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Subject: Euro vs. American Style rss

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Randall Thompson
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How would you describe the main differences in 1 or 2 sentences?
 
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Bryan Thunkd
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American Style? You mean Ameritrash?
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Bryan Thunkd
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Eurogames tend to focus on the mechanisms and gameplay. There's typically less focus on art, fancy components and theme (although that's been changing). Games tend to avoid player elimination and direct conflict.

Ameritrash games tend to focus on epic experiences. There's more focus on art, bling, theme and an immersive experience. There's more likely to be direct conflict (and historically there was more player elimination... although I'm not sure how much this is still true).

After playing a Eurogame you're likely to be struck by the innovative game mechanism or how great the gameplay was. After playing an Ameritrash game you're likely to remember some incredible moment from the game.
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Under the paving stones, the beach
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Eurogames - Mechanics first.

Ameritrash - Theme first.

Thunkd wrote:
There's more focus on art, bling, theme and an immersive experience. There's more likely to be direct conflict (and historically there was more player elimination... although I'm not sure how much this is still true).


Yeah, player elimination is mostly of historical interest now when differentiating. There's probably still a few more Ameritrash games with it, but it's not common in any games now.

Art and (especially) bling are a more modern development I think. I lot of early/proto Ameritrash had similar production values to wargames at the time.
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Brian M
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Euro = good rules about all sorts of stuff. American = bad rules about killing things.

That's...kind of a grouchy answer, and honestly it may not be as bad as it used to be, but the original people promoting "AmeriTrash" games made a very strong and negative impression. Their main thing seemed to be being incredibly angry that:

A) Game that weren't about killing stuff had the audacity to exist.
B) Euro games were too accessible and you didn't have to be "elite" to play them.
C) People dared to like games in which you didn't get to actively make another player have a boring, miserable time.
D) Women might want to play games.

And being defined as an "Ameritrash" game mostly seems to involve meeting those criteria, especially having clunky, hard-to-learn rules.
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Kevin Salch
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Yes, I think that there have evolved many hybridization of games, as games have taken some of the best elements of both "genres" as it were.

I think the better distinction is primarily focused on "narrative" (American) as compared with primarily focused on "mechanics" (Euro)

It sometimes is hard to distinguish "abstract" from "Euro" for much the same reason as it is becoming hard to distinguish "Euro" from "Ameritrash"

American style games tend to be more rules heavy.

Of course it also can be hard to distinguish a War Game from an American style game as a separate genre.




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StormKnight wrote:
Euro = good rules about all sorts of stuff. American = bad rules about killing things.

And being defined as an "Ameritrash" game mostly seems to involve meeting those criteria, especially having clunky, hard-to-learn rules.


This post is actually a good representation of a lot of what was going on at the time.

"Ameritrash is rubbish with bad rules. Why are you being so mean to Eurogamers?"

Quote:
D) Women might want to play games.


If I went looking I'm pretty sure it would be far easier to find sexist posts on BGG than it is on F:AT...
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StormKnight wrote:

And being defined as an "Ameritrash" game mostly seems to involve meeting those criteria, especially having clunky, hard-to-learn rules.


    I'll mention that Wings of Glory is about as Ameritrash as you can get, and I can teach the game in 90 seconds to someone I don't share a language with.

    For those who haven't noticed, Ameritrash more or less won in the marketplace. BGG's clientelle have followed instead of leading on the subject. There's a huge number of games out now with larger-than-life components and significant direct conflict. Granted everything has merged, but there's far less cube-pushing than there used to be.

    Euro as a concept is still viable, but it's much harder to stand out in a minimalist art form. Given that euro's definition shrinks by the day it's harder still.


    I more or less encompass the two genres in two phrases -- Euro is "minimalist", Ameritrash is "larger-than-life".

             S.


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Brian M
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Abiezer Coppe wrote:
StormKnight wrote:
Euro = good rules about all sorts of stuff. American = bad rules about killing things.

And being defined as an "Ameritrash" game mostly seems to involve meeting those criteria, especially having clunky, hard-to-learn rules.


This post is actually a good representation of a lot of what was going on at the time.

"Ameritrash is rubbish with bad rules. Why are you being so mean to Eurogamers?"


