Spend a day browsing through an online board gaming community and you’ll be furrowing your brows at all the jargon being thrown around. What’s the difference between Ameritrash and Eurogame? CCG and LCG? The heck is a meeple, anyway?
Fear not. Here’s a crash course on the most common terms you’ll come across in board gaming circles. You’ll be an expert overnight.
Ameritrash is a derogatory term for “American-style games,” which loosely describes the tendency for American game design to focus heavily on theme, conflict between players, longer playtimes, and in some cases, a higher degree of luck through dice rolls or card draws. A more neutral version of this term is “amerigame.”
Unlike ameritrash, eurogames tend to shy away from inter-player conflict and focus more on indirect interactions, plus they’re lighter on theme (sometimes even edging into abstract territory). Luck is usually designed out of the game, with a greater emphasis on strategy. Eurogames are sometimes called German-style games.
3. Filler Game
Filler games are the ones you play to kill time, usually while waiting for people to arrive for game night or when you’re traveling and need to pass the time in short bursts. They’re often lightweight, have few components, don’t demand much mental energy, and can be played in under 15 minutes.
Out of print. A game that’s no longer being manufactured by the publisher, meaning you’ll have to grab one of the remaining copies or buy used.
Print and play. The process of DIY printing all the components of a game, to be played without buying the actual game. In some cases this can be unethical, but there are plenty of games out there that are freely released as PNP games. They tend to be card games because cards are easy to print.
The abstract wooden figure that’s used in many different games, usually eurogames, which has become something of an icon for board gaming in general. Originated in the game Carcassonne.
Inserts are organizers that are inserted into board game boxes to help keep all the components safe and tidy. They can be DIY or not—there are companies that sell game-specific inserts, often for heavier games with lots of high-quality components.
8. Point Salad
Point salad refers to games where there are many different ways to earn victory points, and in some extreme cases, games where every action you can take rewards you with some victory points. The term is usually said in a derogatory spirit because these games can quickly become chaotic.
9. Social Deduction
Social deduction is a genre of games that involve hidden information and players trying to suss out (or deduce) what that information is. In most social deduction games, players have secret identities or roles that need to be uncovered. Combined with the social element, these games are great for both thinkers and charismatic gamers.
CCGs are collectible card games, and can be synonymous with TCGs, or trading card games. Think Magic: The Gathering and Pokemon. They involve massive pools of potential cards across a range of rarities—some cards are printed more frequently than others—and players build decks from the cards they possess to face off against others.
LCGs are living card games, which are similar to CCGs but with one major distinction: cards are released as box sets with a fixed pool of cards, and those cards are all you need to play the game. Both LCGs and CCGs are deckbuilding games, but LCGs downplay much of the luck involved in acquiring cards and are thus less expensive to play and easier to get into.
12. Worker Placement
“Worker placement” is a bit of a misnomer, and would be better off called “action drafting.” This genre of games involves a pool of actions that are shared between all players, and each round, players take turns selecting which action they want to take (thus making that action unavailable to other players that round).
Press-your-luck is a genre of games where a player’s turn involves repeating a certain action, where each repeat comes with a risk, and it’s up to the player to decide how many times they want to repeat before stopping. A well-designed press-your-luck oozes with tension because you’re usually trying to outperform the other players, leading to agonizing decisions between risk and reward.
Roll-and-write is a genre of dice games that involve a predetermined worksheet handed out to players, repeated dice rolls, and the goal of filling out said worksheet based on the results of those dice rolls. First player to complete the worksheet wins. The most classic example is Yahtzee.
15. Analysis Paralysis
Analysis paralysis is a state of mind when a player is faced with many possible actions and can’t decide which one to take because there are too many factors to consider. Simple games and heavy games can induce AP, so it’s not necessarily a trait of a particular game; it’s more of a personal trait that manifests in min-maxxers and people who can’t stand losing.
Are there any other board gaming terms that confuse you? Let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to explain it!
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