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Digital Subscriptions > Tabletop Gaming > September 2018 (#22) > Turn


The sequence of play is one of the most fundamental mechanics of tabletop gaming. But radical innovations in rules design have challenged traditional approaches, leading to more dynamic experiences


We all lead busy lives. When it comes to gaming, it can be hard finding the time to catch up and roll dice. When we do manage to set up a game, we want to feel engaged, in control and part of what’s happening. One of the ways in which games designers can up the ante in terms of player agency and involvement is by experimenting with fresh approaches to the sequence of play.


The alternating play sequence is a familiar staple of tabletop games design. We can even see this in action in chess, with players taking turns to move their pieces while the opponent patiently observes (or gets a coffee). Classic systems such as Warhammer Fantasy Battle enabled players to move and attack with the whole battle line. Other games, such as Warzone Resurrection, presented a slightly more granular approach, with players taking turns to activate units of troops.

“The main advantage of using separate alternating turns is that it’s a tried and tested method of playing a wargame,” says veteran designer and author Rick Priestley, who codesigned Warhammer Fantasy Battle and went on to create Warhammer 40,000. “It’s predictable in the way it plays and that appeals to a lot of players. They know they will get to ‘go’ with all of their troops and, when the enemy gets to ‘go’, they know exactly how far troops will be able to move and shoot.”

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About Tabletop Gaming

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