Ameritrash Calculator -- Version 1.0
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I was inspired by a recent geeklist http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/66607/what-the-heck-is... to try to develop a set of criteria that would rate games on how "Ameritrashy" they are. There are a lot of things AT games have in common. This is an attempt to quantify that, and I believe it is the first attempt to try to quantify rather than qualify what an Ameritrash game is.

My view of Ameritrash is that it is a result of a design philosophy that manifests itself either more or less in the characteristics of a game. The main goal of this philosophy is to produce a gaming experience that is high in drama. In this I am following the ideas put forth in the article by Jezztek, http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/1268120#1268120

I have tried to focus on the philosophy of AT games and how that philosophy plays out in the game mechanics and presentation. I've grouped AT game elements into 6 categories and these categories have some subdivisions as well. Then I've assigned points to the different divisions based on my estimation of how important and essential each of the elements is to the overall development of the Ameritrash philosophy.

After developing the scoring system I have rated several examples. The scale goes from 0 to 40 and a true AT game would probably have at least 25 points on this scale.

This is still somewhat of a work in progress, especially with the exact point allocations. Please let me know if you think I've missed something or gotten something wrong, and feel free to add your own ratings for games you like (or dislike). One last point is that this was developed to differentiate between euro and AT games. I'm not sure how it will work with other game types, particularly conflict sims (aka wargames). I'm not familiar with those games so I haven't tried to rate any.
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1. Board Game: Tales of the Arabian Nights [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:455]
Board Game: Tales of the Arabian Nights
David B
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Theme

Probably the major focus of an Ameritrash game is theme. Theme is essential to creating the drama of the game and it does this through the aspects of scope, depth, type and implementation. AT games try to create a sense that you are a participant in an epic or heroic story. For the aspect of theme I am allocating 10 points broken down as follows:

Scope: 0 - 2 points
Mundane +0
Dramatic +1
Epic/Heroic +2

Mundane themes are those that are common in everyday life and generally have no great impact or excitement to them. Dramatic themes have more excitement and are perhaps less common. Epic themes are large world-spanning or empire-building type themes, and heroic themes focus on individual characters and involve them in great deeds and events.

Depth -- 0 to 2 points
Little or None: +0
Some: +1
Rich: +2

If the game provides a fair bit of story to develop the theme (e.g. character backgrounds, setting of the game, etc.) then the +1 level is reached, or if the theme is drawn from minor history, events, or other outside material that is not very well known. The +2 level requires that the background story to be bigger than the game itself. The theme should have it's background in famous books, movies, legends, or history.

Implementation -- 1 to 5 points
This categorizes how well the mechanics of the game implement and develop the theme. And how essential the theme is to the gameplay (i.e. is the theme "tacked-on" or not). This category is somewhat subjective.

Special bonus -- 1 point
Sci-Fi/Horror/Fantasy Theme +1


So for example The Tales of the Arabian Nights would get a rating of 10 as it has a heroic scope, rich depth, great implementation (5), and a fantasy theme.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
**UPDATE**

Due to several comments and some more thinking I decided to update this section a bit. I've left the older stuff so that the other entries will make sense without having to change them all.

Scope -- No Change

Depth -- No Change

Implementation -- 0 to 4 points
Abstract: +0
Poor ("Tacked On"): +1
Fair: +2
Good: +3
Excellent: +4

Special Bonus -- 2 points
Sci-Fi/Horror/Fantasy: +2

I dropped the total points available in implementation by 1 and added a 0 point option, plus put in descriptive labels for the differing levels. It is still subjective aside from the Abstract level, but I hope that it helps to develop the rating scheme.

I also increased the max special bonus to 2 points. Since most AT games have themes in these categories it should be more important than I had originally rated it. I'm also considering adding a 1 point bonus for a pirate theme, but it seems rather too specific so for now I'm leaving it out.
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2. Board Game: Dune [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:322]
Board Game: Dune
David B
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Interaction

Another major focus of Ameritrash style games is the interaction between players. Interaction (or conflict) between players is very dramatic, and as such has a presence in most Ameritrash games. The AT philosophy is that the game is a vehicle for competition or cooperation between players rather than a puzzle to be mastered and so interaction takes a primary spot in gameplay for these games. Interaction can come in many different forms but these can be grouped into two types, direct and indirect.

Indirect -- 0 to 3 points
Little or None: +0
Minor: +1
Major: +3

Indirect interaction is are actions that affect the other players by limiting/changing options and influencing choices. These types of actions include blocking moves, depleting resources, auctions, and parasiting of opponents.

Direct -- 0 to 5 points
None: +0
Minimal: +1
Minor: +3
Major: +5

Direct interaction involves things like combat, stealing resources, negotiation, trade, and cooperation.

Special Bonus -- 2 point
Combat +2

Combat is very dramatic and any game that has combat gains +2 to its AT score.

So for example the Dune boardgame gets a score of 10 for interaction as it has Major levels of both indirect and direct interaction and the game involves combat.
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3. Board Game: Titan [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:1102]
Board Game: Titan
David B
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Risk

Ameritrash games generally involve decisions which have elements of risk. The outcome is not known until the decision has already been made. Oftentimes the risk is developed through the use of dice or random draws from a deck. In contrast, Euro-style games tend to be risk adverse. These games will emphasize elegance and information is typically more open and the outcome of actions are generally known before they are taken. Both types of games will use randomness, but AT games use risk to develop tension and drama in the game.

