I sat down to create this post and fell in love with the word play for that title! Anyway, I'd like to discuss engine building and why it is such a satisfying part of board gaming. There is such joy in starting with hardly anything and by the end of the game your engine is running on all cylinders.
There are so many great approaches to this mechanic - some obvious, while others are a little more subtle.
Some of the more obvious ones are games like#Wingspan where there is little to do beyond the engine.
A game like#Gaia Project is a little different- yes you build an engine but you are also attempting to do different things with that engine. But you still have control over the what and how of your engine.
Id even argue that#Terraforming Mars is an engine builder, but you have less control over what your engine develops into that game. In this game your Engine develops and hopefully you continue to acquire cards that will help your engine both continue to function but also expand and accomplish more each generation.
Getting even more subtle I think that a game like#Scythe has a bit of this engine building as well. Yes, you need to take certain actions to make your engine work, but you can eventually cobble something together that works a bit like an engine.
As for why this is such a great mechanic- there is so much joy in clawing your way from nothing to something big. That wonderful feeling of progression and the sense of accomplishment that you built something.
Engine building can also be very thematic as well. Building your engine in#Gaia Project feels like you are expanding throughout the galaxy and doesn't feel artificial or "gamey". The same could be said of#Terraforming Mars or#Scythe.
So. A bunch of hopefully coherent rambling about engine building. Let me leave you with a feel discussion questions to jumpstart a conversation.
What are some of your favorite engine building games?
What makes them an engine builder and why do you like them?
Why doesn't BGG consider engine building a category?
Is a deck builder also an engine builder?