Miss A Turn


‘Miss a turn’ mechanics are one of the most rudimentary game mechanics we encounter in the games-made-because-we-think-kids-are-dumb landscape. Missing a turn is presented sometimes as a punishment for breaking the rules or failing to properly maintain the game – sometimes a huge deal, too!

Yet I routinely see amateur designers, in their first drafts (and somehow even all the way through to the end of the game), get miss a turn in their designs. Missing a turn, as a consequence of your doing a turn, isn’t interesting, it’s just frustrating.

I can see a place for Miss a Turn: Real-time turn-based games, like Nightmare or Atmosfear. In those cases, missing a turn slows you down but you’re trying to finish your turns as quickly as possible, so you can just fly past a turn where you don’t get to do anything. It sucks but it sucks a little because turns are not spent thinking or testing or trying. They’re spent seeing what happens and doing it as quickly as possible. But those games are secretly cooperative, rather than competitive – the games are too tight and players are really best suited to just working together, avoiding hurting one another, in the hopes that anyone can finish the game at all.

Otherwise? Missing a turn is a really miserable thing. Making someone else miss a turn isn’t quite as bad – you can make some strategic leverage out of effectively taking an extra turn – but the time a player has to spend to wait becomes part of the problem. In Magic: The Gathering, there’s Time Walk and its family of effects, which are far nicer because it just means your opponent has one really big turn rather than you having to pointedly sit back and do nothing.

Either way, this mechanic is a plague and it’s far healthier to remember don’t do them than they work in these situations, when you’re just starting out.

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