5 points are assigned to the Risk category.

Information -- 0 to 2 points
Open: +0
Mixed: +1
Secret: +2

One way AT games develop drama is by hiding information. Either by the game itself or players hide information from each other. If the game has little or no hidden information then it is open. A small to medium level of information hiding is mixed, and a lot of hidden information is secret.

Uncertainty -- 0 to 3 points
None: +0
Little: +1
More: +2
Lots: +3

Uncertainty is used to add risk to a game using random factors often dice. If the game requires players to decide on actions before determining the success of those actions then the game is risky. Another method of uncertainty is drawing cards from a deck in which the card drawn has an immediate effect and is not simply placed in one's hand to use at a later time. Another method that employs uncertainty is where multiple players must choose actions/play cards simultaneously without knowing what the other players are doing. Many trick-taking games use this method. However, a game like Race for the Galaxy would not be considered risky because even though you are playing your action card without knowing what other players are playing you are not taking a risk because the action you play is not affected by what they play.

For an example Titan would get 5 points for the Risk category as it has a secret level of information and lots of uncertainty.
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4. Board Game: Middle-Earth Quest [Average Rating:7.37 Overall Rank:602]
Board Game: Middle-Earth Quest
David B
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Complexity

The element of complexity develops drama by adding details and variations in gameplay. Often players in AT games will have very different abilities or even goals.

5 points are assigned to the area of Complexity.

Assymetry -- 0 to 3 points
Symmetric: +0
Different Starting States: +1
Different Player powers/abilities: +2
Full Asymmetry: +3

Starting states involves more than just starting turn order. There must be a significant difference in the starting position/resources/etc. Different abilities means each player has one or more unique abilities that other players don't share. If the gameplay and/or goals for individual players is very different then the game is fully asymmetric.

Elements -- 0 to 2 points
Few: +0
More: +1
Many: +2

The category of game Elements measures the amount of different types of mechanics and/or game elements. The elements can be a variety of things: cards, army units, buildings, etc. but they should be main agents in the game grouped together when appropriate. The tendency for Ameritrash games to have many different elements is one of the things that adds to the richness of these games and adds length to their rulebooks.

Middle Earth quest is an example of a game with an AT score of 5 in the Complexity category as it is fully asymmetric as Sauron and the heroes have completely different gameplay and ways of achieving victory, also the game has many different elements of play as you move, explore, fight, manage resources, and more.
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5. Board Game: Nuclear War [Average Rating:6.21 Overall Rank:2970] [Average Rating:6.21 Unranked]
Board Game: Nuclear War
David B
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New Mexico
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Endgame

The way a game is won has a big effect on how the game is played and the amount of drama in a game. Euro style games tend to be won by collecting points of some sort and are often limited to a certain number of rounds in order to keep the length of the game fairly short. In contrast Ameritrash games tend to be more goal oriented and open-ended as that helps to develop the drama in a game.

5 points are given for the Endgame category.

Game Timer -- 0 to 2 points
Set # of Rounds: +0
Variable: +1
No Timer: +2

A Variable timer is one that ends when a goal is achieved but there is a mechanic that limits the game to a certain maximum length, or there is a timer that can be manipulated by the players. Often this is in the form of after a set number of turns if someone hasn't achieved the winning condition(s) the game ends automatically.

Goal -- 1 to 3 points
Most VPs: +1
Goals: +2
Elimination: +3

The winning condition is an important part of the game. If player elimination is reasonably possible then 3 points are given, otherwise either 2 or 1.

The Nuclear War boardgame would get a 5 in the AT category of Endgame. Two points for having no timer and three points for including player elimination.
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6. Board Game: War of the Ring [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:132]
Board Game: War of the Ring
David B
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Aesthetics

Aesthetics are very important to setting the mood of the game and can add considerably to the level of theme and drama. AT games often use artwork, tokens, and miniatures to provide eye-candy to the gaming experience.

5 points are given for the Aesthetics category.

Production 0 to 5 points
This category involves the pieces of the game. Does the game use miniatures, counters, or cubes? How does the artwork integrate the theme? Are there lots of individual pieces?

Since games use different types of game pieces (e.g. cards, tokens, counters, miniatures, etc.) and not all of them are appropriate for every game this category is a bit subjective, but in general:

Minatures score more than counters, counters score more than blocks.
Individualized pieces score more than identical.
More pieces scores higher than fewer pieces.
Game pieces that are manipulated are more important than artwork on the board.

In the category of Aesthetics the War of the Ring would get a rating of 5 as it has lots of miniatures of many different types including many individual figures.
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7. Board Game: Axis & Allies [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:1458] [Average Rating:6.56 Unranked]
Board Game: Axis & Allies
David B
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Now let's put some games to the test. Here I will rate a few well known games and see how they measure up in my AT calculator.

