The surface of the table in the designer's chosen virtual tabletop has a custom graphic in place of the standard table design. It could be purely for decoration or a stand-in for a custom player mat.
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This game expects players to focus more on social interaction than strategy and/or takes under 45 minutes to play in full, including the rules teach.
This game involves some strategy and takes 45-90 minutes to play, with no more than 15-20 minutes of that time spent on the rules teach.
This game focuses on strategy and takes 90 minutes or more to play, with 20 minutes or more of that time spent on the rules teach.
This is more of an idea to workshop than a game.
You have playtested the prototype before, but you expect it to still have bugs.
You know the game works but are trying minor adjustments.
This will feel pretty close to playing a published game, but you’re still taking feedback.
Abstract Strategy games are often (but not always):
Alien/Extra Terrestrial: originating, existing, or occurring outside the earth or its atmosphere (Merriam-Webster)
Animals games involve animals as a major component of the theme or gameplay.Animals games often require players to attend to the management or control of animals. Players may even take on the role of an animal (or animals) in the game.
City Building games compel players to construct and manage a city in a way that is efficient, powerful, and/or lucrative.
Murder/Mystery games often involve an unsolved murder or murders. A requirement of these games is usually for players to investigate these crimes, and determine the criminal details and/or perpetrator(s).
Educational games have been specifically designed to teach people about a certain subject, expand concepts, reinforce development, understand an historical event or culture, or assist them in learning a skill as they play.
(Definition taken from Wikipedia.org)
Fantasy games are those that have themes and scenarios that exist in a fictional world. It is a genre that uses magic and other supernatural forms as a primary element of plot, theme, and/or setting. Fantasy is generally distinguished from science fiction and horror by the expectation that it steers clear of scientific and macabre themes, respectively, though there can be a great deal of overlap between the three.
Fantasy game elements usually include:
Farming games encourage players to build and manage farmland for the purposes of growing crops and/or tending to livestock, often to be sold or traded later on.
Science Fiction games often have themes relating to imagined possibilities in the sciences. Such games need not be futuristic; they can be based on an alternative past. (For example, the writings of Jules Verne and the Star Wars saga are set before present time.) Many of the most popular Science Fiction games are set in outer space, and often involve alien races.
Ghost: a disembodied soul, especially : the soul of a dead person believed to be an inhabitant of the unseen world or to appear to the living in bodily likeness (Merriam-Webster)
Medical games have themes related to the science of natural healing. Themes may include surgery, cures, recovery/recuperation/physical therapy, psychiatry, pharmaceutical prescription, and other medicine-related items.
Mythology games are those that often incorporate a thematic narrative that defines how the game world or characters came into existence, specially those related or based on narratives of ancient civilizations of the world.
The storyline in a number of Mythology games usually includes supernatural elements, such as gods, goddesses and demigods, and are sometimes set in a fabled, primordial time, which usually corresponds to a general corpus of folk stories (myths) that used to have some form of religious or sacred nature for the cultures that engendered these stories.
Nature: the external world in its entirety (Merriam-Webster)
Nautical games involve sailors, ships, and/or maritime navigation as a major component of the theme or gameplay. Most Nautical games require players to effectively control ships as an objective.
Space Exploration games often have themes and storylines relating to travel and adventure in outer space. Often, players must seek and gather resources and territories as objectives of the game.
Many of the popular Space Exploration games are also categorized under Science Fiction.
Sports games often have themes or storylines related to the physical activity of sports. The sports represented in the most popular Sports boardgames are football and racing (whether car, boat, bicycle or horse).
Steampunk: science fiction dealing with 19th-century societies dominated by historical or imagined steam-powered technology. (Merriam-Webster)
Train games often involve gameplay and imagery related to railroads and rail vehicles. Many of the most popular Train games are set in the late 19th and early 20th centuries (although some games, like Lunar Rails, are set in the future).
Travel games often have gameplay where an objective is to move to and from different geographic locations. As such, Travel games usually employ a map as the main feature of the game board.
Any theme you haven't seen a lot of in the market -- or possibly a common theme mixed with additional theme(s) or setting(s) not usually paired together.
Zombie games often contain themes and imagery concerning the animated dead. Some of the more popular storylines in Zombie games include apocalyptic themes, horror, and fighting.
A player receives a number of Action Points on their turn. They may spend them on a variety of Actions.
The earliest example of a game listed on Boardgamegeek that uses AP's is Special Train (1948).
