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Subject: Theme First Euro Design Style Question rss

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Chris Nash
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I may be a little confused on this, but I'm not sure that Ameri-Trash originated in England. I've also never heard of something called Ameri-Thrash as a separate entity!

In general, the two polarising opposites referred to are Ameri-trash, for a style of game most prevalent in North America. It tends to mean a focus on theme and immersion, and typically people would see it as involving miniatures, lots of initiative rolls on dice, quite a lot of output randomness.
Euro, on the other hand, refers to a style of games which is most prevalent in Europe, and focuses on strategy rather than tactics (a push for long-term planning), has little to no player interaction, and while it may have some input randomness, limits output randomness.

I tend to favour games like the second, but I'm not sure either label is a helpful one (although I still use them if the people I'm talking to will know what I mean).

As for a specific French style, or for that matter a German style (1-hour gameplay? Where did you get that from?!), I've never come across this kind of terminology...?
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Jeff Warrender
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BooneDoggle76erz wrote:
but I've also heard made reference too that the French are somewhere between the German and the American.


This is certainly true from a geographical standpoint.
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Oh you seekers of the new who run terrified from history into the clutches of an eternal life where no electric shaver can be built to last.
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    "Amerithrash" is the same thing as "Ameritrash". Some non-Ameritrashers use the term because they're concerned someone will be offended by the word "trash" in the title. It's a stupid change that confuses people for no real reason.

    Ameritrash refers to games that are larger than life regarding setting and theme. It gets its name from iconic American games that fit the category and were pioneers, but there's plenty of Games Workshop games that fit the category as well.

    In the past I've called French games like The Adventurers FrancoTrash due to their country of origin and their beautifully rendered settings and narrative elements. They're some of the best Ameritrash out there, but calling them FrancoTrash gives credit where credit is due, and shows the breadth of the theme-first gaming genre.

             S.
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BooneDoggle76erz wrote:
So a French-themed game, much like the ones that Antoine Bauza designs are spectacular in the art but remain strong in mechanics is what you are saying?

It's basically taking the overwrought designs that come out of Germany and making them appealing to the masses?

I think I get it....

And from what I understand, games like Jenga or Say Anything are games that originally defined the Ameri-Trash genre. I am 99% sure based on my research that Ameri-trash originally had nothing to do with American games.

The Ameri-trash definition has been changed or made into a new terminology to fit in games like Alien Frontier.

Ameri-Trash were originally games that had no theme and no mechanics but remained more abstract in nature.


With due respects, you’re well off the mark. You need to do more reading on the subject. I’ll recommend you start by looking at Cosmic Encounter, Fortress America, and Shogun as good examples of early, genre-defining Ameritrash. Big theme, direct conflict, social dealing, opportunities for big risk taking and big turns of fortune. That’s what defines the category. Big production is often associated with it as well, see Shogun’s sister game Broadsides and Boarding Parties for an example.

German games were more or less the progenitors of modern euros, but the dividing line between the two is still quite muddy. German games feature significant luck that appeals to a lighter, more family oriented atmosphere. Settlers of Catan is the poster child of this genre, but Tigris & Euphrates fits there as well. Tikal. Acquire, though predating modern gaming fits here as well.

Euro games are smaller, tighter plays that emphasize deep play (and dependably reward good play) with less luck, but offer opportunities to come back from a slow start. Their heyday was 2000 to 2012 or so. Agricola may be as clear an example as you can get, but in spite of its age it's big for the genre. Hey That’s My Fish, Through the Desert, Splendor.

These days Euro and and Ameritrash are hybridizing, producing bigger, flashier games with Euro sensibilities and mechanics. They have a Euro sort of refinement to their play but often have hundreds of miniatures, bold art and direct conflict. They’re best-of-breed games that pull what works from the state of the art.

Your boy designed Conan, a marginally received Ameritrash title that doesn’t get quite conflicty enough to please people that prefer AT games. But it has a following. There are others coming out of France, but French designers have a lot of Euro titles to their names too, something a quick search on the name “Bruno” will bear out.

S.
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Hervan Rossi
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I think nowadays everyone wants to define euro or ameritrash in a way that doesn't hurt their favorite gaming style. besides that, we'll always lack reputable sources on the matter - and no, bloggers and youtubers are not reputable sources for board game theory or board game history, or at least not proportionally as reputable as their fame, as people tend to automatically correlate.

having said that, I'll be guilty of the same two vices I mentioned (biased for my favorite style - I define myself as an eurogamer, so keep that in mind - and having no reputable sources to cite), but I'll try to add to the discussion anyway.

- Germany: that story about war being a taboo among germans during the second half of the 20th century and that's why they developed games with lighter themes and no direct conflict feels weak to me. in my opinion, you have to look back further in german history to define german style games: bauhaus. the venerable school of architecture was so influential, and spread its influence so widely (most famously to the fields of design and industrial design), that it feels natural to think of german board game rules as the bauhaus equivalent to "regular" board games rules. I'm not saying that some bauhaus alumn started making games 50 years ago and it germinated the german-style revolution, but when you think about that german characteristic of products - the elegance, the right amount of minimalism, the very high quality standards - it's the result of that widespread influence I said bauhaus exerted in modern germany (as well as in modern design, in modern architecture, und so weiter).

