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The initial phase in games with clear gameplay phases.

Some games have phases of gameplay time when different goals and actions are in focus. The Startgame is the first of these phases in the games that have them.


The opening moves in Board Games such as Chess and Go have been studied in great detail and are classical examples of Startgame analyses.

Game instances in Master of Orion and the Civilization series start with distinct phases were players need to explore their immediate surroundings and start planning where to place their first outposts.

In the Starcraft series the Startgame is typically called "Opening"[1]. With more symmetrical maps, the first phase in League of Legends is called "Laning"[2] and relates to which lanes to the enemies base the players should focus on. This lane-centered opening of game instances is also found in the game's predecessor Defense of the Ancients.

Using the pattern

The design of Startgame phases depends much on the design vision for how the game should start and what other phases should exist. In general, only a few actions and goals are available and players typically have what is functionally temporary Private Game Spaces (In Master of Orion. The Civilization series

Examples of Startgame phases include Game World Exploration and Laning; Expansion may also be a Startgame phase if Game World Exploration is not present. The design of any phase which is intended to be the Startgame phase typically needs to consider a couple of patterns that can cause problems. Asymmetric Starting Conditions and First Player Advantages may unbalance the game while Late Arriving Players may cause delays or exclude these players unless the rules support their inclusion.

As a corollary to designing a Startgame phase in a game, the game needs other phases. A "classical" structure from Board Games is to continue to a more complex Middlegame and then a decisive Endgame.


Games with clear and known Startgame phases can encourage Stimulated Planning and development of Strategic Knowledge regarding different starting strategies. This means that Startgame phases support Strategic Planning rather than Tactical Planning in most cases since plans do not have to depend too much on the specific game state of a game instance (due to the limited variation and common patterns which define the Startgame). Since Startgame phases tend to have relatively low complexity and available actions, they can support Smooth Learning Curves.


Can Instantiate

Smooth Learning Curves, Stimulated Planning, Strategic Planning, Strategic Knowledge

Can Modulate


Can Be Instantiated By

Expansion, Game World Exploration, Laning, Private Game Spaces

Can Be Modulated By

Asymmetric Starting Conditions, First Player Advantages, Late Arriving Players

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With



New pattern created in this wiki.


  1. Entry for "Opening" at the Wiki for Starcraft II at teamliquid.
  2. Entry at the League of Legends Wiki at Wikia for how to begin playing the game.