Board Game Jargon

Here are some of the games playing terms that you may find in the blogs, videos and podcasts featured on Board Games Live.  


Abstract board game – a board game without a theme.  A sub set of this is abstract strategy games.

Actions or action points – In some games, players get to take a number of actions based on a limited number of points each turn.

Ameritrash – American style board games usually feature a strong theme and lots of luck.

Analysis paralysis – an annoying term used to describe a game that gives players so many options that they often get stuck trying to work out what to do next.

Area control board game – a board game in which players receive points for the amount of area they control.

Auction board games – a type of board game in which players bid for in-game resources.

Beer & pretzels board game – a game with strong random elements and usually a humorous or light-hearted theme.

Card drafting – when players are able to choose cards that are face up.

CCG – a collectible card game. The classic example is Magic the Gathering.

Chit – a small square of cardboard used as a game piece, commonly found in older war games.

Eurogame – simple games from Germany that feature really nice production values and a lot of player interaction.

Expansion – an additional or add on product in a game line which offers new rules, scenarios, and/or equipment.

Gateway game – a bad term used by many for an introductory game.  It’s a bad term as whenever it is used it is quickly followed by “what I mean by gateway game”.

A simple game that’s useful for introducing new players to the hobby.

Grognard – someone who plays war games. – a crowd funding website where you can post a project and hope to get enough backers to get it produced.  More and more games are being produced as Kickstarter projects.   You’ll find links to Kickstarter in the Game Links drop down menu on Board Game Live.

Meeple – your playing pieces in a game.   Can also be known as counters, pawns, movers, tokens and even dobbers!

OOP – out of print. No longer being produced.

Party game – a game for lots of people that emphasizes social interaction.

Perfect information game – a game that lacks any hidden information. Chess and go are examples of perfect information games. Poker is the opposite of a perfect information game.

Playtest – to play an unpublished game with the goal of finding flaws in the rules or mechanics.

Replay value – whether a game can be played multiple times and still be enjoyed.

Roll and move – a game mechanism where players roll a die or dice then move their pieces based on the result.

RPG – abbreviation for roleplaying game, a type of game that emphasizes storytelling. The players portray characters in the story.

Scenario – the rules for setting up a game. Some games have multiple scenarios that can alter everything from the initial set up to victory conditions.

Spiel des Jahres – the top award in board gaming awarded once a year by a jury of German games journalists.

Thematic board games – games with some type of detailed storyline or detailed setting.  Some go as far as becoming “story-telling games”.

Tile laying game – a game in which players lay tiles down to form the game board.

Turtling – the term used for an extremely defensive strategy. The term comes from first person shooter video games, where players hide “in their shells” and then pop out to shoot their opponents.

Variant – a version of a game with different rules and/or gameplay.

Victory conditions – what you have to do to win a game.

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