I love the tableau building mechanism. In short, you can describe this as building an array of objects (generally cards) over the course of a game which grant you improved actions, abilities, or scoring opportunities. Usually this comes together slowly, and, ideally, the objects will have synergy. Finding the synergies is what makes this so much fun to me, and seeing your tableau grow over the course of the game is satisfying (as opposed to deck building, where you only see snippets of your deck at once). Creating a tableau that is greater than the sum of its parts is extremely rewarding, and finding previously unseen combinations that work well together is what keeps these kinds of games fresh.
Games I've played that do this particularly well:
- #Everdell - there are a lot of cards in Everdell, even just the base game, and usually only a few of each type, so it's generally not a good strategy to base your strategy around the hope that you'll draw a specific card type or combination of cards. Some online say that this makes the game too random, and I disagree. There are so many cool ways you can combine cards to score big points. Now that I've played quite a few times, I'll often make a point of playing a card I haven't used before just to see how it can combo with everything else I've got set up.
- #Wingspan - there's an argument to be made that Wingspan is, in fact, too random, and I won't argue either way. The fact is that to me, this game is just pleasant to play. Building up your tableau and seeing your turns become more powerful over the course of the game is enjoyable, even if someone else is building theirs more efficiently due to better card draws.
- #Imperial Settlers: Empires of the North - this game allows you to build a tableau pretty quickly, putting out multiple cards each round, and activating as many as you can each round as well. That makes it pretty satsifying, but honestly a bit overwhelming at times if your cards aren't organized well or you don't have a strategy.
- #Oceans - it wouldn't be a post by me if I didn't mention this one. The combinations of species you can build feel endless, and the tableau building makes me feel super creative. Even when I'm not getting a card type that I want, it's fun to stretch your brain muscle to find an alternate strategy. And when the Deep cards start coming out, OH BOY. This is kind of a game of two halves, with the first half playing more slowly, but being just as important, as you are really setting up your tableau and your engine to really take off once you start adding Deep traits to your species.
- #Evolution: Climate - a lot of similar thoughts as with Oceans, but to a lesser degree in this department
- #Terraforming Mars - I've only played once so far, but it does seem like you should be able to set up a pretty neat, synergistic tableau.
What are your favorite tableau builders? What do you like or dislike about tableau building?