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Ten things you should know about Ameritrash games

Posted Monday, 18-May-2015

Euro-games took the board game world by storm in the mid ’90s with tight and elegant mechanics that made American-made games seem like expensive tabletop toys.


“Ameritrash” is the term given to American board games by Euro-game fans.

Considered derogatory by some, the term Ameritrash has ultimately been embraced by fans of the genre.  Ameritrash refers to board games with plenty of surprising narrative and dramatic gaming moments, instead of just cold, algebraic strategy.

If your regular game night could use a bit more excitement, it’s time for you to learn about Ameritrash.


No farming allowed

Ameritrash games tend to have a very evocative setting.


Ameritrash Games
Photo Credit iSlaytheDragon.com


While Euro-games usually focus on mundane family-friendly backdrops such as farming or medieval rivalries, Ameritrash titles gravitate heavily around fantasy, science fiction, horror, and other adventurous themes.


International Ameritrash

Ameritrash games are not exclusively from America, just as Euro-games are not necessarily from Europe.


Photo Credit: www.deskovehry.com
Photo Credit: https://www.deskovehry.com/


The word Ameritrash refers to the game style, not to the geographical origin.  Ameritrash gems such as Kemet and Galaxy Defenders actually come from Europe.


Always looking for trouble

Ameritrash fans usually mention direct player conflict as the quintessential Ameritrash game mechanism. 


Ameritrash Games
Photo Credit: iSlaytheDragon.com


Conflict in a simulated battle is usually the main, if not the only, player interaction featured in Ameritrash games.


Survival of the fittest

While family and Euro-games tend to shy away from player elimination, Ameritrash games often make it the goal to knock the other players down.


Ameritrash Games
Photo Credit: Mycours.es


A good chroming

Euro-games are famous for streamlining their rules and delivering them in a simple manual with a few pages.

Ameritrash games go in the other direction; implementing complex rules — sometimes with the only purpose of adding thematic flavor.  This process is known among Ameritrash fans as “chroming”.


Plastic Miniatures

The look of the game itself is an important aspect for Ameritrash.


Ameritrash Miniatures
Photo Credit: https://i.imgur.com/Lg0WBGg.jpg


Modern Ameritrash almost always have a lush presentation, with full-color illustrations and beautiful game pieces.  Plastic miniatures are usually a near-obligatory component for a proper Ameritrash title.


Beer and Pretzels

Strategy is not always the main way of engaging players in Ameritrash games.


Plastic components
Plastic components


Some games entrap the players using evocative narratives and surprising random events, all while creating a sense of “theater”.  Such games are called “beer and pretzels” games, games that are fun to play but not very strategically demanding.


An Ameritrash record

Ameritrash games remain hugely popular, and their ability to create and deliver an evocative gaming experience is generally highly appreciated by fans.



Zombicide Season 3, an Ameritrash zombie game expansion, currently holds the record for most-funded tabletop game on the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter.


An Ameritrash lesson

The appeal of Ameritrash taught something to Euro-game publishers.


Ameritrash Games


It is not uncommon nowadays to see plastic components and evocative art in Euro-games.  Games like Cyclades or Dogs of War successfully mixed polished Euro-game mechanics with an impressive production quality.


Classic Ameritrash

Despite the recent popularity of Euro-games, some Ameritrash games are still very well received by the gaming community. 

Cosmic Encounter
Cosmic Encounter

Games like Twilight Imperium, Descent, Cosmic Encounter, and Star Wars: Imperial Assault are not only top sellers, but also excellent examples of great board game design.

Published by BoardGamePrices.com

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