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Dazed by Dice Talk? Your Guide To Advanced Nerd Talk


So you’ve read my previous article on board game lingo have you? Think you're suddenly a proper board gamer like the rest of us? Well good, because we want you to have the space and confidence to identify how you want to and you are welcome here regardless. THAT SAID, us geeks love us some weird words and entirely made up languages. Come with me down this delightfully nerdy rabbit hole as I cover some more game related mouth sounds. This time we are going to get a little weird as I sprinkle a few terms which are a little more obscure to get you from conversational to fluent. Native speakers are just as welcome, and for every one of the below you already know I award you a psychic gold star sticker* *Redeemable in the astral plane between 25:00 and 27:00 only.

Gamer types

Casual - those who enjoy games of various types but in a laid back sort of way. They are often happy to play games when they come out but are unlikely to clamour for another round of Risk at 01:00am. Often casuals prefer lighter games leaving the heavier stuff to them harcore chaps. See below.

Grognard - A person who prefers older board games and/or RPGs, or older editions of. These folks were the vanguard of our hobby. Now they converge on Tuesday evenings at flat roofed village halls to play their games with abacuses and typewriters. These sorts paved the way for the rest of us in a time when such things were less accepted by many. They deserve our respect but be warned that if you engage a grognard then they will try and explain THAC0 at you. See below.

Hardcore (gamer) - These chaps don’t mess around. You can play games but did you know you can also live games. For these peeps are those who eat, breath, and dream about whatever game of choice. Example “hey, have you seen Darren has shaved his head and tattooed Yu-Gi-Oh’s haircut over his scalp?” “Yeah, Darren is pretty hardcore”

Stuff and things

Precision Dice - Most dice have their edges rounded or “tumbled” at manufacture to leave a bevelled finish. Precision dice do not undergo this step so their edges are sharp and angular. Precision dice come in all the same materials normal dice do and are just a different aesthetic more than anything. I’ve had a few myself (in resin) and found the edges will eventually chip and wear down with regular rolling but they were nice while they lasted.

Game types and rules

THAC0 - “To Hit Armour Class 0” is a term from AD&D (an early edition of Dungeons and Dragons, sorry for all the acronyms) relating to how you calculate if an attack hits its target. If you don’t know how to calculate THAC0 then you don’t need to and never will. If you mention THAC0 to someone who does know then they will either:

a) Experience a Vietnam like flashback and then praise modern editions of D&D

b) Explain how it’s actually very simple and that people are just dumb now because smartphones exist.

I won’t explain it in full but basically you declare an attack, check the astral charts, compare your I’m the main character score against the how much does the Game Master approve of your snack offering result and then flip a 3 sided coin in the moonlight. If you care then

Google it but all you need to know is it was a complex system that most people are happier without.

Mulligan - when you get another chance at something. For example, a game (or friendly opponent) may allow you to mulligan if you draw a particularly bad hand of cards at the start of a game. A mulligan here may be an opportunity to reshuffle your deck and draw again. Often games allow mulliganing to ensure nobody is screwed from the outside, or mulligans are added as house rules, prearranged or impromptu, because the group are looking to keep things fair and fun for all. Fun fact, the term mulligan comes from Saint Mulligan, an Irish saint who (briefly) reintroduced snakes back onto the island after Saint Patrick chased them off. He died in 585 AD after he was eaten by an anaconda.

Pick up and play - board or card games that tend to set up easily and are quick to learn, or teach you as you play through it for the first time by just jumping in. Sometimes called PUPS, by me, relentlessly. I will make that a thing if it kills me.

Legacy Games - a style of game that is designed to last either a specific or limited number of games before it is complete. Many legacies are also difficult (but not necessarily impossible) to replay as components have been permanently altered or destroyed, or surprises have been revealed. Hugely popular at one time and many beloved franchises released legacy versions of their games. For others, like me, the thought of damaging or marking a board game component makes me want to be unborn. Never.

Ways to play

Hate drafting - When drafting components and you have a choice between something that will help you, and something that may not help you but definitely hurts or denies your opponent then choosing the latter would be a hate draft. Sometimes it’s strategic, sometimes you just need to swallow your pride and talk to that therapist.

Kingmaker - is one who finds themselves in a situation where their action will decide who else wins in a game. Example: While I can’t win this game myself, if I chug the water tower then Alan loses his moist bonus and Barry wins, but if I resurrect Joe Pasquale then Barry will have chase him off with his bears and Alan will win because he has more bears in play that are not mauling a mostly forgotten comedian. If you find yourself a Kingmaker get ready to do your smug face and be sure to milk it for all it’s worth. Victory always comes at a price, be that a ride home or a fistfull of their M&Ms.

Game elements

Buff - used across all forms of gaming to mean a beneficial effect, often ongoing. For example: yo dog, I heard you like buffs so I buffed my staff so I could cast a buff on you to give you a buff physique so you can punch through the buffs those cultists are wearing. See also Debuff.

Debuff - a negative effect, often ongoing. For example: being on fire, standing still in acid, Crippling anxiety over not meeting your parents aspirations for you, mild headache, experiencing a biblical plague, moderate headache, being subscribed to an email mailing list you can’t unsubscribe from, living near a large sewage treatment works, severe headache, being able to hear the dark whispering woods call to you, migraine, having to accept your Manager’s Facebook friend request, etc. See also Buff.

Drop/drops - In some games when you slay an enemy or sunder a boss their corpse cracks open like a little Kinderegg and you get a dashing scarf for your trouble. Otherwise known as loot, the drop or drops are your rewards at the end of a fight.

NPC - Non Playable Character. Ie. the participants in a game that are managed by the game instead of a real life flesh cage around a skeleton - that’s you. Basically NPCs are like that one partner you had who you adored but they were never really present in the relationship. Their responses were brief and often samey, they never wanted to go anywhere or do anything, and once you’d given them everything they wanted from you they just sort of stopped engaging with you.

General slang

Cheese - meaning a method, item, strategy, etc. that is considered exploitative, broken, unbalanced, and above all very effective. You might bring a cheesy army list to a wargame or find that cheesey combo in a card game, or build your RPG character for some serious edam.

First Blood - the first kill of a game, round, etc. Getting first blood is being the first person to murder something. Not something to be proud of really but that’s the society we live in. Shame on you.

Nerf - When something is made weaker or less effective somehow by a balance adjustment, new edition, rules update, etc. When one is nerfed one is considered to be hit with the nerf bat, tickled with the nerf taser, or in midnight cahoots with papa nerfdragon.

OP - Over Powered. Simples really, when something is considered too powerful in comparison to other equivalent options. Example: The axe does 1 damage, the sword does 2 damage, or the mace does 8 damage and you resurrects your enemies first pet which attacks them causing necrotic and emotional damage. OP is often misused by those who have lost fairly but will not accept it and instead choose to believe the game is balanced against their favour rather than accept the fact they are just a bit naff at things.

Thank you for learning my words. These are all of them. G’night kids and remember, when you find yourself in a nerdy convo don’t be afraid to roll out that lexicon and get weird with it.


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