Gameplay Engines

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Player constructed systems that provide benefits for the player that constructed it.

The actions players take in games are typically directly or indirectly aimed at making the players come closer to their goals. Some games allow players to take actions over time that help them build a structure of game elements that together work in supporting players reach their goals. Such structures are called Gameplay Engines.


Some Card Games are built upon the basis that players construct decks. Examples include Blood Bowl: Team Manager, Dominion, Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game, and Thunderstone. The success in any of these games depend on making the cards in one's deck work together as a Gameplay Engine.

Using the pattern

Supporting the presence of Gameplay Engines consist of letting players use Construction to make more efficient or self-sustaining Player Abstract Constructs. This is typically done through letting the game system be able to generate Combos, Emergent Gameplay, or Positive Feedback Loops through the constructions the players can create in the Abstract Player Constructs. Deck Building is a specific pattern that allows players to try and construct Gameplay Engines during gameplay if all the prerequisites necessary for them exist, Pre-Customized Decks does the same but before gameplay begins. One specific example of this is the Cycle Deck Engine.

The presence of Construction/Scoring Phase Shift in games which allow Gameplay Engines can make the engines useless at a certain point where in becomes more important to focus on generating victory points. The easiest way to make Construction/Scoring Phase Shift possible in games with Gameplay Engines rather obviously to add Scores to the design.


Gameplay Engines can be seen as a form of Abstract Player Constructs, or as goal requirement for which effects there should have. Building them are a form of Investments and Supporting Goals for winning a game, typically those that have Winner determined after Gameplay Ends or rely on successful Expansion phases. Even more so, having efficient Gameplay Engines can be the defining characteristic of Exploitation phases making the pattern potential very important in two different gameplay phases.

Since typically games that provide Gameplay Engines provide many different types of them, choosing one to try and build is a Player Defined Goals as well as being Constructive Gameplay. Building efficient Gameplay Engines typically require both Strategic Knowledge and Strategic Planning but just maintaining or observing well-functioning Gameplay Engines can give rise to Lull Periods.

Construction/Scoring Phase Shift often occur in games which have Scores and allow the construction of Gameplay Engines.


Can Instantiate

Abstract Player Constructs, Constructive Gameplay, Investments, Exploitation, Lull Periods, Player Defined Goals, Strategic Knowledge, Strategic Planning, Supporting Goals

with Scores

Construction/Scoring Phase Shift

Can Modulate

Expansion, Winner determined after Gameplay Ends

Can Be Instantiated By

Combos, Construction, Cycle Deck Engine, Emergent Gameplay, Pre-Customized Decks, Positive Feedback Loops

Can Be Modulated By

Construction/Scoring Phase Shift, Deck Building

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With



New pattern created in this wiki.