Board Gaming Terms, Phrases, Mechanics and other Jargon
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Primarily for new gamers, a list of common phrases, terms, mechanics, and game types.
Send your new gamer friend over here to get caught up on popular gaming phrases/terms so they don't feel left out or confused!

Send me your requests for inclusions in the list!
Also, please comment under each Term/Phrase to include suggestions of games that use that term/mechanic.

Check out my YouTube channel when you're done. I teach board games, so this list complements those learning how to play. Head over there to have me explain the rules to your game group, so you don't have to!
Check out the channel directly at: Meeple Mentor on YouTube

Or, visit my blog! Meeple Mentor Blog
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1. GeekList: Euro Games
Board Game: Catan
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For contrast, see "Ameritrash/Amerithrash/Amero games".

Euro games (or "Euros") are a type of board game generally associated with German-made games, and more recently, other European board games. Ever since "Settlers of Catan" in 1995, Euro games began to gain international attention and appeal. It broadened the acceptance and fueled American appetites for similar style Euro games. Games such as Carcassonne, Puerto Rico, Ticket to Ride, Alhambra, and Agricola also gained widespread popularity.

Euro games generally have indirect player interaction and abstract physical components (such as wooden cubes). Euro-style games emphasize strategy while downplaying luck and conflict. They tend to have economic themes rather than military (combative) and usually keep all the players in the game until it ends. This is in stark contrast to its American counterpart.

Eurogames are usually built around an elegant set of game mechanics, with a more general theme. Themes tend to invoke more everyday events such as farming, trading, and building.

Good game example: Carcassonne, Power Grid, The Castles of Burgundy
 
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Board Game: Rising Sun
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Also see "Thematic Games."

The term "Ameritrash" is widely used, but also controversial. The term is used to contrast against Euro-style games. It's origin was "American-style games".
Amero (pronounced "Uh mer Oh") games often have (but are not limited to):
Plastic miniatures, player elimination, focus on being thematic over technical, highly competitive, stress the experience of the game rather than game mechanics, and use more realistic-looking pieces.

Good game examples: Rising Sun, Twilight Imperium: Third Edition, Gloomhaven, Star Wars: Rebellion, Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game
 
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3. GeekList: Draw Deck
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A stack of cards in a game, with the common backside shown face-up. This is a "deck."

A Draw Deck is where a player or players will "draw" and take the top card from the deck to perform or complete an action. The draw deck may be communal, and used by all players. Or, each player may have their own personal draw deck.

In most games, cards taken (drawn) this way are immediately placed in the player's hand secretly.
 
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"Discard" is an action verb that references a player removing a card either from the game board/area or from their HAND, and placing it in a Discard Pile. The Discard pile could be shared by all players, or a personal discard pile.

Discard Pile is the term for the area where all discarded cards are placed. Typically the discard pile is shuffled only when the cards are needed for gameplay, but none are available elsewhere (such as the Draw Deck).
 
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Each player in a game may have a certain number of private (secret) cards only visible to them. They are usually held together in their hand so only the owner may see them.
Usually, cards "in your hand" may be played by spending some action or resource(s).
 
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6. GeekList: D6/D3/D20 ...etc
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Pronounced "Dee six", "Dee three", or "Dee twenty".
References a dice type with a certain number of sides. Most people think of a "D6" as the most standard die. A D6 may also be used as a "D3" if the game calls for a D3 roll. In that case: 1 or 2= 1, 3 or 4 = 2, and 5 or 6 = 3.
 
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7. GeekList: Melee
Board Game: Zombicide
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Pronounced "may-lay". A term for hand-to-hand combat. Can also involve physical weapons like a baseball bat or crowbar.

Good game example: Zombicide
 
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8. GeekList: Ranged Attack
Board Game: All Things Zombie: The Boardgame
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A type of attack between characters that uses a projectile weapon. The weapon must be able to do damage to someone more than 1 space away. It is possible to use a ranged weapon on an enemy in the same space, but the damage comes from a projectile.

Good game example: Zombicide, All Things Zombie: The Boardgame
 
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Board Game: Batman: Gotham City Chronicles
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A term used in games with ranged attacks. Most common in miniature war games, or board game "action" games with miniatures. A line of sight is an imaginary line from the shooter to the target across a map. Clear line of sight is often required for projectiles to reach the target and inflict damage. Obstacles and walls block line of sight.

Good game example: Batman: Gotham City Chronicles, Star Wars: Imperial Assault
 
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10. GeekList: 4X Game
Board Game: Space Empires: 4X
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Pronounced "four Ex". A term for large civilization/empire building games. The term began with computer gaming in the early 90's, but is adapted to board games too.
It's "4X" because these games have all four of these qualities:
Explore, Expand, Exploit, Exterminate

Explore means players send scouts across a map to reveal surrounding territories.
Expand means players claim new territory by creating new settlements, or sometimes by extending the influence of existing settlements.
Exploit means players gather and use resources in areas they control, and improve the efficiency of that usage.
Exterminate means attacking and eliminating rival players. Since in some games all territory is eventually claimed, eliminating a rival's presence may be the only way to achieve further expansion.

Good game example: Space Empires: 4X, Twilight Imperium: Fourth Edition
 
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Board Game: Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar
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Commonly referred to as "AP", just pronounced "Ayee Pee".
AP is a condition a player finds themselves when they are overwhelmed with choices. The result is they will take 2-4 times as long to take a turn as other players. "A player can be very AP." Some games will lend itself to causing analysis paralysis, and should be avoided if playing with players who are prone to AP.

