Level 200 – Game Mechanics

Action Point Allowance System – In these games, each player is given a certain amount of “action points” to spend performing actions of their choice on their turn. Once they are out of action points, they must end their turn.

Action point allowance has been around since Special Train in 1948.

Pandemic is a good example of a game where a player has a set number of action points each turn. On any turn a player can take 4 actions, be they to move, treat a disease, build a research station, fly to a location or cure a disease. Each of these actions costs one of the four action points the player has for a turn, but there are no restrictions on how many times each action can be taken on a turn or what order that actions must be taken in.

Another popular action point allowance game is Tikal, where players are leading an expedition into the jungle to discover temples. In Tikal, a player is given 10 action points each turn, and can use them for a variety of actions. Rather than each action costing one action point, the various actions cost points depending on the strength of the action. Moving an explorer one space costs one action point, but building a camp costs five action points.

One of the advantages of the action point allowance system is that players can choose which actions they want to take on a particular turn, but they can also choose in which order to perform their actions. This means a player could perform a special action, and then move, or move and then perform another action.

In action point allowance systems, all actions are available to all players. This is unlike worker placement or action drafting games, where actions may not be available if another player takes the action.

Action / Movement Programming – Players secretly assign several actions or movements each round, and then, when all players are ready, the action are executed sequentially.

Action or movement programming can be a part of many types of games. Robo Rally, Space Alert, and Fresco all involve this mechanic, but are very different games. Robo Rally is a race game, where each player programs the movement of a robot by laying down 5 cards from their hand to be executed in sequence. Once all players have laid their cards face down, the round continues by having each player reveal their first movement card. All the robots then take their first movement, using the priority number on the cards if needed, and then the board elements activate. Then the players show their second card, and the robots move accordingly. In this way, the player has planned 5 moves for their robot, but between the board elements and interactions with other robots, the program may not be executed as the player had hoped. A timer is often used when players are laying down cards, adding an element of stress to the programming phase.

Space Alert is a co-operative game where the team of players is trying to defend their spaceship from various threats in a real-time scenario by playing cards face down to move or perform actions on the ship. The players have 10 to 15 minutes real-time to discuss what is happening on the ship and play cards, and during that time they get more information about the threats to the ship. At the end of the real-time scenario, players reset the game board and step through the actions of each player according to the cards they played face down. The round 1 cards are revealed, and then each player performs the actions or movement on their card. Then round 2 is revealed, and actions are performed. During this sequence, players are not allowed to adjust anything, this is just an evaluation of the cards played during the real-time part of the game.

Fresco is a worker placement game that uses action programming for players to determine what actions their apprentices will take each turn. At the start of each round, players set up their apprentices on a board behind their player screens, telling what action each apprentice is going to take. This is important because players will not know how many other people plan to shop at the market or paint in the chapel. Some players may have to take sub-optimal actions, because another player took the action before them, or took more of that action than expected.

Card DraftingIn card drafting games, players choose from a limited set of cards in order to build a hand of cards for a later portion of the game, or to play immediately. These cards can be chosen from a common displayed pool, or they can be chosen from a set of cards that is passed around the table.

Some games, like Sushi Go!  or 7 Wonders  use drafting as the main mechanic of the game, whereas other games use drafting only as part of the game.  In these games, each players starts with a hand of cards, chooses one to play, and then passes the hand. They then receive a new hand from another player, and they choose a card from that hand to play. Play continues like this until the end of the round.

Ticket to Ride  uses drafting from a common pool of displayed cards to build a hand, but the main mechanic is route building. On your turn in Ticket to Ride, you can choose to take train cards, play trains, or take new routes. If you take train cards, you can draft from the available five face up cards, or take one off the top of the deck. If the player takes a face up card, the empty slot is filled before the player drafts or draws their second card.

Drafting can also be added to some games as a variant in order to eliminate the randomness of card draw and add some strategy to the setup of the game. A drafting variant is popular in Agricola, where players draft minor improvements and occupations, rather than being dealt 7 random cards of each type at the start of the game. In this manner, the player can make a strategy for the game and draft cards that will work well together.

