Games with a programming mechanism
Richard Morris
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Having only recently stumbled across RoboRally, I wondered what other games might be out there with a 'programming' mechanic - one where you program the next 'n' turns, and then each player plays their turns out according to the programming. Much of the fun, or course, is in seeing whether the other players did what you thought they would do when you built your 'program', and, perhaps more so, laughing at the people who got it spectacularly wrong.

So I went to do a search on the mechanic, only to find that it isn't a mechanic. Simultaneous play is, but not this 'programming'. So I made a suggestion to include this, and have found out that there seems to be a threshold of games that need the mechanic, before it will be added.

So the purpose of the geeklist is to add list games with this mechanic. This will, hopefully, discover enough games that use this mechanic to get it included, and also give us a pile of unfamiliar games to go and investigate. RoboRally is the obvious one to start with. The only other programming game that I can think of in my collection is Sopwith.

Note that for this definition, the important thing is for there to be programming of actions, preferably several, with a mechanism of executing those actions that means that things could go spectacularly or amusingly wrong, because the status of the game changed in ways you did not anticipate, or hoped would not happen, before you got to execute the action. In many cases, movement in these games is near enough simultaneous, but this is not required for the game to have a programming mechanic. There already is a 'simultaneous move' mechanic, and games that use that mechanic may, or may not, also use a programming mechanic.

Note that action point allowance/worker placement mechanics do not necessarily imply programming. Placing several action point/workers, and then doing the actions in turn is not programming.
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1. Board Game: 4000 A.D. [Average Rating:5.41 Overall Rank:17378]
Board Game: 4000 A.D.
Daniel U. Thibault
Canada
Québec
Québec
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Fleet movement is "programmed" in the sense that they leave a sector and can pop out in any sector that is at the current distance (increasing each turn spent in warp). Though a player may have had a specific destination in mind when the warp began, he can change his mind, contrained only by the rule of distance. Leave a fleet in the warp too long and it is lost (because it has gone beyond the limits of the playing space).
 
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2. Board Game: 404: Law Not Found [Average Rating:5.91 Overall Rank:13473]
Board Game: 404: Law Not Found
Brent Warner
United States
Belleville
Wisconsin
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In 404, each turn you are dealt 5 cards with 2 actions each. You pick 3 of the cards and orient them to indicate which action you are using, then place them face down in order. Everyone's actions are then executed together, using numbers on the cards to decide who goes first. Players can end up getting bumped off course and performing actions they didn't intend.
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3. Board Game: Aces High [Average Rating:6.44 Overall Rank:8486]
Board Game: Aces High
Richard Morris
Scotland
Harrogate
North Yorkshire
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Another of the dogfight games. This one has movement plots with an interesting advantage for aces. From the game description: There is an interesting rule for ace pilots where the ace pilot can withhold (i.e. not write a movement plot for) a certain number of movement points. After the non-aces have completed their entire movement plot then the ace's can plot out the rest of their move and therefore react to the less-skilled pilots actions. The number of points the ace can withhold is based on the 'grade' of the pilot with a 'grade 5' pilot unable to withhold any points to a 'grade 1' pilot being able to withhold 3.
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4. Board Game: Ad Astra [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:1146]
Board Game: Ad Astra
Brian Moore
United Kingdom
Bolton
Lancashire
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The coming turn is programmed out face down then the cards are revealed in sequence.
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5. Board Game: Adventurer [Average Rating:6.08 Overall Rank:11543]
Board Game: Adventurer
Richard Morris
Scotland
Harrogate
North Yorkshire
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This is, it seems, a sci-fi version of Swashbuckler
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6. Board Game: Aerodrome [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:5967]
Board Game: Aerodrome
Stephen Tavener
United Kingdom
London
England
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Very similar to sopwith, but with amazing pieces.
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7. Board Game: Aerodrome II [Average Rating:7.44 Unranked]
Board Game: Aerodrome II
Stephen Tavener
United Kingdom
London
England
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Aerodrome, WW2 version.
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8. Board Game: Age of Renaissance [Average Rating:7.10 Overall Rank:1125]
Board Game: Age of Renaissance
Daniel U. Thibault
Canada
Québec
Québec
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Every turn, each player secretly records Cash/Token allocations on his Turn Log.

(Not a very strong programming aspect, but programming nevertheless because each player must forecast what he'll do and what the others are likely to do)
 
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9. Board Game: Alpha Omega [Average Rating:5.29 Overall Rank:17518]
Board Game: Alpha Omega
Brian M
United States
Thornton
Colorado
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Old sci-fi combat game where you wrote down orders for ships in advance.
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10. Board Game: Antler Island [Average Rating:6.17 Overall Rank:4942]
Board Game: Antler Island
Wulf Corbett
Scotland
Shotts
Lanarkshire
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An odd one this. Each round, you must allocate your 5 action tiles to an action (as illustrated - 4 real actions and one 'X' blank) face down. Each player in turn must then turn over the tiles in ascending order (blank anywhere in the sequence you like), and and must attempt to carry out the order.

