What are your satisfying "building"-type board games?

Supporter

Board games come with all kinds of different conclusions, but one of my favorites has got to be ones where you look down on the table and feel a sense of accomplishment. For me, this often comes from "building" type games where you start from scratch but by the end of the game, you see a tapestry of your work that tells a sense of progression (I recently got #Tapestry by the way).

Games like these tend to have the following mechanisms (and more):

  • Engine-building
  • Route/network-building
  • Area control
  • Tile placement or pattern building (e.g. Azul, Tiny Towns)

So, what are your favorite games that give you this sense of accomplishment and why? (I'm excluding campaign type games in this post to focus more specifically on building-"X" type games, whether its an engine, route, tile, map presence, etc).

Here are my examples with some commentary:

  • #Wingspan - You end with a tableau of beautiful birds with unique powers. With 170 unique birds in the game, you'll have a very different board every single time. I should add though, that while the end result looks great, I don't feel as much of that satisfaction in comparison to the other games below, for three reasons. (1) I've only had three or so plays so I'm inexperienced, but find that I'm usually left wanting just 1 or 2 more turns to finish a cool engine. I end up opting for actions in my last turn that will net me the most points instead--just feels way less cool. (2) I feel like I don't have as much of a say or control in building the engine to the degree that I have in other more satisfying games. But again, this likely comes from my inexperience. Lastly, (3) Wingspan requires you to be efficient because you lose a worker in each round. I like this because it really tests your engine's quality . BUT, in comparison to games where you continue to ramp up in "power" until the end of the game, I feel like Wingspan sometimes ends anti-climatically. Regardless, it's the most elegant engine-builder I've played and I'll have fun with it every time someone bring it to the table.
  • #Viticulture: Essential Edition - You look down on your board and it's all there--the different structures built in your vineyard, your army of workers, the fields you sold off for money, variety of vines, grapes, and wines produced, and the orders you managed to fulfill. You see the progression, the story, the accomplishments. It's certainly not an exciting story, but one that works for me and my wife.
  • #Root - War in the Woodland. There's always a story that you can trace by looking at the board, although you might not like how the story ended :D
  • #Clans of Caledonia - This is currently my most satisfying game in regard to end game results. It has a lot of the parts behind what makes Viticulture's ending satisfying, except better. This is because the progression and story of the game is told via what you've built on a map vs. other players, and not just your own player board. Plus, they did a fantastic job in the look of the game. The map is simple in its graphics and in color, which helps communicate important landscape info without being busy. The colors of the player tokens "pop" off the board and look very nice as the map gets populated with little animals, laborers, barrels, cheese, etc :)
  • #Tapestry - I can see this game fitting into this category very well. With zero real plays in though, I can't help but feel that the story of each civilization can feel... "forced". The idea is that each player starts with a unique civilization which will develop in the span of multiple Eras, where the course of each Era will be determined by Tapestry cards you acquire and play such as "Militarism," "Dystopia," "Academia," "Oil Magnate," etc. For example, the Entertainers (think clowns) will start the first Era with "Maker of Fire" (like all other civs), and then go through an Era of "Oil Magnate," then "Dystopia," etc, depending on the benefits/tracks that a player wants to focus on. I get the game's intent and the brilliance of it, but the execution isn't quite convincing enough to me yet, because its requiring a level of creativity from a player to picture a convincing story (again, this is my first impression without any real plays in). 

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Supporter9 months ago

These types of games really resonate with me. I love building up from nothing and feeling that great sense of progression. 

My most recent acquisition #Underwater Cities is a fantastic example of this. You start with one dome and need to build and expand your engine to develop your nation. I’ve only gotten one play of this under my belt so far but wow was it satisfying to step back and see what you’ve accomplished over the course of the game.

#Terraforming Mars is another game where you start with little and by the end of the game you can step back and admire the planet you’ve terraformed and your engine you’ve built to help you get there. It’s very satisfying. I’m looking forward to trying this with the Prelude cards. 

#Paladins of the West Kingdom is another great engine  builder that I’ve been playing recently. You start with a full player board and by the end of the game you’ve done upgrades and built up garrisons and fortified towns and converted populace and built up a great engine. Very satisfying. 

#Race for the Galaxy is a classic example. I don’t have a ton of experience with this one but it’s often mentioned in this discussion. 

#Suburbia seems like it fits the discussion also. It’s not one I’ve played but I’ve watched plenty of reviews and it seems very satisfying. 

Supporter9 months ago

Maybe I'll do some research into Paladins.  Outside of the player interaction piece everything else you report about it really intrigues me.  Could be a great solo game if anything else.

Supporter9 months ago

I love race... It's one of my favorite games. But, I don't get that feeling from that. 

Supporter9 months ago

I personally don’t have much experience with it but I often hear it mentioned in discussions like this so I thought I would toss it out there. 

Supporter9 months ago

No worries. By brother in law feels the same way. I just don't get that feeling. 

Supporter9 months ago

#Agricola (Revised Edition) is the game that I get the biggest feeling of satisfaction from looking at my building. It is so so satisfying to look at your nice tidy farm afterwards. 

#Carcassonne is nice in this regard. 


Supporter9 months ago

Great examples, I've been very interested in Agricola after seeing what it's about. I do wonder if it'll be too low in player interaction, but it sure seems like one of the top games out there in giving you a sense of satisfaction at the end of the game.