Pattern Building – Placing tiles, cards, or pieces in a particular way, so that some advantage is gained by making patterns or optimal placement.

Pattern building can be the main mechanic of a game, such as Ingenious, or it can be part of a game, such as in Castles of Mad King Ludwig. Often these games have several patterns that are going to score points in different ways, such as the various building types in Quadropolis.

In the game Ingenious, players score points based upon the number of the same symbol in straight line. This rewards players for adding tiles so that they form long lines of the same symbol. Since each tile has two symbols, players are also rewarded for planning ahead and being able to score points from both symbols on a tile.

Castles of Mad King Ludwig has tiles that represent rooms. Players purchase and add these rooms to their play area. Rewards for given for placing rooms adjacent to one another, as long as all doorways match up to doorways on another room. When a room is “completed” like this, the player earns a bonus, depending on the classification of the room. Players are also rewarded for placing certain types of rooms adjacent to other rooms.  The “living area” rooms provide bonus points for having another type of room next to them.  This pattern building is less explicit than Ingenious, but adds complexity to the game.

Quadropolis is another pattern building game, with a variety of patterns scoring points in different ways. As you build your city in Quadropolis, you place tiles on your board, trying to arrange them for maximum scoring potential.  Each different type of building has a different desired pattern.  Parks should be arranged adjacent to apartments.  Harbors should be arranged in a straight line.  Factories should be placed adjacent to harbors and shopping areas.  Players must decide whether they want to balance point scoring between the different types of buildings, or focus on maximizing the scoring from only a couple types of buildings.

Pick Up and Deliver – In these games, players must acquire items or resources at one location and transport them to another location.

The Empire Builder series and other train / route building games fall into this mechanic, where the objective is to pick up goods at the locations designated, and then sell them where there is demand. In the Empire Builder games, players build train tracks between cities, and then operate their trains to fulfill contracts. The contract cards specify which cities produce a good, which city demands the good, and the money the player will earn for delivering the good. Players move their trains to pick up goods from the cities that produce those goods and then move the trains to the cities that demand the goods, where they can sell them for the value on the contract card. The one who does this most efficiently will gain money the fastest and win.

Other pick up and deliver games do not involve route building, like Cinque Terre, where players just move clockwise on a circular path. Players pick up produce based upon the cards they acquire. The then sell it in the towns to earn points and fulfill orders. The players only need to choose which produce to acquire and where to sell it. Again, the one who does this most efficiently will be victorious.

Firefly: The Game does not use routes for delivery. Instead, each player is responsible for a ship transporting goods, crew and contraband. The ships can take any path that they need to get to the destination. The flight is not always easy though, as there are obstacles and enemies along the way.

Istanbul is another popular game with a pick up and deliver mechanic. In Istanbul, gathering goods to sell is free, you just need to move to the warehouse of that good type. You can then sell these goods at the market for money. However, there are other ways to acquire goods and other things to do with them than sell them at market. This game again comes down to the person who most efficiently gathers rubies will win.

Route or Network Building – These games use player owned pieces to build a string or area of interconnected points. They can be focused on connecting particular points on the map, or just encompassing areas.

Ticket to Ride is a good example of this type of game, as the goal is to build train routes to connect the cities that are shown on your ticket cards. These routes pass through a variety of places on the board, but the overall goal is to connect the particular cities.

Route building games often involve pick up and deliver mechanics as well, such as the Empire Builder series. Pick up and deliver rail games involve players building a network of train tracks they use to travel between locations and gather goods. In these games, the players can choose their routes, and build tracks with minimal restrictions, but they are trying to optimize the path they take, so that they can pick up and deliver as many goods as possible.

Other games may involve network building by having players only be able to build next to their existing locations. The games Settlers of Catan and Terra Mystica are good examples of this. Players need to strategically expand, but after placing starting locations, they must build adjacent to their existing locations. Catan provides a direct incentive for network building with the longest road card, and Terra Mystica adds points at the end of the game to the players with the largest connected area. Both games, however require network building during the game. If you run out of area in which to expand, your strategy may fall apart. This means that opponents can block each other from getting where they may want to go by building in the spaces between an opponent’s existing location and the location that the opponent wants to go to.