This is only partial programming as you can move anywhere legal with a move action, and substitute the X tile whenever desired, etc.
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11. Board Game: Asteroyds [Average Rating:6.36 Overall Rank:2926]
 
Jostein Kolaas
Norway
OSLO
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Another racing game.
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12. Board Game: Atlas & Zeus [Average Rating:6.37 Overall Rank:5433]
Board Game: Atlas & Zeus
Richard Morris
Scotland
Harrogate
North Yorkshire
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Jason Matthews
United States
Alexandria
Virginia
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on another geeklist:

This one utilizes a clever system where both players pre-plan the play of three cards. The start player also has the option of deciding to go twice in a row, at some point during the sequence. That allows his/her opponent to do the same thing. So sequencing is a major part of the tactics in the game. An underappreciated Euro Games title, that can be purchased pretty cheaply at the moment.
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13. Board Game: Battlestar Galactica [Average Rating:6.71 Overall Rank:10672]
Board Game: Battlestar Galactica
Dan Kochis
United States
Springfield
Virginia
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The old school BSG required your to program your moves in advance. Normally 3 moves, but if you spent extra fuel to turbo you could plan out up to 6!

I don't think I ever finished a full game of BSG though.
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14. Board Game: Battlewagon [Average Rating:6.35 Overall Rank:9057]
Board Game: Battlewagon
Richard Morris
Scotland
Harrogate
North Yorkshire
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Another plotted naval game.
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15. Board Game: Blue Max [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:2125]
Board Game: Blue Max
Daniel U. Thibault
Canada
Québec
Québec
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Each turn, everybody selects their move, then everything moves simultaneously. After which, the gunfire happens.

It's not heavy programming, because you pick just one maneuver.
 
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16. Board Game: Broadsides and Boarding Parties [Average Rating:6.16 Overall Rank:5267]
Board Game: Broadsides and Boarding Parties
Richard Morris
Scotland
Harrogate
North Yorkshire
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Uses programming in the broadsides phase, though not in the boarding parties phase.
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17. Board Game: Caribbean [Average Rating:6.21 Overall Rank:3121]
Board Game: Caribbean
Miika Miinin
Finland
Lappeenranta
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This kinda falls in the programming category.
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18. Board Game: Close Action: The Age of Fighting Sail Vol. 1 [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:2632]
Board Game: Close Action: The Age of Fighting Sail Vol. 1
Guido Gloor
Switzerland
Ostermundigen
Bern
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Another one of those sailing games where you plan your turn in advance, then everybody executes theirs simultaneously.
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19. Board Game: Commands & Colors: Ancients [Average Rating:7.78 Overall Rank:120]
Board Game: Commands & Colors: Ancients
Edward Kendrick
United Kingdom
Redditch
Worcestershire
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Quite a few Ancients figures rules have a time-delay mechanism whereby you (as the battefield general) issue orders for units, which take a turn (or two, or three) to take effect, representing the time delay before they reach the unit and are acted upon. This counteracts the unrealistic ability to react immediately to movement by the opposing troops (I know, there's a whole discussion here about automatic reactions and subordinate commanders).

I have heard of a variant for the C&C series in which you lay down cards, face down, in sequence to be played one (or two or three) turns ahead, thus committing you to a course of action. I don't know how well it works but it sounds like an interesting idea.
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20. Board Game: Demo Derby: Saturday Night at the Track [Average Rating:6.03 Overall Rank:13754]
Board Game: Demo Derby: Saturday Night at the Track
Michael Evans
Canada
Nobleton
Ontario
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I'm uncertain whether or not this qualifies.
It does require preplotting of your car's movement each turn, but I don't know if it's only 1 action per turn (Brake, Forward, or Backward as listed on the Record Sheets), and whether or not you have to plot your turning maneuvers or not.

There's little info on the game page for this pretty obscure Mayfair game. I'll have to dig out my copy and check the rulebook.
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21. Board Game: Diplomacy [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:581]
Board Game: Diplomacy
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United States
Corvallis
Oregon
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I just noticed that nobody had added Diplomacy, which seems surprising for a game that has been played for more than 50 years. It's even been played in the White House. Each player records all of his intended movements privately after negotiations, and all moves are revealed and resolved simultaneously.
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22. Board Game: Dogfight [Average Rating:5.22 Overall Rank:15996]
Board Game: Dogfight
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You roll a number of dice and place one on each of your planes; when a plane is selected for movement it moves the indicated number of steps in its current direction and may then turn. When all of your dice are used up you roll and place again.
 
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23. Board Game: The Dragon & Flagon [Average Rating:6.48 Overall Rank:2717]
Board Game: The Dragon & Flagon
Karl
Austria
Salzburg
Salzburg
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Programming is similar to Nuclear war or Killer Bunnies here.
 
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24. Board Game: Dreadnought [Average Rating:6.16 Overall Rank:9190]
Board Game: Dreadnought
Richard Morris
Scotland
Harrogate
North Yorkshire
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Another plotted naval game
 
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25. Board Game: Droids [Average Rating:5.61 Overall Rank:14752]
Board Game: Droids
Werner Bär
Germany
Karlsruhe
Baden
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Description:
"Players program and pilot a robot around a board trying to eliminate the other robots. Orders for movement and action take the form of tiles placed on your programing board. Only good programing and the ability to anticipate the orders of other players will enable you to be the last robot standing."

Sounds a lot like RoboRally in deathmatch mode, without the option cards. No, it isn't a RoboRally clone, it's older. But i played it once many years ago, and i found it quite boring (unlike RoboRally).
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