Budgeted Action Points

Budgeted Action Points

Points that are used by players to do actions during their turns.

Budgeted Action Points are a way to let players decide from turn to turn which actions they want to perform. Usually they not only let players have alternatives to choose from but also allow them to perform the same actions several times if wished but at the expense of not then being able to do other actions.

A form of Budgeted Action Points is used to control how often certain actions can be performed in real-time games. In this case the actions costs a certain amount of points from some value and this value slowly increases until it has reached a maximum point. This means that the amount of uses of the action during a certain amount of time is limited but players can save up points in order to use the actions several times quickly after one another.

Example: the board game Space Hulk has a limited set of action points for each unit in the game. For the player controlling genestealers these action points are used for moving, turning, and attacking in close combat while the player controlling the space marines can use them for these activities and additionally to shoot and reload weapons.

Example: play-by-mail games and other tick-based games let players record what actions they want to do and send them to the game facilitator. In order to make games manageable and not grow exponentially in complexity the number of actions each player can use is set to a certain limit.

Example: calling air strikes, producing ammunition boxes, or handing out health packs in Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory all requires resources from the players doing the actions. These resources are limited by are regained over time, letting players choose between continuously doing the actions at regular intervals or saving up to do several of them in a short time span.

Using the pattern

The selection of possible actions which can be paid by the Budgeted Action Points can be any kind of action that is part of the overall game play, but Varied Gameplay and Tradeoffs can be encouraged by having heterogeneous groups. Budgeted Action Points can be used to give players Limited Resources for performing actions both before and during gameplay. Before gameplay, this is most often used to give players ways to select Skill levels or sets of advantages and disadvantages for Characters. For Budgeted Action Points that are used during gameplay, common possible actions include: Movement with different costsfor different terrain and Unit types to create Movement Limitations; different forms of actions related to Combat; and, actions that refill Renewable Resources such as healing or repairing.

Budgeted Action Points can have Balancing Effects on powerful abilities since these may cost more points and not be usable so often. Further, the impact of New Abilities or Privileged Abilities is lessened when used together with Budgeted Action Points as using them requires players to not use other actions.


Budgeted Action Points are Resources which gives players a Freedom of Choice within a Limited Set of Actions. The points are a form of Renewable Resources which requires players to continuously do Resource Management and Tradeoffs between the different possible actions available.

Turn-Based Games and Tick-Based Games can have Budgeted Action Points on two levels. On the strategic level, Budgeted Action Points are used to do Investment either in technology to give new Units with Privileged Abilities or in production to create new Units, Producers, or Converters. On a tactical level, Budgeted Action Points are given to each Unit at the start of the turn and most Units usually have a basic common set of actions with special Units have additional choices. The presence of Budgeted Action Points in Turn-Based Games typically causes Cognitive Immersion and Analysis Paralysis.

Budgeted Action Points in Real-Time Games are usually optional and are shown as through a Status Indicator.


Instantiates: Cognitive Immersion, Movement Limitations, Resources, Renewable Resources, Tradeoffs, Freedom of Choice, Varied Gameplay, Analysis Paralysis, Balancing Effects, Limited Resources

Modulates: Tick-Based Games, Turn-Based Games, Real-Time Games, New Abilities, Privileged Abilities, Characters, Skills

Instantiated by: Combat, Movement, Investments

Modulated by: Status Indicators

Potentially conflicting with: