What Ameritrash Fans Want
Matt Thrower
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Lajos' recent list on Ameritrash games sparked a number of interesting comments, not least a few along the lines of "Ameritrash is an empty games classification". Now one of the interesting things about the AT phenomenon is that although nebulous it clearly means a lot to a minority of 'geek users like myself who don't view themselves as Wargamers or as Eurogamers. Maybe we should classify AT fans as misfit gamers who don't belong to the usual categories.

With this is mind I thought it might be interesting to look at the top 25 games as rated by those with an Ameritrash geekbadge. There are 23 such users, and I've included games rated by at least 6 of that group - roughly 25%. It should perhaps be higher but a number of AT classics are out of print and so don't have a wide exposure.

After the list I'm going to post a few thoughts on what the AT classifiction means to me. Before that, here's a diagram of how I think the category relationships pan out:
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1. Board Game: Heroscape Master Set: Rise of the Valkyrie [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:363] [Average Rating:7.44 Unranked]
Board Game: Heroscape Master Set: Rise of the Valkyrie
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#25 : Heroscape
Ratings: 12
Average: 7.17


This game clearly ticks a lot of AT boxes - figures, random, theme and so forth. The reason it's not higher up the list I suspect is because it's regarded as such a light game. AT fans still like a little meat on their games.
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2. Board Game: Ra [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:181]
Board Game: Ra
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#23 (Tie) : Ra
Ratings: 10
Average: 7.2


One thing that most AT fans seem to agree on is that "fun" games are worth playing whatever category they belong to. With that in mind, Ra is exactly the sort of Euro you'd expect to find on this list - light/mediumweight, fast playing and highly entertaining.
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3. Board Game: Arkham Horror [Average Rating:7.26 Overall Rank:336] [Average Rating:7.26 Unranked]
Board Game: Arkham Horror
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#23 (Tie) : Arkham Horror
Ratings: 10
Average: 7.2


FFG practically defines the concept of modern Ameritrash, so you'd expect to see a lot of their games on this list. Here's the first. It's not higher up, I suspect, because it's a co-op game and co-op games don't tend to go down well with conflict orientated AT gamers.
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4. Board Game: Citadels [Average Rating:7.08 Overall Rank:414]
Board Game: Citadels
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#22 : Citadels
Ratings: 10
Average: 7.3


See my comments on Ra, above. This fits the same sort of criteria but is probably higher thanks to the screwage factor.
 
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5. Board Game: Railways of the World [Average Rating:7.69 Overall Rank:136] [Average Rating:7.69 Unranked]
Board Game: Railways of the World
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#20 (Tie) : Railroad Tycoon
Ratings: 8
Average: 7.38


Another Euro that one isn't surprised to see here although it's longer and heavier than the two previous Euro entries. After all, as AoS fans never tire of telling us the game is considerably less of a brain-strain than it's highly regarded cousin.
 
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6. Board Game: El Grande [Average Rating:7.75 Overall Rank:82]
Board Game: El Grande
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#20 (Tie) : El Grande
Ratings: 8
Average: 7.38


This is the first big surprise of the list. I would've thought this game too long, dry and microanalytical for AT fans and indeed one or two of the raters (including crackedlcd81 inevitably) don't like it. But there's enough positive comments to give this a general thumbs up from the group.
 
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7. Board Game: Catan [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:406] [Average Rating:7.15 Unranked]
Board Game: Catan
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#19 : Settlers of Catan
Ratings: 16
Average: 7.38


We seem to be getting the usual suspect Euros out of the way early, hopefully to be making up for some genuine Ameritrash fare further up the list. This one goes down well, I suspect, thanks to the presence of dice.
 
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8. Board Game: Bohnanza [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:462]
Board Game: Bohnanza
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#18 : Bohnanza
Ratings: 8
Average: 7.63


A mild surprise entry for this one - I'd have thought it further down the list if it made the cut at all. I think it's the potentially raucous and sneaky trading elements that appeal to the AT group.
 
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9. Board Game: The Lord of the Rings [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:898]
Board Game: The Lord of the Rings
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#17 : Lord of the Rings
Ratings: 9
Average: 7.67


The second big surprise on the list, I'd have thought this far too buddy-buddy to drawn in Ameritrash gamers. I personally don't care much for it, so maybe I'm biased. Perhaps it's the rich theme that's the catch with this title.
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10. Board Game: Carcassonne: Expansion 1 – Inns & Cathedrals [Average Rating:7.62 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.62 Unranked]
Board Game: Carcassonne: Expansion 1 – Inns & Cathedrals
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#16 : Carcassonne - Inns & Cathedrals
Ratings: 7
Average: 7.71


I can't comment on this entry as I'm not familiar with the game. The parent game got enough ratings but missed the score cut and resides at #31 on the list. I've no idea what it is about this particular expansion that causes AT fans to rate it highly.
 
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11. Board Game: A Game of Thrones [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:489]
Board Game: A Game of Thrones
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#15 : A Game of Thrones
Ratings: 9
Average: 7.72


FFG's second entry, this one poses some interesting questions. Most people would agree, I suspect, that this belongs in the Ameritrash category, but it lacks two of the supposed key components of modern Ameritrash - dice and plastic figures. The wooden bits on this are pretty nice though.
 
