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The Ultimate Guide to Board Game Terminology: From A to Z

Updated: Jan 27

The ABC of board gaming terms

So, anyone new to the board gaming hobby may not much know much about board games, and if you've been listening to the podcast or watched our live show may have heard some of these terms being thrown around, and you might be thinking:

"What are they talking about"?

Well fear not, we have put together some of the more common terms and broken them down in layman terms that anyone new to the hobby can understand, an ABC of board gaming terms and help you develop your very own Board Game Language.

Click a letter below to head to that section and see terms related to that letter.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z



  • Abstract: A game with no theme, and/or relies on a players' ability & skill and no element of luck or chance. Examples: Abstract Academy

  • AI: Common abbreviation of Artificial Intelligence, also known as Automa. Some games make use of an AI player as a way of additional opponent(s) to human player(s). Sometimes the AI will have their own unique deck. Adding AI in a game is often a way to provide a solo option for an otherwise multiplayer game.

  • Alpha gamer: The term "alpha gamer" is often used in the context of cooperative board games, where one player tends to dominate the decision-making process and dictate the actions of other players.

  • Analysis paralysis: Sometimes abbreviated to AP, analysis paralysis is spending an inordinate amount of time over analysing to make a decision, thus increasing the downtime of a game beyond a desirable level.

  • Amerigames: a style of board game, sometimes derogatorily known as Ameritrash), which emphasises direct player conflict, a high level of randomness, and a strong theme or narrative.

  • Anti-clockwise: In the opposite direction as the way in which the hands of a standard clock move round.

  • Area control game: A game in which there are regions or spaces defined on a game board that are controlled through the use of meeples or player pieces, which can change ownership through combat or forms of game manipulation. Examples: Crown of Ash, Risk, Small World

  • Asymmetrical: Asymmetrical board games are games in which the resources, abilities, rules, or objectives are different for some or all of the players. Examples: Cranky Chinchillas

  • Auction game: A game that involves players bidding on resources as the main mechanism. Examples: Modern Art

  • Automa: see AI.



  • Bag building: The term "bag building" is a mechanism commonly used in board games that, similarly to a deck building game, involves players drawing tokens or tiles from a bag or other container. In a bag building game, players start with a set of tokens or tiles that represent various actions, abilities, or resources. These tokens are placed in a bag or other container, and players draw a certain number of them each turn. The tokens drawn are typically used to take actions or activate abilities that allow players to further build their collections of tokens or gain points. Bag building adds an element of luck to the game, as players cannot always predict which tokens they will draw from the bag. This can make the game more unpredictable and can force players to adapt their strategies on the fly. However, many bag building games also incorporate elements of strategy and planning, as players must carefully manage the contents of their bags and make strategic decisions about which tokens to add to their collections. Examples: Solar 175

  • Balanced: True balance in a game is achieved when each player has an equal chance of success given similar skill levels, for example Chess or Go.

  • Bidding games: Games in which players compete to acquire resources or win objectives by placing bids. Examples: Modern Art

  • Big box games: Games that come in a larger box than the standard size. These boxes usually contain the base game and several expansions or additional content. Examples: Eclipse

  • Bluffing games: Games that involve deception, hidden information, or betrayal. They are a great way to test your poker face and strategic thinking. Examples: Betrayal At House on the Hill

  • Board Game Geek: Founded in 2000, Board Game Geek is the largest online database of tabletop games. As well as basic information like each game's recommended age range, playing time, and player count; accompanying each game is a description, a complexity score, a rating, and a forum on which users can discuss and rate each game. The average rating for each game (rounded to 1 decimal place) is used to rank games in lists, of which some in the gaming community take a negative view, as these scores lack context and tend to produce favourable results for complex games which appeal to enthusiast gamers, while producing lower scores for family-friendly and casual games.



