I am looking for any board or card games that use OODA loops as a part of their design. Specific examples of the application of each phase of the OODA loop are appreciated.

The OODA loop is the cycle Observe > Orient > Decide > Act

The approach explains how agility can overcome raw power in dealing with human opponents.

diagram of the OODA loop

Wiki reference: The OODA loop

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    You should describe what an OODA loop is in your question. Currently you're depending on a link, and links can go stale. – Arcanist Lupus Dec 16 '19 at 6:32
  • Also, scanning the wikipedia article has provided me with almost no insight as to what the loop actually entails. – Arcanist Lupus Dec 16 '19 at 6:34
  • I do: a model for combat operations consisting of four stages. If scanning the encyclopaedia article gave you almost no insight, try reading it more thoroughly - and then if you still have almost no insight, following up some of the links from that entry might help. Stack Exchange is supposed to be an expert Q&A site. There's no reason to think Wikipedia will disappear before the boardgames part of the Stack Exchange website does. – user30021 Dec 16 '19 at 14:12
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    Perhaps, but we're experts in board games, not military combat. A question needs to be self contained. The fact that the linked source is very reliable doesn't change that. What are the four stages, and what do they mean? – Arcanist Lupus Dec 16 '19 at 14:15
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    We're not asking you to delete your question, much less your account. You just need to spend 5 min adding a sentence describing each of the four steps in the loop. That's all. – Arcanist Lupus Dec 16 '19 at 14:22

The phase layout for Munchkin practically is the OODA loop:

  • Observe:
    Phase 0 - Check and adjust your possessions

  • Orient:
    Phase 1 - Draw a card face-up from the Door Deck

    • If it's a Monster: fight it and go to Phase 3;
    • It it's a Curse: apply it;
    • It if's any other card: put it in your hand or play it;
  • Decide:
    Phase 2 - Choose either "Look for Trouble" or "Loot the Room"

  • Act:
    A. Phase 2

    • If you choose "Look for Trouble" then play a monster from your hand and fight it.
    • If you choose "Loot the Room" then draw a second card face-down from the Door Deck and place in your hand.

    B. Phase 3

    • Charity: Reduce hand to at most five cards

One could probably make a similar case for all D&D-type games, but Munchkin is always the most fun. Part of the satire that makes Munchkin work is that everything is explicit in the rules.

  • This seems like a total misapplication of OODA. I don't see a way that this captures agility or interaction of OODA loops that are essential to the theory. – Zags Dec 18 '19 at 2:32

There are many wargames featuring the OODA loop (of course). For example the TCS series (designed by The Gamers) features orders written in paper that must be understood by the platoon commander and they stick to them until further orders are received and understood. So the player must be agile in creating a flux of orders that will keep the units in the action.

Some TCS titles are Black Wednesday, Bloody ridge or GD'42.


I would argue that most board and card games use this type of feedback loop as part of what makes them a game.

  1. The player observes the game state via the pieces on the board, cards in their hand, etc. Usually this state will be different from the previous observation due to the actions of other players or the game mechanics.
  2. The player orients themselves and their strategy relative to this new information. Their goals may have changed, or there may be new tactics they need to consider.
  3. The player decides what they will do on their turn.
  4. The player acts and carries out whatever move they wish to make.

In fact, the best games typically facilitate the player's engagement with this type of loop. They provide opportunities for many meaningful decisions, make it easy to see the current game state, provide distinct actions you can take on your turn, and even allow you to express yourself or your instincts.

You can apply this pattern to anything from Chess to Catan to Go Fish.

  • Yes, any decision making game uses that loop. If any games have been designed for that (as OP asks), I don't know – npst Dec 17 '19 at 16:52

X-wing miniatures is a great example of a use of OODA loops in several ways. Each round has a planning phase followed by a maneuver phase. During the planning phase, players each assign a hidden maneuver to each unit. Then, during the maneuver phase, these maneuvers are resolved sequentially, and players must make decisions when resolving the maneuvers. Units need to be positioned and face the right way to be able to attack other units.

As a result, more agile units can frequently beat more powerful units, but only though superior flying technique. Furthermore, even with similarly agile units, players must constantly integrate new information into a cycle of planning and acting. In all cases, Players need to plan several turns ahead against a landscape that changes every turn, as where a unit can go and attack is always limited by it's current position and facing.

  • board, and card games typically involve turn-taking which seems entirely foreign to OODA where the goal is to act faster than your opponent, but there are a few games which are chaotic by nature where OODA could be applied. eg "spoons" – Jasen Dec 26 '19 at 23:32