Is ASL Ameritrash?

JoeArthur

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Came across this article and it appears ASL is Ameritrash:


Which sort of hurt.................
 

Michael R

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The article never mentions ASL. Ameritrash is referring to games like Monopoly.
 

RandyT0001

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Like soccer players calling hockey, a 'trash' sport.
 

von Marwitz

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Came across this article and it appears ASL is Ameritrash:


Which sort of hurt.................

This article gets most things right but the nuances and the tone are debatable.

What I can fully agree with that you'll find many more wargames of US origin than of European origin.

I was about to say, that from Stratego and Risk to ASL, all sorts of wargames come from the US. Verifying, I've learned, that Stratego and Risk were indeed of French origin (never knew that...). Anyhow, the fact stands many many wargames of any grade of sophistication come from the US. Some of them can be rated as trash, ASL with certainity cannot. Whether there were Euro-style games around in the US of US origin in any notable number a couple of decades ago, I cannot judge. The US started the genre of roleplaying games (D&D and many others that followed), which are not wargames nor 'Euro-games'/family games either.

With regard to Germany, I can attest that Euro-games have been the most popular type of game since I can think of. There were some old classics: Chinese Checkers, Nine Men's Morris, Ludo, Chess as board-games, and as card-games Skat, Doppelkopf, Rummy, Canasta. These, even my grandparents and more or less everyone would know. Especially since the 80's the advent of more diverse 'family games' began. The German term would be 'Gesellschaftsspiel' which a very popular online-dictionary translates to 'parlor game'. But what is meant is what Americans today would call 'Euro games' in the sense of the article.

The basic idea would for the game to be playable together with parents, kids, and grandparents or any combination thereof. As such, the typical number of players would be something between 2 to 6 with most games actually played by 3 to 5 people in practice. With this in mind, it is not exactly surprising that these games were not circling around war and destruction. It is also a marked difference to many US wargames that are intended to be 2 player games. Because being played by the family inclusive of kids, the rules for the games as well as the time frame would have to be overseeable, not too complicated, and the time frame would easily have to fit into an afternoon or evening. Family orientation in the games would also mean that kids around 8 years should stand a realistic chance to win against adults. This meant that in many of the earlier family games from the 80's, luck might have been a bigger factor compared to today's designs. These are all factors, that don't exactly go well together with the concept of a wargame.

Another general observation to take into account is, that most games traditionally popular in the US have a clear winner or loser. For example, in American football, a draw as the final result is the absolute rarity. Not so in soccer which is popular in Germany. While it is pretty clear, that in 2 player games, there only can be one winner and one loser, in games of 2-6 people, it is obvious, that following that theme, there would only be 1 winner and 1 to five losers. That said to keep the fun up for everyone - especially the small kids taking part in a family game - the focus is less about winning or losing but about the fun of playing the game itself.

Furthermore, 'playing war' was not encouraged in Germany when I was a kid. Of course, there were all sorts of war toys, pop guns, etc. for any "full blown war". But it was not comparable to the US. G.I. Joe stuff just would not sell and real war was (and is) not seen as anything heroic over here. Any good or bad US war movie will at some time have the lofty, declamatory US flag solemny flowing with some trumpet blown, which makes us Europeans think: "Oh well, there they go again..." It testifies a different attitude. I'll go as far to say that the American people (not its soldiers) have not tasted war as opposed to Europeans in a very long time.

It helps to see these cultural differences to understand why wargames often originated from the US and family games (Euro-games) from Europe and especially Germany. This makes it unsurprising, why roleplaying games have been very popular Germany during their time, too.

So much for some background which explains quite a bit.

Being a regular attendant of the "Spiel" games fair in Essen, I can attest that it is a BIG thing (in fact the world's largest fair for non-computer games with 209,000 visitors on 86.000 square meters with 1,200 exhibitors from 53 countries in 2019). If you make the mistake to visit there on the week-end, you'll not move in the throngs of visitors but will be moved by the throngs of visitors... Actually, it is a mix of comic-convention, LARP-stuff (less so than a couple of years ago), some toys, but the overwhelming focus is Euro-games. Of course, you'll also find many wargames there, but things like ASL, i.e. extremely complex wargames, are an absolute niche. It is to be noted, that the "Spiel" is not about computer games - for that, we have the 'Gamescom' fair in Cologne, also a BIG one, actually the biggest one in the world with 373,000 visitors on 218,000 square meters with 1,153 exhibitors in 2019. But back to Spiel Essen: Visitors flock from all over Europe, some staying for the full four days open to the general public to play all day long. You have the possibilities to test many new games on site and, of course, also to buy stuff at pretty good prices. Many people return home with entire trolleys full of stuff...