  • Campaign game: A game where a series of adventures / scenarios are impacted by player choices and actions which have an impact on future encounters. See also: legacy game. Examples: Mantic Firefight

  • Card drafting: A game mechanic in which the primary way players acquire cards is by selecting them from a face up display.

  • Casual gamer: As opposed to a hardcore gamer, a casual gamer may enjoy simple or short games, or simply play games less frequently.

  • Catch-up mechanic: A method that allows a player who is behind to catch up with other players.

  • Clockwise: In the same direction as the way in which the hands of a standard clock move round.

  • Collectible Card Game: Often abbreviated to CCG and also known as Trading Card Games, Collectible Card Games are card games in which, instead of using a standard set of cards, each player creates their own deck using cards from their collection. The "collectible" element comes from the fact that most cards are sold in randomised packs, which can contain a mixture of rarities. Some such games may offer some non-randomised sets (e.g. preconstructed sets or starter sets for newer players, but these are usually weaker to encourage players to buy more randomised packs. Players may choose to exchange cards with other players. The first and most famous CCG game was Magic: The Gathering.

  • Components: A generic term for the many pieces in a game, e.g. the board, dice or meeples.

  • Cooperative games: Games in which players work together to achieve a common goal, rather than competing against each other. The players win the game together by reaching a pre-determined objective, or all players lose the game, often by not reaching the objective before a certain event ends the game. These games are perfect if you don’t like competitiveness around the table. However, they’re not just good because they force everyone to work together, they also offer unique challenges that you simply won’t find anywhere else. These team board games also bring everyone together in a way few others do. Examples: Flashpoint, Stardew Valley

  • Counter: Usually a small cardboard square that represents a unit or game element, usually found in wargames.

  • Crowdfunding: Crowdfunding is a way of raising funds for a project or venture by collecting small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the internet. It is a form of alternative financing that allows entrepreneurs to raise capital from a large pool of investors beyond the traditional circle of owners, relatives, and venture capitalists. Crowdfunding has become very popular in the tabletop gaming industry, as it allows publishers to mitigate the risks incurred by the high costs of manufacturing custom playing materials. It has also opened up the industry by making it feasible for indie designers & publishers to get games produced, where they would previously have had to pitch to a small number of large publishers, with no guarantee of having their game chosen. Presence on large crowdfunding platforms has also proven to be an important source of marketing for smaller creators. However, the nature of crowdfunding (being an investment rather than a direct purchase of a product), means that games financed in this way can be subject to delays, material changes, or in rare cases, never be produced at all. We regularly support crowdfunded games here at DOALG, but make sure to do your own due diligence before using your own money! Examples: Gamefound, Kickstarter

  • Crunchy: Featuring lots of maths or complex rules.

  • Cut: To separate the deck into two or more portions and place the portions in a new order.



  • D(x): Common abbreviation of a die with x number of sides. We use a D6 for our game ratings. Similarly, a D8 refers to an eight-sided die, D10 ten-sided, D12 twelve-sided, etcetera.

  • Deck Builder: A card-based game where you start with pre-defined decks that you amend during the gameplay. Deck builders often have removal actions alongside adding cards, as decks often require fine tuning to reach peak efficiency. Many deck building games provide the players with a currency that they use to "buy" new items that are integrated into the deck. Examples: Ascension, Hogwarts Battle

  • Dexterity: Dexterity is a term used to describe a genre of board games that require players to use their physical skills, such as hand-eye coordination, precision, balance, or speed, to achieve their goals. Dexterity games often involve manipulating or moving components on the board, such as flicking, stacking, rolling, or throwing them. Examples: Crockinole, Flick em up, Jenga, Tokyo Highway

  • Dice: Usually small cubes (= object with six equal square sides) with a different number of pips/spots on each side. Some may use numbers, pictures or colours instead. Other shapes also exist such as a tetrahedron for a D4 or an icosahedron for a D20 and various other polyhedral shapes.

  • Dice gods: Some (most?) gamers believe in these as entities that you have to appease to roll well. Have you made an offering to them recently?

