What are Thematic Games?
Thematic games are games that emphasize a highly developed theme, characters, heroes, or factions with individually defined abilities, player to player conflict, and usually feature a moderate to high level of luck." In gamer jargon, Thematic games have been called Ameritrash games since at least the year 2000, whether they were made in America or not. See the 'Controversy' section for more.
What is not a Thematic Game?
Thematic Games do not include the popular genre of Eurogames. In fact, many gamers find that these two genres focus on very different aspects of gaming. Simply put, Eurogames tend to focus on streamlined, well-balanced play, with a mimimal theme and more abstracted game mechanics, while Thematic Games focus more on theme and dramatic gameplay.
Examples of Eurogames
Thematic Games also do not include traditional wargames. Despite having a 'war theme', these games tend to focus on history and detail to a level that would probably not appeal to the typical Thematic gamer.
What About Hybrids?
games are by definition have both Eurogame element and Thematic Game elements.
What About Waros?
Waro games are by definition part Eurogame and part Wargame. These can be difficult to classify. In general, most Waros would not be considered Thematic Game, especially those with very Euro-like themes and mechanics.
Thematic Game Publishers
The following publishers have published a significant number of Thematic Game titles:
Thematic Games have long been referred to as "Ameritrash" games. Some people feel that the term "Ameritrash" is unnecessarily negative and prefer not to use it. Others feel that the reference to America is a problem because not all of these games are published in America. Suggested alternative terms include Amerigames, Amerigold, and Ameritreasure. To date none of these has gained traction. BoardGameGeek has recently created a category system for games, and named the category for these games "Thematic Games", argueably a more professional name for the category and less offensive to the game publishers themselves.