That said, while some games authors might be recognized, they are not exactly 'stars' as the article describes them to be. Germans do not take Euro-games 'really seriously' (I know that might come as a surprise, because Germans take everything seriously as prejudice has it.), but of course there are gamers that can be termed very dedicated. Just the Euro-equivalent to us ASLers. Game designers do not have 'status', they have a reputation. Just like some ASLers might prefer a scenario design published by Friendly Fire over one by Critical Hit.

The reach of the most popular Euro-Games simply dwarves anything that could compare to US games, so I believe. 'Catan' sold 8 million copies in Germany within the first 10 years (i.e. til 2005). That would be the equivalent to 33 million copies for a game in the US based upon the population. 50% of the Germans knew the term 'Catan' in 2004. By the end of 2018 it has been translated into 42 languages. Another one of the 'big ones' is 'Carcassone' with 6 million copies (would equate to 25 million copies for the US) within the first 10 years (i.e. til 2010) and has been translated into 20 languages. Both of these are really family games. My seven-year-old can play both of them, albeit not yet beat daddy...

Over the decades, many excellent Euro-games have emerged. The scene has, of course, diversified. There are good games for kids. But the real dam breaks if they reach roughly the age of 8 and are able to cope with rules like in Catan and Carcassone. Tons of excellent stuff here. I'd like to describe them as follows: You learn them and play them the same evening, while mastering them is another matter. Then, there are Euro-games which are somewhat more complex. 'Agricola', 'Caylus' and 'Orleans' could serve as examples. These I describe as follows: Learn them the first evening - including playing a game, but understand what you are doing the second evening. Again, mastering them is a different matter.

What is indeed relatively rare for Euro-games is that you can directly harm your opponent. Which is the very objective in war games. If you would like a picture: You could block the path of the ship of an opponent which he needs for his trade but you can't burn and sink the damn thing. So opposition is more indirect.

As the article mentions correctly, most games only end after a given number of turns or on certain condition for all players at the same time. This is a necessity if a game is played by more than two players to avoid boring those kicked out early. Many games have some sort of victory point tally. Usually, games allow different paths and tactics to win, which makes and keeps them intersting. Often the final turn is special, so that being at the top of the victory tally before then does not necessarily mean that you have won. The article also correctly mentions that some games include 'damping' mechanisms that to a certain extent prevent players from falling back irrevocably early or getting too great an advantage. You might picture this as a sort of 'dynamic balance' mechanism during the game which keeps it interesing for everyone without levelling.

Again, the article adequately describes that Euro-games are mostly 'constructive' and not 'destructive' like war games. You build things: Cathedrals, railroads, reputations, villages... You explore things: travels, insights, libraries, ... You develop things: First you need A, B, and C. With that you can build D. With D, A, and C, you can build E. D and E open up new paths & tactics to victory or give other advantages, etc.

Maybe one of the most important factors for the success of Euro games is that they are social events. They bring the family together. Or friends. You sit and play together in person. No computer screens. The real stuff. Generally, humans like to socialize. You can better do so while playing 2-6 player games rather than 2 player games (i.e. the typical wargame). The complexity of the rules is low enough to bring together all sorts of people and ages. You do not have much overhead for preparation.

That said, it is not exactly surprising, that Euro-games now have growing success in the US and around the world after the first flagships like 'Catan' have succeeded in giving people the taste of these type of games.

von Marwitz
 
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Eagle4ty

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Came across this article and it appears ASL is Ameritrash:


Which sort of hurt.................
So here's what Gen Patton has to say about that.
 

The Purist

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Gawd,... that was terribly flawed piece of Hollywood history mangling, starting with that opening scene. :eek::whistle:

George was an excellent general and was no doubt a very brave man but this film crossed the line to hero worship at times. If not for the "non-combat" bits where George is in trouble this film might have been irredeemable. Then again, expecting Hollywood to produce a historically accurate film about any historical person/event is a rare event.

