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Area Control

Area Control

Being in control over who can move within an area in the game world, or having access to actions linked to locations in the game world.

Games with a game board or game world can have the control of these as goals in their game. Besides being a goal in itself, control over areas in games can give access to otherwise unavailable actions and can make the use of actions and tactics easier.

Example: one of the goals in Battlefield 1942 is to have control over flag points. This is done by teams by having sole presences in the area around the flag for a certain period of time.

Example: the goal of Go is to have as efficient Area Control as possible through so few stones as possible. Gameplay typically begins with claiming areas in the corners, which are most easy to defend, and then moving out along the sides to finally revolve around the center of the board.

Example: having implicit Area Control over the center of the game board in Chess is one of the main strategies in the game.

Using the pattern

The design of Area Control consists of how control is achieved and what effects the control gives. Control can either be due to direct or indirect actions. Direct actions consist of reach the area itself with a Focus Loci, making it a Race to Traverse to the area. Often Contact with the area determines the winner, but the Contact may have to be an Extended Action to give Perceivable Margins and let other players try to Overcome the first claimer. Gaining Area Control due to indirect actions does not require players to have Focus Loci in the area but instead requires the use of Resources in Trading or Bidding, alternatively being given the area as an effect of Luck.

If the ownership of the area is not an Irreversible Action, the possibility of future Transfer of Controls creates Guard goals of keeping the area which are both Continuous Goals and Interferable Goals. Preventing Goals of Overcome or Eliminate can created around the Guard goal, as can Stealth when an extended sole presence is required to control the area. If the game area is larger than can be overviewed at once, the subgoal of Reconnaissance may be necessary. The Guard goal can be encouraged by giving explicit Penalties beyond any possible losses of abilities and Resources that naturally occur when the area is lost. This makes the goal of keeping the area a Committed Goal.

The common effects of Area Control is access to Producers and Resources in the area, Privileged Abilities from Controllers, providing good Game State Overview through the view from the area, or making opponents have Movement Limitations. When being in the area making completion of other goals easier, for example having positive modifiers for Combat, the action of having Area Control is a Supporting Goal.


Having Area Control is a form of Ownership that affects the Game World. Getting Area Control over part of a Game World can be the fulfillment to Gain Ownership goals defined by Goal Points, and make the areas into Strategic Locations. Besides the Rewards of completing the goal, areas may be Strategic Locations due to the Game State Overview the areas gives or the presence of Producers, Controllers or Resources. Like other cases of ownership, having Area Control can give Emotional Immersion and modulates how players perceive potential losses of areas.

When many areas exist that can be controlled, knowing the values of each is Strategic Knowledge. Choosing between these Selectable Sets of Goals may require players to do Risk/Reward choices or Tradeoffs as not all areas may be able to be controlled by one player. Maintaining control over several areas requires Attention Swapping or Team Play.


Instantiates: Attention Swapping, Continuous Goals, Combat, Strategic Knowledge, Movement Limitations, Emotional Immersion, Overcome, Reconnaissance, Selectable Sets of Goals, Supporting Goals, Team Play, Tradeoffs, Risk/Reward, Privileged Abilities, Ownership

Modulates: Game World, Game State Overview

Instantiated by: Goal Points, Extended Actions, Bidding, Trading, Transfer of Control, Race, Traverse, Strategic Locations, Stealth, Contact, Gain Ownership

Modulated by: Penalties, Committed Goals, Producers, Resources, Interferable Goals, Focus Loci, Rewards, Controllers

Potentially conflicting with:

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(C) Æliens 04/09/2009

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