Articles · General Gaming

Thoughts on Scoring Mechanisms

The other day while I was browsing Facebook, I came upon someone asking about why a game had a score pad rather than a dry erase score tracker. I don’t remember which game was being discussed, but it caught my attention because I was surprised that so many people would prefer a dry erase method over a traditional scoring pad. It also made me consider what my preference actually was, because it was not something I had considered prior.

After thinking on it for a while, I realized that I definitely prefer games that provide either a score board or another method of tracking in game with the components provided. For instance, I like that in games like Scythe, players do not have a score pad, but instead count their points based on how many coins they have. There are many reasons I like this, but mostly I just like that I can always rely on having all the materials needed to score. The game includes everything I need to play and those components will never run out. However, it is not always practical in some of the more complicated games.

When games become more complicated, I definitely prefer a traditional scoring pad. There are a couple reasons I like this rather than something like a dry erase board. First, it is often fun to have the option to look back at prior games. For instance, in Ticket to Ride: New York, my family has a fierce competition going because I am currently undefeated in the game. Being able to look back at prior games can be an interesting way to see how players improve over time. The second reason I prefer a traditional scoring pad is the ease of finding all materials needed. I am almost always able to find a pencil or pen somewhere, whether I am at home, at school or out in public. If a game needs a variety of categories to score that may be complicated without writing down each section, I would much prefer to have a score pad. The only negative I see with a score pad is the eventual running out, which can be prepared for using a copier.

I know many people prefer to have a dry erase board scoring system, because it ensures that players do not have to discard the scoring sheets and eventually run out. However, I strongly dislike having dry erase components in games. There are two reasons for my strong dislike. The more significant of the two reasons is the frustrating nature of trying to find a dry erase marker. Every game I have ever gotten that includes a dry erase board includes a very low quality dry erase marker that is generally dried out either by the first time I play the game, or at most by the third time. This means I end up having to hunt for a dry erase marker, which is significantly more difficult to find than a pen or pencil in most cases. The second reason is that dry erase boards can be very difficult to fully clean off. This means the game ends up with coats of dry erase marker residue that can make it eventually difficult to read. While I do see the benefit of having something more permanent that can be written on, they just do not stand out to me as the best option.

What do you think? Do you have a strong preference for scoring or maybe a type of scoring that I missed? Is there a game that you really enjoy the scoring mechanic?

2 thoughts on “Thoughts on Scoring Mechanisms

  1. Between Two Cities is by far my favourite scoring mechanism.

    First, scoring for the lowest of your two cities is genius! It encourages people not to focus all their attention on one of the two and leaving the other behind. It also seems to always result in very close final scores, which I find exciting and an indication of a well balanced game.

    As for actually counting the scores, you have a second landmark meeple of each type that is used on the double-sided score tracker board, used only at the end of the game. One side has the 10s on the same side (so you go left to right, then up, and repeat) the other has the 10s on alternating sides, so you snake your way up.

    You also have a great little player aid that makes it really easy to calculate the scores.

    It’s those kinds of details that makes Stonemaier Games my favourite publisher!


  2. First of all, thank you for another great article. I must say, I’ve never thought about score keeping. If a game comes with a scorepad, I never use it, because I might sell on the game later and want to sell it “complete”. Most games I play have a score track, which means there is either no or very little additional scoring at the end of a game. Some games use a counter, like Star Realms, but that’s more about keeping tack of “life” rather than actual scores. I prefer games with a score track, so you always know how far behind you are, or who is in the lead.


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