A Newbie’s Gaming Glossary

Anyone who’s new to the world of tabletop games can easily feel overwhelmed by the use of acronyms and slang. What does LGC stand for? what is a meeple? and why are my cards drafty?

Hopefully all will be revealed in this ‘Newbie’s Glossary to Tabletop Gaming’.

This will be an ongoing project, and I will be adding things as I think of them. So, anyone out there with any suggestions –  please let me know.


  • Abstract – Usually used to mean ‘no theme or story’. Can be used as a term for ‘Pure strategy, no luck/randomness’ types of game. Examples: Azul; Sagrada; Patchwork.

  • Accessory – Items used or added to games that do not effect the rules or game play. Example: Upgraded components/counters/meeples.

  • Ameritrash – There is a lot of debate over what exactly Ameritrash is! In general it’s an ‘American style game’, containing a strong theme and usually features a high level of luck, as well as player vs player conflict.  Examples: Axis & Allies; Cosmic Encounter; Twilight Imperium.

  • Analysis Paralysis – Over analysing; Taking a long time to think through a move/turn and causing a lot of downtime for other players.

  • Area Control – This is usually where an area of the board is awarded to the player who has the strongest/most/greatest influence, in that area. Examples: Risk; El Grande; Cyclades.

  • Auction Game – Where the main mechanism of the game sees players bidding for resources. Examples: Power Grid; Keyflower; Railways of the world.


  • Balance – Game balance is all about ensuring that, irrespective of starting positions, cards in hand, or other resources, players of equal skill should have an equal chance to winning. For example: An unbalanced game may see one player starting with a certain characteristic, meaning his chances of winning are increased compared to the other players.

  • BGGBoardgamegeek.com

  • Bidding Game – See Auction game.


  • Card Drafting – These games are where a player has to select which card to take from a limited supply in order to gain an advantage. That limited supply may be drawn from a single pile each turn or, refreshed as people ‘draft’ the cards. The player may have to pay for the card with resources, and the decision which card to take, can often be based upon denying someone else the chance of getting it themselves. Examples: 7 Wonders; Sushi Go!; Ticket to ride.

  • CCG – Collectable Card Game – A game where each player selects their cards to form a deck. The cards they select help define the strategy they will be using with that deck. The core game is usually purchased as a state set containing the basic rules and a number of basic playable deck. Booster packs are then purchased that contain a random selection of cards (usually made up of so many common cards, so many rare cards, and the occasional ultra rare card). Examples: Magic: The Gathering; Pokemon; Yu-Gi-Oh!.

  • Cooperative Game – Abbreviated to Co-op. A game where players all work together on the same team to beat the game. Examples: Gloomhaven; Pandemic; Escape: The Curse of the Temple.

  • Cosplay – A contraction of the words costume play. A hobby which sees the participants wear costumes to represent a specific character.


  • D# – Abbreviation for ‘# sided die’. D6=six sided die. 2D8=2 eight sided Dice.

  • Deck building Game – A game mechanism where players each have a deck of cards from which they play, but during the game they have the option to gain selected cards that will be included in the deck once it is re-shuffled, thus making the deck stronger or tailoring it to a specific strategy. Examples: Dominion; A Few Acres of Snow; Clank!: A deck Building Adventure.

  • Die/Dice – A lot of people get this wrong! Die is singular, dice is plural.

  • DM – Stands for Dungeon Master. The person who runs the game, usually a role-playing Dungeon crawl game, and is often interchangeable with GM (Games Master).

  • Dungeon Crawl – A game, board or role-playing, where the players navigate through an underground labyrinth setting, taking on monsters and looting treasure. Examples: Descent: Journeys in the Dark; Dungeons & Dragons: The Legend of Drizzt Board Game; Shadows of Brimstone: Swamps of Death.


  • Eurogame – Or Euro style game. Originally a synonym for German game, but now tends to describe any game that has indirect player conflict; players are never eliminated; pure strategy, no luck; usually an abstract game. For example: Catan; Tigris & Euphrates; El Grande.

  • Expansion – An ‘add-on’ or additional equipment for a game. These are usually sold separately, and require the ‘core’ game to play. For example: The Dunwich LegacyPeloton; Under the Pyramids.


  • Filler – A game with simple rules and a short play time; used to ‘fill’ in when time is short. Also used to ‘fill’ the gap between playing heavier, longer, games. For example: Exploding Kittens; Hanabi; Sushi Go!

