Score Tracks

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A track to show players' scores.

Games with scores need a way for keeping track of these. While simply having a token for each point (and possibly some with higher values) is the most obvious reusable solution for non-computerized games, having Score Tracks on which each players has one lowers the number of tokens need.


Pachisi (and its offspring Ludo) is an early example of a game with Score Tracks. They are still quite common in Board Games, be it casual Party Games such as Balderdash or Pictionary, or more complex games such as Amun-Re, Carcassonne, Dominant Species, Inca Empire, Egizia, and Ursuppe. They are not so common in Computer Games since players' scores can there be displayed more compactly in their own individual areas of the interface with is updated by the computer as gameplay progresses.

Using the pattern

Score Tracks can be used to reduce the number of Bookkeeping Tokens that needs to be included in a game, but does not eliminate the need for them in regards to Scores. The actual design of them is a rather trivial combination of a Game Board (or part of one) and some Tokens, mainly concerning how many spots should exist, if they should be grouped, and how to handle players reaching the end of them (this is quite often solved by simply letting players begin a new lap). While the amount of Movement one should make on Score Tracks is typically given, i.e. the amount of points on has just achieved, slight variations are possible. This mainly depends on if several pieces are allowed to share the same spot. Ursuppe for example lets players who reach an already occupied spot skip ahead to the first free spot on the track.

Score Tracks can both be modulated by Tiebreakers and be used as Tiebreakers. The first case is a necessity when games as supposed to only have one winner. The use of Score Tracks as Tiebreakers are probably most common in determining the exact turn order in games with Turn Taking, e.g. Egizia and Ursuppe - for this reason the former of the two examples keeps track of players' position with the same spot. The use of Secret Scoring Mechanisms somewhat diminished the importance of Score Tracks since there are now other sources for the final Score all players will have.

Score Tracks can also be used to determine the order in which turn should be taken each round, providing a game with Varying Turn Orders. Golf is probably the most known example of this mechanism even if Golf doesn't use one designated Score Track. This combination can give rise to Flip-Flop Events.

Diegetic Aspects

Building on earlier sources[1], Parlett argues that it "seems intuitively obvious" that the use of Score Tracks led to the development of games with Races[2], both on a gameplay and thematic level.

Interface Aspects

Score Tracks is an interface pattern.


Score Tracks is a way to handle Scores in games and can reduce the Excise related to this somewhat. Updating the values on the Score Tracks is a form of Movement and this can be seen as a form of Race. Besides the already mentioned effects that Score Tracks can have in relation to Bookkeeping Tokens and Tiebreakers, they also provide Game State Overviews regarding the Scores as they are Game State Indicators. This can lead players to form Temporary and Uncommitted Alliances with the aim to Beat the Leader. It can also make people try Speedending game instances if they are in the lead but see that they will be overtaken by others soon.


Can Instantiate

Beat the Leader, Game State Indicators, Game State Overviews, Movement, Races, Speedending, Temporary Alliances, Uncommitted Alliances, Varying Turn Orders

with Varying Turn Orders

Flip-Flop Events

Can Modulate

Bookkeeping Tokens, Excise, Game Boards, Scores, Tiebreakers, Turn Taking

Can Be Instantiated By

Game Boards, Tokens

Can Be Modulated By

Secret Scoring Mechanisms, Tiebreakers

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With



New pattern created in this wiki.


  1. Erasmus, C. J. (1950). Patolli, Pachisi, and the Limitation of Possibilities, Southwestern Journal of Antropology, 6 (Winter 1950), pp. 369-387 (as reprinted in Avedon, E. M. & Sutton-Smith, B. (1971). The Study of Games, pp. 109-129).
  2. Parlett, D. Oxford History of Board Games, p. 35. ISBN-10: 0192129988.