  • Dice manipulation: A mechanic that allows a player to reroll or change the number on the die. It is used to reduce of the luck or randomness associated with dice rolling.

  • Dice rolling games: Rolling dice means to take a chance or a risk in the hopes of a favourable outcome. The phrase originated from gambling games that use dice, such as Craps, in which players hope to get a certain number, usually seven, to win money. Rolling dice can also mean to literally roll dice in a game of chance. Examples: D6 Dungeon or Star Trek Catan

  • Dice tower: A tool used by gamers to roll dice fairly. Dice are dropped at the top of the tower, bouncing off, or rolling down platforms inside the tower, and rolling out of the bottom. Obviously, it's the tower's fault if you roll badly.

  • Dice tray: A specially designed container or surface used for rolling dice.

  • Die: Singular form of dice.

  • Discard: To remove the card from play without using its effect This will usually be into a discard pile.

  • Discard pile: The stack of cards that have been discard. May be either face up or face down depending on the game. There may be a collective discard pile or one unique to each player.

  • Downtime: The time that a player spends doing nothing whilst waiting for other players to complete their turns. It can be a good time to plan your next turn.

  • Drafting: Drafting is a mechanic in which players are presented with a set of options (usually cards, though sometimes dice) from which they must pick one, leaving the remainder for the next player to choose from. The selection may be made from a shared central pool of choices, or from a hand of cards passed between players. Examples: Point City, Sushi Go, Zuuli

  • Draw Deck: The (usually face down) deck from which a player draws card on their turn.

  • Drawing games: The term “drawing games” refers to games that involve drawing or sketching. These games are often party games that require players to draw something on a piece of paper or a whiteboard, and the other players have to guess what the drawing represents. Examples: Pictionary, Telestrations

  • Dungeon-crawler: A dungeon crawling board game is a type of fantasy game that centres around players assuming the roles of adventurers exploring a dungeon, battling enemies, improving their characters, and achieving a defined objective. A dungeon crawler is like a story that the players are influencing as they play. Examples: Book of Skulls



  • Economic game: A game that models the economy of a city, nation, planet, state etcetera. Players will generally have to build an engine to build their engine. Examples: Brass: Birmingham, Terraforming Mars

  • Educational games: Games that typically offer an educational message or underlying mechanic that help educate players, these are normally about educating players on specific topics OR teaching new skills. Examples: TablesTastic

  • Engine-builder: A gameplay mechanic that involves managing resources and using them to generate income or other benefits. Examples: Isle of Trains: All Aboard, Villagers

  • Eurogames: Refers to a style of board game that originated in Europe and emphasises strategy, resource management, and indirect player interaction. Examples: Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, Puerto Rico and Agricola.

  • Expansion: Additional material for a game, usually sold separately to the base game and requiring the base game to play. They may add a variant, additional scenario or the ability to add additional players. Examples: Board Royale: Wild Hunt, Hogwarts Battle Monsters

  • Expo: an event at which several games and related products, from a variety of publishers and manufacturers, are exhibited. Examples: UK Games Expo, Airecon (UK), Gencon (US)



  • Face: A side of a card or die. Faceup is showing the text/picture on the playable part of a card and facedown is with the text/picture placed on the table so the playable picture/text cannot be seen.

  • Family friendly: A game that is family friendly is one that is suitable to be played by families with children, the children don't necessarily have to understand all the rules but will still be able to enjoy playing, even if some adult help is needed. Examples: High Noon Heist, Wibbell++ / ELL Deck

  • Fiddly: A fiddly game will be one with lots of components to move, or one with small components. Components may be easy to knock resulting in it being difficult or impossible to try and reconcile the game state after dislodging them.

  • Filler game: A game with very simple rules and a short playtime, frequently used between heavier games. Here at DOALG, we sometimes like to call them Amuse Bouche games.

