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Wordplay in Your Gameplay

Every pastime and hobby has its own unique language, and tabletop gaming lingo is no exception. But learning it can feel awkward and foreign. To help you become more “immersed”, we present a few tabletop-related words and phrases for you to adopt into your gaming vocabulary!

Miniature Wargaming Lingo

Buff or buffing your army

When you buff your army, you’re not giving it a shoe-shine. Not exactly. In miniature wargaming, buffing your army means adding bonuses to your units to make them more powerful, with more umph.

“5 ups” (or other number)

This refers to when a player needs to roll a “5” or higher (or whatever the number is) to hit, kill, cast a spell, make a save, etc. It is the minimum number to roll to be able to take some sort of action.

Dakka Dakka

In Warhammer 40k (specifically coming from Orks), this simply means more guns, shooting, blowing stuff up — more killy, pew, pew, pew kind of stuff. (Not to be confused with Fozzie Bear’s favorite catchphrase, “Wocka wocka!”)


When you’ve completely failed a dice roll. It’s not the one you want. (Not to be confused with “whiffed”, as in, “he whiffed the stench of defeat in the wake of a low dice roll.”)


These two terms kind of go together. O.P. means over-powered, or when a unit doesn’t cost as many points as it probably should, but is a powerful unit nonetheless. It’s likely because the rules written for that unit make it strong. In the same vein, a broken game is one that is unbalanced for mostly the same reasons.

Exploding dice

No, it’s not why gamers have a hefty dice addiction — your dice don’t physically explode when they’ve passed their expiration dates. (Although, some might argue that they should.) Exploding dice refers to when you roll the highest dice roll on an attack. It then allows you to roll your dice again for more hits. But it’s not endless. You’re limited to the number of times your dice can explode.

Common Role-playing Game Lingo


This refers to instances where a player employs actual knowledge of something in-game when his or her character actually has no knowledge of said thing.

For example, Joey has fought a bronze dragon in a previous D&D game, and knows how to defeat one. In his current D&D game, he and his adventuring party have just encountered one. If Joey uses his knowledge from past experience of how to fight a bronze dragon (and also tells the group how to do it), he is metagaming. (With our urging, just don’t. It ruins the RPG experience for everyone.)

Natural 20 (or Natural 1)

These are common terms that players both hope for and hope to avoid in the tabletop role-playing game world. They refer to specific rolls in a d20-based system. When a player rolls a “20” (or a “1”) at face value, they are considered “natural” because the player didn’t add or subtract modifiers to get to that number. A “20” is the best roll you can get (and in some cases, it’s a CRIT), and a “1” is the worst — a total fail.

Rolling a Crit/Critical Hit

When you CRIT, it’s the bomb-diggity sh–… well, it’s super-cool. If you roll a Natural 20 on an attack, it means you get to double the dice on your damage. BOOM!

General Gaming Terms

Beer & pretzels

We like a good snack and beverage any time of the day, especially while playing games. But this term refers to the type of game you might play.

Beer and pretzels just means a game that’s got a light, near-to-no-strategy quality about it. There’s no heavy thinking involved, lots of randomness, and an easy-going theme. You know, something you could play in a pub, with some good beer and pretzels!

Word Up!

Ok, so now you know some basic and common tabletop lingo, which you can start using now! Hopefully you won’t feel as awkward when you hear these phrases. There are plenty of other words we didn’t touch on here, so we’ll be back again with more for you to “lingo” over.

*Puts tape over mouth and walks away.*