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A gameplay phase where the efficient utilization of possessed resources and abilities are in focus.

Many games allow players to get access to resources and abilities. Players are in Exploitation phases when their focus is upon improving the resources and abilities already possessed, and using these recursively on themselves for this purpose.


Master of Orion, Minecraft, Slaves to Armok II: Dwarf Fortress, and Civilization series are all examples of games that have Exploitation phases.

Using the pattern

As a phase in gameplay arcs, Exploitation typically occurs after Expansion. 4X games[1] are constructed by using these and having them preluded by Game World Exploration and concluded by Extermination.

For Exploitation to work there must be something to exploit. It is not as dependent on Game Worlds as the phases of Game World Exploration and Expansion, but rather on the Resource Locations located in these. The Construction of Bases or Installations are typically required to make use of these or can in themselves provide Resources that can be exploited. To make this type of gameplay challenging Complex Gameplay is typically used and making best possible use of all these aspects typically require the construction of efficient Gameplay Engines. An alternative to this type of Exploitation is one where players instead focus on increasing their Scores; in this case the gameplay is typically not complex as the phase is the Endgame and the potential importance of making Gameplay Engines has most likely been in a previous phase.

When and how Exploitation occurs depends on what Abilities players have. Technologies and Units typically possesses these and by introducing them as New Abilities game designers can control when Exploitation can begin.

How long Exploitation phases should continue depend mainly on when other phases (typically Extermination) begins but Pottering can be made available to those players that wish to prolong the phase. However, Exploitation can also be the result of Construction/Scoring Phase Shift when the Exploitation takes the form of increasing ones Score rather than expanding one's influence.


Exploitation is typically a Middlegame phase but sometimes an Endgame phase instead. Since it deal with improving and maximizing the utility of player assets, it both can lead to Abstract Player Construct Development and Micromanagement of those assets. Since players have no need to perform actions except overview processes if they feel they have maximized the utilization of their Resources, the pattern can give rise to Lull Periods.


Can Instantiate

Abstract Player Construct Development, Endgame, Lull Periods, Micromanagement, Middlegame

Can Modulate


Can Be Instantiated By

Bases, Complex Gameplay, Construction, Gameplay Engines, Installations, Resource Locations, Scores

Can Be Modulated By

Construction/Scoring Phase Shift, New Abilities, Pottering, Technologies, Units

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With

Quick Games


New pattern created in this wiki.


  1. Wikipedia entry for 4X games