Game Boards

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A surface designed to support gameplay.

Many games require that game elements are moved between places or that their spatial relation to each other are part of the game state. Yet others have many game components that need to be organized to make gameplay feasible. Designed boards, Game Boards, can help with all these issues.


Game Boards are the defining characteristic of Board Games. Besides classical examples such as Chess, Diplomacy, Go, Monopoly, and Pachisi, there are many examples including 7 Wonders, Advanced Squad Leader, Agricola, Car Wars, Concordia, Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game, Egizia, Forbidden Island, King of Tokyo, Memoir '44, and Twilight Struggle.

For a detailed discussion of Board Games and Game Boards, see Parlett[1].

Using the pattern

The design of Game Boards consists of the actual design of the board and what game elements, e.g. Cards, Dice, and Tokens, should be used in conjunction with them. Designing Game Boards can mostly be treated as designing Levels although this becomes most clear when a game uses several different Game Boards during one game instance. Tiles can also be used, and are most likely used more often.

Examples of design elements that can be used to populate Game Boards are numerous. Alarms, Controllers, Boss Monsters, Enemies, Environmental Effects, Game Items, Helpers, Installations, Landmarks, Obstacles, Pick-Ups, Props, Resource Generators, Self-Service Kiosks, Spawn Points, Switches, Vehicles, and Warp Zones are all examples of specific items and things that can be placed on Game Boards. In addition, Big Dumb Objects, Clues, Diegetically Outstanding Features, and Traces can be used to provide information to players about the boards. Game Boards can further be subdivided into various regions with specific characteristics through the use of the previously mentioned patterns as well as how various parts of them are interconnected. Examples of such regions include Arenas, Backtracking Levels, Choke Points, Flanking Routes, Galleries, Inaccessible Areas, Safe Havens, Secret Areas, Sniper Locations, Strongholds, Transport Routes, and Vehicle Sections. Many of these become Strategic Locations.

If a Game Board isn't a Score Track in itself it can be augmented with one.

Interface Aspects

Game Boards is an Interface Pattern.


Game Boards are often Maps and in that sense can depict Game Worlds. When they are used to keep track of how players move Tokens from one place to another to win, they also work as Score Tracks. When they are used with Dice or Tokens, the latter becomes Non-Diegetic Features in the Game Worlds.

When they are physical game components (as opposed to representations on a computer screen), Game Boards work against Ubiquitous Gameplay since players need to be near them to use them.


Can Instantiate

Game Worlds, Inaccessible Areas, Levels, Maps, Score Tracks

with Dice or Tokens

Non-Diegetic Features

Can Modulate


Can Be Instantiated By


Can Be Modulated By

Arenas, Alarms, Backtracking Levels, Big Dumb Objects, Boss Monsters, Choke Points, Controllers, Clues, Diegetically Outstanding Features, Enemies, Environmental Effects, Flanking Routes, Galleries, Game Items, Helpers, Inaccessible Areas, Installations, Landmarks, Obstacles, Pick-Ups, Props, Resource Generators, Safe Havens, Score Tracks, Secret Areas, Self-Service Kiosks, Sniper Locations, Spawn Points, Strategic Locations, Strongholds, Switches, Traces, Transport Routes, Vehicles, Vehicle Sections, Warp Zones,

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With

Ubiquitous Gameplay


New pattern created in this wiki.


  1. Parlett, D. 1999. The Oxford History of Board Games. Oxford University Press.