Set Collection – Players are trying to collect a set of items, either like items or one of each of a variety of items, in order to gain an advantage or score points.

Set collection can be the main focus of a game, like Splendor, or it can be just a part of a game, like Stone Age. In Splendor, players are collecting gems to purchase cards. Each card displays the set of gems needed by the player to purchase the card. These cards then act like permanent gems for future card purchases. Players continue collecting sets of gems and buying cards. Eventually, they may have collected a set of cards enough to claim a noble tile.

In Stone Age, the game is mainly about gathering resources and spending them in a variety of ways. One of the ways you can spend resources is to buy civilization cards. Some of the civilization cards have various technologies on a grass background at the bottom of the card. At the end of the game, the player will score points according to how many different technology cards they have purchased. The more diverse the collection, the better the player scores.

Other games involve set collection of a sort. In Pandemic, you must collect a set of like colored cards to turn in for curing a disease. Once you have collected 5 cards of the same color, you can cure the disease of that color. Luckily, players work together in collecting the cards and can trade with one another to make sets.

In Castles of Burgundy, the light green animal tiles are the set collection mechanic. Every time you play an animal tile, you get points for all the animals of that type in the field. This rewards players for adding several tiles of the same type of animal to a given field.

Take That – Directly targeting another player in order to impede their progress in the game

We’ve all been there; you’re ahead in a game and it looks like you have a really good shot at winning. Then suddenly, someone hits you with a card or action that completely derails your plans. Or, you are that person who watches to see who is in the lead and then attacks that person so they fall behind. Many competitive games rely on direct player interaction. Whenever you can directly affect another player, the game can take on a slightly hostile approach.

One of drawbacks to Take That games is the notion of Kingmaking. Players can impede some players, only to allow others a victory. Negotiation and obfuscation can come in handy in these games. If you can manipulate another player into becoming the Kingmaker and allow you to win, all the better! And While there are players who relish the idea of hindering their opponents, just as many players do not like having their plans thwarted. If you fall into the former category, there are all kinds of games that can whet that back-stabbing appetite. If you fall into the latter category, you may want to avoid these games!

Steve Jackson Games’ Munchkin revels in the Take That category. Even the game’s subtitle embraces it; Kill the Monsters, Steal the Treasure, Stab Your Buddy in the Back!

If there is one company that epitomizes Take That, it is Smirk & Dagger. Nearly every game they produce has a Take That component. In Cutthroat Caverns, all the players must work together to get through the encounters. As monsters appear, the players must deal damage, but only the player that lands the killing blow will earn prestige. Knowing when to cooperate and when to backstab is key to winning. Dread Curse has players trying to earn gold while pushing the cursed coin off to other players. Nevermore has the players trying to turn each other into Crows. In Student Bodies, you just need to be the fastest to get to the cure, using the other players as zombie food so that you can escape.

Are you a fan of the ‘Man in Suit’ movies? Or maybe you really like the newer monster movies full of amazing computer generated monsters. Iello published two games full of Take That actions, King of Tokyo and King of New York. They both have lots of oversized monsters beating up on each other, trying to reign supreme. If you are a fan of chucking dice, these games are right up your alley. Each player gets to roll six to eight dice. Some of the results give attacks, some give healing or other benefits. One of the interesting aspects of the game comes from the other push your luck elements of the game, not just the dice rolling. There are two locations primary locations in each of these games; the hot seat and the sidelines.

In King of Tokyo, the hot seat is in  Tokyo City or Tokyo Bay, and the sidelines are off the board. If you are in the hot seat, every other player gets a chance to attack you. You are also not allowed to heal from die rolls. The longer you stay in, the more victory points you amass, but the more likely it is that you will be hit over and over. While in the city, every attack you roll actually hits every other player, which means you can do lots of damage!

