A mystery box filled with miniatures to enhance your RPG campaigns. All official miniatures and for a bargain price!

Buy Miniatures Box »

Not sure what game to buy next? Buy a premium mystery box for two to four great games to add to your collection!

Buy Premium Box »
Subscribe Now »

If you’re only interested in receiving the newest games this is the box for you; guaranteeing only the latest games!

Buy New Releases Box »
Subscribe Now »

Looking for the best bang for your buck? Purchase a mega box to receive at least 4 great games. You won’t find value like this anywhere else!

Buy Mega Box »
Subscribe Now »

Buy 3, get 3% off - use code ZATU3·Buy 5, get 5% off - use code ZATU5

Introduction To Board Game Mechanisms Part 2

mechanisms roll and move
mechanisms roll and move

Welcome back! Although if this is your first one of this series, I guess just “welcome!” If you’re a newcomer to the hobby of board gaming, you may have heard the word “mechanisms” or “mechanics” bandied about. These refer in general to the way a game plays, giving a short cut for gamers and designers alike to describe their games and letting people know what to expect.

Last time, the mechanisms we looked at were Worker Placement, Trick Taking, Drafting, Set Collection and Roll & Write games. This time, we’re going to start with something you might be pretty familiar with…

Roll And Move – Rachael Duchovny

It would be difficult to start explaining the mechanism of roll and move games without first mentioning the game where it possibly all began. The Game of Goose became very popular in Europe, particularly Italy, near the end of the 15th Century. Like most other roll and move games, such as Snakes and Ladders, this is a game of luck with a race to finish first. You roll a die and move a character, usually a playing pawn, around a board. Some spaces you land on cause ‘special things’ to happen, for example, moving forward or backwards.

As these games have progressed, for example in the love it or, more often than not, hate it game of Monopoly landing on a specific space can also cause other things to happen such as: picking up a card or making a decision, i.e. buying a property. Or in a personal favourite of mine, Cluedo, you can ask questions to try to deduce information leading the ‘race’ to be over when you have found the murderer, weapon and room. And of course, roll and move games can include some strategy, such as Backgammon.

Camel Up is a popular game which uses this mechanism combined with betting to see which camel you think will come first. And I’ll finish on my favourite character, Scooby Doo. There are many, many Scooby roll and move games that will bring simple, fun entertainment to families, or fans of the show, everywhere. Ranging from the recent Scooby Doo! The Board Game to old favourites like The Maze of Mayhem and Monster Mall. So next time you hear the phrase “roll and move” I urge you to not dismiss the game as too simple, too ‘luck’ based but have a go… you never know. You just might enjoy it!

Co-operative – Hannah Blacknell

Many people see games as a chance to strategically outsmart your opponents and grab a sweet “W” from your friends. However, for me, one of the sweeter types of games are the co-operative game mechanisms where you are all working together against the game. You are pulling together to try and complete a common objective. These kinds of games can include nods to every other mechanism on this list; you can have real-time co-op games, tile laying ones, even co-op trick taking games!

The types of game mechanisms are so diverse that picking just one was incredibly tricky. I think if you want to enjoy a co-op frenzy type game then you cannot go wrong with something like Rush MD where you are trying to save patients by managing egg timer workers and collecting organs, blood and meds to get them well as quickly as possible. For utter simplicity that can be enjoyed by all the family then try out Bandido where you are trying to keep the bandit from escaping. This is a simple card laying game which can be enjoyed by adults and kids alike. And if you want to try something totally off the wall then try out Mysterium Park where you will be working together to interpret the visions to try and deduce who is the murderer and where the crime happened. I could go on forever with all my favourite co-op games but here are a few extras to really get that team spirit flowing; Spirit Island for the serious gamers, and Magic Maze for angry gamers.

