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Popular Engine Building Board Games (Mechanic)

These are the board games with the Engine Building mechanic.
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How Will You Build Your City? – Settler of the Boards image
ReviewHow Will You Build Your City? – Settler of the Boards (https://settleroftheboards.com/how-will-you-build-your-city/) [The City]Like| 2 comments | [+]
Engine building, is it a mechanic? Like| 46 comments | [+]
Engine-Building: The Mechanic Like| 12 comments | [+]
Pacific Rails Inc.: A Game of Railroad Building for 2 to 4 Players image
CrowdfundingPacific Rails Inc.: A Game of Railroad Building for 2 to 4 Players [Pacific Rails Inc]Like| 3 comments | [+]
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1. #Dune: Imperium

LOVE IT. Played it last night at game night (after months of me being absent from said game night). I really enjoy deck building and worker placement, and the combination flowed like all spice should. During the last round, we entered the combat phase with three of us tieing for 10 points. But, the winner used his reward to move up on a faction track, thereby surpassing me and taking my token, giving him a point and causing me to lose one. So I ended up coming in third out of four, but dang. What an awesome game!

2. #Wingspan

I really love Wingspan. Such a pretty game and I enjoy seeing all the various birds. This game actually got me into birding, which is a hobby I now enjoy. I really like the engine building aspect of Wingspan. This is a top game for me.

3. #Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia

Not sure if this is a number 2 game (from my last five plays) or number three, but Euphoria is just so much fun. I really enjoy the worker placement aspect, using dice as workers and the dice pips as knowledge. If the workers get too wise, they start to run away from the dystopia. Lots going on but not so much that its overwhelming. Better at higher player counts, but still very good at two players. 

4. #Takenoko

I played this one with my five-year-old, along with my wife and four-year-old (who were on a team together; they won, followed by my five-year-old, followed by me). I was very impressed with how my five-year-old caught on to the game and understood what he had to do to get points. With a bit of coaching in the beginning, he was able to take it on his own by the end.

5. #Twice As Clever!

This one was almost swapped with Takenoko, putting it at 5 and Twice as Clever at 4, but I just had a lot of fun playing with my kids, which is why Twice as Clever is at number 5. My wife and I taught her parents how to play. They enjoyed it, even if it was a bit confusing for them the first half (or so) of the game. Wonderful game though. This is one of my wife's all-time favorites.


And that is about the extent of my plays so far this year haha I also played #The One Hundred Torii, but that was the sixth game, so it didn't make the list, but I wanted to give it an honorable mention, as it's one of my top-ten games (and probably would have taken number 2 or 3 on this list). 

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.


One of my all time favourite games is #Archipelago, it embodies so many of my favourite aspects of games: negotiation, hidden information, semi-cooperative play it is a game that has the best, most-petty, hilarious discussions and at its best I've rarely enjoyed sitting at a table moving meeples around so much.

However, I do think that the game is very much one of those that gets significantly better the more you play it with the same group and one that makes it easyfor people to bounce off of hard. I'll explain: when the game is first set out and the rules taught it appears very much to be a Euro/4X game. You gather resources, get upgrades, hire (or brith) new meeples, explore new sections of archipelago and build an empire. If you play it like a straight Euro game it isn't great: everything is slow and resource gathering is inefficent/can feel impossible, you don't have enough actions and the traitor (although they are definitely the 'good' or at least 'best' player morally speaking) seemingly has the easiest time rallying the native peoples to overthrow their colonial oppressors and bring the game to a premature end. (On a side-, but important, note, the other glaring flaw of this game is that it very much puts the players in the role of the bad guys casually exploiting an island and its people, and while within my group of friends we are pretty aware of this and use it to spark discuss and comment on how awful we are I can absolutely see this being a deal-braker for some and I wouldn't blame them in the slightest.)