First up Axis & Allies.
Theme: 8 (Epic Scope, Lots of Backstory, and a 4 for Implementation)
Interaction: 8 (Minor Indirect, Major Direct, and Combat)
Risk: 3 (No Hidden Information, Lots of Uncertainty)
Complexity: 3 (Different Starting States, Many elements)
Endgame: 5 (No Timer, Player Elimination)
Production: 4 (Lots of miniatures that have some individuality)

AT Rating: 31/40
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8. Board Game: Dominion [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:101] [Average Rating:7.62 Unranked]
Board Game: Dominion
David B
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Next Dominion

Theme: 2 (Dramatic Scope, No Backstory, 1 for implementation (theme is very tacked on), no bonus (Basegame does have the Witch but other than that it has no fantasy elements))
Interaction: 3 (Minor Indirect, Direct interaction can vary between Minimal and Minor depending on the cards used so I split the difference here, no combat)
Risk: 0 (Open Information, No Uncertainty)
Complexity: 1 (Symmetric, More Elements)
Endgame: 2 (Variable Timer, Most VPs)
Production: 2 (Lots of cards with different art)

AT Rating: 10/40
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9. Board Game: Cosmic Encounter [Average Rating:7.54 Overall Rank:151] [Average Rating:7.54 Unranked]
Board Game: Cosmic Encounter
David B
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Cosmic Encounter

Theme: 6 (Dramatic Scope, Little Backstory, 4 Implementation, Sci-Fi Bonus)
Interaction: 10 (Major Indirect and Direct Interaction, Combat)
Risk: 3 (Mixed Information, More Uncertainty)
Complexity: 3 (Different abilities, More Elements)
Endgame: 4 (No Timer, Goals)
Production: 3 (Flying Saucers, but units are the same for each player)

AT Rating: 29/40
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10. Board Game: Agricola [Average Rating:7.94 Overall Rank:32]
Board Game: Agricola
David B
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Agricola

Theme: 6 (Dramatic Scope, Some Depth, 4 Implementation)
Interaction: 3 (Major Indirect, No Direct or Combat)
Risk: 0 (Open Information, No Uncertainty)
Complexity: 3 (Different Starting States, Many Elements)
Endgame: 1 (Set Rounds, Most VPs)
Production: 1 (Cubes, can get bonus points for added animeeples)

AT Rating 14/40
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11. Board Game: Star Wars: The Queen's Gambit [Average Rating:7.55 Overall Rank:804]
Board Game: Star Wars: The Queen's Gambit
GodRob
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I don't know if this would rate a 40 under your scale. I'm not sure what to give it for "Indirect Interaction" or "Risk: Information". It maxes out every other category nicely.

For Indirect Interaction, there is some blocking of the window ledges in the palace which, while not a large part of the game, can make a huge impact on the game. Managing the door to the throne room is key as well.

For Risk: Information, I would say that the only things hidden in the game are the player's hands and the bonus cards that are acquired for future turns that are not visible to either player.

What would you rank this?

Robert
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12. Board Game: Horus Heresy [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:1569]
Board Game: Horus Heresy
Let's check this one out - one of the most ameritrashy games I've seen recently. It's also fantastic, as a game by FFG should be!

Theme (9):
Epic! (2) (siege of Terra itself with demigods on both sides, Titans! Space Marines! and, oh yeah, the army too)
Rich depth (2), I'm willing to say, as this is just a small part of 40k - even if it is one of the most important battles in the universe. Comes with fiction (written many, many years ago for the original HH game, actually) in the scenario book.
Implementation (4): I'm not quite sure what counts as what. There's some abstractions in terms of unit ability (sure, there's Titans, but they're just a rank 4 unit), though the cards are nice and fluffy. It's probably above average on the scale, but I don't think it quite caps it.
Sci-fi bonus (1).

Interaction (8):
Indirect Interaction: There's a bit of this with the laying and burying of order cards on the strategic map, but not as much as there probably could be. 1 point.
Direct Interaction: This is a siege, baby. It's all about the units getting together and then hitting each other with chainswords. 5
Combat bonus (2).

Risk (4):
Mixed information: the units on the map are all laid out for everyone to see... however, the players each have two separate (!) hands of cards - one for orders, and one (that gets made for) combats. So, this is mixed bordering on full secrecy. 1 point.
Uncertainty: Lots, lots, lots. Not only are things like planetary bombardments, fighter strafing runs, and the like done by a random card draw, but also what the current battlefield conditions are (well, Event Cards), AND you don't even know what your combat hand looks like before you enter combat! About the only thing you know for sure are unit ranks, and direct orders probably work the way you want. 3 points.

Complexity (5 points, and the first it caps out):
Asymmetry: the two sides are asymmetric. Different card decks - both combat and order cards; different rules (for instance, Chaos can bombard the planet, while the Imperials get Defense Lasers); different actions (Chaos order cards are quite different than Imperial order cards - more than just having a separate deck of the same cards); etc. The unit ranks behave the same, though ... but that's not really symmetric anyway! 3 points
Elements: LOTS! Bombardment cards, Event cards, Combat Deck, Hero Combat Deck, Order Deck... and now we can get into the fact that each Hero (5 per side, IIRC) has its own special ability, the fact that there are many, many units per side ... and then tokens! 2 points

Endgame (3):
Timer: there is a set number of rounds ... unless the game ends before that. Variable timer, 1 point.
Goal: Goal-oriented. 2 points. Though perhaps it should get a bonus for having 3 separate victory conditions, one of which only applies to the Imperials? (1: control spaceports. 2: either Horus/Emperor die. 3: timeout)

Aesthetics (5):
Production: lots of really cool figures. The tokens are pretty. ... and don't forget the vacuum-molded 3d terrain on the board! I'd say this easily rates a 5 here.

