Whenever I use more or less obscure gaming terms in my reviews, I’ll make sure to explain those words here. This page is constantly under construction.
Abstract game. A game in which the theme (if there is one) is not important to the playing experience. The theme in an abstract game could often be replaced by another one without making the game harder to comprehend. An abstract game is primarily focused on the game mechanisms. Classic examples are Go and chess. YINSH and Hive are contemporary ones. A well known abstract solo game is Peg Solitaire.
Ameritrash is a somewhat controversial term often used to describe a game with high conflict, randomness and an emphasis on theme and narrative. Ameritrash games are contrasted to eurogames. Dividing games into these two categories often leads to oversimplification and stereotyping. If you want to know more, have a look at this Wikipedia article.
Deck-building games are games where you start with a small, basic deck and gradually add cards to improve the deck according to your strategic and tactical goals, thus building a deck while playing. This genre of games was spawned by Donald X. Vaccarino’s Dominion in 2008.
Dungeon crawl. A type of game setting or scenario where heroes enter an enclosed structure, often a dungeon with many different rooms, doors and levels. Here the heroes encounter monsters and traps and find treasure. A dungeon crawl is often focused on combat, experience points and looting.
Eurogame is a somewhat controversial term that is often used to denote a game that has little or no conflict, low luck and high skill. These games are often designed with a focus on elegant or simple mechanisms rather than theme and story. Eurogames are often contrasted against ameritrash games, games with an emphasis on theme, lots of conflict and chance. Dividing games into these two categories often leads to oversimplification and stereotyping. If you want to know more, you should have a look at this Wikipedia article.
Experience points often abbreviated EXP, are used to quantify and measure a character’s progress and experience in a role-playing game. Experience points can often be used to increase character stats and leveling up.
Legacy games are campaign games that are played over several sessions. There is a narrative continuity between the sessions and the in-game decisions made by the players will permanently change the game-state in a way that will have consequences for future sessions. Legacy games often involve stickers changing the board or the rule book, and cards that are added to decks or removed and destroyed. These games come with sealed content that’s not supposed to be opened until an in-game effect instructs you to.
Min-maxing is an old video game and role-playing game term for playing with a focus on maximizing efficiency and minimizing weaknesses. In some games this leads to situations where one stat is given so much priority that your character becomes highly specialized. This can sometimes lead to a rather one-sided gaming experience, but min-maxing can also be an interesting challenge.
PvP is short for Player vs Player, a game where two or more people play against each other.
Party game usually means a game that’s easy to learn, can be played with many people, plays quickly, and facilitates social interaction. I tend to dislike this kind of game, although I like parties. Here’s a list of the most popular party games on BoardGameGeek.
Rules lawyer. A term often used pejoratively about somebody who puts more emphasis on the rules of a game than the person who uses the term in this way. Finding the previous sentence tricky? A rules lawyer would understand it.
Standalone expansion means a game that’s based on a previously released game, and can be played either by itself or integrated with the original game.
Tower defense games are strategy games with a focus on organizing the defense of an area, building, city or other structure. The player places defense installations and units to deal with waves of attackers that usually attack in a semi-predictable way.
Worker placement is a game mechanism where pawns or dice representing workers are placed on spaces representing tasks. Placing a worker allows the player to draw cards, gain resources, score points or do further actions. In many worker placement games only one worker can be in one space, meaning that putting a worker there blocks other players from doing the action or gaining the resource associated with that space. Some examples of worker placement games are Village, Agricola and Kingsburg.