  • Flashing – On a miniature, this occurs when the molten metal seeps between the mould halves, leaving a very thing layer of unwanted metal.

  • FLGS – Abbreviation for ‘Friendly Local Game Store’.


  • Gaming Ape – A term invented by myself (at least I’m pretty sure I did!). It’s a term used to describe the madness that takes over when you end up spending lots of money on games. Mugged by the Gaming Ape means – “The Gaming Ape got me, stole my wallet, and pushed lots of games into my bag!” They also end up telling your wife!

  • Gateway game – A game that is suitable for introducing new people to the world of tabletop gaming. They usually have simple rules, easy to teach/learn, and often have a captivating theme. For Example: Tokaido; Pandemic; Ticket to Ride.

  • Green Stuff – Also known as Kneadatite, is a modellers putty. This usually comes in the form of a ribbon, one side yellow, and one side blue. The yellow side is the ‘filler’, and the blue is the ‘hardener. Mixing the two together produces a green putty, hence ‘Green Stuff’!


  • Hand Management – Games with cards where the players are rewarded for sequences or groups. The ‘hand’ needs to be managed to make the most out of the current game situation, which may depend upon cards already in play, cards in other players hands, or the position of playing pieces on the board. Cards often have multiple uses – complicating there tactical use further. Examples: Magic: The Gathering; Taj Mahal; Twilight Struggle.

  • Heavy – Having very complex rules or requiring complex strategies, usually a long play time too. For example: War of the ring (2nd Edition); Kingdom Death: Monster; Star Trek: Frontiers.




  • Kneadatite – Modellers putty. See the entry for Green Stuff.


  • LCG – Living Card Game. A Living Card Game (the term trademarked by Fantasy Flight Games) is a game where the publisher produces a core set of cards and then releases regular expansions. Examples: Arkham Horror: The Card game; Lord of the Rings: The Card Game; Android: Netrunner.

  • Legacy Game – A game that gets permanently as you play it. This often destroying components – cards usually – and introduces new rules and components as you go along. It is often undesirable to know in advance what is going to happen. Some Legacy games can be re-set to play again, usually by purchasing extra components. Examples: Seafall; Pandemic, Season 1; Charterstone.

  • Liquid Poly – Liquid polystyrene cement, a glue used for joining plastics. See the entry for Polystyrene Cement.


  • Meeple – A meeple is a small figure used as a playing piece. It originally had a human form, but the the term is often used to refer to any piece that represents a player.

  • Mould Lines – On a miniature, these are caused where the two halves of the mould join, and can often been seen running all the way round the side. It isn’t too much of an issue if it occurs over an area that is highly textured, such as fur, but on smooth areas it can really stand out, and requires removing before painting.




  • Plastic Putty – Modellers putty that is of a liquid consistency. It is usually made of a water-based marble dust, which sets hard, and can be sculpted and painted.

  • Polystyrene Cement – A glue for joining plastic parts together. This tends to come in three different forms – Thick, which comes in a tube, not unlike a small toothpaste tube, and should be avoided for miniatures (unless it’s a very large miniature!); Medium viscosity cement, which is a good allrounder, ideal for the beginner; Liquid poly cement, which is very thin and comes in a bottle with a brush. It dries extremely quickly, and you have little time to make adjustments when joining pieces.



  • Rare Earth magnets – Otherwise known as Neodymium iron boron magnets, are extremely strong magnets, commonly used to mount interchangeable weapons to war-game models. They can be produced in extremely small sizes – less than 2mm in size!


  • Scars – On a miniature, these are the marks left when cutting the piece from a sprue, though they can sometimes be left over from the manufacturing process too.

  • Sprue – A sprue is the channel through which plastic is poured when making miniatures. This solidifies, joining all the small parts together. Hence, when you get self assembly miniatures, they come affixed to a ‘sprue’.


  • Thematic – Following a theme or story. A game is often referred to as being ‘thematic’ if it produces instances which pull you into a story.



  • Vents – These can be found on metal miniatures. They are caused when the metal is poured into the mould, air needing to escape, does so through vents. Occasionally the metal itself can enter the vent, and leave a small spike. Depending upon the figure, they can sometimes be hard to spot, and you may even think they are an intentional part of the model!


  • Worker Placement – The name give to the game mechanism that sees players, in turn order, place their tokens (workers) on the board to select various actions. Once selected, the action cannot usually be selected again that round by another player, or it may become more expensive to select, until the limit is reached Examples: Viticulture; Agricola; Orleans.




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