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Subject: Turn, Round, Phase rss

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David F
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OK, what's the proper way to call these things? Different games refer to things interchangeably; I just want the proper way.

The example I'm thinking of here is Eclipse, since it is the archtype I can think of right now.

Taking an action or consecutive actions constitutes a turn? Or an action round?

After everybody takes their action/actions once, that constitutes a round?

After a few rounds of actions and we do combat, upkeep etc, we advance the turn marker... what do you call that? Eclipse says it lasts 9 turns...

Phase is a part of a turn (not action round).

Is this right? What should 'turn' and 'round' really refer to? I seem to be missing 1 descriptor here.
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Aaron Morgan
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A round is a series of events and a phase is a stage in a process, so I think the proper ordering should be round > turn > phase.
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Ben Finkel
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It seems there's no consensus - Castles of Burgundy is a pretty awful "phase" offender, for one. To clarify, the game is divided into five phases, each of which has five rounds, where each player gets a turn with two actions. The phases are virtually identical to each other - they should have been called "weeks" or something, as they exist just to pace the game.

When I think "phase" I usually think of a game like Race for the Galaxy, where a round is broken into multiple sections where different gameplay occurs - like Race's Explore, Develop, Settle, Consume, and Produce. Each phase allows players to interact with the game differently, and each player gets a turn during those phases.

Alternatively, a round can consist of monolithic players' turns, which could be broken into phases. For example, during a player's turn in Cosmic Encounter, he can have up to two encounters, which are broken into Regroup, Destiny, Launch, Alliance, Planning, Reveal, and Resolution phases. Once again, the gameplay is different for each of these phases, but each takes place during a single player's turn.

What Castles of Burgundy does with the term "phase" goes completely against this half-consensus of having the term "phase" apply to units of time where there is different gameplay.

I'm curious as to what the name should be for the structure greater than a round. Many games apply some thematic name, like a "year" in Trajan, a "sector" in Core Worlds, a "day" in Mage Knight, an "age" in Through the Ages, etc. It seems to be an important unit to talk about in many games.
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Trond Åge Låstad
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Different people and games use the terms differently, but if you stop to think about it the basic meaning of the words it should guide you.
So even though I know there are games using these terms in different ways, this is how I would use them.

Round: Think about a bunch of people sitting around a table, once everyone round the table have completed their actions, the round is complete.

Turn: When you are done with your actions you tell the next player; your turn.

Phase: In many games you can do several things in your turn, these are performed in a given order, and each of these intervals is a phase of your turn.
In some games phases can be mixed into turns when there is a phase for every action, and each player finishes that action in turn-order before proceeding to the next phase. In this case a round is completed once all the players have completed the last phase.

In conclusion:
A phase is where one or more players gets to perform a certain type of action.

A turn is when one player have the priority to do one or more actions.

In some games a turn can consist of several phases, and in some a phase can consist of several turns. A round should always be done when every player has completed every phase available to them.
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John "Omega" Williams
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Usually, but not allways, a round is a segment within a turn. Each player in sequence. For some games there is only one round and so either term essentially works. Long as you are consistent.

Usually, but not allways, a turn is a complete set of rounds. IE: In say RoboDerby Express a turn is done when all players have set and played out the five rounds of register actions. In D&D A turn was comprised of up to 10 rounds depending on the version.

Usually, but not allways, a phase is a stage within a turn. To use RoboDerby again, there is the roll phase, then the action phase, and finally a fire phase. Some games have phases based on speed, such as ranged, melee, then magic.

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Sen-Foong Lim
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Here's how I think of it.

Players take turns executing phases within a round. A game is comprised of several rounds of play.

That seems to be similar to what Traitor 76 said.

Consensus?
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Brook Gentlestream
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Usually, games follow one of two patterns:
(To make this easier to read and understand, I named the phases.)


