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The goal of surrounding game elements by a continuous line or wall of other game elements.

Enclosure is the goal of surrounding some type of game elements with some other type of game elements.


The oldest, and perhaps best known, example of Enclosure is Go in which completely enclosing the opponent's group when it has no empty space inside it causes it to be removed from the board. The board game Carcassonne uses Enclosure in a couple of different ways: the building of towns where rewards are not given until the town walls enclose the area inside; cloisters that have to be surrounding by tiles to give points; and fields that may be enclosed to guarantee control.

In Qix game elements are captured and removed from play by enclosing them in the smaller of the two subdivisions that are created whenever the player completes a line between two parts of the game edge. Nibbler and Snake are examples where avoiding an Enclosure lets players survive to pursue the primary goal of eating.

Using the pattern

Designing for Enclosure goals are primarily concerns with what should be enclosed and what can be used to enclose. Typically in both cases these are (different types of) game elements but for the latter the goal of Enclosure influences the Game Element Insertion or Movement of these. Another concern is whether players should Gain Ownership of what is enclosed or if they should be removed through Game Element Removal.


Enclosure is a type of Configuration which typically requires Connection between what is enclosed and what encloses it or between enclosing game elements. Succeeding with an Enclosure typically leads to a Capture.


Can Instantiate

Capture, Connection, Configuration, Game Element Removal

Can Modulate

Gain Ownership, Game Element Insertion, Movement

Can Be Instantiated By


Can Be Modulated By


Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With



An updated version of the pattern Enclosure that was part of the original collection in the book Patterns in Game Design[1].


  1. Björk, S. & Holopainen, J. (2004) Patterns in Game Design. Charles River Media. ISBN1-58450-354-8.