Explore, explode, exfoliate, X-Men… right?
Board gaming has amassed a somewhat daunting lexicon of terminology. Jumping into the hobby (or, as I prefer to call it, Bloodsport) can be a bit intimidating. Even vets can be stumped by some of the phrases tossed around.
In our new weekly series, we’re going to explore different tabletop terms so you can be a better informed gamer. Hope you enjoy.
What is… 4X?
4X is a term used both in board games and video games. Think you might know what those four “Xs” stand for? Take the quiz below.
4X = Explore, Expand, Exploit, Exterminate
Okay, so what does that mean in game terms? Here’s a simple breakdown.
Explore: Though you may have a home base, the rest of the world (or galaxy) is a mystery. Only by setting forth can you uncover what exists in the surrounding areas.
Expand: Once you uncover new territories, it’s only natural to claim them for yourself. Expansion means just that – growing your control over a larger amount of terrain.
Exploit: This word is perhaps a bit of a stretch, but the meaning in a 4X game is to make use of your claimed land to gain resources.
Exterminate: No 4X game is complete without some neighborly feuding. You have competitors and they threaten your lands and your resources. So, best you get to killing them.
How to Identify a 4X Game
4X games are almost always complex and lengthy. These are not casual party games. The easiest way to identify if a game is 4X or not is by process of elimination.
Does the game have exploration elements? This will remove a majority of games from consideration. Exploration means that you begin with little or no knowledge of the available resources or surrounding areas. Only by setting forth can you discover what exists. Often, but not always, there are tiles which are drawn or flipped over as you explore. Any game without this element is not a 4X game.
Continue down the list, in order. You must be able to increase your territory control and there must be resources. There can be debate about whether “Exterminate” requires player vs. player combat or if that can also mean killing threats not controlled by another player. If you find yourself in this kind of debate, turn around and walk away. You’re better than that.
What board game terms would you like us to examine in the future? Let us know in the comments.