Adding them up:
Theme (9)
Interaction (8)
Risk (4)
Complexity (5)
Endgame (3)
Aesthetics (5)

Total: 34/40. Verdict: not quite the most ameritrashy possible, but pretty damn up there. Which shouldn't be a surprise looking at a game set up. If a game makes you make Thunderhawk and Bolter noises, it's probably Ameritrash
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13. Board Game: Memoir '44 [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:145] [Average Rating:7.56 Unranked]
Board Game: Memoir '44
Leslie Taylor
United States
Florida
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Okay, this is controversial and I expect arguments (and welcome them), but I will use these calculations for the entire Memoir system:

Theme
Scope:2. It's freaking WW2.
Depth: 2. It provides historical write ups and everything is based on actual battles.
Implementation: 2. It is very abstract, and though some of the overall tactics are WW2ish, I think it is not as good in this regard as some other games (ASL, Combat Commander)

Interaction
Indirect: 1. Recon cards allow you to draw two cards and pick which you get and which your opponent gets (I use a rule where the other card is discarded, and then you rub it in your opponents nose, which would give this a 2)
Direct: 5. You shoot your enemy and roll dice at him, so: Bonus 2 points

Risk
Information: 1. You see your opponents units, but can't see his cards.
Uncertainty: 3. Your cards are drawn from a common deck, you roll dice for combat, your opponent might stop an attack with an Ambush card, etc.

Complexity
Assymetry: 2. Someone just started typing an enraged comment. If you consider the entire system, the different countries have different powers important in using them. Russians have their dumb comissar screwing them up, the Japanese are better at close infantry combat, the Brits get a battleback when they are weak.

Elements: with airplanes, 1, without 0. I give a variable score only because few scenarios absolutely require the planes, and they may not be used even in a scenario with them. The planes in the game add some interesting complexity, while the rest of the game is pretty simple.

End Game
Game Timer: 2.
Goal: 2.

The game ends when someone wins by killing enough units and/or capturing enough objectives. I count that as no timer, and goals.

Aesthetics
Production: 4. Look at pictures of this game. Though the mini's are unpainted, they look good, the tiles are great, and there is good art on the cards. I assume a five is unattainable for anything not produced by Fantasy Flight.

Total
Theme: 6
Interaction: 8
Risk: 4
Complexity: 2 (or 3)
End Game: 4
Aesthetics:4
28 or 29 out of 40.

So it is pretty Ameritrash (about 70%). I think this lies somewhere between only because the simplicity of the mechanics and quick play time, but considering the entire system, it is closest to AT in nature.
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14. Board Game: Thunder Road [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:3208]
Board Game: Thunder Road
Captain Ameritrash
United States
Statesboro
Georgia
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I like the idea of the calculator and think it works very well for large-scale Ameritrashy games. Small-scale, light Ameritrash maybe doesn't apply as well. For example, AT fans generally agree that Thunder Road is unquestionably Ameritrash, but of the lighter variety. So, I put it to the test using the calculator, and here are the results:

Theme
Scope:1. A post-apocalyptic road-race for survival. Dramatic, but not epic.

Depth: 0. Very little backstory provided other than "You're in a post-apocalyptic race, and you need to be the last one standing."

Implementation: 3. The driving and combat mechanics are very basic, but support the theme well.

Bonus: 1. Sci-fi theme

THEME SUBTOTAL: 5


Interaction
Indirect: 0. There is no indirect interaction in the game.

Direct: 5. You shoot and ram your opponent, trying to destroy his vehicles.

Combat Bonus: 2 points

INTERACTION SUBTOTAL: 7


Risk
Information: 0. All information is open (unless you are using some of the many, many homebrewed variants).

Uncertainty: 3. Movement and combat are entirely based on die rolls, without even any modifier based on unit type.

RISK SUBTOTAL: 3

Complexity
Assymetry: 0. All players have identical units and win conditions.

Elements: 0. Each player gets 3 different cars and a helicopter. There are also some "wrecked car" bits used as obstacles. That's all.

COMPLEXITY SUBTOTAL: 0


End Game
Game Timer: 2. No timer.

Goal: 3. Being the last player to survive is the only win condition.

END GAME SUBTOTAL: 5


Aesthetics
Production: 3. You get cool plastic vehicles, but they're not very detailed and there are only four individual sculpts (five if you include the wrecks). The art on the board is evocative of the theme, but not staggeringly detailed.

AESTHETICS SUBTOTAL: 3



TOTAL:
Theme: 5
Interaction: 7
Risk: 3
Complexity: 0
End Game: 5
Aesthetics:3

23 out of 40.

23 out of 40 is a goodly helping of AT points for such a small, lightweight game, but the lack of depth and complexity keep Thunder Road from racking up enough points to firmly ensconce itself among the Gods Of Mount Ameritrash.