Rant over, the problem with the way the game presents itself is that it is in reality a negotiation and deal-making game much more that it is a Euro-game. The way we have found it plays best, is when everyone is cutting deals and trading with each other while trying to get an edge. The semi-cooperative aspect really comes to life when you are negotiating who is going to use their hard earned resources to deal with the current crisis and how much you are going to pay them for it. The engine building side takes off when players are trading freely, as this is a free action, and so instead of having to use all your actions to collect 1 stone, 2 cows and 2 wood, you instead use one action to collect 8 pineapples and then trade them to get everything you need from other players. When you are trying to work out who is the 'traitor' and then working together (while of course trying not to make any real sacrifices yourself) to economically stifle that player and taking over their 'territory' (no one really owns anything in the game which is amazing) to limit their influence that is is when the game takes off and is a non-stop joy. However, the game doesn't mudge you to do these things at all, it is very much a sandbox, and while I love that aspect in many ways I can see how other people might try it once, not like it and then never bother again. So while I could say that they are just 'playing it wrong' and blame other players instead of the game. I think it is a legitimate critiscm of the game that it hasn't made how it wants to played clear, either mechanically or otherwise, and as such has made itself less accessible than it could have been. 

However, I adore this game, and whenever I teach it I make a point of highlighting these aspects. It still usually takes people at least until the second game to really grasp what makes the game tick, but once they do I've had so many people fall in love with it.

This is great and the "ideal player count and conditions" is what triggered me to do the same with my list with those two ideals in mind.  Your process and format are fantastic!  As I read through the games we've both played I note that we have similar thoughts which drive me to look at the games I haven't played on your list and seriously reconsider some games I've been so-so on.  Doing 20 games was tough but I hammered through and here's what I came up with:

20. #Marvel Champions: The Card Game - I thought this would be a little higher and to some degree it feels a little like #Firefly: The Game which I feel is a great game, tons of fun to play, but has a sort of "niche" spot on my shelf and tends to not rank among my top tier games.  Champions is still a great game, lots of fun, and very engaging.  In trying to consider why it gets bumped down I might argue that the length of play with the ideal play number (3-4?) is fairly long.  Even a two-player game takes a decent amount of time.

19. #Root - I finally got to play a three-player game the other night and the magic of this game came through for me.  I can see this moving up my list over time with more plays.  The "gotcha" aspect of this game is would keep it from being much higher as I tend to gravitate away from such games.  That Root makes this list at all is a testament to how much fun it is.

18. #Castles of Mad King Ludwig - has been in my collection for several years now and remains a staple.  4 players is the best to play with but the other player counts are well balanced and there is a solo option as well.  The market arrangement at the beginning of each round is one of my favorite aspects to this game.  

17. #Terraforming Mars - this was a tough one.  I enjoy this game and it remains an engaging experience when it hits the table.  The solo on this is quite fun as well.  It's been a while since I've played but still makes the top 20 with solid mechanics and gameplay.

16. #Everdell - this was a very very challenging game to place!  I'm not sure if it's the long setup or a slight untightness in gameplay that keep it from being higher.  I don't often have ideal options to play and there are a few "gotcha" cards that drive it down slightly.  The components and art are off the charts and this is one of the few heavier games my entire family will play.

15. #Viscounts of the West Kingdom - is a game that could rise as time goes on.  I taught Becky and she did well on her first game (beating me of course) and this might end up passing #Paladins of the West Kingdom at some point.  This is a deck-building game with lots of crunchy mechanics.

14. #Teotihuacan: City of Gods - was another challenge to rank as I have fewer plays but it has a very engaging rondel and the player interaction on the board is fun and the theme is well balanced with the mechanics.  This is a well-designed game.  The solo mode is quite nice.  If there is a knock on this game it might be the extra setup with dice when you have less than 4 players.  

13. #Tapestry - is very fun with one of the longest setups of any game I have (competing with Everdell) but the components and gameplay are creative and a five-player game is perhaps the most engaging.  I am looking forward to getting #Tapestry: Plans and Ploys and seeing how much that adds to the game.

12.  #PARKS - I wasn't 100% sure this would make the top 20 but with the #PARKS: Nightfall Expansion it moves up past other games and is a relaxing and enjoyable game that feels like a walk in the park.  The art is beautiful and the player interactions are easy going.

