winning player.
- Eurogames often compete for points, trying to acquire more than an opponent. The game ends at some point and then the winning player is determined.


Your first point applies almost equally to Euros. The game length is more often than not determined by player actions (and some AT games will end at a random card draw).
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Brook has put in an impressive effort, but my perspective is that the Ameritrash/Euro distinction is more about motivations than mechanical characteristics of games. The major mechanical signifiers (eg diplomacy) are usually there because they commonly serve those motivations, not because the fans like them per se (eg see dice in Troyes versus the blind bidding combat in Dune).

I agree with Paul's summation:
paulclarke339 wrote:
In Ameritrash games the central focus is the theme, AT fans are drawn to the games by the toy factor and fantasy, not because they want to crunch probabilities.
In Euros the central focus is the competition to best exploit the games mechanics.


While going through the criteria I was thinking that Tigris & Euphrates fell on Ameritrash for almost every one (attacking/defending, luck and probabilities, bluffing, tactics, end by triggers), yet it's clearly a Euro.

When I played Chaos in the Old World, I was engaged by the mechanics, while the Ameritrashers liked the setting.

I'll mention that "mastering a particular strategy, and executing it flawlessly from turn one, slightly adjusting it only when your opponent denies your move in some way" isn't even accurate in combinatorial abstracts; it sounds more like a constructed deck from Magic: the Gathering!
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Guys, guys, guys...

Wood = Euro
Plastic = Ameritrash





You're WELCOME.
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paulclarke339 wrote:
Okay, I'll bite

lordrahvin wrote:
Competition
- Ameritrash games tend to focus on direct conflict between players, balancing attacks and defenses.
- Eurogames tend to focus on outperforming the other player in some way, or seizing opportunities before they do.


OK.

Quote:
Central Focus
(All games share both these qualities, but each category emphasizes one of these aspects much more than the other.)
- Ameritrash games tend to focus on balancing probability and evaluating risks.
- Eurogames tend to focus the distribution of limited resources


In Ameritrash games the central focus is the theme, AT fans are drawn to the games by the toy factor and fantasy, not because they want to crunch probabilities.
In Euros the central focus is the competition to best exploit the games mechanics. The player who manages to get the best ROI from their resources will win.

Quote:
Information
- Ameritrash games rely on changing conditions and/or concealed information. Keeping secrets, bluffing, or having to deal with a game changing event you weren't expecting is all considered fair play in Ameritrash.
- Eurogames tend to provide all information to everybody. Anything that can't be specifically predicted and prepared for is believed to interfere with the player's strategic competition.


As others have stated, there are plenty of counter examples, but I agree that Euros tend to be more predictable, while Ameritrash games allow for large random swings such as devastating event cards or dice rolls.

Quote:
Strategy
- Strategies often have to be re-evaluated in response to attacks, luck, or changing conditions in the midst of the game. Adaptation is quick thinking is highly prized here.
- Eurogames tend to focus on mastering a particular strategy, and executing it flawlessly from turn one, slightly adjusting it only when your opponent denies your move in some way. (Which, due to perfect information, you likely saw coming anyway.)


I don't recognise your description of Euros here - you can usually remain flexible for the first 50% of a game or so while having an approximate idea how things are likely to pan out, while gradually committing towards a specific posture. Committing on Turn One is (in most games) an unnecessary gamble.

Strategy is less effective in Ameritrash games, because any planning will be dampened by randomness, or by other players teaming up. When you mention re-evaluating, quick thinking, changing conditions etc. you're talking about tactics.

Quote:
Winning
- The winning player is generally regarded as the one who was able to balance risks, respond to events, and trick his opponent. The winning player may change over many times but is usually obvious to everyone at any given time.
- The winner is generally regarded as the one who had the best strategy at the start of the game or who made the least mistakes in executing their strategy, but that may not be known until the game's end.


The Ameritrash winner is usually the player who rolled the most sixes, (or ones if it's that kind of game), got luckier card draws and didn't get screwed over by random events or coalitions of other players.

The Euro will normally be won by the player who made the best decisions (though some have a larger random factor than others).

Quote:
Theme
- Ameritrash games are usually high on theme, often trying to simulate a thematic situation or setting with lots of mechanics. Gaming is something of a story-telling experience here.
- Eurogames do not necessarily have mechanics that go with the setting, as the story a game tells is seen as less important than the competition it provides.


Yes. By the way a good litmus test is whether the game is primarily about killing things. Thematic = Violent.

Quote:
Rules
- Ameritrash games tend to have lots of mechanics, options, avenues of strategy, and optional rules. Variety is highly prized. Ameritrash designers often look for ways to include more of everything in their games - more units, more options, more battlefields, more cards, etc.
- Eurogames tend to focus on restrictions, or restricted actions, and so often have less rules and options available to the player. Almost all resources are limited in some way, keeping things to a small and forcing hard decisions, issues of timing, and opportunity costs.


I have found that in general, the big box Ameritrash games will be convoluted but strategically shallow, while Euros tend to be simple but deep. Yes, that's a big sweeping statement.

Quote:
Endgame
- Ameritrash games tend to end with an event, such as the annihilation of the opponent, the completion of a special in-game construction, acquiring a certain number of objectives, etc.
- Eurogames tend to have an internal timer that keeps the game going up to a certain length, at which point victory is determined.


Yes, Euros usually end either after a fixed number of turns, or when some kind of game resource runs out, or sometimes when a player reaches a target number of points.

Traditional Ameritrash games such as Monopoly and Risk were elimination games (last man standing), though in recent years there's been a shift towards the German trait of keeping everyone in the game until the end, with the result that Ameritrash is drifting towards the centre.

Quote:
Declaring Victory
- Since Ameritrash games tend to end on an event, the winning player is usually trying to end the game while the losing players try to drag the game out until they can become the winning player.
- Eurogames often compete for points, trying to acquire more than an opponent. The game ends at some point and then the winning player is determined.


Your first point applies almost equally to Euros. The game length is more often than not determined by player actions (and some AT games will end at a random card draw).



Why didn't you simply type "My games are better than your games because I'm incapable of adapting to randomness or direct conflict. Also, my games are more strategic than yours because A, I say so, and B, because our subdomain is called Strategy Games therefore they must be more strategic."

Had you done that, your post would have come across exactly the same way, but it would have been a heckuva lot shorter.
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Question:
Why are they called AmeriTRASH?
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Troymk1 wrote:
rshipley wrote:
deedob wrote:
I said it in other threads and i'll say it here too:

"Euro" games focus on creating.
"Ameritrash" games focus on destruction (or has it as a major part of it's mechanics).

So far, no games i found has escaped that definition, though some are more ambiguous than others, mainly the civilization games.


Tigris & Euphrates?


Totally a Euro

What this does to the above definitions I don't know.

Good effort and attempt though!


How about Reef Encounter? Small World? Primordial Soup? Dominant Species? (Actually a lot of evolution games feature destruction, no need to keep listing them). Flashpoint: Fire Rescue is about staving off destruction for a bit but it's going to happen. Rattus is pretty much about destruction - most of your population dies. Oh yeah, add Trias to the list too, you spend a lot of time breaking up continents and drowning each other's dinosaurs.
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