Glossary

Here you will find definitions for several terms we use on this site.

Area Control

The Area Control mechanic typically awards control of an area to the player that has the majority of units or influence in that area. As such, it can be viewed as a sub-category of Auction/Bidding in that players can up their "bids" for specific areas through the placement of units or meeples.

Deck Building

Deck Building is a mechanism in which players start the game with a pre-determined set of cards and add and change those cards over the course of the game. Many deck-building games provide the players with a currency that they use to "buy" new items that are integrated into the deck. These new resources generally expand the capabilities of the player and allow the player to build an "engine" to drive their future plays in the course of the game.

This mechanism describes something that happens in play during the game as a function of the game, not customization of the game from a body of cards prior to play.

Deduction

Deduction games are those that require players to form conclusions based on available premises. These games are quite varied, including several different types of logical reasoning. Cat & Mouse games like Fury of Dracula are a type of Deduction game in which players use a set of observations and truthful feedback to narrow down possibilities and catch a constantly moving opponent at the right position. Elimination games like Clue expect players to arrive at the right conclusion after narrowing down possibilities from a large list. Signalling games like Werewolf allow for a set of observations and player-driven feedback (which may not be truthful) to arrive at the right conclusion out of 2-3 main choices. Finally, this Category includes Induction games like Zendo, in which players must derive a general rule out of near infinite possibilities.

Social deduction games are a related sub-category that is proving increasingly popular, and includes games with hidden roles and bluffing such as The Resistance and One Night Werewolf.

Dexterity

Dexterity games often compete players' physical reflexes and co-ordination as a determinant of overall success.

These actions can include flicking, stacking, and more.

Drafting

Card drafting games are games where players pick cards from a limited subset, such as a common pool, to gain some advantage (immediate or longterm) or to assemble hands of cards that are used to meet objectives within the game. This often involves selecting a card from a pool and then passing the rest to another player, while receiving a new pool from yet another player. 7 Wonders is a well-known card drafting game.

Engine Building

Engine Building games have players start with a very basic, often identical, set up. Through the course of the game they will acquire new components for their "engine" (cards, tokens, etc) that will allow them to do more on a given turn.
Often an objective of engine building is to create unique combinations of components that will compliment each other and give you a significant advantage over your opponents.

Meeple

A small figure used as a playing piece in certain board games, having a stylized human form.

Pool Building

Pool Building is a mechanism in which players start the game with a pre-determined set of player pieces and add and change those pieces over the course of the game. Many pool-building games provide the players with a currency that they use to "buy" new items that are integrated into the deck or pool. These new resources generally expand the capabilities of the player and allow the player to build an "engine" to drive their future plays in the course of the game.

This mechanism describes something that happens in play during the game as a function of the game, not customization of the game from a body of pieces prior to play.

Role Selection

In a role selection game players are presented with a set of roles to choose from each turn. Each role can typically only be played once, so players must decide which is the most opportune role to use on a given turn.

Set Collection

The primary goal of a set collection mechanic is to encourage a player to collect a set of items. For example, players collect city cards in Pandemic to cure diseases, and they collect train cards in Ticket to Ride to build routes.

Tile Laying

Tile Placement games feature placing a piece to score victory points, with the amount often based on adjacent pieces or pieces in the same group/cluster, and keying off non-spatial properties like color, "feature completion", cluster size etc.

A classic example is Carcassonne, where a player randomly draws a tile and place it next to other tiles and has a chance to place a meeple on the tile just played.

Worker Placement

More precisely referred to as "action drafting", this mechanism requires players to draft individual actions from a set that is available to all players. Players generally draft actions one-at-a-time and in turn order. If the game is structured in rounds, then all actions are usually refreshed so that they become available again for drafting. There is usually(*) a limit on the number of times a single action may be drafted in the same way for the same price. Once that limit is reached, an action can no longer be taken until a subsequent round or until the action space is no longer occupied by another player. As such, not all actions can be taken by all players in a given round, and action 'blocking' occurs.

Actions are commonly drafted by the placement of game pieces or tokens on the selected actions. Each player usually has a limited number of pieces with which to participate in the process. Some games achieve the same effect in reverse: the turn begins with action spaces filled by markers, which are claimed by players for some cost.

From a thematic standpoint, the game pieces which players use to select actions often represent workers of any given trade (this category of mechanism, however, is not necessarily limited to or by this thematic representation). In other words, players often thematically "place workers" to show which actions have been drafted by individual players. For example, in Agricola one starts with two family members that can be placed on action spaces to collect resources or take certain actions like building fences. When someone places a piece on a given space, that action is no longer available until the next round.