11. #Anachrony - Wow...I thought this would be higher but the setup probably shifts it down slightly.  Still, it has a fantastic time travel aspect, great engine building, and asynchronous player boards, make this an awesome game to play.  The solo mode is fun as well.  Takes up quite a bit of space.

10. #Paladins of the West Kingdom - gets the edge into the top 10.  Everything said was spot on.  The solo version is very well designed.

9. #Rococo: Deluxe Edition - I wasn't sure where this would land but it edged out Paladins as I liked the 5 player count and the art and gameplay I felt were the slightest bit better.  It too has a great automa.

8. #Maracaibo - I would not have thought this would have made my top 10 last year but I find myself wanting to play this more and I think a 4 player count with the campaign mode makes this a tantalizing game to play.  The colonialism theme could be a little edgy for some folks but doesn't standout as a focus and the theme is more set in an era than encouraging poor behaviors through gameplay.  

7. #Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island - this is another game I didn't think would make the top 10 but it is a great game with a very hard solo experience.  With four players this game is engaging and incredible to play and I think was years ahead of it's time when it came out with combined components, theme, and mechanics.

6. #Heaven & Ale I had to juggle to decide if this would beat out Robinson Crusoe and decided Heaven and Ale gets the edge.  Excellent euro-game that hits the mark on time, strategy, and intriguing player interaction around the rondel.

5. #Wingspan - is just great at 5 players and remains an amazing game with beautiful art, interactive gameplay, and still gets more plays than any other game in our home.  The solo mode is quite good as well.

4. #Clans of Caledonia - is a great economic resource management game with a nice tight game time and mechanics.  I could probably play this one over and over again using the different clans.

3. #Gloomhaven - such a great game and dollar for dollar you'll be hard-pressed to find a game that gives you more bang for your buck.  Solo or with others this is an amazing game.

2. #Viticulture: Essential Edition - this is a game that shines under the ideal conditions.  Worker-placement with some engine-building, this game is so much fun and the race to 25 points is engaging.

1. #Scythe - gets the top spot.  It checks all the boxes that a game can check for me and with 6-7 players is off the charts fun.  When I first bought this game I thought it would be moderately fun.  After multiple game nights now this game is the bar to beat.  


Games that might challenge for spots next year: #The Gallerist depending on set up and how brain-smashing the interlocking mechanics feel.  The solo might factor in as well. #Brass: Birmingham could sneak in there after a few game nights. #Raiders of Scythia feels like a game that could push for a 10-20 range spot. #Obsession feels like it has the best possibility to get into the top 10.  I can see it making a move this year for sure.

I am working through the Rahdo play through now and added this to my wishlist.  I am working on a deck building/worker placement/engine building game and this certainly falls into that category.  

Excellent video as always ! Engine building is perhaps my favorite mechanism in board games. I don't know if I dig the theme in this game though which is a little weird to say as I usually don't pay attention to it so much

  1. I'm hard-pressed to think of a game I've played that has a beginning that stands out as being particularly good. I think pretty much all of the games I like get better as they go along, or are at least consistently good.
  2. Best middle - this could go to any of a plethora of games, but I'll go with one that's been on my mind lately: #Western Legends. This game is such a fun ride. Once everyone has their abilities unlocked, so many interesting things can happen, and the game is just a hoot.
    Other good ones I could've picked could be the tactics in #War Chest, the engine building in #Everdell, or the combo building in #Oceans, just to name a few.
  3. Best end - for me, this has got to be #Dune. The tension with not knowing whether or not the game is actually about to end, depending on which way a battle or two go is super exciting. And even if you get to the final round and you know the game has to end that round, there is bound to be multiple battles, and even when the game is basically over, you wait for the Bene Gesserit player to reveal their prediction from before the game started to see if they can steal the victory. So good!

I think that almost any game can be a gateway game for people if they're invested in learning it, but in general, I'd say that a key is showing them something they've never seen before in a game they've played before. For me, that was drafting and sort of engine building in #7 Wonders.