I'm being completely serious. It wasn't that the ATers said that their rules were "good" per se. The "ATers" regularly seemed to beat up on people for liking games that were easy to play. They literally claimed that it was BAD for a game to have easy to understand rules. Or balanced rules. Or games that didn't take several hours to play.
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StormKnight wrote:

I'm being completely serious. It wasn't that the ATers said that their rules were "good" per se. The "ATers" regularly seemed to beat up on people for liking games that were easy to play. They literally claimed that it was BAD for a game to have easy to understand rules. Or balanced rules. Or games that didn't take several hours to play.


    I have a different recollection.

    At the time there was a large majority on BGG that saw "These Games Of Ours" as somehow an elite set of titles that had retired most of what had gone before, often working with a very short subset of potential mechanical options. They're fun, and frankly if you read noted troublemaker and instigator Michael Barnes' posts at the time he called out a whole set of Euros that he thought were top notch titles -- El Grande, Acquire, Tigris & Euphrates, etc. But often they're very cold titles. You sit quietly and scratch your beard and say, "that's a fine play, Kip" when something interesting happens. There was a market for that, still is.

    But, titles like Cosmic Encounter, Dune, Shogun, etc., games that go toe-to-toe with the games mentioned above were being discounted at the time because they relied on social intelligence or had the ability to eliminate a player. That didn't fit into the tight restraints being touted as worthy for the Euro revolution. Ameritrashers of the time were calling out the community on it -- "hey, some games are fun because you get up and cheer when things happen. People like that!"

    In the end the market decided. "Elegance" doesn't carry the clout that it used to in conversations, and "narrative" has become a far more common word found in conversations. Each have their place. BGG has become far more accommodating to both sides of the coin (especially now that it's become a game promotion web site instead of an amateur chat-site) so the differences of opinion don't make much of a difference anymore.

             S.

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Bill Cook
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Euro -> wood
Ameritrash -> plastic
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Sagrilarus wrote:
especially now that it's become a game promotion web site instead of an amateur chat-site)


What year would you say this happened? I vaguely recall the early days when Puerto Rico was glued to the #1 spot, so looking at the rankings now you can see how far we are away from those days.
 
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Ryan Keane
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Ameritrash was a grab-bag mish-mash of every non-abstract/combinatorial hobby game from the 80’s and 90’s that didn’t have minimalist components, minimal randomness, minimal player elimination of games like Die Macher that got termed as Euros (although I would include American designs like Acquire and 18XX as Euros). Ameritrash included miniatures, hex-and-counter wargames, dudes on a map, dungeon crawls, choose-your-own-adventure text-based games, CCGs... The categories are pretty meaningless now, and the top thematic games of today don’t feel anything like the best Ameritrash games of the 80’s. While most modern Euro games don’t feel like Euros of the 80’s and 90’s (El Grande just fell off the top 50 😭) , the Euro aesthetic was always narrower from the start so modern Euro are more true to their predecessors than modern thematic games.

A new gamer that discovers they’re a Euro fan may be equally happy with a Euro from 2018 or 1988. A new gamer that discovers they’re a thematic game fan probably would be less happy with an Ameritrash game from 1988.
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Russ Williams
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Abiezer Coppe wrote:
If I went looking I'm pretty sure it would be far easier to find sexist posts on BGG than it is on F:AT...

Is that due to a cultural difference between the sites, or due to BGG simply have way more users and way more posts?
 
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Sagrilarus wrote:
    I more or less encompass the two genres in two phrases -- Euro is "minimalist", Ameritrash is "larger-than-life".

Abstract strategy is "minimalist", and compared to abstract strategy, euro seems bloated...

Meanwhile wargames are far more thematic than ameritrash to me, in the sense of actually simulating something with a clear correspondence between what the rules let you do in the game and what really happens in the real-life situation being simulated.


(Hence I'm more into abstracts and wargames than euros and ameritrash...)
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russ wrote:

Is that due to a cultural difference between the sites, or due to BGG simply have way more users and way more posts?


Both I'd say. Although BGG is a lot better than it was in the time period we're talking about.
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StormKnight wrote:
Euro = good rules about all sorts of stuff. American = bad rules about killing things.

That's...kind of a grouchy answer[.]


Ouch! Very grouchy indeed.