- France: note that I only claimed bauhaus influence in german board game *rules*. comparing french games and german games I can notice the same elegance in rules, but a glaring difference in overall aesthetics. I cant't see as clearly that difference in approaching themes ("theme first", as you put it); I think french games just added a higher production value to other games' aspects - better graphical design, much better art, more varied themes (as well as titles - they also improved the marketing appeal of game names), etc. these values are just as cultural to france as bauhaus is to the german mindset: "french taste" is very well regarded in the western world.

- Italy: I don't think what I previously said is the only explanation to the phenomenon of french board games, otherwise the "italian style" (just as highly regarded) would be much more prominent worldwide as well. From now on I'd focus on marketing reasons - I could claim the french foresaw the economic potential of modern board games first, that's why they were promptly linked to higher production values; the germans could easily follow these trends due to the inertia of their huge games industry and culture (yet it took a few years before we saw german games with improved production values); but I could only possibly explain the italians (and validate most of my theory) if at the same moments they were through some sort of economic downturn (they were somewhat stagnant until the middle of the 90's, but I don't think this period was key to the french games as much as it was to german games; and I can see a huge hit in the 2008 crisis, but then almost everyone was in a downturn - maybe France and Germany recovered much better?). I don't think you're primarily interested in marketing reasons (actually you weren't interested in the italian style anyway), but I'm throwing it in my long essay to substantiate it better, as well as to provide more context.
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Pete
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BooneDoggle76erz wrote:
Ticket to Ride is a rummy game and something more.


Pete (fixed your typo)
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David Sals
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BooneDoggle76erz wrote:
Ticket to Ride is a rummy game and nothing more.


I've heard people say this before, and yet my experience of playing Ticket To Ride is definitely not the same as my experience playing rummy. Yes, you're collecting sets and laying them down, but you're also going for bigger goals, and making choices about what set to collect based on board position. If someone takes this section of track before you, you'll need to collect 3 more sets to find an alternate route. For me, those elements are what make Ticket to Ride interesting. I don't remember any of that in rummy?

If "collecting sets of cards and laying them down" is the definition of rummy, then Settlers of Catan is also just rummy?

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Chris Nash
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I'm not convinced, and I feel like I'll just get frustrated if I continue in this conversation, so I'm checking out.
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Robert Bracey
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Nashman88 wrote:
I'm not convinced, and I feel like I'll just get frustrated if I continue in this conversation, so I'm checking out.

Sensible, this looks like an elaborate troll devil
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J de K
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I believe you should be careful with making statements like "Mancala is a worker placement" and "Ticket to Ride is just Rummy". Unless you want to start a discussion about it, of course.

I think the truth of these statements depends on definitions. However, there is no law book that defines all the board game terms. So, different sources use different definitions. For example, the BGG database doesn't agree with your statements. Personally, I believe that your statements don't catch the intricacies of the mechanics and their developments. As a writer you can choose to use definitions that are commonly used or to use different definitions. If you choose to do the last, there is a chance to make an impact on the taxonomy, but there is also a chance to be ignored.


To get to the topic of the main discussion, I think the distinction between the French style, the German style and others isn't made very often and we can wonder if we should. Designers are influenced by the culture they live in, the designers they meet and work with, the games they play and the market they create games for. Some of these are local, but nowadays many of these are also global. And of course, these influences are not all the same for all French designers.

I have to agree that some/many of the games created by French designers have quite a different feel than some/many of the games designed by German designers. So, it might indeed be interesting to investigate why this is the case.

Thanks to your post, I read a bit about Antoine Bauza and I understand he aims to deliver and starts his designs with an experience. Winning isn't important for him, it about the feeling during play. He also doesn't think about games in terms of mechanics. For example, he doesn't see Seven Wonders as a drafting game, but as a city building game (in which drafting suited the experience he wanted to share).

Good luck with your research and interview!
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Dewi Hargreaves
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If you think that Jenga is an Ameritrash game, you've severely, severely missed the mark. I don't think you'll find a definable difference between French and German styles of Eurogame.

Actually, despite the fact that both 'Eurogame' and 'Ameritrash' have geographical references in their names, I don't think you'll get very far by trying to define different schools of board game design by region.

If you're interested in the history of modern board games, I'd recommend watching "SU&SD Present Board Gaming's Golden Age" on youtube. It's a good primer on where the board games of today come from.
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Andrés Santiago Pérez-Bergquist
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BooneDoggle76erz wrote:
While each game may have worked to progressively perfect the genre, this is an accurate statement: "When breaking down the essence of what worker placement really is, Mancala is perhaps the first worker placement game and should be regarded as such."

Mancala is all about picking up your pieces and distributing them across the board, collection resources which at the end of the game become points.


Attempting to make statements like this shows that you are completely ignoring how people actually use labels and twisting them so far beyond their accepted definitions as to be utterly useless.

For the record, "worker placement" as commonly used means an action-drafting mechanic where players select between a common set of multiple possible actions and choosing one affects the actions that other players have available, typically by outright denying that action (though sometimes by making that action more expensive or by granting the previous selector a bonus when it's selected again, such as getting back the previous worker). There are usually multiple rounds of selection from the dwindling set of available actions.
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Rob Stevenson
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BooneDoggle76erz wrote:
who has an in-depth explanation of what the French are doing over there?


Poll
What are the French doing over there?
Wine and cheese party
Having Affairs
Kissing
Making toast and/or fries
Philosophising
Shrugging
Briefly using Metric system for time-keeping
Getting angry about phrases like "le weekend"
Conquering much of Europe
Taking a dim view of the aristos
Objecting to swingeing salt tax
Being somewhere between the Germans and the Americans
On strike
      14 answers
Poll created by rosie_187
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