Edit: If we add in the new Ahistoricity metric, TR gets a 4 for the conceivable-future setting, which raises it to 27 points. Still one point shy of the revised target.
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15. Board Game: Fury of Dracula (Second Edition) [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:563]
Board Game: Fury of Dracula (Second Edition)
One of my favorite games of all-time and considered one of the icons of Ameritrash. How does it shape up?

Theme
Scope: +1, dramatic. It's no WWII, but neither is it Farm: The Harvesting.
Depth: +2, rich. The most famous vampire in literature.
Implementation: +4. Not as furious as the title implies, but the mechanics are flavorful and back up the the feel of a cat-and-mouse game.
Special bonus: +1, horror theme.
TOTAL: 8/10.

Interaction
Indirect: +1, Minor. Some elements of limiting how opponents move etc.
Direct: +5, Major. You're trying to hunt or hide, kill or survive.
Combat bonus: +2. Stakes! Silver bullets!
TOTAL: 8/10.

Risk
Information: +2, secret. Drac's location is secret. Hands are secret. It's all secret!
Uncertainty: +3, lots! Rock-paper-scissors in combat, Dracula laying traps around Europe.
TOTAL: 5/5.

Complexity
Assymetry: +3, full assymetry. Different win conditions, powers, etc.
Elements: +1, more. Cards, dice, encounters, minions.
TOTAL: 4/5.

Endgame
Game timer: +1, variable. Drac gets one point every six turns. Six points and he wins. The timer and points can be slightly manipulated by card play and encounters, but mostly it is a race against time for the hunters.
Goal: +2, goals. No elimination, but the hunters win by killing Dracula.
TOTAL: 3/5.

Aesthetics
Production: +4. Custom miniatures, tons of art, a beautiful board that looks like an old map, great art direction and design.
TOTAL: 4/5.

GRAND TOTAL
32 out of 40. Definitely AT -- not that there's any surprises there!
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16. Board Game: Yomi [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:1212] [Average Rating:6.97 Unranked]
Board Game: Yomi
Let's try one of my favorite games of 2011 (so far); I'm curious to see how it fares because the designer (David Sirlin) is outside the mainstream channels of board game design and development.

Theme
Scope: dramatic, +1. A martial arts tournament held to unite a disparate community into having a national identity, so that they can resist the looming incursion of a fascist bad guy country.
Depth: some, +1. Characters all have interrelating backgrounds and stories, with strongly-defined personalities.
Implementation: +4. The mechanics mirror the feel of fighting games (e.g. Street Fighter 2 and its ilk) and are not strictly modeled after martial arts in either the real world, or in the wuxia/manga interpretation. However, given that, it nails it perfectly.
Theme bonus: +1. Okay, so it's not strictly fantasy (in the sense of orcs/elves/etc.) but it is fantasy martial arts. Asian/anime fantasy filtered through a western lens. I'd argue this counts.
TOTAL: 7/10.

Interaction
Indirect: Little or none, +0. Tough call here. Some characters have indirect interaction (forcing you to do a certain move or face a disadvantage, limiting your options, etc.). However most of them do not directly whittle down your decision tree or block you from doing anything in particular. It really depends on the matchup.
Direct: +5, major. You are trying to beat someone into unconsciousness.
Combat bonus: +2. Face kicking someone for the win.
TOTAL: 7/10.

Risk
Information: +2, secret. The vast majority of the game state is hidden. Only public information is what's in the discard pile, and how much life you have left.
Uncertainty: +3, lots. You are trying to outguess your opponent. You never truly know what will happen until you both turn over your move.
TOTAL: 5/5.

Complexity
Assymetry: +2, variable player powers.
Elements: +0, few. Just your cards and what's on them.
TOTAL: 2/5.

Endgame
Game timer: +2, no timer. Either KO or GTFO.
Goal: +3, elimination. KO or GTFO.
TOTAL: 5/5.

Aesthetics
Production: +2. The art is beautiful and totally thematic, and the cards are very nice in terms of quality (not linen-textured, but close). However it is just a card game -- no miniatures, board, counters, etc. If you get the deluxe version, you get two neoprene player mats with great artwork, but as that is optional I won't count it here.
TOTAL: 2/5.

GRAND TOTAL
28 out of 40. While I wouldn't really call this much of an AT design in terms of its pedigree and design philosophy, it has enough of the elements of classic AT in it to really appeal to AT fans. So if you're an AT fan, check it out!
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17. Board Game: HeroQuest [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:581] [Average Rating:7.14 Unranked]
Board Game: HeroQuest
Elia - "Rainbow Hippie" Acca
Italy
Bergamo
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Let me try this classic... (and, the only Ameritrashy game in my collection, probably)
Theme
Scope: heroic, +2.
Depth: some, +1. Some story, the adventures have a common storyline.
Implementation: +3. Well maybe a two...
Theme bonus: +1. Fantasy.
TOTAL: 7/10.

Interaction
Indirect: Little or none, +0.
Direct: +5, major. Cooperation, spellcasting, combat.
Combat bonus: +2.
TOTAL: 7/10.

Risk
Information: +2, secret. Hard one. Since when the Heroes start they do not even know the gameboard, I guess Secret.
Uncertainty: +3, lots. Dice run combat.
TOTAL: 5/5.

