Megagame glossary

Confused by all the megagame terms and acronyms? No need, we’re here to help! Check out the megagame glossary below and if you spot anything that we’re missing, feel free to let us know.

 

After Action Report (AAR)

We like to call them Megagame Reports here at Megagame Assembly, but essentially AAR’s are written accounts (both in and out of character) of what happened from an individual player’s perspective at a megagame. Anyone can write an AAR and they’re usually posted to Facebook groups or individual player’s websites. After Action Reports can be factual or tongue-in-cheek accounts of the game and inform other players of what happened as there is so much going on at an average game.

Briefing

Briefing at a megagame can mean a number of different things including the entire game handbook, a team or personal briefing, or the introductory talk at a megagame.

Briefing handbooks are generally sent out up to a month before the game runs, with some Game Designers deciding to provide written personal briefings to players on the day. Briefing handbooks provide players with an understanding of the designer’s universe, their team’s role in it, how to interact with the game via its mechanics, turn times and any specific rules for each player type.

At the beginning of each game, the Game Designer will brief all the players on various items including megagame basics, game state, locations for each of the mini-games, turn times and what to generally expect from the game. Control players are generally identified as part of the briefing session to enable players to spot who they can speak to if they have any issues during the game.

Control

These players are usually volunteers who help the Game Designer to run their megagame. Depending on the game/area of the game, Control players can function more as a referee, an umpire, or a dungeon master. Control players are vital to ensuring a megagame can be played and are aware of more in-game information than most of the players, however as megagames can be chaotic they likely won’t know everything.

Some megagames also include a New Player Control (NPC) which is specifically assigned to help new players engage with the megagame. An NPC could suggest options if a new player is finding it difficult to accomplish their goals or even identify what they should be doing in their role.

Council Game

Council Games are generally a mini-game that is played by a subset of players that is focused on negotiation and agreeing policies or collective action. Examples include the United Nations at ‘Watch The Skies’ or the Small Council at the Game of Thrones inspired megagame, ‘Everybody Dies’. Players can spend all or part of a turn at the Council Game interacting with other nations or powerful entities, negotiating to obtain what their team needs or attempting to canvas support to pass laws that will impact the game state.

Debrief

Debriefs at megagames happen after the final turn has finished. Game Designers tend to give a few minutes to each team at the megagame to let everyone else at the game know how their day went, including goals, secret objectives and any underhand activities that they may have been trying to accomplish. De-briefs are generally followed up by players at the after-game social where the stories of the day are discussed and dare we say, embellished slightly.

Diplomacy

Most players at an average (non-operational) megagame will likely be involved in diplomacy at some level. Diplomacy essentially means talking to other players to try to change the game state and advance your personal/team goals. Players in teams usually have specific objectives set during Team Time by their team leader and use diplomacy to attempt to see them come to pass.

Dressing Up / Cosplay

Dressing up as your character at a megagame is by no means necessary, though some players like to do so. We’ve seen players attend megagames in civilian clothes, matching t-shirts, lab coats all the way through to full suits of armour. The overriding philosophy is players need to feel comfortable in how they dress.

Game Designer / Game Control

The person who has decided to create and/or run a megagame. Largely at this time, most megagames are created by hobbyists who want to put on a game for other people in the community. We have a list of UK/Europe, US/Canada and Asia/Australia megagame groups if you're looking for a group that is local to you.

During a megagame, the designer or the person who has organised the game is generally known as Game Control and other Control players may refer decisions and/or universe questions to them to resolve.

Last Turn Madness (LTM)

After playing a megagame all day, players can sometimes engage in Last Turn Madness which is short-hand for mad things that players try to accomplish because the game is about to end. This can include launching nukes in a modern megagame such a 'Watch the Skies' or murdering the entire Royal Family in a medieval game. Whilst LTM does happen, it is generally not encouraged by Game Designers who tend to try to mitigate it as an issue by briefing players that the game could end during a number of turns instead of a specific one.

Last Turn Madness is also a popular podcast which can be found here. The LTM podcast discusses recent games and interviews megagame designers and players on their megagame experiences.

Map(s)

Depending on the megagame, there can be one overall world map or a number of different maps spread around the venue. Some games have specific players who only interact with the map, whilst others will make it part of the overall player’s role where they may also engage in diplomacy.

Megagame

See the 'What is a megagame?' article located here.

Megagame Group (aka Megagame Network)

Usually an individual or a group of like-minded people who have played megagames and want to bring the hobby to their local area. Anyone can set up a megagame group and run games that they have designed or created by an established Game Designer. We have a list of megagame groups for UK/Europe, US/Canada and Asia/Australia and free megagames/handbooks available here.

Mechanics

Mechanics generally mean specific rules or other interactions that run individual mini-games. For example, operational players will use map mechanics to move their units and potentially fight other players, whilst a trader could be interacting with a “shop” of products printed on cards and must buy/sell them to the other players. Depending on what role a player assumes, it could be mechanics-heavy or light. For example, players in diplomatic roles will likely have few to no mechanics to interact with as they will be talking to other players for the majority of the game.

Mini-game

A mechanically discrete section of a megagame which represents a separate thematic element to the main gameplay - usually interacts or influences the main gameplay in some direct manner such as the spending or gaining of resources used elsewhere.

For example, resource collection / management by the engineers in Den of Wolves or attempting to become the ultimate victor in the Thunderdome at Mirrorshades.

Mini-Megagame

Whilst the name might be under discussion within the community, there is no doubt that mini-megagames exist. These games are usually between 2-4 hours long and contain a lot of what a full megagame has, just crammed into a shorter period. See BeckyBecky Blogs post for more information.

Operational Megagame

Megagames have roots in wargaming which allows players to fight real or imaginary battles from a strategic level. Operational Megagames take the idea of a wargame and add players who act as commanders and/or leaders that attempt to manage the overall strategy and diplomacy. Ben Moores discussed Operational Megagames in his blog post.

Role Playing

Role playing in the context of a megagame generally means playing your assigned character as if it were you in that position. For example, if you’re cast as the US President at ‘Watch The Skies’, how would you personally approach other world leaders and the aliens to make sure the United States continues to be successful and achieve your country’s goals?

Some players assume a whole character for the duration of the game, but this isn’t strictly necessary.

Team Time

Generally part of each Turn, team time allows players to return to their teams to discuss what has happened, review the overall situation and plan their next steps. Whilst team time is a popular mechanic, it varies in length depending on the megagame being played.

Turns

Megagames are generally split into turns. A turn can be any length of time that the Game Designer decides and split in different ways. Turns generally include action, diplomatic and map phases, but will likely be different from one game to the next.

Watch The Skies (WTS)

A megagame designed by Jim Wallman and originally run in 2014 about what could happen if aliens visit modern day Earth. WTS was made famous by Shut Up & Sit Down in their video and is the reason why a lot of people are now involved in the megagame community. WTS has been played all over the world.

Check out the SU&SD video below:

Wide Area Megagame (WAM)

A Wide Area Megagame is a megagame that is run across multiple locations and utilises technology to enable communication and transfer of resources between each game. The idea is that all the players are playing the same game and can impact different parts of the game as if they are in the same venue.

Urban Nightmare: State of Chaos designed by Jim Wallman is the only known Wide Area Megagame which was run in 2017 and spanned 11 different venues throughout Europe/North America.

Wizard Wheeze

Any action a player tries to accomplish that is not an explicit part of the rules of the megagame they’re playing. Generally a player will speak to Control to see if what they are suggesting in the game is viable, with Control relaying what resources / time / money will need to be spent in order to accomplish the wheeze.