Best Engine-Building Games

Supporter

What are your favorite engine-building games? Bonus points if you list more than one or describe what makes them your favorite!

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Supporter7 months ago

I can’t believe this is 55 comments long and no one has mentioned Scythe.  

7 months ago

I am not sure I initially think of Scythe as an Engine-builder. I would love to hear why you think it is?

Supporter7 months ago

There are aspects of engine building. 

I would consider the tech cubes, recruits, and buildings to be parts of a engine. But, I don't really consider it to come together to be a complete engine. 

Supporter7 months ago

I agree. Scythe is... an amalgamation. It’s action selection, worker placement, area control. I don’t really get that engine building feel from the game. Sure the tech cubes are a bit of an engine upgrading mechanism but overall I don’t consider it to be engine building. 

Supporter7 months ago

Huh, that's funny because I don't find it to be worker placement at all.  Because you don't need to place workers and you don't ever retrieve them.  I guess I consider an engine building game because you build your society and how it will run throughout the game allowing yourself to do more and more.  You also get to pick which engine you'll build in the game.  Will you go for upgrades or recruiting, will you be passive or aggressive.  I don't think it's the predominant mechanic but I feel like it's there.

Supporter7 months ago

Well you do place and move your workers into position. Technically speaking. 

The reason why I don’t think of it as an engine builder - It’s not a typical engine where you can function more and more efficiently and combo and do things. Yes your individual actions get more effective but you typically can’t combo things or do normal engine building things. 

Supporter7 months ago

So worker building? Engine placement? Haha.

I think it's the way the star placement happens that makes me tie it to engine building.  You see one or two at the beginning and then toward the end it becomes almost a mad rush.  So it has the appearance of engine building to me?

Supporter7 months ago

Ok sure, but that could be just because the game is nearing completion? I dunno. 

Supporter7 months ago

👍🏼, it’s definitely not listed as engine building anywhere 🤷🏼‍♂️🤦🏼‍♂️😂.  I guess for me it was always because stars 3-6 seemed to place really quickly as the game draws near an end.

7 months ago

Bingo, I was trying to pin-point the type of game it is, but it is an amalgamation. Good word.

Supporter7 months ago

Viticulture for sure, especially with the Rhine valley cards.  There is nothing better than filling a wine order from your built winery.

7 months ago

These are my favorite:

Terraforming Mars

Wingspan

Roll for the Galaxy (also Race)

Splendor

Dominion can be a really good one as well.

Supporter7 months ago

Are these ranked from favorite to least? 

Also, do you prefer roll or race? 

7 months ago

Nope, just from when I thought of them. 

I've played Roll a ton more than Race, so I'm leaning toward Roll for favorite. Some days are a Race day though, as it scratches a slightly different itch. But yeah, I'm gonna have to say Roll is the top of the two.

Supporter7 months ago

Gotcha. I can't comment. I haven't played roll. 

7 months ago

Yeessss I love these so much!

7 months ago

I'm sure there are some other great ones I've played that I just didn't think of.

7 months ago

For sure but that list is solid haha 

7 months ago

51st State: Master Set is a fun engine builder. Resource conversion and tableau building included! Plus it they have little gun and gear meeples which are fun...

7 months ago

Totally agree, 51st is great

Supporter7 months ago

Have you checked out Empires of the North? Looks like such a cool game. 

7 months ago

I have not! Is it a similar play type as 51st state?

Supporter7 months ago

Same designer and the most recent iteration of that system. 

7 months ago

Looks like a very different vibe art wise than 51st state lol. But almost more complex!

Supporter7 months ago

I am actually a lot more interested in empires than in 51st state. 

7 months ago

Similar to this would be Glory To Rome

Supporter7 months ago

I want Glory to Rome! I’m a huge Roman history aficionado. 

7 months ago

The bummer is that it is basically impossible to find anywhere lol. 

7 months ago

I'd add Taverns of Tiefenthal as it is a deckbuilder which makes it a sort of dice drafting engine builder. 

Supporter7 months ago

I’m surprised no one has mentioned Terraforming Mars yet. That seems to be almost a pure engine builder. 

Is Everdell considered an engine builder?

What about deck-building games? Are they engine building games too?

