Game Design

Eurotrash versus Ameritrash Games

A brief explanation of a loving, but insulting term for categorizing tabletop games.

In my last post, I briefly mentioned that Century: Golem Edition was a “Eurotrash” game. Let me explain…

All that talk about insulting another culture and you go after a whole continent?

In the tabletop community, there are two styles of game—both with loving nicknames, mind you: Eurotrash games and Ameritrash games.

Both are insulting, but what’s the difference?

Eurotrash games are, as you guessed it, typically more popular with European tabletop game players. These games focus on mechanics which are, although air tight, typically end in whomever gets more victory points is the winner, with multiple ways to get victory points.

These games focus on the mechanics and the balance over the theme and artwork of the game. They make sure to have a solid system with its mechanics and themes applied well, versus telling a well-thought out story. Not saying that these games are bad at story-telling, but that’s not their focus. These games want to make you think strategically, puzzle-like, and develop many plans of attack and counter-attack in their systems. In the end, those with a mind for problem-solving prevail.

Think of games like Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne, and Settlers of Catan.

Ameritrash games are quite the opposite; they focus on the artwork and telling a great story to the players over having wonderful gameplay mechanics that force players to dig their heals into chess-like strategies. Not saying they’re horrible with their mechanics, but that’s not their main point. These games want to try to emerge you into a world of role-play, where you may need to keep your identity secret. The better you are at getting into the story and figuring out how to advance it through whatever mechanics (bluffing, attack vs defense battle mechanics, etc) are within your world. These types of games are typically more popular amongst the North American tabletop community.

Think of games like Coup, One Night Ultimate Werewolf, and Spyfall.

Neat, what’s the point in this though?

I think that as we innovate on tabletop games, we must think of these ideas and try to make something that blurs the lines between “Ameritrash” and “Eurotrash” games.

Also: I apologize if any of these terms offend someone. I meant them in a loving way and they are used in the tabletop community at times to describe games.

By Neutrino Burrito

A writer and board game designer currently puttering about the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

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