Multiple players may occupy a space and gain benefits based on their proportional presence in the space.
In El Grande, for instance, players earn their score in a region by having the most caballeros in that region.
This mechanic requires you to place a bid, usually monetary, on items in an auction of goods in order to enhance your position in the game. These goods allow players future actions or improve a position. The auction consists of taking turns placing bids on a given item until one winner is established, allowing the winner to take control of the item being bid on.
Bluffing games encourage players to use deception to achieve their aims. All Bluffing games have an element of hidden information in them.
Players play cards out of individual decks, seeking to acquire new cards and to play through their decks iteratively, improving them over time through card acquisition.
This category also covers Bag Building, Pool Building, and related mechanisms.
Dominion pioneered this mechanism.
Drafting is a means of distributing cards or other game elements to players through an ordered selection process.
A typical implementation involves each player being dealt the same number of cards. Players then select one card to keep, and pass the rest to their left. This continues until all cards are taken. 7 Wonders implements this type of draft.
An alternative is that only one player is dealt cards, and they take one and pass it until all players have cards. This obviously is strongly biased towards the first player, and needs to be supported thematically and balance-wise. Citadels has this type of draft.
Another type is the open draft, where all options are shown to the players, and they take turns selecting. This is akin to Action Selection or Worker Placement.
Hand management games are games with cards in them that reward players for playing the cards in certain sequences or groups. The optimal sequence/grouping may vary, depending on board position, cards held and cards played by opponents. Managing your hand means gaining the most value out of available cards under given circumstances. Cards often have multiple uses in the game, further obfuscating an "optimal" sequence.
Movement occurs that is not visible to all players.
Scotland Yard is a classic game implementing this mechanism.
One or more players are assigned differing roles that are not publicly revealed at the start of the game.
This mechanism usually requires players to pick up an item or good at one location on the playing board and bring it to another location on the playing board. Initial placement of the item can be either predetermined or random. The delivery of the good usually gives the player money to do more actions with. In most cases, there is a game rule or another mechanic that determines where the item needs to go.
Players must decide between settling for existing gains, or risking them all for further rewards. Push-Your-Luck is also known as press-your-luck.
Players simultaneously program their movement, and then reveal and execute it. This mechanism tends to promote chaos in a game, and benefits those with good spatial relations.
Typically this is expressed as the winner being the first player to reach the end of a track.
However, if there is any type of fixed goal, this also qualifies as a Race mechanism. Catan is an example, where players are racing to reach 10 points.
The game is developed using paper and pen to mark and save responses or attributes that, at the end of the game, are used to score points and determine the winner.
A game that merely keeps track of score on a sheet of paper does not use a paper-and-pencil mechanism.
The available Actions are represented as pie wedges in a circle. Each player has one or more tokens on Rondel’s wedges. On their turn, they may move their token around the Rondel and perform the Action indicated by the wedge where they stop. It is typically more costly to move further around the Rondel.
The primary goal of a set collection mechanism is to encourage a player to collect a set of items. For example, players collect and harvest different types of beans in Bohnanza, and they collect Monuments in Ra.
Commodity Speculation is a subcategory of Betting and Bluffing, in which in-game money is bet on different commodities in hope that that particular commodity will become the most valuable as the game progresses. Often the values of the commodities are continually changing throughout the game, and the players buy and sell the commodities to make money off of their investment.
Commodity Speculation includes both Investment games in which players have some indirect control over asset values, but have a hard time hurting others without hurting themselves; and Collusion games, in which players have huge direct control in manipulating asset values, forcing players to help others and manage shifting alliances.
In Tableau Building games, each player has a visible personal array or tableau of components (cards, tiles, player boards, etc.) which they purposefully build or manipulate throughout the game by spending actions and/or resources (including opportunity costs) and which determines the quality, quantity, and/or variety of actions to which they have access throughout the game.
The array is not merely a place to store resources, to plan out actions, to store a puzzle which must be manipulated, or something that impacts VP's. It impacts the quality, quantity, and/or variety of actions which are accessible to a player. This means that some games may include an array or a tableau but not really be a tableau building game.
Tile Placement games feature placing a piece to score VPs or trigger abilities, often based on adjacent pieces or pieces in the same group/cluster, and keying off non-spatial properties like color, "feature completion", cluster size etc.
A classic example is Carcassonne, where a player randomly draws a tile and place it next to other tiles and has a chance to place a meeple on the tile just played.