I think if I wanted a similarly grouchy reply, I'd say "American = story + rules = game; Euro = cubes + cubes = game."

But that being said . . .

StormKnight wrote:

A) Game that weren't about killing stuff had the audacity to exist.
B) Euro games were too accessible and you didn't have to be "elite" to play them.
C) People dared to like games in which you didn't get to actively make another player have a boring, miserable time.
D) Women might want to play games.


. . . I can totally see how this might have been the paradigm at the outset.

I'm newish to all this (last few years), so I don't have the historical perspective and/or baggage. But I can absolutely understand, based on my basic knowledge, how criticisms A, C, and D might have figured prominently into whatever game wars took place. "B" really surprises me, however - from my (again, newish) standpoint, Euros are significantly less accessible, and the players ever-so-slightly snobbier, than their counterparts. But again, only have access to very recent history.

I will also say that when I first started poking about these issues however long ago, I was very pleasantly surprised to find a lot of convergence in modern games. There seems to be a fair amount of overlap, if you look in the right place. It's not exactly a distinction without a difference, but it's a distinction that seems to matter less nowadays.
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StormKnight wrote:
Abiezer Coppe wrote:
StormKnight wrote:
Euro = good rules about all sorts of stuff. American = bad rules about killing things.

And being defined as an "Ameritrash" game mostly seems to involve meeting those criteria, especially having clunky, hard-to-learn rules.


This post is actually a good representation of a lot of what was going on at the time.

"Ameritrash is rubbish with bad rules. Why are you being so mean to Eurogamers?"


I'm being completely serious. It wasn't that the ATers said that their rules were "good" per se. The "ATers" regularly seemed to beat up on people for liking games that were easy to play. They literally claimed that it was BAD for a game to have easy to understand rules. Or balanced rules. Or games that didn't take several hours to play.


Serious question for you, which I'm going to repeat to another commenter below: when was this? I'm not being snarky, but as someone newer to these forums, just trying to get a sense of historical timeline.
 
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Sagrilarus wrote:
StormKnight wrote:

I'm being completely serious. It wasn't that the ATers said that their rules were "good" per se. The "ATers" regularly seemed to beat up on people for liking games that were easy to play. They literally claimed that it was BAD for a game to have easy to understand rules. Or balanced rules. Or games that didn't take several hours to play.


    I have a different recollection.


Serious question for you, which I posed to the commenter above: when was this? I'm not being snarky, but as someone newer to these forums, just trying to get a sense of historical timeline.
 
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I’ve always viewed it as theme vs mechanics. I love both, but my preference is Ameritrash by far because my experiences are typically immersive and memorable. Euro games are typically pushing forward with innovative and new game mechanics, which is also interesting and fun, but it just doesn’t do it for me in the same way.
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Corey Butler
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As a point of information, the polls show that Euros are more popular than Ameritrash games on BGG, but "thematic games" at least have certainly been growing in popularity. Elegantly designed Euros, like virtually all of Reiner Knizia's stuff, have been sliding downward for some time. It's becoming hard to imagine the days when Tigris & Euphrates was #1 in the rankings. Even Puerto Rico, which was the definitive top game for many years is looking to slide out of the top 20 in the foreseeable future.
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murjani1 wrote:
Sagrilarus wrote:
StormKnight wrote:

I'm being completely serious. It wasn't that the ATers said that their rules were "good" per se. The "ATers" regularly seemed to beat up on people for liking games that were easy to play. They literally claimed that it was BAD for a game to have easy to understand rules. Or balanced rules. Or games that didn't take several hours to play.


    I have a different recollection.


Serious question for you, which I posed to the commenter above: when was this? I'm not being snarky, but as someone newer to these forums, just trying to get a sense of historical timeline.


    2006 and early 2007 are when the debate was really brewing.
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murjani1 wrote:

Serious question for you, which I'm going to repeat to another commenter below: when was this? I'm not being snarky, but as someone newer to these forums, just trying to get a sense of historical timeline.


About 10 years ago. We had some pretty heated arguments, the formation of a separate online group (Fortress Ameritrash), and the banning of at least one prominent Ameritrash advocate from BGG for "personal attacks." I just checked my forum post history and I was in the middle of arguing about it in March of 2007...
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