Favourite alternative Game Mechanics

I was listening to No Pun Included’s podcast, and Efka said that his favourite game mechanic is:

Oh No, What Have I Done?”.

Any game that has this in it will be a good time, doesn’t matter how that’s achieved.

What are your favourite alternative mechanics, and which of your games have them?


I have no idea what that means

I think it means he likes any game (such as Push Your Luck) where going “bust” is entirely your own fault, and doesn’t feel unfair but is great fun for everyone.

So is there a type of experience during a game that you love?

Such as “You thought I was going for A, but I surprise you with B!”
“Satisfying master plan pays off after 20 turns”
that if it features in a game you know you will enjoy that game, regardless of if its a deckbuilder / worker placement etc?

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I think my favourite game mechanic is “This is so intense I need to stand up to see better”. Ideally coupled with “This dice roll could decide the whole game”

And to answer the rider question: Here I Stand and Virgin Queen are the archetypes for these mechanics. Nobody will forget that moment when the Gunpowder Plot succeeded, against massive odds.


I can think of a few game properties that aren’t entirely covered by mechanics if that is what is meant by this.

There is at least one game in which Schadenfreude is at least half of the point of the game and that is 6 nimmt. Usually, I’d say Schadenfreude is not something I want in a game I play. But 6 nimmt manages to make it hilarious because right after you laugh because someone else has to take a row, you are the next one to loose all those points. I am not sure I know of any other game that manages to make this particular emotion feel “okay”-ish. Caveat: I’ve only played the BGA implementation recently and this makes the game really quick and without any fiddly counting and moving cards etc for any player involved and maybe this helps along making it more hilarious than it might be on the table (it’s been many years since I’ve had it on a table). This is not to say this is a favorite btw.

The following 2 definitely are favorites of mine.

Another one that comes to mind is something that is usually covered under “multiple ways to win” but more than that are games where the secondary way to end the game is somewhat hidden or obscured from regular gameplay. Games that end early when a certain condition hits. And the accompanying sentence is: “you didn’t see this coming, did you?”
I can think of two instances this happens:

  • many years ago I won a game of Goldland by taking the long way around sneaking to the treasure while everyone else was battling it out on the rest of the “map”
  • much more recently: Pax Pamir 2nd where the game ends if after a dominance check any player leads by four points and where surprising things can happen in a round that allow a player to reach this state. It also enforces a certain kind of very thematic gameplay where you try to achieve this while trying to prevent everyone else from doing so.

And lastly: In Oath, as @Benkyo mentioned and I experienced independently in one of my own games, a player may not have “winning” as their primary goal for the game. This is I think an attribute reserved for any kind of game that has an on-going state that transports into another game, be it through rpg elements, campaign style story-telling or legacy elements.

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I wish more reviews of games related to emotion states within games (regret, joy, hubris) rather than verbs (move token here, draw this card).

I think the idea that games can be described by objective mechanics are possibly one of the worst aspects of games (and the criticism of them). Nobody who likes a worker placement likes it because it’s worker placement - the worker placement triggers some feeling (fomo, the realisation that your strategy is built on sand, cruelty, jackpot) and that is totally based on everything else in the game.

If I made a worker placement game where each square was infinitely repeated I think even then most ridiculous fan of worker placement would not find joy in it it.


You can be restrictive on what mechanisms you like/dislike because these can convey what feeling you want or dont want.

A resource conversion + worker placement gives me the impression that it’ll be very solitaire and will avoid it.

In regards to feelings: I love obscurity. Your choices are either so nebulous or so wide or both that you cant make a predictable outcome. Saying “I dont know what to do” wont be enough.

“Oh no! You sunk my battleship!” is another where the game is highly interactive that players have no qualms on attacking each other.

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I enjoy games that provoke evil cackling, but without ruining the whole game for the victim. Crashing asteroids into Mars in Terraforming Mars is a good one, as is the whole of card games like 6 nimmt and Oh Hell.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I tend to like games that give me a “Brass headache”

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While in Firefly, where the interaction is a relatively minor part of the game, I often see players help each other, sometimes even while they’re still meaningfully rivals. And sometimes they don’t. Often determined by which character they’re playing…


I realise that this sense of role-play is another mechanic I enjoy. Dead of Winter can be played so that the crossroads cards feel like ‘move these tokens to there or move that one down one step’ or it can feel like ‘how can we possibly leave those people out in the cold?’ I prefer the second version which is why I still enjoy Dead of Winter. I don’t play RPGs but I like games that allow me to think ‘what would an Italian merchant/Medieval road-builder/19th-century industrialist/Counter-reformation pope actually want to achieve here?’ Tigris and Euphrates is the antithesis of this, so despite my admiration for the game I don’t love it.