King of New York uses the boroughs of New York City as the locations for the monsters. If you are in New York City, you can hit monsters in all of the other boroughs. They also get to hit you and you cannot heal. As a twist on King of Tokyo, there are buildings to destroy in each of the borough, which give you healing and victory. Once a building is destroyed, military takes its place and the military can attack you just as easily as another monster.

There are several games that have a Take That component to them, but it is completely optional. You can attack other players if you want. However, the game can be played, and won, without ever attacking another player. A few of the games that fall into this category are Unfair, Scythe, and Imperial Settlers. All of these games have several avenues to victory.

Gloom puts a twist on the notion that the healthiest or strongest wins the game. In Gloom, you are trying to make sure that all of your in-game family members have the most miserable lives possible when they finally shed their mortal coil. Of course, you want to make sure that all the other families enjoy their existence and are relatively happy. You don’t normally think of Take That games healing and assisting other players pieces, but in Gloom, the more you ‘help’ the other families, the more you hurt the players’ chances for winning.

Tile Placement – Players lay tiles down to gain an advantage, usually by grouping like colors or completing designs.

Carcassonne is the classic tile placement game. Players draw a tile at the beginning of their turn, then evaluate where to place it.  The only caveat is they must place it adjacent to an existing tile, so that the edges of the tile match. This means that roads must meet up with roads, grass must match grass, or castle must match castle. The player can then claim a feature on the tile they placed, but only if it is not already claimed. When a feature is completed, the owner of the feature scores points.

Tigris and Euphrates is another tile placement game, with tiles being added to kingdoms on the board. Each color tile adds strength in a particular area to the kingdom it is connected to. If a tile is placed so that it joins two kingdoms, it will cause a conflict between those kingdoms.

Patchwork is another type of tile placement game, except that each player has their own board and the tiles are unique shapes. In Patchwork, players are trying to purchase tiles to fill up their play area. The goal is to  leave as little empty space as possible.

Castles of Mad King Ludwig is another individual play area tile placement game, tiles of various shapes representing the rooms of the castle. Some tiles score points based upon adjacency. Other tiles are most beneficial when the room is completed by having all doorways meet up with other rooms. The choice of tile purchased, and the location that it is played, are the key parts of this game.

Time Track – A component that manages the time flow of the game, typically a linear area that denotes the time used and/or remaining in the game.

There are several mechanisms to control player order. Many players are familiar with the clockwise/counterclockwise player order. They may also be familiar with worker placement games where it takes an action to get the first player marker. Other games have ways of changing the player order based upon developments in the game.

The Time Track method of managing player order is an interesting mechanism. To equalize the actions among the players, the player in last place is the next player to move. Games such as Tokaido, Patchwork, Kraftwagen and Glen More all use a Time Track to allow the player in last place to choose the next action. Players need to balance their moves; opt for a good action that rewards handsomely but moves them further down the track, or take an action that will allow them to move more often but not guarantee the best rewards will be available.

In Tokaido, players are on a journey and they move along a map in a linear line. Each location on the way grants a specific type of reward. Depending on the type of rewards a player is trying to achieve, they must evaluate whether stopping at other locations on the map is going to benefit them. Sometimes moving several spaces ahead of the rest of the group is preferential. However, the further ahead you move, the longer it will be before the player can move again. The player who is last in line will always go next.

Kraftwagen and Glen More both use a square track made up of spaces populated by tiles. Players claim the tiles as they land on them. Again, the player who is in last is the player who gets to move and claim a tile. If the other players had skipped over a few tiles, the player in last place can move to each tile along the way, claiming them until they are in a position where another player is behind them on the track. Again, each player must weigh the choice between moving to a valuable tile and forfeit other tiles along the way. Moving slower will allow them to claim several tiles instead.

Patchwork is a two player game that uses the ‘last goes first’ approach. Instead of allowing a player to move as far ahead of the other player as they want, the tiles manage the players ‘time’. The Time Track represents how long it takes to ‘make’ the section of quilt that you want to claim. The player in last place  gets the choice of one of the next three tiles representing the quilt pieces. Each tile has a cost that includes ‘time’. The player must them move forward on the time track the amount of time that is on the tile. A valuable tile will move the player several steps up the time track, thus giving their opponent the opportunity to possibly claim two or more tiles in a row.

