Monday, May 10, 2010

Rules 3: Terminology

This topic is closely related to the previous one. Using consistent language in your descriptions of game components, actions, and processes can mean the difference between clarity and confusion.

The game takes place over 5 turns. Each turn, players will take turns selecting a single action until everyone passes. A player may not move a piece more than once per turn.

How often have you seen rules like this? Define the hierarchy of sequence carefully, and stick with it.

Another example. Say we have some kind of wargame with the following phases:
Reinforcement
Movement
Combat
Retreat
Now say some rule or card allows an action "before combat". Taken literally, this could be during the Movement Phase, but obviously that is not the intent. In effect, there's an unwritten phase where certain things can occur. It would be much better to break down phases where this sort of issue may occur, adding new terminology as necessary:
Reinforcement
Movement
Battle
---before combat
---combat
---after combat
Retreat
Even with this, there's the possibility of ambiguous order or multiple "before combat" effects. But that is not the subject of this post.

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