  • Flavour text: Text (usually on a card or in a rulebook) that adds to the story of the game or character. It does not affect the rules but gets players more engaged in the story.

  • FLGS: Abbreviation of "Friendly Local Game Stores", representing brick and mortar game stores, which will usually be independent and not part of a chain.

  • Fluff: The text describing the world and concepts of the game.

  • Follow suit: To follow suit means to play a card of the established suit, most commonly in trick-taking games.



  • Game group: The friendly (hopefully) group of humans you regularly play games with.

  • Gamefound: the largest online crowdfunding platform specific to the tabletop gaming industry.

  • Gamer: Someone who likes to spend most of their free time playing games.

  • Gateway game: A game that has simple rules that are easy to teach non-gamers and that is likely to attract new players into the board gaming hobby.

  • Geek: A person that tends to have a keen interest in certain pursuits/hobbies (e.g. board games, computers, fantasy, science fiction etcetera. Historically, it was sometimes used derogatorily, but here at Diary of a Lincoln Geek we wear our geekdom with pride!

  • Grognard: Someone who enjoys playing older war games or roleplaying games, or older versions of such games when newer ones exist.



  • Hand: The cards or pieces held by a player.

  • Hand limit: The maximum number of cards you may hold in your hand. In some games, you might be allowed to add more cards than the hand limit during your turn, before you have to discard down to the hand limit.

  • Hate drafting: Deliberately drafting a card you don’t really need or want, just to prevent an opponent from drafting it.

  • Heavy games: Highly strategic or complex games with lots of rules and components. They may take hours to play, or feature campaigns that require several sessions to complete. The game’s box may also be physically heavy and more expensive, owing to the many enclosed components.

  • Hex: Short for hexagon, hexes are regular six-sided shapes that are commonly used in board games, e.g. to represent regions, due to them being able to cover a flat plane without leaving gaps.

  • Hidden movement games: Games in which the movement of one or more players is hidden, this type of game typically involves one player being cast as the baddie with a particular motive to achieve in order to win, whilst the other players try to track them down. Examples: Fury of Dracula, Letters from Whitechapel

  • Hidden Traitor: Refers to a game mechanic where one or more players have a secret objective that is in conflict with the rest of the players. The hidden traitor’s goal is to sabotage the other players’ efforts without being discovered, while the other players try to identify and eliminate the traitor. This mechanic adds an element of mystery and intrigue to the game, as players must use their deduction skills to figure out who is working against them. Examples: Battlestar Galactica, Blood on the Clocktower, One Night: Ultimate Werewolf

  • HP: Abbreviation of Hit Points or Health Points, a unit of points or damage for each player. Players may be eliminated from a game if they reach zero or may be temporarily knocked unconscious until healed by another player to return to play.



  • In hand: A piece or card in hand is one not currently in play but may be entered into play on a turn.

  • Indie games or indie publishers: games made by individuals or smaller teams, independent of large tabletop game publishers. Examples: Dogodash, Wibbell++ / ELL Deck 

  • Insert: A box element for containing the game components, this will usually be card or plastic.

  • IRL: Abbreviation of In Real Life, in board game this means playing in person as opposed to online.



  • Jinx: To bring bad luck. to be jinxed means to have bad luck.

  • Joker: A playing card, typically bearing the figure of a jester, used in some games as a wild card.

  • Journal: A notebook or document used to track progress, story or useful information when playing games. Commonly used in roleplaying games.



  • Kickstarter: One of the largest online crowdfunding platforms. While Kickstarter is not a gaming-specific platform, many tabletop game publishers use it to reach a wider audience.

  • Kid friendly: A game where children can play it with either no or minimal assistance from an adult.

  • Kingmaker: A player who is in a losing position but has the power to decide who will win a given game.



  • LARP: Abbreviation of Live Action Role-Playing, a form of Role-Playing Game in which players are encouraged to physically act exactly how they think their character would behave with other characters and the surroundings. Often involves dressing up as your character.