Supporter9 months ago

#Agricola (Revised Edition) properly played is super interactive. You have to pay attention to what your opponent is doing so you can get in their way. They are doing the same too you. 

9 months ago

I think your 3 points nailed Wingspan perfectly. It's a very fun game, but more hardcore gamers might not appreciate it for the reasons you mentioned. I don't feel it detracts from the game, just offers a different experience, but sometimes the randomness of the cards can keep you from getting a really great engine going. But part of the game is adjusting to what you're given, which is fun too!

9 months ago

I wouldn't quite classify it as an engine builder, more of a combo builder, but #Everdell really gives you a satisfying feeling of progression between the beginning and end of the game. When you start the game, you're thinking "how am I going to do any of this?" By the end you're able to make some big plays and score big points.

Supporter9 months ago

It's a tableau builder I believe? Whichever it is, it definitely seems like a "builder" game haha

I've heard lots of reviewers mention the same about Everdell. It sounds like a satisfying gameplay and the theme works wonderfully for me and my wife.

9 months ago

I'm almost positive you would love it.

Supporter9 months ago

I think I would love it, along with so many other games. 

9 months ago

Honestly, this game is so pleasant to play that I don't see how any gamer wouldn't at least enjoy it, even if they don't love it.

Supporter9 months ago

That is my impression 

Supporter9 months ago

I'm sure you'll be surprised to see I have a few of the same answers, haha.

#Viticulture - I just love to see that thriving winery player mat, plus when you get further into the game and everything has 4, 5, 6 workers it gets really crowded.  I also like seeing a decent discard pile.  The board just looks like it's been active.

#Clans of Caledonia - I love seeing that full board, and also seeing stacks of filled orders.  Seeing all the imports on the score track is also really satisfying.  It give you the feel of building an economic engine.  Plus as you are able to move over more water spaces you can really move out from your main areas.  Finally, seeing the major change in the supply and demand board.  Oh, and having all those goods in front of all the players.

#Root - I mean I love seeing the armies amass during the game.  I love seeing all those warriors all over the map.  And a lot, not just a full map because the Marquise are playing.

#Scythe - Seeing all the hexes being taken up, seeing your player board grow and how much more you can do during the game.  The best games of Scythe are when space is at a premium.

Supporter9 months ago

Hahahah yup, I expected a lot of overlap. You're the one who got me interested in Clans after all lol. And I wasn't thinking about that aspect but I agree that seeing lots of cards in the discard piles in Viticulture is great to see.

I really need to find some time to prep the bot stuff for Root and give it a go with my wife. I have a feeling that will raise the fun factor by at least 25%, to be precise. We need more action!

Supporter9 months ago

Yeah, I just played the Better Bot PNP Cats, my daughter and I played the Eyrie.  The Marquise are really really easy to run.

9 months ago

I agree very much with Root and Tapestry.  Viticulture it's basically the track at the bottom and I feel like I'm pressing to call that a build but I guess the structures on the player board could be a little something as well.  

#Scythe seems to fit the bill with the area control as well as the starts and popularity on the left side and power on the bottom.  There's so much to build in that one.  #Paladins of the West Kingdom certainly gives a sense of accomplishment as well.  

#Castles of Mad King Ludwig can contribute to this at times.  #Anachrony is great with the buildings on the player board.  

Supporter9 months ago

I forgot to include one little bit on Viticulture. It still gives me that feeling of satisfaction when I look at the player board and seeing the development of your vineyard and the workers placed out on the main board, but I agree that it doesn't have as much of that sense of progression in comparison to "higher tier" games in the category of games I'm focusing on for this post. There is progression in the sense of having more grapes, wines, and workers out on the main board, the board state isn't significantly different across your past plays. Games like Root, Tapestry, Clans, etc. are "better" in this regard because instead of the board state resetting every year, there's a constant buildup of history on the player board as well as on the main board.

Scythe and Paladins sounds great for this, and I'd really like to try out Anachrony some day purely due its unique spin on the worker placement mechanism. I'm scared by how hard it'll be to learn & explain the rules though xD

Edit: I just realized Anachrony has variable player powers. Even better!

9 months ago

My favorites for these types of games (and this is actually my favorite style of game):

#Space Base
#Underwater Cities
#Tapestry
#Gizmos
#Terraforming Mars


Supporter9 months ago

How has Tapestry been for you? I'm looking forward to getting my first place in with my wife :D

9 months ago

I really enjoy it, it isn't a civ game though. It is an efficiency engine building game, which I love that type so it worked out for me. And it is beautiful and super high production. Just make sure you know it isn't a civ game as promoted.

Supporter9 months ago

Still hoping to get it to the table in a week or two. I'm curious how my wife will feel about the game. Stonemaier Games has spoiled me too much when it comes to production haha, it's hard not to compare when I open up any new games these days.

9 months ago

I second Gizmos and Space Base! There is always discussion after playing these games about what cool engines we had built or what strategy we were going for. 

Supporter9 months ago

Ever since I finally got around to checking out Agricola and learning what it's about, I've been on the look out for great second hand market deals. I'd love to give it a try.

Supporter9 months ago

I will keep you in mind if I see a copy.