Board Game Terms: Take That

All this week we’ll be taking a look at some of the jargon used in board games. If you’re new to gaming, you might like our piece from last year explaining the terms used to describe different types of games. This week we’re concentrating on terms used by more dedicated players to describe characteristics of games and gamers, particularly ones that can be controversial or problematic.

Today’s phrase is Take That. It’s nothing to do with a board game about a 1990s British boy band that keeps returning (though it turns out one does exist.) Instead it’s something that can be anything from a characteristic of a game to its primary mechanism. Like all this week’s terms, it’s precise meaning can be debated but the general idea is that it means one player can take an action that actively hurts or even reverses another player’s progress, for example by causing them damage, or taking away resources.

Generally ‘take that’ means something stronger and more direct than simply reducing a players options, for example by claiming an action in a worker placement that (whether coincidentally or deliberately) prevents a rival player from taking their preferred action. ‘Take that’ is more about causing direct and active harm, at least in the context of the game.

So what are the possible problems with ‘take that’?

  • It can bring out the worst in aggressive players or be a turnoff to players who dislike direct conflict.
  • It can lend itself to metagaming, in which a player goes after a rival less because it’s appropriate in the current game and more in response to a previous conflict in a different game or even from a personal non-gaming dispute.
  • In some games it can mean careful planning and strategy can quickly be undone and the game swinging heavily, frustrating more analytical gamers.
  • Some games have a design that means the ‘take that’ element should always logically be targeted at the current leader, but the inability of any player to sustain a lead means the game goes on for longer than its level of fun justifies.

Some of the best ways to reduce the possibilities of ‘take that’ being problematic include:

  • Prefer ‘take that’ elements for shorter games and those played by larger groups, such as at the start and end of a gaming session: this may reduce the opportunity for things to get personal while still allowing for playfulness and banter.
  • If you’re playing games that require a ‘take that’ element such as Star Realms where you are forced to choose which opponent to inflict damage on, prefer playing with people you already know so you can judge their mood and whether they might perceive being picked on ‘unfairly’. If you are playing with new players and can sense some possible tension, don’t be afraid to explain why you are choosing a particular victim within the context of the game.
  • Don’t play Munchkin.

Editor’s note: Munchkin is one of our favorite games here at Geeks are Sexy! :)