Players play cards from their hand to the table in a series of rounds, or “tricks” which are each evaluated separately to determine a winner and to apply other potential effects.
The most common way to win a trick is by having the card with highest value of the suit that was led, but many classical card games use the "trump" system (where the certain cards, usually those of a designated suit, will win the trick if they are played.) Occasionally there is a round of bidding to determine this trump suit.
In many trick taking games (though not all), players are required to "follow suit", i.e. play a card of the same suit as was led if they have one. If they do not have a matching card, they must play another card from their hand.
Any mechanic you haven't seen a lot of in the market -- or possibly a common mechanic mixed with additional mechanics(s) not usually paired together.
More precisely referred to as "action drafting", this mechanism requires players to select individual actions from a set of actions available to all players. Players generally select actions one-at-a-time and in turn order. There is usually a limit on the number of times a single action may be taken. Once that limit for an action is reached, it typically either becomes more expensive to take again or can no longer be taken for the remainder of the round. As such, not all actions can be taken by all players in a given round, and action "blocking" occurs. If the game is structured in rounds, then all actions are usually refreshed at the start or end of each round so that they become available again.
Two players actively played in the playtest -- regardless of the player count the game can accommodate.
If the designer observed without playing, they aren't included in the player count.
Three players actively played in the playtest -- regardless of the player count the game can accommodate.
Four players actively played in the playtest -- regardless of the player count the game can accommodate.
If it is impossible to eliminate a player from the game, but everything else (including combat) is just like a 4X, the game is known as a 3.5X.
The four Xes do not have to happen separately, they can be folded together and happen at the same time. However, all four Xes will happen in a 4X game.
The free center square: you can mark this one off for any one playtest over Protospiel weekend
Card Games often use cards as its sole or central component. There are stand-alone card games, in which all the cards necessary for gameplay are purchased at once. There are also Collectible Card Games (CCGs), where players purchase starter and "booster" packs in an effort to compile a more and more powerful deck of cards to compete with.
Players coordinate their actions to achieve a common win condition or conditions. Players all win or lose the game together.
Economic games encourage players to develop and manage a system of production, distribution, trade, and/or consumption of goods. The games usually simulate a market in some way. The term is often used interchangeably with resource management games.
Games designed for a wide range of ages to play together.
These games have a "campaign mode" where the game and/or characters change over time, such that the results of one game may influence future plays. Expansions should be added here instead of the base game if they provide the campaign mode and the base game did not.
Players make agreements about courses of action.
Agreements may be either binding or non-binding. Diplomacy is a notable example of the latter.
Party games are games that encourage social interaction. They generally have easy setups and simple rules, and they can accommodate large groups of people and play in a short amount of time.
Puzzle games are those in which the players are trying to solve a puzzle. Many Puzzle games require players to use problem solving, pattern recognition, organization and/or sequencing to reach their objectives.
Some board games incorporate elements of role playing. It can be that players control a character that improves over time. It can also be a game that encourages or inspires Storytelling. This mechanic can be viewed as an extension of Variable Player Powers.
A game in which players are cooperating and competing with each other throughout the game, while trying to complete a common objective.
In storytelling games, players are provided with conceptual, written, or pictorial stimuli which must be incorporated into a story of the players' creation. Once Upon a Time uses a selection of words while Rory's Story Cubes include ambiguous symbols. Some games like Snake Oil prompt players to pitch a product, which frequently takes the form of a brief story or vignette.
Other storytelling games include titles such as Tales of the Arabian Nights and Above and Below, game designs in which players don't create their own stories, but instead experience a story from the inside as one of the participants. Games along those lines might present players with a particular narrative situation, after which the player will make a choice that affects which end to the narrative is told — with the results of this narrative affecting the player's standing in the game.
A strategy game is a game in which the players' decision-making skills have a high significance in determining the outcome. Strategy games often require decision tree analysis, or probabilistic estimation in the case of games with chance elements. Strategy games include abstract games, with artificial rules and little or no theme, and simulations (including wargames), with rules designed to emulate and reproduce a real or fictional scenario.
Strategy Games Ranking
Competitive maneuvers that directly attack an opponent's progress toward victory, but do not directly eliminate any characters or components representing the opponent. Such mechanics include stealing, nullifying, or force-discarding of an opponents resources, actions, or abilities. A take-that maneuver often results in a dramatic change in the players' position of power over a relatively short period of time.
