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Play Mechanics: A Look at Area Control Games

Posted Tuesday, 30-Dec-2014

Area control games use an alluring formula: a game board is divided into a number of areas, and controlling each area gives you some benefit, often in the form of victory points. There may be other benefits as well. In some games, controlling an area allows a player to pass pieces through to an adjacent area.

The classic example of an area control game is Risk, in which players move armies from one area to another in an effort to conquer the world. Controlling an area both scores for you and lets you attack adjacent areas.

Area control game mechanics appear often in Euro-style games as well. Perhaps the greatest area control game of all time is El Grande, a highly popular game which is now hard to find. In this game players attempt to outmaneuver each other, placing and moving caballeros for control of regions of Medieval Spain. An interesting twist in this game is that players can also send caballeros off to the Crusades (by dumping them into a large, hollow “Castle”), and then simultaneously choosing where to place the pieces when they return
home just before scoring. This powerful move can often determine who wins a given region.

In the area control game San Marco, a clever “cut and choose” mechanism (one player divvies up a set of cards, the others choose) lets players vie for control using a variety of actions — but a more powerful set of actions may be balanced with “limit” cards, which are bad.

Carcassonne, a great intro-level area control game, has players vying for control of roads, cities, monasteries and fields.

Other excellent area control games include Small World, Dominant Species,  and Wallenstein.

Published by BoardGamePrices.com

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