Complexity
Assymetry: +3, Full Asymmetry: 1 Evil against up to 4 Goods with different powers.
Elements: +1, more. Heroes, Villains, Dice, Treasure, Equipement, Spell Cards, Furniture with Rats.
TOTAL: 4/5.

Endgame
Game timer: +2, no timer.
Goal: +3, elimination. Player elimination is reasonably possible, and it's the goal of one player. The others' goals may vary. Maybe should be +2.
TOTAL: 5/5.

Aesthetics
Production: +5. Pieces of furniture!!! With Rats and Skullz!!!
Oh, and some miniatures, I think. Not sure. Maybe.
TOTAL: 5/5.

GRAND TOTAL

33 out of 40. Now, I won't comment on this since I've no experience on AT... You can do the hard part of arguing
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18. Board Game: Heroes of Graxia [Average Rating:5.48 Overall Rank:18428]
Board Game: Heroes of Graxia
Leslie Taylor
United States
Florida
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Theme

Scope: 2. The game deals with heroes fighting in large armies against each other.

Depth: 0. There is no real story to the game, and I am not sure if it makes a hell of a lot of sense.

Implementation: 3. The card art is nice, and the game has the feeling of armies clashing, but too many elements seem nonsensical to the theme.

Bonus: 1. It is bad fantasy, but still fantasy.

Interaction

Indirect: 3. You can take cards or kill monsters the other player wants. This can screw up their strategies to a large degree because the marketplace items change as you buy them.

Direct: 5. You can cast spells to screw each other up, and have giant combats between your armies.

Bonus: 2 the combat between players might be the best part of the game.

Risk

Information: 1. You can see your opponents armies, the stuff in the marketplace, and the monsters available to kill. You cannot see their hand of cards, which makes a big difference in casting spells or entering combat against them.

Uncertainty: 2. There are no dice rolls, but there is a lot of card drawing. I think dice are required for this to be a 3, but the card play during combat is good.

Complexity

Asymmetry: 2. Each player has a hero that has different stats and special powers that affect how they play.

Elements: 1. The combat involves a lot of numbers, but it isn’t a complex game by any means.

EndGame

Game Timer: 1. The game ends either when all the monsters are killed (done by players) or when someone scores fifteen points from killing other players units. There is control over when the game ends, but it is still kept at a certain length.

Goal: 1. You are trying to get the most points, and you can win without killing anything (hard to do, but I have done it).

Aesthetics

Production: 2. The card art and quality is nice, there are plastic minis, but it is not elaborate or even beautiful in any way.

Theme: 6
Interaction: 10
Risk: 3
Complexity: 3
Endgame: 2
Aesthetics: 2

Total: 26.
I honestly thought this would be more of an AT game. I may be calculating this differently than others, but I think it is because of its Dominion lineage.
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19. Board Game: Carcassonne [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:185] [Average Rating:7.42 Unranked]
Board Game: Carcassonne
Clay
United States
Alabama
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Just for funsies I decided to run a few euros through the scale.

Carcassonne:
Theme - 1 (2 if using "fantasy" expansions)
Interaction - 3
Risk - 1
Complexity - 0
End Game - 1
Aesthetics - 1 or 2

Total = 7-9

Settlers of Catan:
Theme - 2
Interaction - 4
Risk - 1
Complexity - 1
End Game - 3
Aesthetics - 1

Total = 12

Pillars of the Earth:
Theme - 3
Interaction - 3
Risk - 0
Complexity - 1
End Game - 1
Aesthetics - 2 or 3

Total = 10-11

Stone Age:
Theme - 4
Interaction - 3
Risk - 2
Complexity - 1
End Game - 3
Aesthetics - 2 or 3

Total = 15-16

Dynasties:
Theme - 3
Interaction - 5
Risk - 2
Complexity - 0 (2 if using the special ability cards)
End Game - 1
Aesthetics - 1

Total = 12-14

The aesthetics numbers are a bit muddy, with questions like "how much weight does amazing board art carry" and subjective quibbles (Dynasties is one of the most aesthetically pleasing games I own, for example, but from an AT mindset it just doesn't look the part), but I think that's about right. I'd imagine most euros will fall in the 8-15 range, which seems acceptable. Someone needs to do a scale for euros too so we can see if AT games fare similarly on that end (I might give it a shot if nobody else does).

I also did the currently optional "ahistoricity" category, for extra funsies:

Carc - 3 (New total: 10-12)
Settlers - 3 (New total: 15)
Pillars - 3 (New total: 13-14)
Stone Age - 3 (New total: 18-19)
Dynasties - 2 (New total: 14-16)

Assuming a new target number of 28 all things stayed equal other than Dynasties losing a little AT-cred.
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20. Board Game: Chess [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:436] [Average Rating:7.14 Unranked]
Board Game: Chess
Elia - "Rainbow Hippie" Acca
Italy
Bergamo
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It's so fun that I'll try once more
It may be that many won't agree with me, feel free to argue

Theme
Scope: Dramatic, +1. A battle is a battle, after all.
Depth: none, +0. Generic Medioeval Battle.
Implementation: +1. Abstract. (Almost?)
Theme bonus: +0.
TOTAL: 2/10.

Interaction
Indirect: +3 major.
Direct: +5, major.
Combat bonus: +2. Might be 0. But they are combatting, after all.
TOTAL: 10/10.

