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<a novref=true text=@key href=pattern-alignment.html>Alignment</a>


This goal consists of forming a linear alignment of game elements.

Many games make use of the spatial relationship of game elements to cause effects in the game state. When the pieces have to form a line (typically defined by three game elements) for an effect to occur, this can be described as giving players the goal of Alignment. The goal usually requires the aligned elements to be next to each other. There are, however, games where this is not required but the Alignment can also be determined by the movement paths of game elements such as leaping in Droughts.

Example: A well known, and perhaps the simplest, game of Alignment is Tic-Tac-Toe where the winner is the first to have three markers in horizontal, vertical or diagonal Alignment in a three by three board.

Example: Tetris uses the horizontal Alignment of blocks to remove them from the screen and increase the player's score.

Example: Bejeweled lets players swap game elements which are neighbors, removing them and rewarding the player with points if three or more game elements become aligned.

Using the pattern

The requirements for using Alignment are to have a Game World that allows spatial arrangements and to have a Game State Overview for players of the whole area which is to be used. The prime challenges that can be designed for Alignment goals consist of how players can move the necessary game elements into the correct position and how game elements can be removed in order to hinder the completion of the Alignment. The difficulty of the goal can easily be increased by making the game elements move on their own or making them moveable by other players and introducing Preventing Goals.

Alignment is used in many ways in board games to create Capture, with approach and withdrawal as two specific cases [Parlett, p.232-233]. In approach the piece is captured by moving towards it in a straight line and stopping right next to it. Withdrawal is, obviously, the reverse of approach: the piece is captured by moving an adjacent piece away from it in a straight line. Intervention and custodianship are other methods of Capture listed by Parlett, also using Alignment as the base pattern. Intervention involves capturing enemy pieces by moving a piece between them to form a line. The captured piece in custodianship is flanked by friendly pieces in such a way that the pieces form a line, as for example is the case in Hnefatafl or Othello where several pieces can be captured by flanking.


Alignment is a form of Configuration, and offers one of the strongest possibilities for Hovering Closures by offering players clear visual Progress Indicators using the gestalt law of connectivity. Alignment can be a case of Connection, but does not have to be so, since the game elements involved in the Alignment do not necessarily need to have Connection between each other.

In games where shots move instantaneously to the target, or the target is stationary, the action of Aim & Shoot has Alignment as a goal.


Instantiates: Configuration, Aim & Shoot, Hovering Closures, Progress Indicators

Modulates: Capture, King of the Hill

Instantiated by:

Modulated by: Connection

Potentially conflicting with:

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(C) Æliens 04/09/2009

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