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12. Board Game: Twilight Struggle [Average Rating:8.29 Overall Rank:11] [Average Rating:8.29 Unranked]
Board Game: Twilight Struggle
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#14 : Twilight Struggle
Ratings: 6
Average: 7.75


The first solid wargame title on the list, and even this stretches the definition of that genre way into political game territory. Can't say much on this due to ignorance of the game.
 
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13. Board Game: Catan: Cities & Knights [Average Rating:7.45 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.45 Unranked]
Board Game: Catan: Cities & Knights
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#13 : Cities & Knights of Catan
Ratings: 7
Average: 7.79


If Ameritrash gamers like Settlers and they like conflict then it's hardly any wonder this makes it higher up the list than the parent game. Me, I always thought that nicking vital intersections off other players was conflict enough but maybe I'm just a wuss.
 
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14. Board Game: Titan [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:1102]
Board Game: Titan
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#12 : Titan
Ratings: 6
Average: 7.83


An undisputed Ameritrash classic and my all-time favourite game. I think this would rate higher if more people had played it - you AT badgeholders who've not rated it, get playing Colossus, the lot of you!
 
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15. Board Game: Memoir '44 [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:145] [Average Rating:7.56 Unranked]
Board Game: Memoir '44
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#11 : Memoir '44
Ratings: 11
Average: 7.91


According to my diagram, light wargames such as this help bridge the gap between Wargames and Ameritrash and this great little title is squarely on the AT side of the triangle. The plastic toy factor definitely helps too.
 
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16. Board Game: Power Grid [Average Rating:7.85 Overall Rank:43]
Board Game: Power Grid
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#10 : Power Grid
Ratings: 9
Average: 7.94


The top ten opens with this popular Euro title. Since I've never played the game I can't comment on what makes this a winner with the AT group, but the consensus on it's brilliance makes me want to ensure I get a game to find out!
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17. Board Game: Nexus Ops [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:473]
Board Game: Nexus Ops
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#9 : Nexus Ops
Ratings: 8
Average: 8.0


No surprises here. This title is often considered the yardstick by which other modern AT titles are measured.
 
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18. Board Game: Fury of Dracula (Second Edition) [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:563]
Board Game: Fury of Dracula (Second Edition)
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#8 : Fury of Dracula
Ratings: 7
Average: 8.04


FFG strike again with another undisputed modern ameritrash masterpiece. For those interested the older printing of this didn't get enough votes to make the list - but those who did rate it gave it a whopping average of 9.67.
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19. Board Game: Twilight Imperium: Third Edition [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:83]
Board Game: Twilight Imperium: Third Edition
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#7 : Twilight Imperium 3
Ratings: 9
Average: 8.06


Another FFG game, another AT classic. But could this be the game some of you were expecting to see at #1?
 
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20. Board Game: Commands & Colors: Ancients [Average Rating:7.78 Overall Rank:152]
Board Game: Commands & Colors: Ancients
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#6 : Commands & Colours: Ancients
Ratings: 6
Average: 8.25


The position of this compared to Memoir is proof, if any were needed, that AT fans are proper gamers at heart who'll pick a better game over plastic toys when the chips are down. I'm still surprised to see this quite so high up though - a copy is winging it's way to me as I type.
 
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21. Board Game: Hammer of the Scots [Average Rating:7.55 Overall Rank:470]
Board Game: Hammer of the Scots
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#5 : Hammer of the Scots
Ratings: 6
Average: 8.25


Now this did come as a surprise. This title could be classified as a "proper" wargame and if you accept that it's the highest of that breed on the list. I'd have thought that other block wargames would've appealed to the AT mentality more than this - Wizard Kings, Victory, maybe even the Eurofront titles.
 
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22. Board Game: War of the Ring [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:132]
Board Game: War of the Ring
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#3 (Tie) : War of the Ring
Ratings: 8
Average: 8.31


Amazingly this is the highest entry that FFG have on the list, and maybe this is another game people might expect to see at the number one spot. Still, it's made the top three. Perhaps it's two-player only format limits the appeal.
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23. Board Game: Tigris & Euphrates [Average Rating:7.69 Overall Rank:95]
Board Game: Tigris & Euphrates
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#3 (Tie): Tigris & Euphrates
Ratings: 8
Average: 8.31


While there's much here that might seem unappealing to the AT fan this isn't known as the gamers game for nothing. It seems to have amazingly wide appeal and the weight really seems to hit the sweet spot as being involving enough for most players without being too daunting.
 
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24. Board Game: Catan Card Game [Average Rating:6.71 Overall Rank:975]
Board Game: Catan Card Game
Matt Thrower
United Kingdom
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#2 : Settlers of Catan Card Game
Ratings: 6
Average: 8.33


Wuh? I stand amazed!
 
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25. Board Game: Dune [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:322]
Board Game: Dune
Matt Thrower
United Kingdom
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#1 : Dune
Ratings: 6
Average: 8.67


Not the game I expected to see at number one, but a worthy game to hold that spot nevertheless - and it beats it's competitors by a healthy margin too. As others have said this design was years ahead of it's time, as demonstrated by it's continued presence as the lone flag-bearer for 70's games in the BGG top 50.
 
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