7 months ago

In my eyes Everdell isn't quite an engine builder. I'd say it has some engine building opportunities, but it's not the goal of the game, and the game doesn't exactly push you toward that.

7 months ago

Agreed

7 months ago

Also in regards to deck builders I would say they are! Star realms you are scrapping bad cards and adding new cards all the time. Beginning of the game you have 1-2 attack, end game you could have close to 50-100 haha 

7 months ago

I would definitely classify Star Realms as one because it's such a pure deck builder.

Supporter7 months ago

Dominion does fit in this category as well. 

7 months ago

100%. Especially if you consider bases. Beginning, no base. End, 10 bases haha

7 months ago

Terraforming is a great engine builder! Great game

7 months ago

I’m actually surprised I don’t hear more about it on bga

Supporter7 months ago

Disclaimer: personal opinion alert. 

Another thing about TM is where it ranks in peoples personal lists. I think a lot of people really like and respect it. But I don't think that it is in most people's top 3 or top 5.i think it manages to stay just outside of what people are passionate about. 

If you look at the BGG ratings there are 

14000 rankings at 8

14000 at 9

And 11000 at ten. 

This is compared to something like gloomhaven which is... 

15000 rank it a 10

7600 rank it a 9

And 4.8 rank it a 8.

I believe these numbers show us that most consider TM to be a good, even great game. But, it lacks the final polish to get into the personal top echelon of most people. 

7 months ago

Ohhhh nice research there. I love some good numbers comparisons. I may start doing this will games I am considering.

It does speak volumes though about TM. Good game, not always great.  

Supporter7 months ago

I do actually find the ratings breakdowns more insightful at times than the rating average.

7 months ago

Oh I am a numbers guy so I love being able to see this. I agree it is more helpful. 

Supporter7 months ago

Glad I'm not the only one. 

7 months ago

I can see that somewhat. I will say the main reason I haven’t bought the game or wanted it more is because I have 3 friends that have it. I would say it’s in my 10 games for sure though.

what about the game makes you feel like it is lacking?

Supporter7 months ago

I like the game. I think the actual process of playing it is great. But, in my mind, there are a few flaws. I have not rated it. But, I would probably rate it a 8, maybe as high as a 9.

Also, while these are opinions, they are also sentiments that I have heard from others. So, I know I am not alone them.

The game is just too long, especially if you draft. I hear that if you solo it, it can really go quickly, maybe an hour or just a little bit less.

The level of randomness is too high for the length that it has.

Finally, the physical components do not help draw you in the game. The "art" stinks and doesn't even have the decency to stink the same way on every card, I find manipulating the cubes frustrating, the player boards and map have stuff sliding around on it too often.

Again the gameplay makes up for these percieved issues. But, I do feel like it keeps it just out of many peoples top 5 or so.

7 months ago

Also, even with luck in mind, I think it can be mitigated with the amount of strategies/routes to victory there are. Some are harder than others however.

Supporter7 months ago

Sure, but there is still the guy drawing the right cards way to often, while you are constantly trying to change tracks. Or maybe you get just the right card draws and feel like you win because of that rather than because of skill

7 months ago

Yeah I guess I can see that. It’s hard because I can’t say I’ve played it enough to have a really definitive opinion on it

7 months ago

Haha I can see those things for sure. I personally like the art but only because I like its corniness. As for luck I can see that too. For the cubes I would just really want those sick game trayz haha

Supporter7 months ago

I agree mostly Chris. The art is OK in places and merely meh in others. Those player mats are annoying- and moving the cubes around should be satisfying and crunchy but instead it’s just inadequate. 

Supporter7 months ago

Adequate is a good term. 

7 months ago

Haha the game trayz would help so much!

Supporter7 months ago

Do you like tm? 


Supporter7 months ago

I do like TM. I haven’t played it for a while though. 

Supporter7 months ago

I'm in the same boat. I do feel like it is a testament to how fun the gameplay actually is that so many people like it so much. 

7 months ago

I agree with that.

Supporter7 months ago

It is a good engine builder. But it can sorta outstay its welcome. 

7 months ago

I can see that

7 months ago

I agree, unless you play with Prelude. That speeds it up a lot. 

It soured on me once I started play games that are less luck driven. TM has a lot of luck built in with the card draws and such. 

