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Popular Tableau Building Board Games (Mechanic)

These are the board games with the Tableau Building mechanic.
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Engine building, is it a mechanic? Like| 46 comments | [+]
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Interesting idea as I recently find myself passing on games that seem too similar to games already in my collection due to similar mechanics and themes. Well that's what I tell myself anyway..LOL. I think like , I would just find a way to game the system to keep my entire collection. I mean "Deck Building," "Bag Building," and "Pool Building" are all listed as separate mechanics on BGA. Add that into "Tableau Building" and "Engine Building" and that's 5 games from my top 25 right there lol.


I agree with some of these and remain unsure on the one's I have not played ( #Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar , #A Feast for Odin , #Lords of Waterdeep , #Caverna: The Cave Farmers

#Anachrony and #Paladins of the West Kingdom are missing from this list and I would put #Raiders of Scythia in as well and remove Stone Age, Tzolkin, and Perhaps Everdell (partly because Everdell is more Tableau building than worker placement). 

I think there may be room to argue for #Agricola and #Teotihuacan: City of Gods as well.  

This is of course, all very subjective :)   Given more time, thought, and game play I might have a more honed list.

I started on this and then realized that I can use so many categories that I could probably keep my entire collection for one reason or another. :)

So I narrowed it down to my top 10 favourite mechanics from the BGA mechanics list and games I own and would keep:

Action Selection: #Scythe

Area Control: #Forbidden Stars

Coop Play: #Spirit Island

Deck Building: #Clank! In! Space!

Dice Rolling: #Big Trouble in Little China: The Game - Deluxe Edition

Network and Route Building: #Brass: Birmingham

Rondel: #Teotihuacan: City of Gods

Tableau Building: #Terraforming Mars

Tile Placement: #Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King

Worker/Dice Placement: #Village



Nifty list! Even a few games I haven’t heard of. Pre-Covid, my wife’s family would participate in a white elephant/Yankee swap in which we would always throw in a small game. Here is short list of games we’ve gifted in the past that should fit in a sock.

#Sushi Go!: Very simplistic drafting and set collecting game that works well with all ages. The artwork may inspire nightmares as the food stuffs are rendered anime style with slightly creepy faces. If more variety desired, go with #Sushi Go Party!, but be warned it comes in a tin that will stretch that sock.

#Parade: Such a neat little game. Basically players add cards to a line (5 suits with values ranging from 0-9) and depending on what they add to the line they may have to take cards from said line and placed in front of the player. The interesting thing about scoring is the player with the majority of a specific suit only counts the number of cards rather than the face value of the cards. Lowest score wins.

#Cockroach Poker: the most pure bluffing game that I can think of. This is another odd one as everyone wins aside from a single loser.

#Biblios: This is like two games in one box. First part is a draft of sorts where a card can either go in front of the start player, in front of an opponent, or in the auction pile for the second part of the game.

#Archaeology: The New Expedition: We gifted the older Z-man version (#Archaeology: The Card Game), but this newer version adds a little more variety via monuments.

#Claim: mentioned the tiny epic games, here is another one from the same designer. Claim is trick taking game that work well with two (which was a shock to me). Each suit or in this case race is unique and this does take a few plays to figure out, but its worth it. Also, there are plenty of little expansions (and a standalone) available for this as well to increase variety.

#Fleet: Another odd one. Mix multi-use cards, auctions, and tableau building with the veneer of that deadest catch TV show (is that still on?) and you get this game. Will note that I refuse to play without the #Fleet: Arctic Bounty Expansion as it has those neat “going fishing cards” that really help those turns when you either can’t or don’t want to buy a new license. Also crab meeples. CRAB MEEPLES!!!

#Hanamikoji: I’ve heard this described as I pick you choose. What’s neat about this is it is both thought provoking and short. I think it was the last game we played where I was beaten in the first round.

#Port Royal: Basically building a tableau of sorts while pressing your luck with pirates.

I guess for me it depends on how I look at it. One on hand, yes, I have a variety of games that I could play and enjoy for a long time. In that sense, I am comfortable. If I were to stop buying games for a long time, we wouldn't get bored.

On the other hand, there are, like you mentioned, areas or genres into which I would like to expand my collection. One of these is area control, as I've been discussing here lately. The games I'm considering in this category are #Inis, #Rising Sun, and #Battle for Rokugan. I doubt I will get all 3, but I may get 2 of them, as they all have different things going for them.

What got me more interested in these games was the realization that I don't love Euro-style engine building with little to no interaction. I like it and will not say no to a good game in that vein, and I indeed have a couple that I very much enjoy and will pull off the shelf willingly. So this kind of parallels your theme realization, and I think I'm there with you.

Let me immediately contradict myself to talk about the other category I'd like to fill. My favorite game to play with my wife is #Everdell. I know, it's pretty Euro, what with the worker placement and tableau building. It's definitely not dry, though. The theme is adorable and charming. Anyway, that's one of her favorite games as well. Aside from that, I don't think there are really any other games that we both put near the top of our favorites list. I'm happy whenever she'll play any game at all with me, and she'll often oblige my choice of game, but what I really want is to find a few more games that we both really love, and love to play with each other. I'm not so secretly hoping for this out of #Dale of Merchants. The theme and art are adorable, and it's customizable enough to hopefully be able to tailor our gameplay experience to what we're wanting that session.

The problem is that she tends to prefer games with low interaction since she doesn't really like thinking about what her opponents are doing. Careful readers will realize that this is the opposite of the direction I described my tastes going toward, haha. Anyway, that's the other big "hole" in my collection I'd like to fill - games that my wife and I both love.