The Dragon and Flagon is another game that uses the time track like Patchwork does. Each player secretly chooses actions to perform. The player moves their marker forward on the time track by the number of units on the action card. A pawn denotes which spot on the time track performs the next action, which actually works out to be the last player in player order.

Other games use the Time Track to manage the movement of time. T.I.M.E Stories is based around the players having a limited amount of time to perform their tasks. As each player takes their actions, the actions cost Temporal Units, or TU. If the team cannot decipher the clues they are given during their time jump and they exceed the TUs they are allocated, the mission fails and they have to start over. Having a finite amount of TU allocated to the team can cause anxiety and pressure among the players. Careful planning, and sometimes hard decisions on what actions to perform, produces a very intense game.

Terraforming Mars uses the scoring track as a Time Track. Each player starts with a Terraform Rating of 20 on the score track. The lower numbers are available for use as a ‘generation’ counter. Each round in the game is a generation.  Typically, Terraforming Mars uses the one through 15 spaces on the track to denote which generation the players are in. When playing the advanced rules, the players draft cards each generation. The direction the cards are drafted is dependent on whether the generation is odd or even.

Variable Phase Order – The actions taken during a turn may not occur in the same order from round to round. 

In most games, each round consists of the players having the same actions to perform on their turn. How they maximize those actions will usually affect how they perform during the game. Some games break away from consistent actions and implement what is known as Variable Phase Order. Players do not know from round to round what order the actions will be performed. Suddenly, planning what actions a player can take is gone. The players are at the mercy of the game, and sometimes the other players each round. Adding this type of randomness injects a touch of real-world chaos into each game.

Puerto Rico , from Andreas Seyfarth, was one of the first games to effectively use Variable Phase Order during the game. Each round, the first player, known as the Governor, chooses a role card and announces what role has been chosen. The player that chose the role card gets to perform the special ability on the card. All of the players, in player order, perform the action of that character, but without the special ability. Then, each other player in player order, gets to choose a different role card and everyone performs that role.  Once a role card has been used each round, it cannot be used again that round. Once every player has chosen and played a role, the Governor token is passed to the next player, in player order. Careful selection of the role can benefit the player or it can be detrimental to other players’ plans. 

Another game that uses a variation on the role cards used in Puerto Rico is Glass Road from Uwe Rosenberg. Each player has 15 specialist cards in which to choose from each round. They secretly choose 5 of the specialists that they want to use. In order, each player reveals a specialist from their hand. If other players have also chosen that specialist to be played this round, each of the players with that specialist get to choose one of the specialists abilities to perform. If no other player has chosen that specialist, the active player gets to perform both of the actions associated with the specialist.

Nevermore uses a different method of changing up the phases. Each round, four of the six phases are randomized so that the players don’t know which card type will be affected that round. Players start each round by drafting cards to fill up their hands. Usually they will want to pass Ravens to the other players and try to keep combinations of the other four cards. The only problem with trying to choose the cards is not knowing which of the 4 cards are going to be revealed first. Because Ravens count against the other cards, as the card types are revealed, the players need to decide when to include Ravens in their revealed cards.

This mechanic is also known as Variable Action Order. Many Worker Placement games use this as a primary mechanism to limit the number of options that players have. Yedo limits the number of available action spaces so that only one worker can take certain actions. Once taken, the other players are blocked from using that action. A good player will time the use of a space so that it benefits their strategy, generating points for a win condition. Good players will also take advantage of a space that they might not need in order to hinder another player from taking advantage of it.

There are so many games that use this mechanism that it is hard to decide on which games to discuss. One interesting implementation is to allow the players to have a choice of actions they can take, but only allow them to take a limited number of actions each turn. For instance, Terra Mystica allows players to take any of 8 actions, but they can only perform a single action each turn. Players must decide how they are going to optimize their options each turn, working to build out their faction before other players can take advantage of the limited space on the board.



Variable Player Order – Altering when each player takes their turn during each round of the game.

