Open Strategy Games – Guiding Principles

Chris McDowall has talked about matrix games, making his own space-y version.

I’ve talked about them and made my own based on a novel series I enjoyed when I was even younger.

Chris and I talked about dubbing them “open strategy games” to avoid confusion about that 1999 movie and explaining what a matrix actually is. It also removes it from individual ownership, though I can very much see people getting into open strategy games by reading and re-reading “the source material” much like FKR folks read and re-read Arneson and company.

Here are some guiding principles of running open strategy games sourced from writings, advice, and play (subject to revision, debate, etc.). This is NOT a definition. Open strategy games may deviate on these points.


  • Play a role among other roles in a consistent world.
  • Play to address problems and objectives.
  • Play to see what happens.


  • Player objectives are self-assessed at the end of the game.
  • The game ends after a set number of turns.
  • The referee explains rules, adjudicates actions, and otherwise facilitates play.


  • Players are given the public-knowledge rules of the game.
  • Players are given the background of the world and the initial problem(s) in broad strokes.
  • Players are given predetermined objectives and assets (briefings).


  • The referee announces a time by which all actions must be declared.
  • Players tell the referee one specific action while including why that action is likely to be successful (leverage) and what the intended result is (outcome).
  • Talking is a free action!


  • The referee determines the outcome of each action according to internal logic and the rules.
  • The referee reveals the outcomes publicly and privately as necessary.
  • The next turn begins and play continues. Conclude the game with a talk-back party.

Read more about open strategy games here!

4 thoughts on “Open Strategy Games – Guiding Principles

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