Taking Turns

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There are games in which players agency is limited so that only one player (or agent) may perform activities in the game at a given moment. Once this player or agent has performed his activities or some other condition is met (for example, a time limit has expired) another player or agent may perform activities in the game.

We note that there are games in which other players are allowed to have certain, strictly restricted, actions in the game while it is another players turn. These actions are usually reactive in nature (that is, in response to the player whose turn it is) and should not be construed as contradictory with taking turns. Some examples of these situations include games in which one player requests another player to make a decision (such as accepting a trade offer), military units that are allowed to strike back at their attackers, certain powers that allow brief interruptions of a turn, etc.

There are many different ways to implement turn-taking. For example, the order in which turns may be taken can be random, pre-determined or change continuously as the game is played. Other variations include limiting the length of a turn to a certain amount of time, limiting the number of actions or allowing the player to decide when he or she wants to end his or her turn.


Strong Examples

Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean

Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean demonstrates a strong example of taking turns. The player gets control of three characters at most. During battle, you have a deck of cards that determine which moves you want to make. You can heal or attack during your turn. Your turn ends when you run out of time, pick the maximum number of cards, or run out of cards. When your turn ends, another ally may go or an enemy may attack. When the enemy attacks, you get a defense turn. You can block the enemy's attacks with defense cards and this turn ends when the enemy stops attacking.

Advance Wars

In the Gameboy Advance game Advance Wars the player controls an army for a certain coalition. The player has unlimited time to move his units, attack other units, etc. The player must specifically choose to end his turn and thus allow the next player to play. Turn-taking is sequential and predetermined.


In the PS2 game Disgaea, the player controls a team of characters. The player as unlimited time to have his units move, attack, enter and leave the battle, etc. If a players character attacks another, the defending character (if it survived the initial attack) is allowed an automatic retaliatory strike. Turn-taking is sequential and predetermined.

Chrono Trigger

In Chrono Trigger the player has the ability to save a character's turn until more characters are ready to act. This will unlock a special ability enabling all characters to act at once, combine, and unleash a more powerful attack or healing ability.

Fallout 2

Fallout 2 is a strong example of turn-based play. In combat, each character (the PC, NPCs, and enemies) performs an initiative role to determine the order of action. Every action taken by a character requires a certain number of "action points" to perform such as taking steps, reloading, using health packs, or shooting an enemy. Each character has a certain number of action points to spend each turn, based on a variety of statistics and other factors. During the course of the game, the character can earn more action points, and therefore might be able to perhaps shoot twice in one turn. After a player uses all his action points, his turn is over, and the other player begins his/her turn.

Magic: The Gathering

Magic: The Gathering demonstrates an interesting turn-based structure; it is prominent in that game play revolves around turns, but flexible enough that it allows for interesting interplay between players out of turn, though under controlled conditions. In essence, a player takes the majority of his or her actions on his or her turn, but retains a very limited ability to act out of turn.

Civilization 4

The game itself in comparison to other real-time strategy, is in itself a turn-based strategy game. Although, in the later Civilization games, turns occur simulatenously, there's always one player action preceding another player action. For example, let's say one player decides he needs to bolster his defenses within a town that has little defenses and is soon going to be under attack by an enemy player. If he does not react quickly enouch, the enemy player will take his turn and attack the weakened city. By the time his reinforcements come in, the reinforcements may actually now be fighting his enemies in their captured city. The round doesn't end until everyone takes and ends their turn, so theoretically, you can take as long as you want producing units, creating buildings, moving your units, etc, but it is generally a good idea to be quick to react to any dangers you may be facing at the time.

Heroes of Might and Magic 3

This MacOS9/Windows 2000 platform computer game is a turn based strategy game. You choose a race and you have a castle(s) where you can build one building a day, creatures replenish at dwellings every week, and you get a daily income of resources. Each "day" in the game is one turn. Only one player goes at a time and the players go before the computer AI's (which are exceptionally advanced for how old the game is). Each hero you have has a movement amount based on his stats and the combat speeds of the creatures in his army. During that movement you can attack creatures and then have a turn based combat on a hex grid map based on the terrain. The game is a shining example of a turn based game and it is really logic based.

Weak Examples

Baldur's Gate 2: Shadows of Amn

The battle gameplay within BG:2 is not structured in a turn-based style on the surface. At first glance, the combat seems real time. However because it is based on Dungeons and Dragons v2.0 the battles are all broken up into "rounds" at a deeper level of the game. You can, in fact, set the game to auto-pause at the completion of each round, or at the end of each characters turn within a round even, to allow you to react faster than if you just left the game real time. This allows you to streamline easier battles, whilst giving you the control to micromanage well enough to do well in harder ones.

Final Fantasy XII

A primary difference between this Final Fantasy and most RPGs including all other Final Fantasies to date is that this battle system is in real time. Fortunately there are no more turns based attacks between you the player and your opposing foes. Rather, there is merely only a wait time, and this doesn't correlate with a turn based battle system at all. You have the ability to attack multiple times before an enemy can even attack once.

Last Blade 2

The game itself is a fighting game which by all accounts is done in real time. You don't necessarily take turns. Rather the idea of "taking turns" is by setting the pace of the action. Last Blade 2 offers a variety of methods in order to give control over the situation such as deflecting attacks and speed combos, which, unless you're familiar with your character and your enemy's character, you will lose control of the situation and will be beaten. You maintain control by utilizing your character's special abilities to keep your opponents at bay or to keep the action close. Once you lose control, unless you make an effort to get it back, you will lose the game.

Super Mario Bros.

Super Mario Bros. allows two-players to play independent games of Super Mario Bros. One player gets to control Mario while the other plays Luigi. There is no interaction between each player. Whenever one player loses a life, it becomes the other players turn to resume his game. This mode of play is commonly known as hot-seat multiplayer. It is a weak example because, despite the fact that the players take turns at playing the game, they are playing completely independent games.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

Players are able to take turns in this game by talking turns when a boss is defeated. This may take some time to reach and defeat a boss so each player gets suffiecient time to play and short turns are eliminated. This allows players the option to take a long turn.

Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga

Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga is a weak example of taking turns. In the combat system the player takes turns with the enemies in performing attacks. However, the player can also dodge attacks when he is being attacked by an enemy. In some sense, it holds quality of taking turns as the player must play an attack or play defense.

Mario Party 3

Mario Party 3 is a good example of taking turns because during the board game part of this game, each player must wait for the others to complete their roll and pick the direction in which to move their character. The mini games do not fit into the turn based style, but for the board movement, Mario Party 3 is a fairly decent example of turn based game. Waiting for your turn does slow the game down and loses some peoples attention.

Mega Man Battle Network

In the MMBN series, combat is divided played out in quasi-turns of real-time action. Battle chips, essentially treated as attacks that you can use until the next turn, are selected at the beginning of each 'turn'. Then, you enter a segment of real-time combat during which you actively engage the enemy. During the real-time part, the 'Custom Gauge' slowly fills up; when this gauge is full, you are can bring up the Battle Chip selection menu to select more chips, but can wait as long as you like before oepning the menu. In this way, there is a sense of turns for Battle Chip selection, but its acts as a variable segment within the real-time combat.

Jet Force Gemini

In Jet Force Gemini, you have three characters with their own special abilities that must roam about specific worlds to complete their objectives. There are many places that only one character can get to, making it necessary to switch characters. But apart from one ability that sets each character apart, they are all basically the same and can get through most of the game themselves, making this a weak example of taking turns.

Relations with other elements of the Ontology