Gameplay formats:

Deck-builder (or dice-builder)

You start with a set of basic cards (or dice), and on your turn have to decide between buying better things, and using the things you already have to achieve the game’s objective. The trick in these is balancing trying to do things too soon, without adequate preparation, and spending too long amassing an unstoppable set of cards, by which time your opponent has already won. The classic deck-builder is Dominion, and the first mainstream Dice-Builder was Quarriors, although you’re more likely to hear me talking about Marvel Legendary or Dice Masters respectively.

Cooperative Games

Rather than working against each other, the players collectively are trying to beat the game. Pandemic is one of the best-known co-ops, other big examples are Shadows Over Camelot, and many games in the Lord of the Rings franchise.

Semi-Cooperative Games

Like co-ops, but with a twist. Most of you are working together, but some may not be – this can take the form of a hidden traitor mechanic like Battlestar Galactica, a 1 vs many format like Middle Earth Quest, or a “if we all win, then we look at who did best” structure like Marvel Legendary.


Draft is a format often used in collectible games, although it has made its way in to others. At its most basic level, players will have a randomly assigned hand of cards, pick 1, then pass the remainder to the person next to them. the process repeats until all the cards have been evenly distributed between the players.

Often, drafting takes place before any of the actual game-play starts, but sometimes it forms the inherent structure of the game itself, as in games like 7 Wonders, where each round all players simultaneously play the card they have just drafted.

Different games have their own sub-variation on drafting mechanics, such as Dice Masters and the Rainbow Draft.

There are other bits of gamer terminology which I’ll probably churn out without noticing – if anyone spots anything they feel would benefit from being added to this page, please let me know.


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