In team-based games, teams of players compete with one another to obtain victory. There are a variety of possible team structures, including symmetrical teams like 2v2 and 3v3, multiple sides like 2v2v2, and even One vs. All.
Thematic Games contain a strong theme which drives the overall game experience, creating a dramatic story ("narrative") similar to a book or action movie. Some well-known examples are Battlestar Galactica, Twilight Imperium and War of the Ring.
This type of game often features player to player direct conflict (with the chance of elimination), dice rolling, and plastic miniatures.
A Thematic Game is usually created around its main dramatic theme, which its rules and mechanics aim to depict. Themes typically involve fighting or good-versus-evil conflicts with heroes and villains. Science fiction and fantasy themes are common.
This is contrasted with Strategy Games, also known as "Eurogames." Eurogames are usually built around an elegant set of mechanics, with a more general theme (e.g. Power Grid or Agricola). Themes tend to invoke more everyday events such as trading and building.
Thematic Games are sometimes called Experience Games or "Ameritrash" games (meaning "American-style boardgames"). The latter name can be controversial, but is generally embraced by long-time lovers of the genre and is not considered derogatory.
Thematic Games Ranking
Wargames are games that depict military actions. Wargames are set in a variety of timelines, from the Ancient period to present conflicts and even in the future. Thematically, Wargames cover everything from actions between small units on a very small board to larger, extremely detailed conflicts and even global-scale wars. Although most Wargames are based on historical situations, there are Wargames based on fantasy or science fiction, as well as Wargames based on hypothetical but historically-based situations (e.g., nuclear war between the Soviet Union and the USA). Probably the most popular period for Wargames is World War II, followed by the Napoleonic Wars and the American Civil War. However, Wargames cover a vast range of conflicts, and if you are interested in a particular war you are quite likely to be able to find a game that covers it in some way.
Word games often require players to competitively use their knowledge of language. Language knowledge in Word games is often focused on spelling and definitions.
At least one designer who hosted the playtest has a first name that starts wit A-F.
At least one designer who hosted the playtest has a first name that starts wit G-L.
At least one designer who hosted the playtest has a first name that starts wit M-R.
At least one designer who hosted the playtest has a first name that starts wit S-Z.
At least one designer who hosted the playtest has never been to an online tabletop game convention before this weekend.
At least one designer who hosted the playtest has never been to any Protospiel event in the past -- either online or offline.
At least one designer who hosted the playtest started actively designing tabletop games less that a year before the event.
At least one designer who hosted the playtest would answer the question "How do you identify?" differently than you would. This is open to both parties' interpretation and can be anything from nationality to gender to worldview
At least one designer who hosted the playtest has been listed on a crowd funding campaign page as one of the team behind the campaign.
Examples may include Kickstarter, a Game Crafter Crowd Sale, Indiegogo, or Gamefound.
At least one designer who hosted the playtest is someone the playtester never met before the beginning of this event.
At least one designer who hosted the playtest has created at least one illustration used in a tabletop game -- either published or unpublished.
The illustrations they've done do not have to be present in the specific game they hosted a playtest of. Providing illustrations for another designer's game qualifies them as an illustrator for the purposes of this square.
At least one designer who hosted the playtest is someone the playtester has met before and kept in contact with since their original meeting.
At least one designer who hosted the playtest regularly creates content for a blog, video channel, and/or podcast. They can be the main owner of the media outlet or a regular contributor who supports the outlets owner.
At least one designer who hosted the playtest is a credited contributor to a game listing on boardgamegeek.com. Possible credits include designer, artist, and publisher.
At least one designer who hosted the playtest was in the same time zone as the playtester during the event.
At least one designer who hosted the playtest was in a different time zone from the playtester during the event.
At least one designer who hosted the playtest as attended a previous Protospiel Online.
At least one designer who hosted the playtest currently lives in the USA.
At least one designer who hosted the playtest currently lives in a country other than the USA.
At least one designer who hosted the playtest owns a domain name that points to a live website with content supporting the designer's business and/or hobbies.
The website they own doesn't have to be related to the playtest they hosted.
The game playtested was designed by 2 designers working in a partnership.
One or both designers from the partnership can host the playtest.
The game playtested was designed by 3 or more designers working as a team.
Any number of designers from the team can host the playtest.
A three dimensional game piece not included as a standard piece in a the designer's virtual tabletop of choice.
