Board games are such a broad hobby that it’s impossible not to find at least one example that everyone can enjoy. Whether you’re drawn in by complex simulation-like tactical games or easy-to-learn party games there’s something for everyone.
But getting the most out of board gaming can seem like a taunting task when you first encounter a community with its own notions, cultures and even language. Today, we’re helping those new to the hobby decode some of the most important terms you might come across in your journey into this incredible community.
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A is for Area-Control
Area-control games are common in board gaming. These are games in which the objective is to control the largest share of a map. These areas could be anything from islands to businesses to former-Soviet states!
B is for Board Game Geek
Board Game Geek (BGG) is the font of all board gaming knowledge in the known universe. In short, it’s a massive database of all games ever made that also includes forums, blogs and other community spaces. If you need information on any game the most likely place to find it will be through BGG!
C is for Cooperative
Cooperative games are hugely popular in contemporary board gaming. These include any game where players don’t compete against each other, but try to complete a shared objective determined by the game.
D is for D6, D8 and D20
Dice are important to a lot of board games. They range from 4-sided dice all the way up to 20-sided. Many gamers refer to them by a ‘D’ followed by their side amount. So D6 is the name for a common six-sided die, like the kind you would see in a game of Snakes And Ladders.
E is for Eurogame
Many games today are designed in Europe (especially Germany) and follow similar ideas. Eurogames are generally competitive, but don’t involve a huge amount of conflict and player interaction. Players will typically attempt to be the best at performing tasks in a shared space that follows a theme.
F is for Family
Although veteran board game players sometimes look down on family-friendly games they are often a great experience for many people. Good family games include anything that can appeal to children while also being fun for adults, and are generally simpler games with abstract concepts and colourful designs.
G is for Germany
Germany is probably the most important country for the board gaming world, and Germans themselves are huge board games fans. Not only do many designers and publishers work out of Germany, but Germany is also home to Essen, where the world’s largest and most important board games festival takes place every year.
H is for Heavyweight
Games are either heavyweight or lightweight. This doesn’t refer to their physical mass, but rather how complicated and hard-to-learn (or play) a game is. Dense tactical strategy games are known as ‘heavyweight’, and some of these can take hours to play. In the ITB offices we still avoid talking about one infamous game of Twilight Imperium that ended suddenly after 6 hours of play!
I is for Independent
While many of the most popular board games are made by large international companies the internet has helped many independent designers and publishers find success. Today, some of the most highly-rated games come from small indy teams driven by passion alone. ITB are a small independent publishers, but still work with gamers across the world!
J is for Jumanji
Although no one has actually managed to make a Jumanji board game that actually summons wild animals from the jungle there have been some pretty good attempts. If you enjoy board games today you probably loved the Jumanji film when you were a kid!
K is for Kickstarter
Kickstarter is a crowdfunding website in which supporters ‘back’ unfinished or early concept projects. Kickstarter has been hugely important for board game developers in recent years. Not only has it helped launch the careers of small independent publishers (like us!) but it is even now used by big companies too. Many of the most popular and successful games in recent years started on Kickstarter, and the site is now an absolute must-visit for board game fans who want to experience the latest in tabletop gaming.
L is for Living Card Game
The term ‘Living Card Game’ (LGC) is a trademark of games company Fantasy Flight. LGCs are a type of self-contained card game that don’t rely on randomly-distributed booster packs or started decks, but have a core set and optional expansions meaning anyone with the game can play and compete on the same level with other players.
M is for Meeples
Meeples are what we call the little wooden pieces which look like human figures. Meeples are typically colourful and can represent almost anything. Although they usually look identitcal there is some variation, such as Colt Express’ cowboy meeples, or our own cave explorer meeples!
N is for Netrunner
Netrunner is a hugely popular card game designed by the same people that made Magic The Gathering. Today cities across the world host regular Netrunner meet ups, and high-level players complete in international tournaments.
O is for Objective (Hidden)
Hidden objectives are a feature of many contemporary games, and especially in games that involved bluffing or deception. Hidden objectives are secret goals known by only one player who will try to complete this objective without letting other players know their aim.
P is for Party Game
Party Games are just that: games for parties! Party games revolve around larger groups of players interacting in a social setting, rather than through complicated game rules.
Q is for Qwirkle
Qwirkle is a great game! It’s also the only games we can think of that starts with a Q!
R is for RPG
RPG stands for Role Playing Game. This covers a whole host of games in which players take on the role of a specific character, acting out that character’s actions, usually in a way that focuses on storytelling. Some of the most famous RPGs include Dungeons & Dragons, but RPGs can be in any setting, and have any number of different rules and styles.
S is for Shut Up And Sit Down
Shut Up & Sit Down is the leading board game website in the UK, if not the world. They are one of the hobby’s most loved sites, and create incredible written, audio and video content all about games and gaming. Their video reviews in particular are hilarious and clever. For an idea of your next favourite game definitely check out their website and YouTube channel.
T is for Theme
Theme is the imaginary story elements that make up a board game’s setting or world. Themes might range from a nuclear wasteland to a vineyard in the South of France and there are almost as many themes as there are actual board games.
U is for Ultra Pro
Ultra Pro is a company that specializes in protectors and storage for card and board games. Serious players of card games like Magic The Gathering or the Pokemon Trading Card Game are obliged by law (not really) to protect their cards with plastic sleeves, and most players use this as an opportunity to express themselves with custom patterns and designs.
V is for Victory Points
Victory points are a common rule in many board games used to determine the overall winner. The player with the most points wins, but points can be earned through hundreds of different ways, sometimes during the game and sometimes at the end in a special final round.
W is for Worker Placement
Worker placement games are one of the most common and popular types of contemporary tabletop games. Worker placement is a rule in which players move tokens representing different people (workers) to different parts of the board. Workers in one section will have a different value, and do something different, to workers in a different section.
X is for X-Wing
X-Wing is a hugely popular tabletop game from Fantasy Flight company set in the world of Star Wars. The game involves moving spaceship models (also called miniatures) across an open battlefield in a one-on-one dogfighting battle. The game, although relatively young, is played by thousands – and even has huge international tournaments held at gaming conventions across the world.
Y is for Yahtzee
Yahtzee is a classic board game created in the 1940s by Milton Bradley games. As well as being one of the few games that starts with a Y it’s a broad appeal game that can be played by children and grandparents alike.
Z is for Zombies! Zombies! Zombies!
Like the walking dead themselves, the theme of zombies in board games refuses to die. Zombies are perhaps the ultimate disposable enemy, and can often fit nicely into a well-designed tabletop game!