Round 1
--Phase 1 "Gather Resources"
----Player A's Turn
----Player B's Turn
----Player C's Turn
--Phase 2 "Construct, Move, and Invest"
----Player A's Turn
----Player B's Turn
----Player C's Turn
--Phase 3 "Build New Stuff"
----Player A's Turn
----Player B's Turn
----Player C's Turn
--"End of Round" Phase



That's the first common pattern. The second common pattern goes like this:

Round 1
--Player A's Turn
----Phase 1 "Gather Resources"
----Phase 2 "Construct, Move, and Invest"
----Phase 3 "Build New Stuff"
--Player B's Turn
----Phase 1 "Gather Resources"
----Phase 2 "Construct, Move, and Invest"
----Phase 3 "Build New Stuff"
--Player C's Turn
----Phase 1 "Gather Resources"
----Phase 2 "Construct, Move, and Invest"
----Phase 3 "Build New Stuff"
--"End of Round"
And then Round 2 begins.


Which of these two patterns you use is simply a matter of preference, but both are very common among a variety of games. The important concept to remember is that a Round is the basic unit in which the game is broken up, during which everyone acts, a Turn is when a single player acts, and a Phase breaks up the process to limit the timing of what can be done on a player's turn at that point in the round. If doing things in their proper order isn't important, then the game won't bother with phases but will only have turns and rounds.
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John "Omega" Williams
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Or... I get to use whats becoming my catch-phrase now...

"As with everything else in the gaming biz. Its wildly variable."

It isnt helped that new game designers would hear the terms used in other games and then use it wrongly in their game, causing someone else to use the term wrong as well and so-on and so-on until the current state.

Depending on the game. Turn, Round and Phase can be totally interchangeable, have the opposite meanings of the original uses, or some weird new meaning.

Oh, and theres also Segment and Instance used rarely. And a few others.
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Ben Finkel
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senfoonglim wrote:
Here's how I think of it.

Players take turns executing phases within a round. A game is comprised of several rounds of play.

That seems to be similar to what Traitor 76 said.

Consensus?

I gave what I thought was a decent example of how that's not always the way it works: RftG and Cosmic interleave the three differently. Generally, I agree with Traitor 76's definitions:

A phase should denote a period when different types of gameplay options are available - i.e. Settle and Consume (RftG), or Alliance and Planning (CE).

A turn should be a period that refers to a player's chance to act. Sometimes, turns can be taken simultaneously, like in 7 Wonders.

A round should be a collection of turns, usually such that each player has had one or more turns during the round. However, this doesn't necessarily mean that each player had one turn.

These structures will be interleaved differently in different games, and in some games some of the terms might not be meaningful (games with real time components usually lack most of this structure), or more layers will be necessary.
 
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Brook Gentlestream
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I suppose its worth mentioning that some games, especially to resolve combat, might have sub-phases or special phases with particular names to help resolve certain complicated events. For example, starting combat during your turn may lead to an immediate resolution of several distinct "battle phases" during which you and another player get to act.

I feel these should be regarded as a resolution mechanic for a particular event, and should not be confused with the structure of the game's overall pacing. Once the special event is done, you simply return back to the phase you were in within the current player's turn of the current round.

But I can see how on the surface, similar terms like "battle phases" or "action rounds" may seem to complicate the rounds/turns/phases structure. I don't feel they really do, however. They are simply an effort to add additional structure to special events as they come up and are distinctly different.

Even these special events, however, usually use one of the two structures I described earlier. So its possible to have "Battle Rounds", "battle turns", and "battle phases" that have nothing to do with the current round, turn, or phase of the game.
 
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David F
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How about this?

lordrahvin wrote:

Round 1
--Phase 1 "Gather Resources"
--------Player A's Turn
--------Player B's Turn
--------Player C's Turn
--Phase 2 "Construct, Move, and Invest"
-----XYZ 1
--------Player A's 1st Turn
--------Player B's 1st Turn
--------Player C's 1st Turn
-----XYZ 2
--------Player A's 2nd Turn
--------Player B's 2nd Turn
--------Player C's 2nd Turn
-----XYZ 3
--------Player A's 3rd Turn
--------Player B's 3rd Turn
--------Player C's 3rd Turn
--Phase 3 "Build New Stuff"
--------Player A's Turn
--------Player B's Turn
--------Player C's Turn
--"End of Round" Phase

What would you call XYZ since you've used up 'round', 'turn' and 'phase'?
 