One or more standard 6-sided dice are used in some capacity to build the prototype. They may have the standard 1-6 pips (dots) or custom symbols on their faces.
This may be a physical item used in a video chat game or a digital representation in the designer's chosen virtual tabletop.
The classic Meeple shaped like a person first seen in Carcassonne. Although various shaped board game pieces are often called "Meeples," for the purposes of this Bingo square, we are looking for the classic shape.
The surface of the table in the designer's chosen virtual tabletop has a custom graphic in place of the standard table design. It could be purely for decoration or a stand-in for a custom player mat.
Games (expansions, promos, etc.) using a book as the board in gameplay. Actual components, not just images or theme.
Game pieces are directly placed on an open page of the book. The book may contain instructions and stories next to the playing area.
The components are designed to help colorblind players distinguish game pieces by either using colors that look distinct even through colorblindness or by using symbols/patterns in addition to colors.
A square in 3D! They can be any size, opaque or transparent, a flat color, or textured/decorated.
This is not to be confused with the 6-Sided Die/Dice component. If it has meaningful, differentiated symbols on its 6 faces, it's considered a die, whether or not the game requires rolling it.
A device with buttons to allow you to increase or decrease the count of something collected in a game (resources, points, etc.)
A bag full of items. It can be used as a way of randomizing the items or simply for storage.
A portable surface laid out for playing a game and on which players place and/or move counters or other pieces.
This may be a physical item used in a video chat game or a digital representation in the designer's chosen virtual tabletop. If in a virtual game, the board must be a separate piece from the table.
You find the layout of the printed game parts noteworthy for its ease of use, creativity, elegance, etc.
You find the illustrations on the printed game parts noteworthy for their beauty, creativity, cohesive style, etc.
Small scale figure representations as components.
An abstraction of a person in game piece form: a spherical portion at the top with an cylindrical or flared out base.
A printed game surface on which individual players place their own pieces, cards, dice or other game parts.
This is not to be confused with the Reference Card component, which serves only as a rules reference without interacting with game pieces.
Dice with a different number of faces than the standard six-sided die.They may have numbers or custom symbols on their faces.
A polyomino is a plane geometric figure formed by joining one or more equal squares edge to edge. (Wikipedia)
A printed component players can use to quickly reference game rules.
A game board on which the pieces move along a line or loop of increasing numbers to help count the points players have earned. This tracking may happen during the game, at the end of the game, or a mixture of both.
A flat game figure held up straight by a base with a clip.
A flat playing piece usually laid out edge to edge on the paying surface.
Any component you haven't seen a lot of in the market -- or possibly a common component used in a unique way.
Clever Playing Cards
The game creator(s) will handle marketing, sales, distribution, and all other logistics of bringing the game to market.
Looking for a Publisher
The game creator(s) are looking for someone to partner with them to handle some or all of the process of bringing the game to market.
Under Contract with a Publisher
The game creator(s) have found a company or individual who will partner with them to handle some or all of the process of bringing the game to market. The publisher and designer might be the same person, but, beyond the self publishing option, a game that is “with a publisher” will publish under a brand that publishes for a variety of designers.
No Plans to Publish
The game creator(s) will not make this game available for sale to the public. The fun of creating and playing the game is all the reward they need.
The publisher will produce the game after a large group of people have paid in advance. Crowdfunding platforms include Kickstarter, Crowd Sales through The Game Crafter, Gamefound, Indiegogo, etc.
The publisher will distribute the game to retailers such as friendly local games stores (FLGS), Target, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Cool Stuff Inc., etc.
Print on Demand
Also known as POD. The manufacturer can print one copy at a time so that the seller doesn’t need to carry inventory. Popular POD services include The Game Crafter, Drive Thru Cards/RPG, and Board Games Maker.
Another Publishing Method
Other methods may include handmade games, print and play or monthly subscription games, creating a seller account on an online marketplace like Amazon or Etsy, and/or selling from your own website — or anything else the publisher can dream up!
The campaign is not yet open for backer pledges. Interested players may be able to follow the project on social media and/or via email updates.
The campaign is either open for backer pledges or has recently finished funding. The publisher is making final tweaks to the product before sending final files to the manufacturer.
A crowdfunding campaign launched in the past did not meet its funding goal or was cancelled before the campaign ended. The publisher plans to launch a new campaign using lessons learned from past campaign(s).
There is no plan for a crowdfunding campaign at this time.