Supporter7 months ago

Haven't played it with any of the expansions. But I do hear prelude is great for speeding it up. 

7 months ago

It feels like you are dropped in 20 minutes into the game with Prelude. You have an engine already a bit. Pretty interesting. 

Supporter7 months ago

That does sound good. 

Supporter7 months ago

Prelude is high on my acquire next list. 

7 months ago

I haven’t gotten to play with prelude yet... I really want to though

7 months ago

Alexander has it, it makes the game feel like it was fast forwarded to like 30 minutes in lol. 

7 months ago

Ah I gotta try it. Maybe very soon...

Supporter7 months ago

Yes. Though, I admit, I am toying with the idea of getting it sometime just for solo play. 

7 months ago

Solo play is fun, you are definitely at the mercy of the cards you receive!

Supporter7 months ago

Yes, but I tend to me more ok with that in solo games than with multiplayer games. 

7 months ago

Why is that?

Supporter7 months ago

I don't know. I really hate winning or losing a multiplayer game based on cards draws. But, for some reason I don't mind it as much in solo games. Maybe it isn't because I see other people drawing perfect cards while I draw junk or vice versa. 

7 months ago

That makes sense, you play multiplayer to be competitive but also to have a shared experience so you want everyone to enjoy their time, with solo it is just you and your own competitiveness!

Supporter7 months ago

Exactly. 

Supporter7 months ago

Steampunk Rally Board Game is the only one I know of where you are actually building an engine. :P

7 months ago

I haven't played Res Arcana yet, but it seems like a pure engine builder if I ever saw one. It's shot up to the top of my wishlist.

7 months ago

This is one that really stuck out to me. It seems pretty straight forward in play but complex in strategy and timing. 

7 months ago

I haven’t it played either. Looks really good though. I like the cover artwork

Supporter7 months ago

Haven't played it. But, I think I would love it. 

Supporter7 months ago

I agree, this one seems like a really pure engine builder. 

Supporter7 months ago

Obligatory plug for Race for the Galaxy.

On Saturday I played Innovation for the first time in a while. I was struck again with how fun it is to play a engine building tableu builder while constantly having pieces of your engine stolen, or trying to incorporate pieces of your opponents engine. I would not play this with more than two. But this is a cheap game and I wish more people would play it. Your first play(s) will feel like a chaotic mess but 2 or 3 games into you will start seeing strategies appear. Also, this is a supremely tactical game, yes, there is strategy, but it is mostly tactitical.

Supporter7 months ago

Ah yes. Race! 

You mention innovation quite a bit. I should really check it out. 

Supporter7 months ago

When you win your next GAW you can pick it up. 

Supporter7 months ago

Change that to if. Not when. 

Supporter7 months ago

I'd love to. But, no can do... 

7 months ago

Wingspan is a solid entry level engine builder.

7 months ago

This is a great choice for sure

7 months ago

+1 for Wingspan. It's not everyone's cup of tea, but I thoroughly enjoy it. It's all about the Murder Birds.

7 months ago

+2 for Wingspan.  Murderbirds?  Are you talking about the predators?  

7 months ago

Yes, that's what we've nicknamed them.

Supporter7 months ago

They're you have it. 

7 months ago

I like it!

7 months ago

Splendor

Space Base

Agricola

roll for the galaxy

7 months ago

Huh, I do think I would consider Agricola an Engine builder. There are aspects that build on top of each other and you harvest things but engine builder? Not sure. What makes you call it that?

7 months ago

Yeah I hesitated when putting it there. I put it there however because I think it depends how you play. You can either have mini engines or a constant one or not at all. I’m mainly thinking of crops, animals, and ability to make food. So I don’t think the game itself can be labeled that but it has components of one that would “scratch the itch” I guess haha

7 months ago

I will give you the "mini-engines" label lol. Small aspects of the game function that way but man do you have to work hard to get anything else from the game. I think of engine builders as games that give you things and you build up your ability to get things, Agricola is a trudge to get any resources!

7 months ago

Haha yeah I can see that for sure. I concede! Haha

Supporter7 months ago

All good choices. 

7 months ago

Thanks! There are for sure some more I’d add but those where the ones off the top of my head