Game Mechanics

Game Mechanics are the different systems that designers use as ‘engines’ to make their games run. Most games make use of only one or two primary mechanics while possibly featuring a few more mechanics as secondary.

1 vs. All: such games are designed to have one player challenge the rest of his/her friends with the intention of defeating them. The game may start with this setup or this ‘1 vs. All’ circumstance may be triggered at some point during the game’s storyline while it is being played.

Abstract Artistry: a game where a picture may very well tell a thousand words. The artistic imagination of the players is one of the main driving forces behind this mechanic. This imagination may be channeled into creating descriptions for pictures or words in the game.

Abstract Strategy: a game which follows simple and straightforward rules and mechanics for its game components, coupled with an easy point-counting system. There is almost no element of luck during gameplay. The game’s theme is usually nothing more than a visual or artistic add-on.

Acting: a game that requires players to communicate through either acting, miming, humming or mimicking others. Such games tend to be humorous.

Action & Movement: a game where the player’s game pieces or miniatures take actions or are moved around according to specified rules of gameplay. This mechanic of actions and movement is at the heart of the game’s system.

Action Point Allowance System: in Action Point (AP) Allowance System games, each player is allotted a certain amount of points per round. These points can be spent on available actions, until the player does not have enough remaining to "purchase" any more actions. This method grants the player greater freedom over how to execute his or her options.

Alliances & Negotiation: a game that requires each player to constantly make deals and agreements, or to form alliances with others, for the eventual growth and benefit of their own position and power. Such games can get highly competitive, where backstabbing is common.

Area Control: a game that encourages players to conquer and establish control over set depicted and divided areas or territories on the game board. Typically, the player’s power grows as they expand and conquer territorially.

Area Enclosure: a game where players place their pieces in a way to surround as much of the game board as possible. In so doing, they create areas that are now under their direct control. Many such games are played on gridded boards or maps. Area Enclosure differs from Area Control.

Auction/Bidding: a game that requires the players to bid on items or goods in an auction-type setting, attempting to purchase them, to strengthen their position or gain wealth in the game.

Betting/Wagering: a game that requires the players to form an educated bet on certain possibilities or outcomes within the game. If the bet is won, they score points or gain power accordingly.

Bluffing: a game that requires the use of trickery and deception for the player to win. Such games usually feature some information that is hidden from certain players, and to win, this information must somehow be resolved.

Bluffing: a game that requires the use of trickery and deception for the player to win. Such games usually feature some information that is hidden from certain players, and to win, this information must somehow be resolved.

Campaign / Battle Card Driven: The Campaign/Battle Card Driven mechanic is a relatively recent development in war-games that focuses the players' actions on cards they have in their hand. The basic idea is that performing a single action uses a single card. Games where cards are used to determine the outcome of battles do not use this mechanic. This is a subset of Hand Management (see below)

Card Drafting: a game in which players take turns in choosing cards from either a common pool in front of them, or from one another’s hands. They do so in the hopes of taking immediate advantages, or building-up on future strategies. This differs from the traditional card-drawing mechanic found in most card games, where the player blindly draws cards from a deck having no choice in what they receive.

Changeable (Modular) Board: instead of a set, the never-changing game board as with most traditional games, changeable board games contain a playing area that is composed of numerous parts that are often randomized every time the game is played. Play occurs upon a modular board that is composed of multiple pieces, often tiles or cards. Most commonly, these parts are tiles that can be randomly placed in any order to create the ‘board’ or can be cards or smaller board game segments instead. Such games have a high replay value, due to the randomness of the board, leading to different strategies and possibilities every time the game is played.

Cooperative Game: these games allow players to play as a group against the game itself. As the game’s turns progress, it continuously challenges the players, trying to defeat them. To win, consistent teamwork is essential.

Deck Building: a game where players either start with pre-chosen set of cards forming their personal deck, or build their personal deck up using some form of in-game currency system as the game unfolds. Simply put, each player designs their playing decks with their preferred cards. Typically, each card in the game provides the player with unique capabilities or powers.

Deduction: a game that requires players to form conclusions based on observation, reasoning and information, which are provided as the game plays out.

Dexterity: a game requiring quick physical reflexes and/or hand-to-eye coordination to score points.