  • Legacy: Typically refers to a game designed to be played over a series of sessions or campaigns, with the outcomes and decisions made during each session affecting the next one. Examples: Pandemic Legacy, Risk Legacy, Charterstone, Machi Koro Legacy

  • Loaded: A loaded die is one that has been tampered with so it will land with a specific side facing upwards. See also: weighted.

  • Lose condition: How a game is lost.

  • Light games: Games that have simple rules and strategies that take a short amount of time to play.

  • Limited edition: Limited to a certain number of copies.

  • Luck mitigation: A strategy to deal with the luck element of a given game. Luck being a result of randomness giving one or more players an advantage within a game.



  • Mathy: If a game is mathy it requires doing lots of calculations to play.

  • Mechanics: The rules or methods of gameplay.

  • Memory games: The term memory in board games refers to a type of game where players are required to remember the location of cards or pieces on a board. Examples: Dodo

  • Metagaming: exercising strategies or behaviours that are outside the actual gameplay and involve using knowledge or information that is not explicitly presented in the game itself.

  • Meeple: A small game piece or token used in many modern board games. The term "meeple" is a combination of "my" and "people," and was first used to describe the iconic wooden figures in the game Carcassonne.

  • Miniatures: are small-scale representations of characters, objects, or terrain used to enhance the game’s visual appeal and immersion. They are commonly made of metal, plastic, or paper. Miniatures can be used in various types of board games, including miniature wargames, role-playing games, and strategy games. Miniatures can be an integral part of a board game’s mechanics or simply add to the game’s aesthetics. In some games, players use miniatures to represent their characters or units on the board and move them around to achieve objectives. In other games, miniatures are used to represent obstacles or terrain features that affect gameplay.

  • Modular board game: A type of board game in which the full board comes in pieces and can be assembled in many ways. Examples: Wormholes

  • Monochrome: Using only black, white and grey or only one colour.

  • Multiplayer game: A game with three or more players.

  • Multiplayer solitaire: A term used for games there this is little to no actual player interaction.



  • Narrative game: see storytelling game.

  • Negotiation game: A negotiation game is an activity where participants negotiate with each other to find creative solutions to problems. The goal of the game is to encourage communication and good understanding among the participants. This activity is particularly useful when the group of people focuses too much on their own needs. The participants negotiate with each other for a few dollars, and the team that comes up with the best solution for taking the dollars and doing something good with them wins. The game requires concrete and well-reasoned arguments, and it offers an opportunity for group members to develop their creativity and negotiation skills. Examples: Diplomacy, Twilight Imperium

  • Nerd: A person who is extremely enthusiastic and knowledgeable about a particular subject, especially a niche interest.

  • Newbie: Someone who is new to playing. Look after them!

  • Non-gamer: someone who doesn't play games or boardgames.



  • OLGS: Abbreviation of On-Line Game Stores, representing game stores that are exclusively website based rather than having a bricks and mortar store.

  • One vs Many: This is where one player is playing against the rest of the group. Examples: Fury of Dracula, Letters from Whitechapel

  • Open handed: games where all players are able to see the resources in each player's possession. This is most common in co-operative games.

  • Opener: A simple game to start a game session, we like to refer to them as Amuse Bouche games. See also: filler game.

  • Orthogonally: To move a piece up, down left or right but not diagonally.

  • Out of Print (OOP): a game that is no longer available from the publisher, and thus has to be sourced from second-hand sources. This can often be quite expensive if there is very little availability.

  • Overanalyse: To use an exorbitant amount of time to find an optimal move, especially when the resultant move is virtually equal to all other choices.

  • Overpowered: Or OP for short, is when something isn't balanced, possibly to the extent of being broken.



  • Party Game: A game that is best played in a party setting with large numbers of people. Examples: Codenames, Cards Against Humanity, Funemployed

  • Pawn: In board games, a pawn is a game piece that represents a player’s representative on the gameboard. It is usually the smallest and least valuable piece in the game of chess, and each player begins a game with eight pawns, one on each square of the rank immediately in front of the other pieces.

