Static Friction

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A drain automatically consumes resources produced by the player.


The static friction pattern counters a production mechanism by periodically consuming resources. The rate of consumption can be constant or subjected to randomness.


Use static friction when:

  • You want to create a mechanism that counters production but can eventually be overcome by the players.
  • You want to exaggerate the long-term benefits from investing in upgrades for a Dynamic Engine.



  • A resource: energy.
  • A static drain that consumes energy
  • A production mechanism that produces energy
  • Other actions that consume energy


The production mechanism produces energy that players need to use to perform actions. The static drain consumes energy outside players’ direct control.


The static friction pattern is a relatively simple way to counter positive feedback created by engine patterns. However, it tends to emphasize the long-term strategy inherent to the dynamic engine because it reduces the initial output of the dynamic engine but does not affect any upgrades.


An important consideration when implementing static friction is whether the consumption rate is constant or subject to some sort of randomness. Constant static friction is the easiest to understand and most predictable, whereas random static friction can cause more noise in the dynamic behavior of the game. The latter can be a good alternative to using randomness in the production mechanism. The frequency of the friction is another consideration: When the feedback is applied at short intervals, the overall system will be more stable than when the feedback is applied at long or irregular intervals, which might cause periodic behavior in the system. In general, the effects of a continual loss of energy on the dynamic behavior of the system are less powerful than a periodic loss of the same amount of energy.


In the Roman city-building game Caesar III, the player must pay tribute to the emperor at particular moments during each mission. The schedule of the tribute payments is fixed for each mission and not affected by the player’s performance. In effect, they cause a very infrequent and high form of static friction that causes a huge tremor in the game’s internal economy.

The Dynamic Engine in Monopoly is countered by different types of friction, including static friction (see below). The main mechanism that implements static friction is the Chance cards through which the player infrequently loses money. Although some of these cards take into account the player’s property, most of them do not.

You might think that paying rent to other players is also a form of static friction because the frequency and severity of the payments are far beyond the direct control of the player who has to pay. However, paying rent is an example of the Attrition pattern, not static friction. The rate of the friction does change over time, and players have some indirect effect on it: When a player is doing well, chances are that his opponents are not, which negatively affects this friction. The diagram below does not include this aspect because it is made from the viewpoint of an individual player.


As pointed out by Johnicholas on the Machinations forum, flat rate transaction costs can act as static friction. You can find his examples here: [flat rate transaction costs]

Related Patterns

  • Static friction exaggerates long-term investments, and therefore it is best suited to

be used in combination with a Static Engine, Converter Engine, or an Engine Building pattern.