Board game mechanics

Board game mechanics are a set of rules which are used to create interesting gameplay. Most board games use one or multiple mechanics, but the importance of each mechanic depends on the style, theme or manner in which the game is played.


A division can be made between mechanics that require player interaction and the ones that do not. Single player board games usually concentrate on interacting with the game environment, trying to beat the game within the boundaries in which one is allowed to play. These mechanics tend more towards solving a 'puzzle of options' in which replayability is high and the amount of randomness is abundant to keep it fun. Cooperative game mechanics are somewhat similar to single player ones in this respect. The big difference is that player interaction can be the main driving force behind the experience.


New game mechanics are added regularly as new board games are developed. Game designers study and invent new types of game mechanics to enrich the gameplay experience. A combination of game mechanics often determines the genre in which a board game resides. Particular aspects are the speed of play, duration and amount of player and non-player interaction. The interaction of various mechanics determines the amount of player interaction and complexity of a game.


Some general board game mechanic definitions have been described in Boardgamegeek or
Boardgaming -The fun way to discover new games-. A number of those can be applied to this game in particular. For example role play, point-to-point movement, co-operative play, dice rolling, paper-and-pencil, variable player powers and secret unit deployment.


The following list are game mechanics that have been used in my board games, these are very specific.

The season mechanic in Vikja the board game is pretty realistic and straightforward. You have the 4 seasons in a year, spring, summer, autumn and winter. A year is divided into 20 turns, so basically 5 turns on average per season. A season starts with 1 early turn, then 3 base turns and finally with 1 late turn in that exact order (see picture).

The 3 base turns are fixed and will not deviate from that particular season. The early and late turns however can vary, this means that there is a chance that the season can change on that turn to the next. A die is used to decide the outcome, in some cases an event card can change the season. In case of a die there is a 50% chance that the season will go the next, if it does not the current season will be kept for another turn until it does.

Vikja Clue tokenThe track mechanic is not difficult and probably on of the most important in Vikja. Tracking is all about following the trail of a person, an animal, a ship, a cart or any other moving object. With shrewd observation and the gathering of information you are trying to find the whereabouts of the person or thing you are interested in. Tracking involves a lot of traveling or moving around but usually the trail starts at the last known location.

The hide and seek mechanic is fairly simple, but works well in all circumstances. All characters have a basic hide and seek skill. The hide or seek action will be tested with a D19 for each participant. The difference between the two parties is measured and used to determine the outcome. In some cases it is not possible to find someone who has hid well or vice versa.

The skill tests are determined by a number of formulas. The character who wants to stay hidden, uses the hide skill minus the D19 roll. The character who is seeking, uses the seek skill minus the D19 roll. Overall the outcome of these values can be influenced by the day and night die. Nighttime increases the hide value in favor of the one who wants to hide, while daytime increases the seek value.

Vikja Power tokenThe power mechanic is straightforward and can be useful in almost any circumstance. Characters are tested throughout their adventures on attributes or skills with a D19 die roll. During these tests power tokens can be used to increase or decrease the number rolled afterwards. Power tokens can help players tremendously in cliffhanger moments by adjusting the final score in such a way that they are successful. The power tokens can also be used to change the die of the opponent and make them miss a strike or fail all together. However when power tokens are used all characters involved have to be in the same location, otherwise it has no effect.  

Vikja Renown tokenVikja Infamy tokenThe renown mechanic is easy to remember (Horn/banner token on the right). Every character starts at a settlement location in which a quest can be taken. The character draws 2 quest cards and chooses one card and discards the other. Players with a renown token can draw extra quest cards for every renown token. There is a clear advantage when a character has more options to pick a quest which fits their need.

The renown of a character is derived from the level of fame and status within Viking society. Characters can earn renown tokens as rewards in quests, events or other accomplishments. Renown tokens are also connected to status. The higher the status the more renown tokens a character has. A status level of 0 to 4 does not provide any tokens. At level 5 and up characters get one renown token per extra level. So a status of 5 gives one token, a status of 6 two, a status of 7 three etc. The maximum status level is 9 which gives five extra renown tokens.

The night and day D6 die gives you more control over the outcome of certain attributes and skills. However you can also do a random throw and let luck rule this aspect. The night and day D6 can be used in a number of situations. The die needs to be thrown when you want to search or hide. Special cases for night and day die are travel, ambush and siege, which are determined by certain actions.

Some professions can determine the outcome of the D6 die in advance of the roll. These are scout, tracker, seeress, skald and informant (villain controlled only). If one of these professions are part of a group you can still call the die result. The day and night die can only be determined by the character that activates it not the opponent who's affected. However if two opposite characters can control the die then a random throw decides the final outcome.