Risk
Information: +0, open.
Uncertainty: +0, none.
TOTAL: 0/5.

Complexity
Assymetry: +0, Symmetric (almost completely)
Elements: +1, more. 6 kinds of piece with each its own movement, special moves.
TOTAL: 1/5.

Endgame
Game timer: +2, no timer.
Goal: +3, elimination. Put the other's king in condition not to be able to save himself.
TOTAL: 5/5.

Aesthetics
Production: +3. Wooden miniatures may highly vary, it refers to the typical set (in the picture)
TOTAL: 3/5.

(Ahistoricity)
+3: This game is ostensibly set in actual earth history but only vaguely
TOTAL: 3/5.

GRAND TOTAL
24 out of 45. (28 AT)
21 out of 40 (25 AT)
Looks like we've got an almost AmeriTrash
EDIT typo
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21. Board Game: Arkham Horror [Average Rating:7.26 Overall Rank:336] [Average Rating:7.26 Unranked]
Board Game: Arkham Horror
Emmanuel B
France
Paris
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Let's try it with an usual suspect :

Theme : Total 9/10 (Scope "Epic/Heroic" +2 / Depth "Rich" +2 / Implementation +4 / Bonus "Fantasy theme" +1)
Interaction : Total 6/10 (Indirect "Minor" +1 / Direct "Minor" +3 / Bonus "Combat" +2)
Risk : Total 3/5 (Information "Mixed" +1 / Uncertainty "More" +2)
Complexity : Total 4/5 (Assymetry "Different powers" +2 / Elements "Many" +2)
Endgame : Total 3/5 (Game timer "Variable" +1 / Goal "Goals" +2)
Aesthetics : 4/5
With Kevin H. "Ahistoricity" category : "Alternate history" +4

Grand total : 29/40 (with Ahistoricity : 33/45)

Some points could be argued, of course, especially since as a coop the categories about player competition do not apply well.
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22. Board Game: Small World [Average Rating:7.26 Overall Rank:263] [Average Rating:7.26 Unranked]
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Vic R
Spain
Tomares (Seville)
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Im surprised nobody tried this one. Is really AT, euro or wargame? One of the most controversial question can be revealed today. Or maybe notcool

Theme
Scope: Epic, +2 the game time are thousands or even millions of years, several civilizations appears and declines in just one game.
Depth: none, +0. But none is told about this smallword besides its size.
Implementation: +2/+3. Combat is abstract, but the special powers are (usually) well related to its bearer and when a civilization strecht too much ends in decline and is replaced for a new one, and thi ssgood points somehow compesates the combat.
Theme bonus: +1. For fantasy
TOTAL: 5-6/10.

Interaction
Indirect: +3 major. You can block and/or ocupate best places (empty or with a bonus for other races)
Direct:+5 major. You can attack other players and kills his minion
Combat bonus: 0. But I dont think its deserves the +2 for combat because there are not real combat taking place (unless you consider the final die as a c0mbat)
TOTAL: 8/10.

Risk
Information: +0, open.
Uncertainty: +1, little, only in the last attack and in a few special powers
TOTAL: 1/5.

Complexity
Assymetry: +2, Different powers in every race
Elements: Many +2, There a lots of special elements (forts,camps, drake, catapult, heroes, etc) which adds "chrome".
TOTAL: 4/5.

Endgame
Game timer: 0, fixed number of turns
Goal: +1, most VP
TOTAL: 1/5.

Aesthetics +3 Great pictures, but counters not miniatures
Production: +3. Again many counters, with two differents sides, lot of differents chits, but evrything is 2D, so i put the cap in 3.
TOTAL: 3/5.

(Ahistoricity)
+5: This game is set in other world without any relationship with ours.
TOTAL: 5/5.

GRAND TOTAL
27-28 out of 45. (28 AT)
22-23 out of 40 (25 AT)

So a real borderline, Smallworld resist the calculator without give any clue about its real nature.

Edit: changed assimetry rate to +2
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23. Board Game: Chaos in the Old World [Average Rating:7.67 Overall Rank:131]
Board Game: Chaos in the Old World
Lizbeth
United Kingdom
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Right then, lets give my latest purchase a try whistle Especially since mechanics wise it kinda feels like a euro in drag more than AT at heart

Theme:
Epic +2 (across the old world being dragged into darkness)
depth +2 (it's warhammer, you could build houses out of the collected literature)
implementation: +5 (all the gods have unique decks/followers/personalities, the dials make sure you play in character and the old world has stuff going on underneath the warring gods)
bonus +1
total: 10

interaction:
indirect: +1 for minor, you can block people using chaos cards and khorne's figures often discourage others placing in the same area

direct: +5 competition for board space

bonus +2 for combat: although a relatively minor part for all gods except well... you know who devil

total: 8

Risk:
information: +2 secret, you don't know events, you don't know what opponents have in they're hand (a big part of the game)

uncertainty: more +2, you know what most moves will do, but several chaos cards can counter various things, there is dice rolling for combat

total: 4

Complexity:

partly asymetric in powers +2

elements: +2 many, although the figures of each god can be reasonably simmaler (cultists in particular) with upgrades and everything flying about there's very little simmaler between gods but how to score VP

total: 4

end game:

set no of rounds: +0, technically there is an event card 'Franz's decree' or some such that essentially skips a round by shortening the old world deck but that may not appear in many games

goal: most VP/goals: 1 and a half (I know I'm cheating, but it's due to the gods asymmetric play styles

points: 1 and a half

aesthetics: 4, very well themed, beautiful components, but with less than a 'grand' AT game would possess, instead having a reasonably sleek components list which drags this down a point

Total: 31 and a half

and if you add ahistoric points thats 36 and a half.

