Thursday, November 23, 2017

German Family Games? Yeah, they are still relevant

When I first started playing designer board games, what I now think of as German Family Games seemed like one of the dominant genres. These days, it sometimes feels like the genre has been forgotten and replaced by Euros, although I am actually sure that it’s the case.

To be sure, both genres are often lumped together as Euros and it’s easy to see why. Out of all the different design schools out there, they are probably the most closely linked. Certainly, war games and abstracts and Ameritrash and party games don’t have have as much in common as German Family Games and Euros. And there are definitely games that it’s hard to pin down which school they belong to.

While I am sure that folks who aren’t into designer games would be the first to say ‘What’s the difference? Why does it matter?’, I think that the wider audience is the very reason it matters. Because German Family Games, while appreciated and enjoyed by the hobby, are games that are aimed at the folks outside the hobby. While Euros are defined as intricate puzzles and systems, German Family Games are defined by simplicity and accessibility. 

While it’s obvious that Euros came out of the German Family Game school, I don’t think they either replaced or improved German Family Games. I believe they created their own niche and have proved that it has a legitimate audience.

I also don’t think that German Family Games are something you grow out of. I sort of used to and I know folks who still think that way. And while it is true that German Family Games have the best ‘gateway’ games, I don’t care for the trim gateway because the games you end up using that way for the games you want to put yourself. Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne, For Sale, TransAmerica, they may be games that are easy to explain but they are games that are fun for everyone.

And I also don’t think that German Family Games are actually going away. They are still coming out with games like Imhotep (to name one I’ve recently played) It’s just a much more crowded market. And non-gaming families that are buying them don’t need a closet full of them :D

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