Heh! So the story goes after WWII, the German people were quite averse to violence and violent themes in many ways, for understandable reasons, but they also wanted activities that drew families together - hence the four player standard: usually two parents and two children. A long time ago before the proliferation of contemporary board gaming across the globe, Euro games were termed German games, and their hallmarks were that they were themed in non-violence, usually family friendly and were simple enough for children to learn yet offering complexity that would come to adult players as children grew. Agricola is a decent contemporary example of this (though first published in 2007).
Most of the then named German games were about farming, commerce, the arts, entertainment and restauranting, for example, and in those respects, not a lot has changed. I personally still really love these themes. Often direct conflict games that are abstracts of war but not really that far departed from it, aren’t sufficiently sophisticated enough from the dynamics of interleaved stone-throwing and attrition. There are some stunning exceptions to that of-course, with what we have coined Euro mechanisms layered on top of combat, either governing the combat itself and/or dictating movement, unit generation and attribution and/or other logistical aspects. Kemet is probably the first and best example of doing this in a really great way (though itself not exactly perfect, it’s still better and shorter than many traditional wargames and more interactive than many traditional conflictless Eurogames).
One of the other facets of tabletop gaming (of which there are many) is the affectionately named Ameritrash, a take on the term Eurotrash popular culture, though I’m rather fond of the newer term Amerithrash because it’s more metal \m/
Amerithrash of-course attempts to be more thematic by way of flavour text in particular, lots of chrome (excess of tokens and bits, in particular miniatures and standees in place of more abstract pieces though I will always argue that realistic miniatures actually make a game more abstract by way of scaling oddities… anyway) and high random factors like card-draws and dice-chucking - Descent falls somewhere in the lay of Amerithrash land and is one of the better examples of it being a more contemporary product with some great rules governing and controlling play. Of-course, there are products within the genre that can have you wiped out on a die-roll with scant nothing you can do about it and some find this frustrating, but I appreciate the charm in this kind of thing, especially in narrative-heavy experiences, in the face of the Eurogaming alternative of stone-cold randomless calculations. Sometimes the drama is a ton of fun and sometimes spreadsheeting straight-up isn’t. You know, sometimes there’s a limit to just how many times you can trade spices for companies for cash for victory points and look for the sexiness in that.
Aaaaaanyway, a tiny bit of history for ya, whether you asked for it or not! There’s a whole lot more where that came from btw, and the lines between genres get blurred more and more every day which is awesome. It’s the players that tend to be slower to come along with the designers trying to drag everyone into the bright future of hybrid experiences and brave, new, unknown play dynamics. Also, I’ll never pass up the opportunity to state that long-term Euro gaming breeds bad habits #trollolo