Skurvy5

Best Engine-Building Games

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

4 points by Skurvy5 - updated 4 days ago | 98 comments | report | subscribe

Skurvy5 Supporter6 days ago | 2 points[-]

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?

theDL 6 days ago | 2 points[-]

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.

WadeB1977 5 days ago | 2 points[-]

Agreed

Sliddell11 6 days ago | 2 points[-]

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 

disom 6 days ago | 2 points[-]

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

Marshwiggle92 Supporter5 days ago | 1 point[-]

Dominion does fit in this category as well. 

Sliddell11 6 days ago | 1 point[-]

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

Sliddell11 6 days ago | 1 point[-]

Terraforming is a great engine builder! Great game

Sliddell11 6 days ago | 1 point[-]

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

Marshwiggle92 Supporter5 days ago | 1 point[-]

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. 

nealkfrank 4 days ago | 1 point[-]

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.  

Marshwiggle92 Supporter4 days ago | 1 point[-]

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

nealkfrank 4 days ago | 1 point[-]

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

Marshwiggle92 Supporter4 days ago | 1 point[-]

Glad I'm not the only one. 

Sliddell11 5 days ago | 1 point[-]

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?

Marshwiggle92 Supporter5 days ago | 1 point[-]

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.

Sliddell11 5 days ago | 1 point[-]

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.

Marshwiggle92 Supporter4 days ago | 1 point[-]

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

Sliddell11 4 days ago | 1 point[-]

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

Sliddell11 5 days ago | 1 point[-]

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

Skurvy5 Supporter5 days ago | 1 point[-]

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. 

Marshwiggle92 Supporter4 days ago | 1 point[-]

Adequate is a good term. 

Sliddell11 5 days ago | 1 point[-]

Haha the game trayz would help so much!

Marshwiggle92 Supporter5 days ago | 1 point[-]

Do you like tm? 


Skurvy5 Supporter5 days ago | 1 point[-]

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

Marshwiggle92 Supporter5 days ago | 1 point[-]

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. 

Sliddell11 5 days ago | 1 point[-]

I agree with that.

Marshwiggle92 Supporter5 days ago | 1 point[-]

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

Sliddell11 5 days ago | 1 point[-]

I can see that

nealkfrank 5 days ago | 1 point[-]

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. 

Marshwiggle92 Supporter4 days ago | 1 point[-]

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

nealkfrank 4 days ago | 1 point[-]

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

Marshwiggle92 Supporter4 days ago | 1 point[-]

That does sound good. 

Skurvy5 Supporter4 days ago | 1 point[-]

Prelude is high on my acquire next list. 

Sliddell11 5 days ago | 1 point[-]

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

nealkfrank 5 days ago | 1 point[-]

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

Sliddell11 5 days ago | 1 point[-]

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

Marshwiggle92 Supporter5 days ago | 1 point[-]

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

nealkfrank 5 days ago | 1 point[-]

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

Marshwiggle92 Supporter5 days ago | 1 point[-]

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

nealkfrank 5 days ago | 1 point[-]

Why is that?

Marshwiggle92 Supporter5 days ago | 1 point[-]

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. 

nealkfrank 5 days ago | 1 point[-]

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!

Marshwiggle92 Supporter5 days ago | 1 point[-]

Exactly. 

sdirrane Supporter5 days ago | 2 points[-]

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

nealkfrank 5 days ago | 2 points[-]

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

Marshwiggle92 Supporter5 days ago | 2 points[-]

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. 

Skurvy5 Supporter5 days ago | 2 points[-]

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. 

nealkfrank 4 days ago | 2 points[-]

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

sdirrane Supporter4 days ago | 2 points[-]

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.

Skurvy5 Supporter4 days ago | 1 point[-]

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. 

sdirrane Supporter4 days ago | 1 point[-]

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?

Skurvy5 Supporter4 days ago | 1 point[-]

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

sdirrane Supporter4 days ago | 1 point[-]

👍🏼, 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.

sdirrane Supporter5 days ago | 2 points[-]

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

BenjaminK 5 days ago | 2 points[-]

These are my favorite:

Terraforming Mars

Wingspan

Roll for the Galaxy (also Race)

Splendor

Dominion can be a really good one as well.

Marshwiggle92 Supporter5 days ago | 2 points[-]

Are these ranked from favorite to least? 

Also, do you prefer roll or race? 

BenjaminK 5 days ago | 2 points[-]

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.

Marshwiggle92 Supporter5 days ago | 2 points[-]

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

Sliddell11 5 days ago | 2 points[-]

Yeessss I love these so much!

BenjaminK 5 days ago | 2 points[-]

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

Sliddell11 5 days ago | 2 points[-]

For sure but that list is solid haha 

nealkfrank 5 days ago | 2 points[-]

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...

Sliddell11 5 days ago | 2 points[-]

Totally agree, 51st is great

Skurvy5 Supporter5 days ago | 2 points[-]

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

nealkfrank 5 days ago | 2 points[-]

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

Skurvy5 Supporter5 days ago | 2 points[-]

Same designer and the most recent iteration of that system. 

nealkfrank 5 days ago | 2 points[-]

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

Marshwiggle92 Supporter5 days ago | 2 points[-]

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

nealkfrank 5 days ago | 2 points[-]

Similar to this would be Glory To Rome

Skurvy5 Supporter5 days ago | 2 points[-]

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

nealkfrank 5 days ago | 2 points[-]

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

WadeB1977 5 days ago | 2 points[-]

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

1nf1n1ty Supporter4 days ago | 1 point[-]

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

disom 6 days ago | 1 point[-]

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.

nealkfrank 5 days ago | 1 point[-]

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

Sliddell11 6 days ago | 1 point[-]

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

Marshwiggle92 Supporter6 days ago | 1 point[-]

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

Skurvy5 Supporter6 days ago | 1 point[-]

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

Marshwiggle92 Supporter6 days ago | 1 point[-]

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.

Skurvy5 Supporter6 days ago | 1 point[-]

Ah yes. Race! 

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

Marshwiggle92 Supporter6 days ago | 1 point[-]

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

Skurvy5 Supporter5 days ago | 1 point[-]

Change that to if. Not when. 

Marshwiggle92 Supporter5 days ago | 1 point[-]

I'd love to. But, no can do... 

theDL 6 days ago | 1 point[-]

Wingspan is a solid entry level engine builder.

Sliddell11 6 days ago | 1 point[-]

This is a great choice for sure

disom 6 days ago | 1 point[-]

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

WadeB1977 5 days ago | 1 point[-]

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

disom 5 days ago | 2 points[-]

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

Marshwiggle92 Supporter5 days ago | 1 point[-]

They're you have it. 

WadeB1977 5 days ago | 1 point[-]

I like it!

Sliddell11 6 days ago | 1 point[-]

Splendor

Space Base

Agricola

roll for the galaxy

nealkfrank 5 days ago | 1 point[-]

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?

Sliddell11 5 days ago | 1 point[-]

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

nealkfrank 5 days ago | 1 point[-]

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!

Sliddell11 5 days ago | 1 point[-]

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

Skurvy5 Supporter6 days ago | 1 point[-]

All good choices. 

Sliddell11 6 days ago | 1 point[-]

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