Board Game Terminologies

Understanding board game jargons is not very complicated. So for most who have been playing board games for quite some time, this may sound like a remedial. But for those who consider themselves a beginner, the following terms can be very helpful. You don’t need to memorize this. Once you learn about these terms, and have encountered them in the actual game, you will get the grip.

(Note: every board game has jargons of their own but these are the generalized terms that are basic and apply to almost all.)

Game Boardor commonly referred to as “board” is the surface (usually quadrilateral) where the game is played. On most games, the board used is unchanging or standardized but others use tiles or cards that enable the layout of the game to change as the game progresses or depending on the agreement of the players before the game starts.

Environmentis basically the game board or the board where the game is played. The term is used interchangeably with game board. Environment can also be a tabletop, a score sheet or something different. There are randomized environment like the one used on Settlers of Catan, abstract environment like the chess board, evolving environment like in Carcassonne and representative environment like in Euro boards among others.

Tokens (or pegs or pieces or counters or bits)are the game pieces that represent the player on the game board. The number of tokens used by a player may vary depending on the game. In chess, 16 tokens or pieces are used at the beginning of the game, each with its own designations and capabilities within the limits of the game. Other games such as the classic Snakes and Ladders use only one token to represent the player; while others employ additional pieces as the game progresses. Some games have tokens that are not assigned to a particular player.

Jumpis to bypass another player’s piece. Depending on the game, a jump may involve capturing the game piece of an opponent or simply, bypassing it.

Spaceis a physical unit on the board enclosed by a certain border. It is also where a game piece is placed. On most games, tokens are placed in the areas delimited by a grid line (like Chess); while in other games, the tokens are placed on intersection of lines on the grid (Go).

Randomizersare elements of the game that exist outside the board or the environment, which introduce luck into the game. The most common randomizers are dice and spinners. Cards and tiles are also considered as randomizers.

Markersare another elements of the game that reside outside the board or the environment. Markers are used to keep track of important details in the game such as the score, quantity, trade and more.

No player eliminationis a characteristic of the game that aims to keep all the players until the end. This is a distinct characteristic of German-style board games. Specific mechanics like scoring at the end of the game or hidden scoring is designed to keep the players at the end of the game.

Hexis used as a common term to denote the space on a hexagonal-based board game. This is most often used on board wargames although some abstract strategy games such as Abalone use hexagonal layout.