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Linda Baldwin
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selwyth wrote:
How about this?

lordrahvin wrote:

Round 1
--Phase 1 "Gather Resources"
--------Player A's Turn
--------Player B's Turn
--------Player C's Turn
--Phase 2 "Construct, Move, and Invest"
-----XYZ 1
--------Player A's 1st Turn
--------Player B's 1st Turn
--------Player C's 1st Turn
-----XYZ 2
--------Player A's 2nd Turn
--------Player B's 2nd Turn
--------Player C's 2nd Turn
-----XYZ 3
--------Player A's 3rd Turn
--------Player B's 3rd Turn
--------Player C's 3rd Turn
--Phase 3 "Build New Stuff"
--------Player A's Turn
--------Player B's Turn
--------Player C's Turn
--"End of Round" Phase

What would you call XYZ since you've used up 'round', 'turn' and 'phase'?

In this case, I'd call XYZ "Round" and make the original Round something else -- Year, Month, whatever. I really like the idea of a "Round" being once around the table; it's simple and mnemonic.

One game that gives me fits with this is Merchants & Marauders; it wasn't immediately clear to me when "turn" was an individual's turn, and when it was once around the table.

I'm really glad someone posted this; it drives me completely bonkers, the total lack of consistency. I was reading the rules to something the other day where I realized I'd have to spend 5 minutes hammering the meanings of these three words into the players' heads before teaching it, because the use was totally counter-intuitive, and would be on pretty much every one of their privately-held cards.
 
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Brook Gentlestream
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XYZ just looks like more phases to me. I would call them phases and number them. In this case, you have five phases, plus the "End of Round" phase.
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Dylan Kirk
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Phases are parts of Rounds or Turns.
Rounds refer to everyone who is eligible to play playing.
Turns refer to one person taking a "turn".
Phases are parts of one of these higher structures.
If you want to get even more complex, in StarFleet Battles, there are impulses which are all are executed in phases (it being a wargame, these phases are quite rigidly procedural). Each player is allowed to take a turn if they are eligible, though a player who takes a turn during the firing phase of one impulse may not necessarily be eligible to take advantage of the movement phase due to the pacing of movement by impulses...

So yeah, it's a bloody mess.
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Another thing you can use is a "step".

Steps are often used to define different parts of a phase in card games. So you might describe a particular moment like this:

Round 1 -> Player A's Turn -> Battle Phase -> Damage Step
 
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David F
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The wide spectrum of responses shows how endemic the naming confusion is.

I guess I'm looking for more 'labels', since as I illustrated on lordrahvin's example, 3 labels aren't enough. 'Step' is one. What is 'impulse'? Is it a short action, which could be an interrupt?

I don't want to get into 'year', 'month', 'week', 'day' etc since those are thematic labels that aren't transferable between games.
 
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John "Omega" Williams
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For Starfield which has very long time frames I used terms like cycle for each segment of a phase, if any, stage for each phase of a turn, and span for a whole turn, age for a complete session, and epoch for a complete campaign.
 
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monchi
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um...Power Grid anyone?

You start the game in "Phase 1". During the First Phase there are certain thing that are applied to game play. Once a certain condition in the game is met "Phase 2" starts and a new set of conditions take effect. Then once the "Phase 3" card pops up you start the last Phase. So the Phases effect the game during a certain amount of time.

So the easy way to look at it is that "phases" effects the game in different ways. It can be determined by rounds, turns or conditions.

As for Turns and Rounds. A "round" consists of a number of different actions that players take in turns. In some games some players might have more "turns" in a round than others, it all depends on the conditions for the actions you take. Some turn play you play all your "turns" at once and in other you alternate. But once everyone has completed their turns that is the end of a round.

I think the confusing this is that in some games you only have one "turn" and therefore your "turn" is a round. There are some games like Small World where you have a set number of "rounds" to a game. So in some ways it does seem to be semantics, but generally I think most games take it as you take a "turn" and play a "round"

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balmydrizzle balmydrizzle
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I opt to Brook Gentlestream's concept. A "Round" will do serveral different stuffs which together form a complete strategy. Each of this stuff is called a "Phase". In a stuff, players can do,again,several things. Each of these things may do 1 or more times until some condition is met. Each of one time is called "Turn".

These are what I always opt to use when translate English manual. In Traditional Chinese, I call "Round" as "輪", "Phase" as "階段", and "Turn" as "回合".

