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Popular Pattern Building Board Games (Mechanic)

These are the board games with the Pattern Building mechanic.
Tiny Towns board game
72
Rank: 120
Trending: 317
Qwirkle board game
63
Rank: 223
Trending: 1076
Quadropolis board game
67
Rank: 232
Trending: 719
Lanterns: The Harvest Festival board game
Reef board game
70
Rank: 289
Trending: 669
Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra board game
70
Rank: 294
Trending: 237
The Isle of Cats board game
87
Rank: 337
Trending: 42
Fuse board game
64
Rank: 358
Trending: 212
Ingenious board game
65
Rank: 380
Trending: 1111
Cottage Garden board game
65
Rank: 425
Trending: 1997
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I'm sure there's more but:

  • Variable player powers - there's so much replay value that comes from having a wide range of fun powers to try out. I noticed that all of my recent acquisitions had this mechanic: #The Voyages of Marco Polo#Clans of Caledonia, #Atlantis Rising (second edition), #Architects of the West Kingdom.
  • Asymmetry - similar to the first, my eyes brighten up when I think about the possibilities of different strategies to explore. Hence why I love #Root.
  • Engine-building - this is quite an all-encompassing mechanic but it captures what I like--games that give you a great sense of accomplishment when you see the end result.
  • Point-to-point movement - when done well, I like how it mimics that feeling of exploration and voyage. This is why I'm drawn to games like #Great Western Trail or #Maracaibo
  • Tile placement or Pattern building - I like puzzles. I also like the tactile fun offered by games with this mechanic. I like #Tiny Towns because of this. I'm also super interested in #The Isle of Cats.

I share your appreciation for abstract games and have the same problem of not having the right group (or person) to play them with. First off, here are the abstracts I've played (I think I got them all??): Chess, Go, Janggi (Korean variation of Chinese chess), Santorini, Hive, Azul, Chinese Checkers, Onitama, and I guess I should include Tiny Towns here since most people seem to call it an abstract.

It's hard to order them because they serve a different purpose, but I'll try. This list assumes that I'm playing with a competitive opponent who's either my equal or better:

  1. #Chess - It's a classic and never gets old for me.
  2. #Santorini - Expanding the world of tic-tac-toe with fun powers! If I didn't consider the god powers, this would drop several positions.
  3. #Hive - You get to play with chunky tiles and the idea of the different bugs' movement patterns is brilliant.
  4. #Azul - Satisfying pattern building and you get to play with great tiles. I just don't enjoy it as much if I feel like I have to make sub-optimal moves so that I'm not being mean to a beginner.
  5. #Tiny Towns - Deceptively deep and difficult, fun spatial management, and surprisingly brain burning... Tiny Towns has a lot to offer but isn't one that I find the most relaxing.

Why Go didn't make the cut:

I considered placing this at #2 but ultimately didn't. I have fond memories of playing this a bunch of times throughout my elementary school days and even attending lessons, but it's not one that I'd gravitate toward at this stage in life. Even though it has deep tactical elements (probably the deepest game out of all games mentioned here) and zen-like appearance, the game also presents you with constant moments of tension and one bad placement can have devastating consequences. I think I now just want something a little less involved metally/emotionally.

Abstracts I'd love to try the most:

  1. #War Chest
  2. #Shobu

Who do you typically play with? By gateway games, if you're looking for games that are very easy to introduce to non-gamers, then here are some that come to mind:

  • #Century: Golem Edition - Great art, fun crystal-like components, and teaches the concept of engine-building
  • #Azul - Another very attractive game for newcomers because of the awesome tiles. Great tile laying/pattern building game
  • #Just One - Co-op word based game that gets people laughing easily
  • #Skull - Simple bluffing game that's easy to teach and doesn't put a lot of pressure on new gamers
  • #Santorini - Abstract strategy game that plays like an expanded 3d tic-tac-toe, best for 2p
  • #Welcome to... - If you want to try roll and writes and want a theme that's relatable and plays at near limitless player counts
  • #Pandemic - Staple co-op game

Here are some games that I consider a slight step-up in terms of complexity, but still very approachable:

  • #Wingspan - "Tableau-building" game with the theme of birds. You place cards in three different rows that give you different benefits such as gathering resources, laying eggs, or getting you more bird cards that have different powers. You can pull off satisfying chain reactions of combos that build off of the different bird powers. It's an attractive looking game so it's easy to wow a wider audience
  • #The Quacks of Quedlinburg - "Bag-building" game where you're creating a potion by randomly pulling out various ingredients from your bag and placing them into your cauldron. Some ingredients will help you create a higher quality potion while having too many of the white ingredients will make your cauldron burst. By creating and selling high quality potions, you'll be able to purchase better ingredients that will help your future rounds. Nice mix of long term strategy with an element of pushing your luck just before the point of bursting your pot
  • #Viticulture: Essential Edition - Good "intro+" for worker placement games. Players manage a handle of workers to accomplish various tasks to tend to their vineyard, produce grapes, and sell wine to your visitors
  • #Tiny Towns - Great spatial management and pattern building game where you're working with a highly limited grid space to build a town by making polyomino shapes

Abstract: Tiny Towns - small scale city/pattern building game that requires spatial awareness. Relatively relaxing game but deceptively complex. Feels like playing a tiny version of Tetris--you're placing blocks to create patterns so that you can convert them into a single building and clear out some space on the board, where the patterns that don't match with any buildings end up crowding up the already limited space.

Roll/Flip & Write: Welcome to... - my favorite game in this genre and also the most relaxing game in this list. As with most roll & writes, very easy on new gamers but I especially like this one because of the relatable theme and how it engages the players

Bluffing: Skull - I'm really not into bluffing games, but enjoyed this one. It's a light game for sure, but I liked the short gameplay that gives pretty good laughs from seeing everyone's personality come out (you get to tell a lot about a person in just a few rounds)

Engine-building: +1 on Wingspan - in comparison to the amount of strategy it needs (if you want to win), it's so well streamlined that new gamers will be able to pick up on the rules/strategy after the first few rounds. With its beautiful illustrations, thematically satisfying mechanics, great dice and player board, and random bird facts, it's more than a game but an experience--especially recommended for couples who are new to board games. I almost feel like Viticulture: Essential Edition could work as a gateway, but it would be a bigger stretch than Wingspan.

Push Your Luck and Bag-Building: The Quacks of Quedlinburg - I think this would the best in terms of being relaxing, easy to pick up, fun, and memorable gameplay--one reason I like push your luck games is the exhilaration that comes from getting that one great draw (or failiing miserably). Either way, it creates a great story for the group. Also has a great catch-up mechanic that will help out new gamers