Limited <a novref=true text=@key href=pattern-resources.html>Resources</a>

Limited Resources

The resources available to the players are limited to such extent that they are forced to plan ahead the use of the resources, that is, there is a perceivable possibility of running out of the resources during the game play.

For games that use resources to possess the right level of challenge the availability of resource has to be restricted. This means that players have Limited Resources in some sense and have to make use of them in the most efficient way to play the game as well as possible.

Example: in Chess the players have sixteen pieces each and there is a clear threat of losing these resources.

Example: even though it is possible to build more troops in WarCraft the game is balanced in such way that there is always a need for planning the use of the troops and also a feeling of the possibility of running out of them.

Using the pattern

Limited Resources can be used together with both Non-Renewable Resources and Renewable Resources. The main point in both cases is, however, to control the amount of Resources available to the player at any certain point of gameplay in such way that the player is always forced to plan and to make Tradeoffs when using the Resources. This is often used by having some form of Container that limits the amount of Resources available, and the capacity of the Container, in turn, can be modulated by Improved Abilities or Decreased Abilities to modulate how limited the Resources are. Ways of combining Limited Resources and Renewable Resources may be that it is possible to gain new Resources from Pick-Ups or Resource Generators but either the Resources must be used far from these or that the amount of Renewable Resources are limited.

Limited Resources can be used, for example through Time Limits or Budgeted Action Points, to lessen Downtime and potential imbalances between players in games with Turn Taking.


Limited Resources decrease players' Freedom of Choice. In principle all games have Limited Resources, but often some of the Resources are more limited than the others forcing the player to plan and form strategies about the use of these resources. The amount of available Resources limits the possible actions and strategies of the players, and thereby their Freedom of Choice. Limiting the amount of Resources available to the player reduces the potential actions possible for the player, increases Stimulated Planning and, in some cases, gives a method to avoid Analysis Paralysis. Planning how to use Limited Resources is one of the corner stones of Resource Management and skill in making most use of Limited Resources, and especially in making correct Risk/Reward judgments and often basis for Game Mastery.

Some form of Limited Resources, typically health, is a requirement for the design of Last Man Standing goals.


Instantiates: Resource Management, Game Mastery, Risk/Reward, Decreased Abilities

Modulates: Pick-Ups, Stimulated Planning, Resource Generators, Last Man Standing, Resources, Downtime, Tradeoffs, Turn Taking, Freedom of Choice

Instantiated by: Time Limits, Budgeted Action Points, Non-Renewable Resources, Container

Modulated by: Decreased Abilities, Improved Abilities, Renewable Resources

Potentially conflicting with: Analysis Paralysis