  • Pips: The spots on a die.

  • Point salad game: A game in which there are a wide variety of ways to score points. This can have a negative connotation since it can imply that scoring points lacks strategy. Example: Point Salad

  • Player aid: A small card given to each player to remind them of the turn order, character abilities etcetera.

  • Player Agency: How much control or how many choices a player has.

  • Player Elimination: Removing a player from a game, perhaps by the death of their character or voting them out. In some games the player might still be involved even if they can no longer take a turn, but in others they can be completely out of the game, which can be very frustrating for players if it happens very early into a game.

  • Playtest: To test a new game for a game designer in order to find any flaws before the final version is released to market.

  • Pool building: A mechanism in which players start the game with a pre-determined set of cards or player pieces and add to or adapt those items over the course of the game.

  • Polyomino: A geometric shape formed by combining equal squares edge to edge, Tetris famously features tetronimos (four-square polyominos), but they are also common in other tile laying games. A domino is simply a two-square polyomino. Examples: Barenpark, Dominoes

  • Power creep: The gradual unbalancing of a game due to successive releases of new content.

  • Print and play: A game that you can download and print at home and play. It is common for crowdfunded games to offer print and play as a less expensive option, or to encourage enthusiasts to play the game while waiting for the professionally printed edition to complete the manufacturing & shipping process. Examples: Hidden Leaders

  • Push-your-luck games: Games in which you risk taking another turn or action to gain more points at the risk of losing them all. Examples: Snapshot, Zombie Dice

  • PVP: Common abbreviation of Player vs Player, where one player plays against another.



  • Quiz games: Games that require players to answer trivia or quiz questions during the play of the game. Questions are often about interesting but unimportant subject matters. Examples: Trivial Pursuit, Geek Out!



  • Racing game: The term racing in board games refers to a large category of games, in which the object is to be the first to move all one’s pieces to the end of a track or a specified position. Racing board games often use dice or cards to decide how far to move pieces, and may involve elements of luck, strategy, or both. Examples: Steampunk Rally Fusion, Flamme Rouge

  • Rage quit: To angrily quit a game before its conclusion. See also: table flip.

  • Real-time game: A game in which the play is set in real time, they will usually come with a sand timer. Examples: Pandemic Rapid Response or Illiterati

  • Replayability: How enjoyable and fun the game is on repeated plays.

  • Resolve: Perform the required action(s) indicated on a card, space on the board or tile, etcetera.

  • Resource: Something you collect or acquire in game to achieve your goal/points.

  • Resource management: A skill used in many games that encourage you to manipulate the resources available, either in your hand or on the board, in order to score points or achieve your goal. For example, in worker placement games, the limited number of workers are often the key resource you need to manage (although other resources may also aid your victory).

  • Riffle: Shuffling playing cards by cutting the deck and flicking the adjacent corners together.

  • Risk-and-reward:

  • Roll-and-move game: A game in which a player's token or tokens are moved based on results shown on a die or dice. Examples: Monopoly, Snakes and Ladders

  • Roll-and-write: A type of game involving rolling dice and writing or drawing something on paper. Examples: Luddite, Yahtzee

  • Role-Playing Game (RPG): A game in which a gamemaster or GM creates a progressive storyline, and the other players control the characters within the story.

  • Rondel: A circle or loop on the game board with stations or action spaces. During a rondel game, players move around the loop and stop at spaces to perform the corresponding action. Examples: Monopoly, Patchwork

  • Round: A complete set of turns by all players. Some games limit the number of rounds by design, whilst other games are played until an objective is achieved.

  • Rules Lawyer: A term that can be used both positively and negatively. When used negatively it refers to a player who follows the rules of a game to the letter, when used positively it refers to a player who is very knowledgeable about the rules of a game and can easily absorb a rulebook and thus help other players play the game.