Dice Rolling: a game that uses dice as a principal component in determining players’ outcomes. Naturally, this brings a strong element of luck during gameplay.

Hand Management: a game where cards that are played sequences or a specific order will reward or benefit a player’s position. The optimal use of the cards in the player’s hand will vary with many factors including cards played by their opponents, other cards held in one’s hand, or certain cards already in play. Players will aim to manage their hands to get the most favorable outcome from every card played.

Memory: games that use the memory mechanic require players to recall previous game events or information to reach an objective.

Pattern Building: pattern building is a system where players place game components in specific patterns to gain specific or variable game results. For example: placing chips on 2, 4, 6, 8 on a board gets the player an action card they can use later in the game.

Pattern Awareness: a game where playing a sequence of specific patterns will give the player a desired outcome or victory points. Such games use pattern placement and recognition heavily during gameplay. Players who best see these patterns and take advantage of them are greatly rewarded.

Player Elimination: player elimination occurs in multiple-player games (>2) when the purpose of the game is to eliminate your opponents. After elimination of a player, play continues with the non-eliminated players. Player elimination does not include two-player only games where the goal is to defeat a single opponent.

Pickup & Deliver: a game that requires players to take goods from one location on the game board and deliver them to another to obtain victory points or in-game currency.

Push Your Luck: a game where you repeat an action over and over again at a risk, to gain an advantage over other players or to score victory points. This eventually stops when you feel that the risk of taking this action once more may be greater than the reward you have already achieved. At its core, this mechanic is all about risk management and stopping at the right time when you feel your luck is about to run out.

Real-Time Play: a game that has its playtime limited to a measured number of minutes dictated by the game or a game where a timer is used during gameplay. Once your allocated time is up, play stops and the game ends.

Resource Acquisition: a game where resources are considered as the main currency and acquiring more of these resources allows players to build, expand and grow in power.

Role-Playing: some board games incorporate elements from the genre of role-playing. It can be that players control a character that improves over time. Or, it can also be a game that encourages or inspires storytelling. This mechanic can be viewed as an extension of Variable Player Powers (see below).

Route Building: a game that focuses on players building a network or route of interconnected lines between locations to gain victory points. Usually, emphasis is placed on the longest route or specific chains of connections.

Set Collection: a very simple game mechanic where players are required to collect sets of cards or items based on types, colours, numbers or shapes to gain victory points or acquire power.

Simultaneous Action Selection: a game where each player secretly chooses their actions for each round and then plays out their turn according to those revealed choices.

Storytelling: a game that provides players with basic concepts, words, icons, or images, which are then used to tell a part of a story.

Take That: maneuvers that directly attack an opposing player's strength, level, life points or do something else to impede their progress, while usually providing the main engine for player interaction in the game. Mostly found in direct-battle card games.

Teamwork: a game that is played in teams consisting of 2 or more players per team. Each team challenges the other for the victory while abiding by the game’s rules and regulations for team play. Such games usually require at least 4 players to play.

Tile Placement: a game featuring the placing of tiles in certain locations based on specified rules to gain victory points. The game may feature these tiles as resources or construction pieces for components of a single building to parts of a whole city.

Time Track: a game with a variable player-turn order mechanic where the player at the end of the time/scoring track goes first in the next game round, before all the other players who are ahead on that same scoring track. This can allow the player who is falling behind to have multiple sequential turns in a row, eventually catching up to the players in front.

Trading: a game that allows players to constantly trade or exchange specified goods with one another, resources for example.

Variable Powers: a mechanic that grants each player different in-game abilities and powers depending on the character, tribe or group they have chosen to play. This can also grant each player a different path to victory.

Variable Phase Order: a game where the players decide how each turn is played, meaning that each turn does not necessarily consist of the same phases or actions as the turn before. In such games every turn is different, where some phases or actions may be skipped or played in a different sequence. This unique mechanic allows players to prioritize the phases they wish to play in each turn as the game unfolds.

Voting: a game where at certain points in time, the players cast votes to determine the results of certain situations, or how the game will progress.

Worker Placement: a game that allows players to place their ‘workers’ at certain locations on the game board to acquire benefits such as resolving actions or gaining resources. Commonly, players use their own workers to block other players’ workers from certain locations, by placing them first and gaining the benefits provided.