For many games, each player takes their turn in the same order each round, typically clockwise around the table. Having a set turn order allows the game to move quickly from round to round, as the players know it’s their turn when the player to their right is done. In some games, having the same person go first each round can be a great advantage for that player and possibly detrimental to the other players. Changing the first player order gives every player a better chance at getting the best options during the game. Designers have implemented different ways of selecting the first player for each round, maximizing the players’ options on how to take turns. Many games simply move the first player to the next player in turn order, allowing each player the chance to go first. In some games, it may not be beneficial to go first. Being the last player can have its advantages from time to time.

There are several games that simply change the player order each round by moving the first player marker to the next player in turn order. Puerto Rico, Stone Age, Terra Mystica, and hundreds of others use this method of changing the player order. The player who just went first is now the player to go last. Every other player has a slightly better position when choosing options from the board on their turn. This version of controlling the first player is typically found in Worker Placement games where action spaces are limited. Giving each player a chance to choose action spaces first gives them the opportunity to manage their action selections through each round.

In Jamey Stegmaier’s game Viticulture, the First Player token is passed to the next player in counter-clockwise order at the end of each round. As an interesting twist on the First Player advantage, the first thing players do during a round is select player order. The first player gets to choose when they will take their action, known as the Wake-up Time, followed by the other players in clockwise order choosing a time. Each time is associated with an award, which can be to draw a card or two, get a victory point, or an additional worker. Once the action phase begins, the players start taking their actions based upon the order they chose. There are advantages to going first – better action selection – but taking a turn order that is later in the round yields better rewards from the Wake-up Time selection table.

Citadels is similar to Viticulture’s player order selection, but Citadels uses role cards to choose the order. The first player marker in Citadels is known as the Crown. Each turn the Crown is passed clockwise to the next player in turn order. The player holding the Crown then sets up the Character card deck, selects a Character and passes the remaining Characters to the next player. Each Character has a rank, or order, that the round is played in, as well as a special ability. The player holding the Crown then calls out the Characters by rank. When a player’s Character is called, they are allowed to take their actions, including their special ability. Each round, players can choose a Character to take their actions early in the round if they think it will benefit them, or they can choose their Character based upon the special action they can perform.

In Five Tribes, players bid for player order. Each round, the player who went first the previous round gets to start the bidding process. A player is allowed to bid 1, 3, 5, 8, 12, 15 or 0 gold. The higher the player’s bid, the better chance of that player going first. Once all bids are in, the player with the highest bid is the first player for that round. The other players go in order from highest to lowest bids. Strategically, going first will often yield the best selection of moves that were left from the previous round. If a player’s goal is to get specific meeples, they may be able to get them by going first. However, the price that the player pays in gold adversely affects their score. In Five Tribes, a player’s gold is their victory points at the end of the game. Spending gold reduces victory points, but hoarding gold often prevents a player from attaining some of the best moves. Balancing when to spend gold to go first and bidding low to keep gold is key to success.

Because being first player can have an advantage in many games, some designers make the players pay to become first player. Usually, this is done in Worker Placement games where the action spaces are limited. Going first guarantees the player will be able to get the action space that they want. However, to become first player, often a player will need to use one of their workers to take that spot, and doing so denies the player from taking a different action on that turn. Tzolk’in: The Mayan Calendar is a prime example. One of the player’s workers has to be placed on the Starting Player Space. That worker will be available immediately after the turn ends, but cannot be used for anything else on the turn it was placed. Brew Crafters is another game that uses an action space to become the first player. 

There are also games that use a combination of factors to change first player. Take Compounded for example; the first player changes at the end of each round, going to the next player clockwise. However, there is an action available that allows a player to claim the first player marker, thus changing the play order in the next round. The action is only available by players who have obtained a Lab Key. Once obtained, the Lab Key remains on the players Lab Table until they want to take that action and become the first player.

Some designers like to control who is the first player by including it into the gameplay itself. In a game like Tokaido, the player who is in last place is the next person to move. There aren’t technically any rounds in Tokaido, only player turns. Play progresses smoothly, as each time one player takes their turn, the next person to go is the player that is last in line. In Panamax, certain load cards have an option to place a load on the rail cars. At the end of each round, the player who has the most value on the rail cars becomes the first player for the next round.