The last one I can think of is maybe Tora! Tora! Tora! :unsure:
 

Eagle4ty

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Gawd,... that was terribly flawed piece of Hollywood history mangling, starting with that opening scene. :eek::whistle:

George was an excellent general and was no doubt a very brave man but this film crossed the line to hero worship at times. If not for the "non-combat" bits where George is in trouble this film might have been irredeemable. Then again, expecting Hollywood to produce a historically accurate film about any historical person/event is a rare event.

The last one I can think of is maybe Tora! Tora! Tora! :unsure:
Read "Lucky Forward" sometime & you'll see where they got most of the background info for the film; Talk about Hero worship! Then again, George C. Scott was MUCH better in Dr. Strangelove (How I Learned to Quit Worring and Love the Bomb.
  • President Merkin Muffley: General Turgidson. it is the avowed policy of our nation never to strike first with nuclear weapons!
    Gen. Buck Turgidson: Well sir, I would say that General Ripper has already invalidated THAT policy!
 
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Gordon

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Gawd,... that was terribly flawed piece of Hollywood history mangling, starting with that opening scene. :eek::whistle:

George was an excellent general and was no doubt a very brave man but this film crossed the line to hero worship at times. If not for the "non-combat" bits where George is in trouble this film might have been irredeemable. Then again, expecting Hollywood to produce a historically accurate film about any historical person/event is a rare event.

The last one I can think of is maybe Tora! Tora! Tora! :unsure:
See my post #2 above, Patton was a demi-god. ;)
 

Eagle4ty

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See my post #2 above, Patton was a demi-god. ;)
Gotta give you another thumbs up ?as anyone with his birthday on Veterans Day (Nov 11th) can't really go to wrong (OK so he was born before they declared it Veterans day, but it HAD to be in his honor. Right?);)
 

The Purist

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I am always surprised referees do not yellow/red card players on the soccer pitch for such un-sportsmen like conduct.

Here in hockey land such antics would have the player ridiculed off the ice, shamed from the bench, laughed out of the locker room, chased out of town and pursued off the continent by crowds with torches, buckets of tar and bags of feathers.

Prissy little school girls (hurrumpf!!)
 

Ric of The LBC

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I am always surprised referees do not yellow/red card players on the soccer pitch for such un-sportsmen like conduct.

Here in hockey land such antics would have the player ridiculed off the ice, shamed from the bench, laughed out of the locker room, chased out of town and pursued off the continent by crowds with torches, buckets of tar and bags of feathers.

Prissy little school girls (hurrumpf!!)
and a 2 min embellishment penalty.
 

The Purist

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My issue with the speech in the movie is not that he is trying to motivate his troops but the ideas he presents that "only" America loves a winner, that American admire the best marble shooter/runner/sports hero, that Americans love a fight, all "real Americans" love the sting of battle, that American can't stand a loser and that the idea American wanted to stay out of the war was false.

That may have been George Patton's view but it is largely codswallop. No army tolerates a losing general for long. No army rejoices in losing battles, every nation has sports heroes or heroes that are admired and so on.

And,.... yes,.... it took a hell of a lot to finally bring the American population around to the idea that they would have to become involved in the war in Europe.

The speech is placed at the start of the movie (before Torch) instead of 1944 when he addressed 3rd Army. This is in itself misleading the audience and gives the impression that Patton and his troops simply rode in on white stallions to victory, when in fact the US Army in Africa, Sicily and Italy went through many of the same growing pains other European inexperienced combatants had to go through.

There are other historical errors/oversights in the movie, such as the tank platoon that runs out of gas and fights a German column all night and in hand to hand combat. Such an incident never happened in 3rd Army's advance towards Metz and Nancy. It was included for dramatic affect and to give a rather unsubtle swipe at Eisenhower's broad front strategy and the fact that priority for supplies was given to Montgomery for Market-Garden at this time. The writers were in the Patton camp believing Patton's view that he should have led the allied drive.

From a distinctly historical point of view there are numerous flaws with the movie and the producers/writers views linger even today (50 years later) but it is an "American" cultural icon, flaws and all.

Edit: note that my issue isn't with Patton's generalship but with the movie's portrayal of the man.
 
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