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Rules are player restrictions

Page: DesignArticle.Article-RulesPlayerRestrictions - Last Modified : Mon, 17 Sep 12 - 1611 Visits

Author : Eric Pietrocupo

In all games, players have restrictions which are set by the rules of the game. If there were no such restrictions, players would win the game as soon as the game start. So for example, there need to be a rule that ask the player to have 10 Victory points to win to prevent the player from winning as the game start.

What I am trying to explore is what kind of restrictions are there available to use. I have found a small list of restriction type and I might expand the list as I find new ones.


This is the most common restriction, it represent any kind of resource the player is required to have to perform a certain actions. For example in monopoly, money is an asset required to buy stuff. Having a set of 3 land is an asset required to build houses and hotel. So players needs to have accumulated a certain amount of element to be able to do a certain action or acquire certain elements.

This restriction is mostly used to prevent the player to buy everything. By requiring certain assets, the player can only get access to a limited amount of stuff through the game.


This restriction consist in limiting the choices of the player by only giving him access to a subset of all what player could do. The best example is magic the gathering, the player could only cast spells in his hand, without opportunity restriction, the player would be able to cast any spell in his deck and that would simply break the game.

Opportunity restriction is used to avoid dominant strategy and it is explained by a series of abstract events that determines that a player is allowed to do certain things but not the others.


Many game restrictions are triggered by time. Not necessarily real-time time, but also game time expressed as turn. This kind of mechanic include games that have a turn limit to end the game or that has scoring phases on specific turns.

Time could be used for various purpose, it generally tries to control the game to make sure it does not expand in unwanted directions. For example, setting a turn limit prevent the game from taking more turns than the designer would want. If certain things are happening on certain turns, it forces the player to hurry up and get some stuff ready before a certain time is reached. In summary, it forces the game to push forward and set boundaries around the game.


Space can be represented as analog or digital space. An example of space could be in settlers of catan, there is a maximum number of settlement and cities you can built on the board. Once a player occupy a space it prevent other players to settle there. Space can also be used in dexterity game since the location of the pieces on the board generally have an impact on game play.

Space is used to restrict players by making them share a resource. For example in settlers, player share the space of the board. But it can also be used to restrict connections, the position of a unit in a certain space prevent it to access another space or to make a connection with another game element (line of sight).

This is all I found so far, I'll expand as I find new restrictions.

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