Voting – Allowing each player to choose what outcome they believe will be the most beneficial for the game, usually involving a decision that will influence the outcome of the game.

The voting mechanic is an interesting addition to the games where it is used. Each player is usually trying to become the sole victor of the game. A player’s vote will usually be in favor of an outcome that will help influence their chance at victory. In competitive games, votes can be cast to sway the vote in favor of an outcome that will help the player’s chances of winning, but the vote could also be cast to interfere with another player’s chances, even if it doesn’t help the player who is casting the vote. In co-operative games, players will usually coordinate their votes so that they can generate the best outcome for the team.

Some of the most interesting games using the Voting mechanic are the Hidden Role games. When playing a game like The Resistance, the Spies are trying to deflect attention from themselves while attempting to sabotage the missions. During the team voting phase of the game, each player is allowed to vote on whether they want the chosen players to go on the mission. Careful selection of when to agree to send the team and when to block the team is needed to keep from giving too much information away.

One Night Ultimate Werewolf is another Hidden Role game that uses a vote at the end of the game session to determine who the players believe is a werewolf. All players vote at the same time after having spent time debating on the roles that everyone believes they have. Subterfuge by the Werewolves, and uncertainty in the way the roles may have changed during the game can lead to difficult decisions by the players when it comes to the moment to vote.

Other games use voting to decide the outcome of an event or round. Dixit is a party game where the active player, known as the storyteller, describes a card that is placed in the center of the table. The other players place a card they believe fits that description from their hands into the center. The storyteller lays out all of the cards and the players vote on the card that they think is the storyteller’s card. If everyone’s vote correctly identifies the storyteller’s card, the active player gets no points because the description was too good. If none of the votes correctly identify the storyteller’s card, again no points are awarded because the description was too vague. However, if at least one vote is cast for the storyteller’s card and at least one vote is cast for another player’s card, the storyteller gets rewarded points for each correct vote. Other players receive points for votes cast in favor of their card.

Co-ops tend to suffer from the ‘Alpha Gamer’ syndrome, where one person takes control of the game and tries to get the other players to do what he thinks is the best option. One of the ways to alleviate ‘Alpha Gamer’ syndrome is to implement a voting mechanism. Some games have the players secretly choose what they want to do and then all players reveal at the same time, majority wins; while other games have the players discuss the options and then vote on them at the end of the discussion. Typically, the rules will specify that the active player has final say in what happens during the turn. Time Stories is a good example of a co-operative game that uses voting to choose what happens during the scenarios.

Worker Placement – Also called “Action Drafting”, this mechanic involves players selecting from a limited selection of actions, one after another, until all players have used all the actions available to them.

Most likely derived from the concept of an action point allowance system, this mechanic was first used in the 1998 game Keydom, and popularized by Agricola, Caylus, and Lords of Waterdeep.

In a worker placement game, the first player will select an action with one of his “workers” and then perform the action. The next player will then select an action with their worker, and play will continue until all players have used all of their workers. Once all workers have been placed, this concludes a round, and the board is reset. A key concept is that each action can only be used by one worker, so more desirable actions need to be taken earlier in the round.

Worker placement games often involve the gathering of resources and the use of resources to build improvements or structures. These improvements and structures often improve the efficiency of actions, making later rounds more productive than early rounds.

Another key concept of worker placement mechanic games is that there is usually a way to acquire additional workers, allowing for more actions to be taken in a round. Often workers require some sort of upkeep at particular times in the game, either at the end of a round or at designated points in the game. This means that the additional workers come at a cost of more upkeep, but some additional workers are usually worth the added cost.

Worker placement has become a staple mechanic of modern board games, with some interesting twists added. Tzolk’in adds gears, where your workers get placed, but they do not perform actions right away. The actions your workers can take improve with the amount of turns that they are left on the board. Kingsburg uses dice as your workers, with the values restricting the actions available to your workers.