Hand Management – PaP Nick

Hand Management is a mechanisms that does what it says on the tin. It’s all about managing what is in your hand - usually cards. This can be as simple as organising your hand into scoring sets as in Rummy or a bit more unusual. Hand management often goes hand in hand with other mechanisms so there may be some overlap.

One of the best examples of a hand management game is Concordia, although it is perhaps not one to start with! The whole game revolves around the cards you start with, and the ones you obtain during the game and using them at the best moments.

But if you are looking to try it out and see if you enjoy hand management starting with, Scout would be a great idea. In Scout, you are trying to get rid of the cards in your hand by playing consecutive runs or groups of the same number. Each card has a number on the top of it and a different number on the bottom. The trick is you cannot reorder your cards when you are dealt them. You do get to choose which way round you want them at this point, but they must all be rotated and kept in the same order or not at all.

The management comes in when you draw new card or play sets from your hand. Cards picked up can be put anywhere in your hand either way up, and sets played must all be next to each other in your hand. You use this to build bigger groupings and hopefully outwit your opponents. It’s clever and a lot of fun.

If you wanted to take it up another level, then my highest recommendation goes to Res Arcana. You must manage your small deck of cards to build the best scoring engine you can. I’ve made it sound boring there but trust me it combines hand management with engine building to near perfection.

Area Control – Pete Bartlam

Area control mechanisms do exactly what it says on the tin; it’s where the objectives are areas of the board rather than individual points or the capture of your opponent’s pieces. It’s the difference between Chess where you take pieces and go where you enclose and control an area. Area Control allows designers and players to focus on the bigger picture and operate at the macro level. It makes movement quicker and victory determination simpler. It’s most often used in conflict games, the most familiar being Risk and its more modern successors like Small World, a game where you take on a fantasy race and combine it with a feature to create interesting combinations and set about controlling the land with your individual units.

Area control can also be used in multi-level wargames showing the overall control of regions before you fight battles at the tactical level: the Total War series of videogames are a good example of this. Area Control presented a new way of resolving wargames which had been dominated by hex-based movement and combat. This often presented the strategic rather than the tactical level but not always. It could also be used at the tactical level too with dramatic effect. This is best illustrated by Undaunted: Stalingrad.

Whereas many previous versions of this battle have played out the action hex by hex, Undaunted: Stalingrad, like its’ stablemates in the Undaunted series, uses Map Tiles, 129 of them, as the areas your units fight to control. Victory is gained by controlling pre-designated areas regardless of whether your opponent still has remaining troops. Using Area Control like this means a complex battle situation can be resolved simply and speedily whilst still presenting a stiff tactical challenge to the two commanders.

Social Deduction – Sophie Jones

Social deduction games are all about guessing who’s who. These games give players a character and provide them with a role. Some players will have hidden information which others need to try and deduce. But it’s not going to be as easy as asking them. Those charged with keeping a low profile will have to wriggle their way out of questions and blend in with the rest.

Most social deduction games revolve around player interaction rather than complex mechanics. These games are suited to larger parties and last around 30 minutes. They are also ideal to whip out when entertaining non-gamers or those new to the hobby. As rulebooks are thin and components minimal you can get these games to the table quickly.

One social deduction game you need to try is One Night Ultimate Alien. This game is playable with up to 10 players and has an average runtime of 10 minutes. Players will be randomly assigned roles which are kept hidden. Some will be aliens and the rest townspeople. Aliens will win if they escape capture, and the townspeople win if they snag one alien! The abundance of roles and abilities in the game mix things up so it’s hard to guess. This game is all about debating and trying to convince others you are who you say you are. It’s a very vocal and loud game as you all point and accuse others.

If you are interested in trying out social deduction game mechanisms and you’ve had your fill of One Night Ultimate Alien, you will be pleased to note there are others like it including One Night Ultimate Werewolf. For a more tactile social deduction game try out Mafia de Cuba. And for those who want something for a smaller group Mantis Falls has you covered. So, test your skills against your friends and see if you can root out the traitors or bluff your way to victory.