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- 4X Game
A style of complex strategy games that center around the ideas of:
eXplore (scouting out new territory)
eXpand (growing your settlements),
eXploit (fully utilizing your resources), and
eXterminate (attacking or even eliminating your opponents).
4X games are known to generally be long, complicated, and focus on multiple paths to victory, with heavy emphasis on technology, economies, politics, and warfare.
To force other players to react aggressively, or to utilize an aggressive strategy.
A board game, often produced in the United States, that is heavily thematic and relies at least partially on a luck mechanic. Traditionally a slightly derogatory term, it has recently started to be reclaimed by fans of American games. (Also known as: Thematic game)
- Analysis Paralysis
A term often used to describe a player frozen by in-game indecision. This is most likely seen in complex or open-ended games where a player is given multiple strategically viable options and they are forced to make a calculated choice. However, whether the result of over-thinking, lack of planning, or other factors, the player will take an inordinate amount of time to make their decision(s).
- Area Control
A game type in which the objective is to gain and hold a certain amount of territory on the board. Players generally must make tactical decisions on maintaining and expanding their region while fighting off encroachment from other players. The reward is victory points towards winning the game, usually for controlling a region of a certain size, for a specific duration, or for its special significance.
A game mechanic where players bid with one another for a particular action, resource, ability, or other advantage. The specifics of auction mechanics vary, but the process is largely the same: one player makes an opening bid, then other players must choose to either raise the previous bid or forfeit their involvement by passing. This continues until one or more winners are declared, as stated by the game’s rules.
- Big Box Game
A game that contains a large amount of components, including such things as dice, chips, minis, cards, and tokens. These expansive games tend to be highly complex, require lots of table space to play, and one playthrough usually lasts in excess of three hours.
A collectible card game in which players construct their own deck of cards to play. Players must buy cards individually or as part of randomized packs, and players do not know which cards will be in each pack. (Also known as: Customizable Card Game, Trading Card Game)
A cooperative game in which players work together to beat the game itself instead of besting each other. Typically, the players either win or lose as a team.
- Coffee Table Game
A fairly short game with a leisurely and casual atmosphere, allowing players to be social without having to heavily strategize between turns. These games still have a distinct win condition, but unlike party games, they don’t require a high degree of in-game player interaction.
A mechanic primarily used with card games wherein players have an expanding and variable number of cards in a deck rather than a fixed amount. Players generally start with a set number of basic cards, but as the game progresses they may spend actions and / or resources to add more powerful cards to their deck from a communal pool. The term is used both to describe the mechanic as well as games whose entire purpose is based around the concept.
A board game, often produced in Germany, that is heavy on strategy with little-to-no thematic elements. These games often involve worker placement or resource management mechanics and are notoriously complex. (Also known as: Designer Game)
- Filler Game
A game designed to be played in 45 minutes or less with an emphasis on straightforward goals and easy to learn rules. These types of games are ideal for being fun while having a limited time frame in which to play them. The term is occasionally used in a derogatory manner due to their generally light strategy or complexity.
- Gateway Game
A simple yet fun game that introduces new people to the hobby. These games offer more decision-making than classic board games, but tend to still rely on luck over more complicated rules.
- Gateway Plus Game
A game with more strategic or complicated elements than a typical Gateway Game, but without the heavy strategy or time commitment of a “gamer’s game”. These are useful for gamers looking to move into the next tier of tabletop games after Gateway Games.
A “living” card game in which players construct their own deck of cards to play. Players buy cards as part of pre-defined packs, and unlike CCGs, players know exactly which cards will be in each set. (Also known as: Expandable Card Game)
- Licenced Game
A game based on an existing media franchise, such as Batman or Star Wars.
- Line Of Sight
Line of Sight, or LOS, is a term most often found in tactical strategy games and war games that modifies how one player or unit is able to attack another. It usually refers to being able to draw a linear path between units to determine if they if they can see one another, though it can be further affected by mechanics such as elevation, unit cover, or range.
A small, quick game involving minimal set-up and components. Micro-games tend to be very short, portable, and often involve bluffing mechanics.
One complete play of a game from start to finish.
- Press Your Luck
A game mechanic in which players are presented with the option to repeat an an action over and over until they choose to stop. Each repetition offers higher rewards, but it comes at the risk of losing part (or all) of the gains made since they started should they fail. It is most commonly seen in dice games.
A term used to describe a game that is rebranded and resold as an entirely new game in order to attract additional and different audiences. While the mechanics and gameplay of a reskin tend to change very little (if at all) from the original, the game is given an entirely new theme and flavor.
Common examples of a reskin are the different variations of Monopoly (Star Wars Monopoly, Red Sox Monopoly, etc.).
- Resource Management
A game mechanic that emphasizes the need to gather, control, and utilize various resources as part of the game’s strategy. It is usually an important factor towards winning the game, though it may or may not be the game’s main focus. Players are usually presented with options for generating and exchanging one resource for another, and they need to make tactical decisions on how to best use or hold on to those resources.
- Roll And Move
A game that employs a randomized movement mechanic, usually along a linear track. Typically, this involves rolling a die and moving the number of spaces indicated, opting for randomness over choice. This is often used to deride games with no strategic challenge or player decisions.
A partially cooperative game in which players work together to beat the game itself, but unlike normal Co-Ops, players do so out of necessity and may turn on each other to score a larger number of points or win the game. The game may be won even if one or more players are eliminated.
- Simultaneous Action
Referring to either a game mechanic or style of game itself, simultaneous action is when all players take their turns at the same time. This style reduces downtime among phases of games and/or creates a more chaotic atmosphere compared to normal turn-based games.
- Spiel des Jahres
German for “Game of the Year”. Started in 1978, it is an annual board game award handed out by European reviewers. It is generally considered the most prestigious award in the board gaming industry.
A style of game where players are focused on individual advancement over being collaborative or directly competitive with others. These games tend to have little player interaction with each other in-game and usually cannot be interfered with.
Most commonly seen in card games, this is a mechanic wherein players are given a finite hand or pool of resources. Played over a fixed number of rounds, each player uses one card / item and then the results are compared, with the winner of that set (“trick”) determined by the game’s rules. Rounds continue until all of the cards / items are used, at which an overall winner is declared.
Victory points, often collected for performing certain actions during gameplay and counted at the end to determine the winner.
- Worker Placement
A game mechanic common in Euro games. Players are granted a limited pool of worker tokens and must allocate these workers towards specific game actions, such as collecting VP or making more workers. The challenge lies in the fact that there are always more potential actions than there are workers, and the player must choose how to best use their resources during the given turn.
Experience Points. Used to track character progress in tabletop games like D&D.