1. Really interested in Glory to Rome but I wouldn't pay $250 for a game that I've never played. Don't think my budget would allow me to spend $250 on any grail game

2. Played much fewer boardgames than normal because of COVID but I enjoyed #Rurik: Dawn of Kiev the most. Still really enjoy the auction programming mechanism and the player interaction as players try and outbid and outwit each other

3. #Bus probably surprised me the most. For a game that first came out in 1999 it's still very enjoyable and stands the test of time

4. My top 5 games would be #Terraforming Mars, #Troyes, #Orléans, #Concordia and #Yokohama  Being a Sci-Fi buff I just like the world and engine building of Terraforming Mars. All the others have a surprising amount of complexity for a reasonably simple ruleset i.e. you get a lot of game for the few rules there are

I saw the name Ivan Lashin, and heard "engine building" and "economy" and I'm all in on finding out more about this one, thanks for the review. 

1. I own 4 Chudyk games so far (2 OOP) and have played another.  I've not yet gotten to GtR but it seems to hit all the high points for me.  I can't say its a graill game though since i've not played it.  I don't think I would pay that much for a grail game though.  In most cases, they come back around (just look at Dune).  GtR is a bit exceptional of a case but there are ways around that ...


2. Innovation is still my top game with probaby 10x plays of the next.  In terms of new-to-me for 2020, I would guess Rallyman GT via Board Game Arena (the other BGA).  I was mixed on the Rallyman DIRT kickstarter and ended up passing on it for now.  Need to decide which of the two I want and which expansions.  Now those are tough decisions.


3. I can't say a game surprised me since I don't get to many new or new-to-me games, especially with the Pandemic.


4. My top 5 games are

  1. Innovation.  At first I thought I hated it but I found I couldn't stay away from it.  Its a game that keeps me thinking about it afterwards.  I appreciate the opaque win conditions that always give me hope that, no matter how bleak things appear on the surface, there is a chance (queue Dumb and Dumber)
  2. The Bird Told Me To Do It.  Terrible rule book but a really nice, chaotic, distillation of a programming game.
  3. Evolution Climate.  I enjoy the science theme though Evolution was getting a bit samey until I added Climate.  I need to get more plays with the expansion.
  4. Suburbia.  I love Sim City The Board Game; I just don't get it out enough.
  5. Machi Koro.  Chaotic engine building with cute pictures.

Part of the limitation of my list is I've been in a bit of a rut, pre-pandemic even, not getting to play with many groups or a varity of games, even ones I vaguely remember enjoying (like Five Tribes)

As we end 2020, what are your current Top 5 games and why?

1. I am somwhat interested in GtR. I owned and sold the original (ugly) version. Enjoyed the game play. Too confusing for my playing partners at the time. I have spent more than $250 on some games (expansions, upgrades, crowd funding campaigns) so yes. I didn't think I would but I suppose that I would.

2. Enjoyment is tricky to valuate. #The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine stands out as my "Game of The Year". #On Tour was my most played game. But #Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated is one of the best gaming experiences ever!

3. My biggest surprise is the double header of #Point Salad and #Truffle Shuffle. Easy, portable, tough mini decisions. Everyone can play. I though they would be just another pair of card games to toss in the pile. These are great!

4. My Top 5 games of all time:
#Scythe - Resources, expansion, fast turns, meaningful decisions, a touch of randomness, awesome expansions, beautiful.
#The Castles of Burgundy - Fast to play, highly variable, dice rolling with mitigation, multiple strategies.
#El Grande - Still the best area control, El Castillo, variability, intrigue.
#Concordia - Deck building with muti-purpose cards, exploration, resources, clever combinations, awesome expansions.
#Endeavor: Age of Sail - Engine building with exploration, thematically brilliant, fabulous presentation, modular

Solid review. Yeah, the solo mode is sharp as. it's funny because Sam doesn't like solo gaming much, but he does like desigining solo modes so he can test the game really thoroughly. So the solo opponents were really designed for him to really stretch the engine building in the game.