  • Semi-cooperative game: A game that has both cooperative and competitive elements. There may be a common objective that all players are looking to achieve, alongside a competitive way of scoring points. Examples: Dead of Winter, Nemesis

  • Shelf of shame: Referring to games you have on your shelf that you have yet to play; they might even still be in their shrink wrap. Often used as a derogatory term for the tendency among tabletop enthusiasts to buy more games than they can physically play, at DOALG we prefer to optimistically refer to it as the shelf of opportunity.

  • Shelfie: A photograph of the games/game shelves you own.

  • Shuffle: Rearrange a deck/pack of cards by sliding them over each other quickly.

  • Sleeves: Clear plastic sleeves covers used to protect cards from wear and tear. Some sleeves may have designs or solid colours on the back to help distinguish them. Some games will have sleeves that are unique to them, but generic ones are widely available.

  • Slog: A negative term for a game that is long, boring, repetitive, and/or tedious, providing little or no enjoyment.

  • Simulation game: A game which attempts to simulate a process or experience through its gameplay. Unlike a storytelling game, where the focus is on building the narrative, or an abstract game, which focuses on its own self-contained rules; a simulation game is often attempting to recreate something that occurs in either the real world or existing media. Examples: Smartphone Inc.

  • Simultaneous: In game theory, a simultaneous game or static game is a game where each player chooses their action without knowledge of the actions chosen by other players. Simultaneous games contrast with sequential games, which are played by the players taking turns (moves alternate between players). In other words, both players normally act at the same time in a simultaneous game. Examples: Hyperwars

  • Social deduction: A genre of game in which players try to figure out each other’s hidden roles or team affiliations. Usually, these games involve teams of good and bad players, who have different goals and abilities. Examples: Cranky Chinchillas, Psychobabble, Werewolf

  • Spinner: The term spinner in board games refers to a device that consists of a dial and an arrow that is spun to indicate the next move or action in some games.

  • Solo games: Games that are played exclusively by one player on their own, typically (although not always) these type of games feature some kind of AI. Examples: Final Girl, Devoured - Fallen Colossus

  • Solo-play option: A way of playing a typically multiplayer game as a solo. Sometimes it may have unique rules, usually involving an AI, but can also just be playing as multiple players. Examples: Swatch, A Gentle Rain

  • Storytelling games: A storytelling game is a game where multiple players collaborate on telling a spontaneous story. Often each player takes care of one or more characters in the developing story. Storytelling games are defined by narrative control mechanics, where the mechanics of the game are either about determining who controls a particular chunk of the narrative or they’re actually about determining the outcome of a particular narrative. Examples: Rory's Story Cubes

  • Standalone: The term standalone in board games means that the game can be played by itself, without requiring any other game or expansion to function.

  • Suit: In playing cards, a suit is one of the categories in which the cards of a deck are divided.



  • Tableau: A row or collection of cards that sit in front of you. It is often shared by multiple players, but may refer to cards in your own player area.

  • Tabletop: The term tabletop means games that are normally played on a table or other flat surface, such as board games, card games, dice games, miniature wargames, or tile-based games.

  • Tabletop Simulator: A digital physics simulation sandbox, designed to allow gamers to play tabletop games remotely. Users can create and download mods to experience online versions of their favourite tabletop games, or to playtest their own game ideas. Some larger game publishers have made their games available on Tabletop Simulator for purchase as extra downloadable content (DLC) for an additional cost.

  • Tabletopia: A more recent alternative to Tabletop Simulator, with support for play on mobile devices. Unlike Tabletop Simulator's DLC model (where users are charged once to buy specific games), Tabletopia opts for a monthly subscription model which unlocks access to 'premium' games.

  • Table captain: Typically used derogatively to describe to an aggressive/alpha player who tries to dictate how every player plays.

  • Table flip: The action of overturning the game table in frustration, in a form of rage quitting. There is a specific action button for this in Tabletop Simulator, to allow players to express their rage remotely.

