Monday, August 22, 2022

Is Spree Ameritrash?

Looking at James Ernst’s Spree (a game I have owned forever but never played), I found myself asking where Cheapass Games fall in the world of Ameritrash as a genre. Well, at least this Chrapass game.

I mean, Spree is thematic. It’s about burgling a mall. It’s got conflict. You are shooting at each other for crying out loud. There is take-that. You’re grabbing each other’s stuff. And it’s random.

That sure sounds like Ameritrash to me!

But if Fantasy Flight has taught me anything, it’s that chrome matters. And, even by the standards of Cheapass Games, Spree comes with less chrome than a garden rock.

(Of course, you could bling it out like no one’s business. So it’s no one’s fault but yours if there isn’t any chrome so stop blaming James Ernst!)

But I think that arguing production values define a game, rather than define its price, seems like a bad argument. The Grand Guignal experience may be a part of many Ameritrash games but I’m going to argue it’s not a requirement. Theme and interaction are more important. And Spree clearly has that going on.

I’m certainly not arguing that all Cheap Ass games are Ameritrash. James Ernst’s games fall into a lot of different categories. I suspect his design goals were fun and sales. However, some, like Spree do fit.

From what I’ve read, if you actually play Spree and can see past the production values, it’s a solid beer and pretzels game. And I’m pretty sure that the board is free to download so actually making a copy would be easy.

I still think I’d need some bling to get people to play.

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