Like a pro.

Like a pro.

Ever felt lost and confused by the jargon more experienced boardgamers like to throw around?  Well, your days of being a noob will soon be over!  Thanks to this handy-dandy gaming glossary, you will soon be bandying about phrases like "worker placement" and "ameritrash" as if you knew exactly what you're talking about!  

All you have to do is print out this cheatsheet, stick it in your wallet and, when someone uses a gaming term you don't understand, pretend to flip through the copious wads of cash you have in there while secretly looking up what that term actually means.  It's foolproof and, best of all, 100% (minus printing costs) free!

Or, if you wanted to be boring, you could just look it up on your smartphone or something, I guess.

 

Genres and Definitions

Abstract

A genre characterised by weak theming and a strong emphasis on simple, elegant mechanics. Despite having few rules, abstract games tend to be deep and “thinky” due to the many ways in which its rules can interact with each other, thus resulting in emergent complexity. Examples include Go, Chess, and Santorini.

Ameritrash

A genre characterised by strong theming and high variance (games are highly dependent upon luck). Contrast with Euro, although it should be noted that most modern games combine elements from both genres, making it more of a continuum. Examples include Betrayal on the House on the Hill and Dead of Winter.

Classic

A genre characterised by inconsistent or long playtimes, high variance, and weak theming. Classic games, also known as mass market games, tend to be produced before the German boardgame renaissance in the 1990s. Examples include Monopoly, Scrabble, and Risk.

Collectible Card Games (CCGs)

A genre where players purchase booster packs (containing randomised cards) to build up a personal collection of cards, from which they will build their own personal decks before play. Contrast with deckbuilders and LCGs. Examples include Magic: The Gathering and the Pokemon Trading Card Game.

Living Card Games (LCGs)

A genre, trademarked by Fantasy Flight Games, near identical to collectible card games, except that players purchase expansion packs (with non-randomised cards) instead of booster packs. Often considered to offer one the same experience as a CCG, but at only a fraction of the cost. Contrast with deckbuilders and CCGs. Examples include Android: Netrunner and Warhammer: Invasion.

Euro

A genre characterised by a focus on mechanics and a lack of direct player aggression. Contrast with Ameritrash, although it should be noted that most modern games combine elements from both genres, making it more of a continuum. Examples include Settlers of Catan and Citadels.

Mass Market

See Classic.

Party

A genre characterised by low strategy, fast turns, and short overall game times. A good party game should also be able to handle a large range of players and whilst remaining quick to teach and play. Examples include Cards Against Humanity and The Resistance, as well as many dexterity games.

Trading Card Games (TCGs)

See CCGs.

 

Gameplay Mechanics

Action Drafting

See Worker Placement.

Area Control

Gameplay mechanic where players try to control select areas (or the largest area) on a board. This usually involves contesting other players through other mechanics such as auctions, worker placement or set collection. Examples include Blood Rage and Carcassonne.

Auction

Gameplay mechanic where players bid on certain game objects, with the highest bidder winning. Popular variants include the blind auction, where bids are kept secret from other players; pay-all auction, where even losers must pay whatever they bid; and reverse auctions, where there are multiple sellers competing for the business of one buyer, and the lowest asking bid wins. Examples include Ra and For Sale.

Deckbuilder

Gameplay mechanic where players build a deck of cards during play. Cards are usually “purchased” from a common area and sent to a player’s discard pile, and when a player’s deck is empty, the discard pile is often shuffled to form a new deck. Contrast with CCGs and LCGs, where decks are built before play. Examples include Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle and Dominion.

Dexterity

Gameplay mechanic which tests one’s speed, reflexes, or some other physical attribute. While many party games are dexterity games, not all dexterity games are party games. Contrast with all other boardgames, where a player's physicality rarely matters. Examples include Jenga and Bambooleo.

Drafting

Gameplay mechanic where players draw a hand of cards and, after picking one to keep for themselves, pass the rest to another player. As players can control exactly what cards they will pass on, a key part of drafting strategy is so-called “hate drafting”, where you select cards that benefit you only to a limited extent but, if passed to the other player, will benefit them significantly. Examples include Seven Wonders and Citadels.

Dudes on a Map

A specific subtype of area control where players vie for control of the map by placing and moving figurines (that usually represent armies or heroes) on a map. Examples include Commands and Colours (Memoir '44) and Risk.

Hidden Role

Gameplay mechanic where players are each given a hidden role, and are never quite sure where the allegiances of other players lie. In many hidden role games, a few players are selected to become “traitors” and must successfully escape detection by the other players. Many hidden role games are also social deduction games. Examples include Werewolf and Shadows Over Camelot.

Pickup and Deliver

Gameplay mechanic where players are tasked with moving game objects from one spatial point to another. As there are usually many possible ways to move said game objects, players are often asked to find the most efficient way to pickup and deliver these objects. Often paired with route building and resource management. Examples include Istanbul and Keyflower.

Push Your Luck

Gameplay mechanic where players are given a chance to either accept what they have or push their luck and try for something better (or worse). A skilled push-your-luck player is one who can accurately assess risk and probability. Often paired with set collection. Examples include Yahtzee, No Thanks and Bang! The Dice Game.

Resource Management

Gameplay mechanic where players are tasked with managing a limited amount of in-game resources. Usually also involves the generation and spending of said resources. While one may argue that almost all boardgames are about resource management of some kind, most boardgamers use this term to only describe games that are exclusively or primarily about resource management. Examples include Splendor, Puerto Rico, and Concordia.

Roll and Move

Gameplay mechanic where players move a number of spatial spaces based on a randomly or semi-randomly generated number. Once a mainstay of classic games, this mechanic has since mostly fallen out of vogue due to high variance and a lack of player agency. Examples include Monopoly and Cluedo.

Route Building

Gameplay mechanic where players build a route from one spatial point to another. Usually paired with resource management of some kind. Examples include Ticket to Ride and Settlers of Catan.

Set Collection

Gameplay mechanic where players try to collect sets of something. In most cases, incomplete sets still have some value, with complete sets being worth more. Often paired with set collection. Examples include the cards in Ticket to Ride, the nobles in Splendor and the science buildings in Seven Wonders.

Social Deduction

Gameplay mechanic most, if not all, players each have some manner of hidden information and must, through some form of social manipulation, try to figure out what the other players know. Often paired with hidden role. Examples include The Resistance and Sherriff of Nottingham.

Worker Placement

Gameplay mechanic where a player’s main decision revolves around where and when to employ their limited supply of workers. Worker spaces on the board are often limited and restricted to a single worker, making them hotly contested. Examples include Viticulture and Tzolk’in.