  • Table hog: Slang for a game that takes up a huge amount of space on a table. It usually applies to heavier games but can apply to any game that has large components to lay out.

  • Table presence: How a game looks when laid out on a table.

  • Table talk: The conversation that takes place as you play, this may involve discussing the actual game in play, or can just be general conversation. Some games may limit or even prohibit this as part of their rules.

  • Take-that: A mechanic in a game where an action one player takes causes harm or something negative to happen to another player or the overall game state. Examples: Cadaver, Sysifus Corp

  • Tally: Calculate the total number of.

  • Tap: To rotate a card, usually 90 degrees, after using its power or resources. Note that Wizards of the Coast patented this mechanic in 1994 to use in Magic: the Gathering, and whilst the patent has expired, they retain exclusive rights to use the term ‘tap’ in games. Alternative terms include, amongst others, activate, exhaust and turn.

  • Tech tree / Technology tree: Often pictured as a tree-like chart, a tech tree is a hierarchical visual representation of the possible upgrades a player can unlock in a game.

  • Thematic: A game which relies heavily on its theme, and/or in which the theme heavily influences the rules of the game. The opposite of an abstract game.

  • Theme: The subject matter/topic a game is based around.

  • Thinky: A term for a game that really makes you think or will take a lot of strategising.

  • Tile laying: A mechanic made famous by the ever-popular Carcassonne, players place down tiles to achieve a particular goal or action. Such games may or may not involve a game board.

  • Travel games: Games that can easily be packed in your luggage/backpack to play whilst you are travelling. They will sometimes feature magnets to be suitable for play whilst on a train or plane so that components do not go flying everywhere if suddenly knocked. Examples: Articulate Mini, Monopoly Deal

  • Trick taking game: A type of game in which the goal is to win ‘tricks’ or rounds of cards. Examples: Fox in the Forest, The Crew

  • Trivia game: see Quiz game.

  • Turn: A time period during which one or more players is allowed to act.

  • Turn order: The order in which players take their turns.

  • Turn tracker: An area of the game board used to keep track of the rounds/turns of a game.



  • Unbalanced: A game is unbalanced if certain characters, factions or strategies are inherently more powerful than others, to the detriment of the game.



  • Variant: An alternate form of a game that may involve new or modified rules.

  • Victory points: A generic term for scoring used by many games, often abbreviated to VP.

  • Vote: Some games, particularly social deduction games, have a voting mechanic. A vote is a formal indication of a choice between two or more candidates or courses of action, typically expressed through a ballot or a show of hands. In some games a vote will be public, but in some games it may be private.



  • Weighted: Prepared and arranged in a way that is likely to produce a particular effect. A weighted die is one that has been tampered with so it will land with a specific side facing upwards.

  • Win condition: How a game is won.

  • Worker-placement: A term used to describe placing a limited number of tokens (workers) on spaces to activate actions. Examples: Lords Of Waterdeep, Carcassonne

  • Wargame: A board wargame is played on a board that has a more-or-less fixed layout and is supplied by the game's manufacturer. This is in contrast to customizable playing fields made with modular components, such as in miniature wargaming. Examples: Firefight



  • 4X: In board games refers to a genre of strategy games that involves exploring, expanding, exploiting, and exterminating. The 4X genre is focused on building an empire or civilization and expanding it through military conquest, colonization, or diplomacy.



  • Yahtzee: Slang term derived from the game of the same name (a dice game by Milton Bradley), used to represent when a large number of dice show the same result, or when using the same mechanic as the original game.



  • Zombie - Zombie games often contain themes and imagery concerning the animated dead. Some of the more popular storylines in Zombie games include apocalyptic themes, horror, and fighting. Examples: Last One Alive, HaunticultureZombie Dice


We hope this has helped with your gaming term woes! If we have missed anything please comment below and we will add it to the article :)

The DOALG Team

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