I really enjoy building a tableau when the elements of the tableau are very active components of my gameplay each turn.  #Anachrony has a tableau of buildling tiles that are mostly worker placement slots, and I really like the way that feels as I expand my options and actions with each buildling tile, many of which combo with other buildings.  It's also thematically significant as my faction is building out its capital to become independent of relying on the world council's resources that are available to everyone.  It adds to my gameplay every turn and has great thematic ties.

Games that have a tableau where most of it does not affect each turn tend to feel dull to me, Everdell being one example.  I like all the critters but they feel so inactive most of the game, and it makes me sad that they don't feel more like busy little critters.  It's like they're hibernating the majority of every season of the year, and it doesn't make for a very active feeling tableau.  It feels more like I'm set-collecting rather than building options for frequent gameplay decisions. They're mostly just markers for abilities that you've acquired, which is fine but at that point you could put any card art on it and it wouldn't change much.

All in all, very active tableaus with thematic significance make for the best feeling tableau building games to me.

I have unintentionally actually played a whole bunch of his games:

#Great Western Trail - This is certainly in my top 15 games of all time. It is both tactical and strategic, full of theme, lots of paths to victory with just a handful of luck based elements to stop it becoming too dry. I love the interlocking mechanics and the little bits of interaction are fun (although the lack of positive interaction is maybe my only critique)

#Blackout: Hong Kong - also a great interlocking puzzle, it lacked a lot of the heart and thematic tie-in that I felt GWT had. So while I'd happily sit down and play it GWT is in my collection.

#Port Royal - I really like this game, it's quick, simple but the push your luck and miniature amounts of tableau building keep it satisfying and tense. Also the fact that everyone can potentially get something on every person's turn keeps everyone engaged the whole time, which is great.

#Oh My Goods! - a really fun engine builder. Doesn't try to be more than an it is, which I respect it for. You build very satisfying little conveyor belts and whole there is an element of luck to it (what you draw) it is over quick enough that that isn't to much of a drag and you can always do something clever. Also, the multi-use cards are very clever and mean it packs up nice and small.

Depends on what you looking for but of those GWT is my favourite but it is a medium weight game and quite intimidating for newer players as there is so much possibility. I've had a lot of 'I understand all the rules, but what should I actually do' when people first play, so keep that in mind.

1. I am very interested in GtR. But no, I would not spend $250 on my grail game. Not until I'm a billionaire with all kinds of money to throw around haha

2. I enjoyed a ton of new games this year, but I'm going to have to go with #Star Wars: Rebellion for my most-enjoyed game of the year. I can't believe it took me this long to play it! Now to find a way to own it haha

3. Most surprising game for me was probably #Unfair. I got to do a review of it and while I was pretty sure I would enjoy it, I didn't anticipate loving it. So. Good. Also #The One Hundred Torii was a huge surprise to me and is also a new favorite.

4. Top five, eh? Welp, here goes nothing:

  1. #Star Wars: Rebellion because WOW it is incredibly thematic, long enough to feel like an epic, and oh so fun. See also: Star Wars.
  2. #Nemesis. I doubt I will ever own this game, as it is quite pricey. But each time I've played it at game night (R.I.P.) was one of the best game nights ever. The thematic narrative and semi-cooperative aspects with palpable tension makes it one that sucks me right in.
  3. #Star Wars X-Wing. Now, it has been a few years since I've played this game, but I still long to play it, so I'm including it. It's always been my top favorite, but not having played it in a very long time kind of forces me to push it down on the list. I love the simulation of space battles, the Star Wars theme, and the various builds. I love maneuvering and mitigating my luck via abilities.
  4. #Unfair. I'm going to go ahead and move this one into my top five. It is wicked fun; building your theme park, demolishing stuff from your opponents' parks (and vice versa), tableau building, and a fun sense of humor all packed into a smooth game that always seems to want me coming back for me. Plus, with all the theme decks with their various abilities and whatnot, there is loads of gameplay here.
  5. #The One Hundred Torii. Simple, yet elegant. This tile-laying game is the new #Carcassonne as far as I'm concerned. With some good brain exercises, useful resources (i.e. character abilities) and a beautiful garden by the end of the game, The One Hundred Torrii is marvelous. And I love it solo. 

And now there are some dozens of other games I must apologize to for not making my top five.

#Obsession! One of my favorites!

It's a neat blend of worker placement, hand management, tableau building, and deck building. But most of all, the theme is awesome! It's one of the rare games where the theme really appeals to my wife. And even when you're losing, you can enjoy the little biographies of the cads and American heiresses you're inviting to your events. :)

I still love my tableau building....

For sure, I guess I was thinking more in what game do you find that tableau building the most exciting or interesting? 

The Tableau building/modification part of Scythe is my favorite part of the game.

In Innovation I love that the tableau building includes splays. Slaying is something that needs to be in more games.

For a "pure" tableau builder I think that Race for the Galaxy is the one that gives the most satisfying gameplay, and it has great great depth. 

Haha, yep, tableau building is present in most of my top games, though I'm trying to expand my tastes! Area control is up there for me if you consider abstracts strategy games to be area control games, which I personally do.

I had a similar reaction to worker placement. And, while I don't love it as much as you do, I do like it.

However, I thought that Tableau building was the worst sounding mechanic that there was, then I played #Race for the Galaxy.... my doom was sealed, today, I think it is my favorite mechanic.