Board game genres – what’s in the box?
The board game market is booming.
More and more board games are appearing. Keeping track of them and understanding what’s on the box, let alone in it, keeps getting trickier. On game boxes you might find a whole series of logos – we covered what these mean in the blog post about awards. But that’s not the only thing that can be confusing. In the description on the back of the boxl, you’ll find genre listings like Eurogame, Familygame or Partygame. Often, the genre and mechanics of a game are so intertwined that it can be difficult to figure out what’s in the box at all. First, let’s look at genres. We’ll cover mechanics in a later article.
The lines between genres are fluid, and rarely do all game connoisseurs agree exactly how a game should be classified.
Abstract gamesAbstract games don’t have a theme or real-world setting. They are set in an abstract world, which may, for example, consist only of colors or shapes. There are many classic examples of abstract games. These include chess and checkers but also card games like skat and canasta.
Eurogames are sometimes also called German-Games or European style games. However, since many now come from abroad, the term Eurogames is common. The term was coined in the 90s when games like “The Settlers of Catan” and “Carcassone” ushered in a new type of board game. Games in this category often have a low luck component; the focus is usually on mechanics. These games are themed, but in most cases you could change the setting and the games would still work. Eurogames are usually not about destroying the opponent either – just annoy, inflict damage, take away resources or occupy them while optimizing your own game.
Thematic games (ameritrash)
Unlike Eurogames, Ameritrash games focus on characters. The story and theme are also more important. This often requires much more luck. It is not uncommon for actions or moves to be determined by rolling dice.
These games are often also called beginner board games. This genre probably represents the largest group, with rules that are easy to learn and fun for participants of any experience level. Family games usually aren’t very long. Games rarely last more than 30-45 minutes, so they can be played after dinner.
This category is characterized by a very high level of interaction between players. Often games require 4 players or more (and can sometimes be played by huge groups!). The rules are easily explained and accessible. The duration of a party game is usually short. We can divide this category further into subcategories, such as: icebreaker games, entertainment games, role-playing games and knowledge games.
Practice makes perfect – those hooked on games in early childhood might just be the next game experts tomorrow! Children’s games are designed for the youngest players. Often, they still have educational aspects or help with learning. The game figures are suitable for very young children and large enough that they can’t be swallowed. This genre has a bit less ambiguity, as the age information alone often makes it easy to recognize a children’s game.
Expert games offer the greatest challenges – and often the thickest rulebooks. For these you need to enjoy learning complex rules and being faced with a huge challenge – in other words: a lot of board game experience. As a reward, however, you get a fantastic gaming experience with countless possibilities. These games also often run quite long: several hours is not uncommon.
Family or beginner games too boring? Great, then go for the connoisseur games. These have much more demanding rules, but are not as complex as expert games. Studying the rules must be fun for at least one of the players and players have to first find their way into a game. In return, players are rewarded with games that are very varied and offer the possibility to develop individual strategies or tactics. Usually these games last a little longer, from 45 – 60 minutes upwards, plus additional setup time.