So area control in drag is one of the most AT things around?

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24. Board Game: Cyclades [Average Rating:7.52 Overall Rank:186]
Board Game: Cyclades
David B
United States
Albuquerque
New Mexico
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I just played this one recently and figured I'd rate it with my updated system. My suspicion is that it is a hybrid and I doubt it will rate as an Ameritrash game but let's see how it does.

Theme: 5
Dramatic Scope, Some depth (it has monsters/gods from actual mythology but the gameplay/situation doesn't come from anything as far as I can tell), Poor Implementation (I almost gave this a 2, the theme is pretty tacked-on) and a Fantasy theme.

Interaction: 6
Minor Indirect, Minor Direct, Combat (Combat was surprisingly sparse in the game I played, might have been partly due to the # of players in the game, but the game seemed designed to end just about the time when you needed to start actually fighting. Plus with only one person able to move his troops every other turn there just wasn't that much opportunity to fight)

Risk: 2
Mixed Information, Little Risk (Money is secret but everything else is open, Only risk is in combat, but the die roll only adds up to 3 to your combat value and combat isn't common)

Complexity: 2
Symmetric, Many Elements

Endgame: 4
No Timer, Goals

Aesthetics: 3
Miniatures of various types and good art. Maybe this should be a 4 but most of the miniatures aren't that great and the monsters which look the best are hardly used.

Total 22/40. So it comes in as a hybrid, but rather close to AT, and I could have rated this a point or even 2 higher without going too far out on a limb. I had guessed it would come in around 20 so it was closer than I had anticipated.
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25. Board Game: Earth Reborn [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:506]
Board Game: Earth Reborn
Dennis Gadgaard
Denmark
Copenhagen
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This is my take on the AT'ness of Earth Reborn. You may disagree freely

Theme(9):

Scope(+2):
Heroic themes focus on individual characters and involve them in great deeds and events.

Depth(+1):
Arguably the post-apocalypse has been described a lot, but that may be a too generic evaluation.

Implementation(+4):
I see absolutely no way to re-theme Earth Reborn into a game about either stock trading or farming.

Special Bonus(+2):
I think post-apocalyptic combat with zombies qualify.

Interaction(10):

Indirect(+3):
There are definetely blocking moves. Command tokens, Mission points, Equipment and even certain rooms can be considered resources. There is auctions through duelling for initiative and interruptions. All of these play a major part of the game.

Direct(+5):
Combat, check. Stealing resources, (equipment and room control) check. Negotiation, (in a SAGS game you may pass though an enemy character with the player's consent) check. Trade, no. Cooperation, (in a 3-4 player game) check. Capture and torture, (ok, that's maybe just a variant of combat, but interaction it is).

Special bonus(+2):
You cannot deny the drama of combat in Earth Reborn.

Risk(5):

Information(+2):
Your remaining amount of CP is hidden, but can be calculated. Your opponents order tokens are hidden, which is major. The whereabouts of equipment in the deck is hidden, which is also important information since there is so much possibility of manipulating the deck once you've established information about it. Your missions (SAGS) may be hidden too, which is major. So basically you may not know about your opponents capabilities to execute orders, you may not know of your enemy's objectives and you may establish an advantage in knowledge of a shared resource pool.

Uncertainty(+3):
You can maneuver to improve your odds, but most actions (close combat, shooting, searching, activating rooms and equipment etc.) are all governed by the roll of dice.

Complexity(5):

Assymetry(+3):
The players will never have equal forces, since all characters (save from the two zombies) have different stats and abilities. There is always a difference in starting position with respect to the map. There is often a difference in starting command points, mission points, and within each turn there is a difference in which order tokens each player has available (no two order tokens are identical). There are very few duplicate pieces of equipment. Each player always have different objectives. I'm hard pressed to think of a way to make Earth Reborn more assymmetrical.

Elements(+2):
OMG, just read the rules.

Endgame(4):

Game Timer(+1):
This depends. There are scenarios where you play until a set condition, with no real time constraint, and games (like SAGS) that always run a fixed number of turns (6). I'll rate it the average.

Goal(+3):
Most MPs; often the case. Goals; there may be missions that give MP or scenarios that give victory for achieving a goal. Elimination; you can always wipe out your enemy, and in most scenarios this will give you a certain victory. At any rate, a player certainly faces the risk of elimination.

Aesthetics(4):

Production(+5):
Miniatures; top notch minis primed for painting, all individualized. Counters; order tokens, command tokens, timers, smoke, deadly vira, landmines, destoyed doors and walls, lots. Two sets of unique dice. Modular board with tons of two-sided terrain/rooms/hallways. You may rate this down a bit if you think 12 unique minis are too few.

Total 38/40
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