As I constantly discuss with board game friends, These are just a subjective opinion. So no uniform answer. One just pick one of the concepts as your favor if only you feel free, just don't play wrong rules, at least.
 
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Tor Iver Wilhelmsen
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The way I use them:

- A turn is one player doing their actions before the next player does theirs. A turn can be split into phases if sequential, or actions if not. Root, for instance, has both: Three phases, and actions within some of those depending on the player faction.
- A round is used in the case where you need to do something after each player has completed one turn each, or all players have taken turns until everyone has passed. Frequently in such games, as a minimum the player order will change for the next round. Games where you only keep track of first player to ensure each player will get the same number of turns do not have "rounds" as such.

So I agree with David.
 
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Charles Ward
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selwyth wrote:
How about this?

lordrahvin wrote:

Round 1
--Phase 1 "Gather Resources"
--------Player A's Turn
--------Player B's Turn
--------Player C's Turn
--Phase 2 "Construct, Move, and Invest"
-----XYZ 1
--------Player A's 1st Turn
--------Player B's 1st Turn
--------Player C's 1st Turn
-----XYZ 2
--------Player A's 2nd Turn
--------Player B's 2nd Turn
--------Player C's 2nd Turn
-----XYZ 3
--------Player A's 3rd Turn
--------Player B's 3rd Turn
--------Player C's 3rd Turn
--Phase 3 "Build New Stuff"
--------Player A's Turn
--------Player B's Turn
--------Player C's Turn
--"End of Round" Phase

What would you call XYZ since you've used up 'round', 'turn' and 'phase'?

I think it works if you call XYZ just Step.
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Charles Ward
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...and remember folks:

It's only called a round if it's your round, and mine is a whiskey, thanks very much.

laugh
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balmydrizzle balmydrizzle
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ex1st wrote:

...and remember folks:

It's only called a round if it's your round, and mine is a whiskey, thanks very much.

laugh

IMHO, I think in normal English conversation, we mostly say: " It's your turn!". Rarely heard people say, at least in my experience, "It's your round!".

However, as I said before, it's just so personal and subjetive, no standard answer!
 
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There is no "proper" or "official" or "infallible" answer here. The idea of there being such an answer is a fallacy in and of itself.

In almost every case I've seen, the term "phase" either doesn't come up, or is used to refer to the smallest measurable part of a turn - each action or each point at which a player has a choice to make is a "phase" in many cases. "Round" and "turn" are very much interchangeable and the common terminology surrounding them is often contradictory as to their meaning because of their varied and sometimes interchangeable use.

Take, for example, a game where players are trading items with one another. The largest measure of action scale is "once ROUND the table" with every player getting to "take their TURN" at offering trades to each opponent in sequence. The individual trade offers could be described as "phases". And you could have a game which fits this description with a "turn limit" which is the number of what was previously called "rounds" before the game ends. And you could say that each player's set of phases takes them "ROUND" the table by virtue of offering trades with every other player.

Games which have time limits based on the number of in-game actions being performed tend to call them "turn limits" and tend to make "turn" the largest unit of measurement the game has. Many games have two separate definitions of "turn" - one for an individual "player turn" and one for a "game turn" on which the turn limit is based, which involves all players "taking their turn".

Then just to make things less consistent, there are games which have major differences as the game progresses, resulting in a series of rounds/turns following one set of rules, then another set following a different ruleset, and this can be called a new "phase" of the game, making that the largest unit instead of the smallest (or potentially as well as the smallest, depending how well the rules were written).

With simultaneous turn-based games, the fact of multiple figures acting functionally at the same time results in a "turn" being all (usually "both") players acting in unison across a series of "phases" where you both perform the equivalent set of actions for your units, rather than each player "taking their turn" like a conventional turn-based game. And in many such games, the combat phase may involve several "rounds" of combat between different units.

So yeah, getting a "proper" definition of what each term means is very much reliant on the type of game you're making and the precedent established within that genre and within common use of those words by gamers playing that kind of game. The only thing that's actually "proper" is to make sure your game's rulebook is consistent with its usage when it comes to any terminology that relates to turn structure.
 
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Chris Nash
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I don't think it honestly matters that much, as long as you're consistent in your rulebook.
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