Good game example: Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar, Trickerion: Legends of Illusion
 
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12. GeekList: Aggro
Board Game: Dark Souls: The Board Game
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A popular gaming term (especially in online computer gaming) to indicate an enemy is hostile, or will attack on sight. It's short for "aggressive".

In board gaming, players may use the term as a synonym for "getting the attention of" or to mean an enemy is about to attack.

Good game example: Dark Souls: The Board Game
 
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Also see Upgraded / Deluxified.

Bling is a word used in board gaming to describe any kind of upgrade to the retail version of a board game. Bling could be a new insert, card sleeves, high-quality tokens/resources, metal coins, or anything else added to the game to improve its' overall quality.
A "Blinged-Out" game refers to a copy of someone's game that has had a lot of upgrades (bling) applied to it.
 
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14. GeekList: Campaign
Board Game: Resident Evil 2: The Board Game
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In board gaming, a campaign refers to playing a sequential series of games as defined by the campaign creator. Many games can be played as a campaign , if certain campaign rules are added. Some rulebooks include this as an option already. Sometimes the campaign can tell a continuous story over multiple sessions.
Most Legacy games are also campaign games too. However, just because you CAN play a campaign, does not automatically make it a Legacy game.

Good game example: Resident Evil 2: The Board Game, Scythe
 
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15. GeekList: Chits
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Chits are small cardboard pieces, often squares, that represent different things. They can represent resources, money, points, or characters.
Chits must be punched out from cardboard sheets before playing with them in a game.
 
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16. GeekList: Contiguous
Board Game: Ticket to Ride
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Connecting or touching. Areas on a map are contiguous if they touch one another, or can be reached by not crossing over obstacles.

While not necessarily a gaming term, it does come in handy in a lot of games.

Good game example: Ticket to Ride
 
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This refers to a board game's most basic, essential elements to play. The most basic box of components sold at retail is the Core Box. If it takes multiple boxes to have a complete experience, they are referred to as the Core Set. Anything extra to this are called Expansions, and are usually sold separately.
 
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18. GeekList: D&D / DnD
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A short acronym for Dungeons and Dragons. Pronounced "Dee in Dee".
Often D&D will be referred to in conversation about the origins of modern board games, RPGs (role-playing games), and comparisons between the games to the game being played/discussed.
 
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19. GeekList: Dice-Chucker
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Often used a derogatory term, it describes a game that uses a lot of dice. It implies the game has a lot of randomness and luck, and possibly little strategy or effort.
 
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20. GeekList: Dice Tower
Board Game: Wingspan
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A Dice Tower is a device used to roll dice in a variety of board games. They can be themed, blinged-out, or fairly basic. Sometimes the game comes with a dice tower. Other times, it's just an added accessory that can be used with any game with dice-rolling.
The basic concept is to put the dice through the entry at the top, and let it fall down to an enclosed bottom area to display the die faces.
Some people choose to use this to reduce dice falling off the table, or landing in a "cocked" fashion, where it could be unclear what face is up.

Good game example: Wingspan
 
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21. GeekList: DM
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Pronounced "Dee Imm". Acronym for "Dungeon Master". It's a reference to Dungeons and Dragons. In modern board gaming, the term "DM" can refer to either a person or be used as a verb. "I'm going to DM the game." or "Who wants to be the DM?"
A player who is DM is the one who is in some way controlling the experience for the other players. Usually acts as the villain(s).
 
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22. GeekList: Expansion
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An expansion is an extra set of components, rules, and/or board to an existing board game. Expansions can be included in the Core box, or often purchased separately. Using an expansion with the core (base) game is always optional.
 
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23. GeekList: Fiddly
Board Game: Feudum
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The term "Fiddly" refers to games that have an excessive number of less than elegant rules or pieces to keep track off. Oftentimes games that are called fiddly require you to put a wide variety of different pieces on the board in various spots as determined by how long you've played, and what players are doing, etc. Generally used to describe a game with an abundance of rules for everything that could happen in the game.

Good game example: Feudum
 
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A "filler" game is often played between 2 game sessions of complex, lengthy games. Hence, they "fill" the time. Filler games, by nature, are short. Perhaps under 30 minutes. The rules don't take long to explain, and concepts and gameplay are easy to understand.

A "gateway" game is a commonly recommended or used game to introduce new gamers to the board gaming hobby. There can be many gateway games, as you can focus on a game mechanic to introduce to the new player(s). Gateway games are usually simple enough to understand, but complex enough to have strategic depth. Often with very strong themes, to attract non-gamers. The hope is that the new player will be enticed by the strategy and choices offered by modern games, and will seek out or be willing to play more games (often getting more complex as they go).
 
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A Game insert is a tray or series of trays in a custom form to fit the components of a game. Some games come with their own insert, and may or may not hold everything after cardboard is punched, and tokens are sorted into bags.

Some players purchase or create their own insert using foamcore. It's easy to work with, cheap, and sturdy enough to hold up during game transportation. You can find foamcore at Walmart, for example.

Some companies specialize in making custom inserts for board games, that allow better organization within the box, during setup, and during gameplay. One of the most popular, or widely known companies is "Broken Token".
 
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