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Engine building board games are a popular genre of tabletop games where players work to build an economic engine that will generate resources and victory points. This engine building aspect makes for an incredibly satisfying gameplay experience.
In this blog post, we’ll countdown 10 of the best engine building board games that you need to add to your collection. These games feature novel engine building mechanics that will have you hooked!
What is an Engine Building Board Game?
An engine building board game is a type of board game in which players work to build an engine that will help them win at the end of the game. This engine generates resources, actions, and victory points that allow you to power ahead of other players.
The engine building usually starts small, but as the game progresses and you buy more cards, gather more resources, and chain more actions, your engine grows larger and more efficient. Having an well-oiled engine usually leads to victory when the game ends!
Why are Engine Building Games So Fun?
There’s something immensely satisfying about building an economic engine from scratch. You start with limited options, but soon you’re chaining together cards and actions to pull off game-winning combos.
The engine building aspect makes each turn feel impactful. You can see your engine grow and strategy unfold, which many gamers love. It also evens the playing field as all players start small and must build their engines.
Overall, the gameplay is smooth, strategic, and rewarding in a way few other board game mechanics can match. That’s what makes engine building so fun!
The 10 Best Engine Building Board Games
Without further ado, here are the games that make our list of the best engine building board games:
With gorgeous art and bird-themed engine building, Wingspan has become one of the most popular board games in recent years. During the game, you collect birds which allow you to gain food, lay eggs, draw cards, and earn victory points.
The engine building comes from comboing bird abilities together to take more actions per turn. It’s a smooth engine builder that’s perfect for gamers of all skill levels!
In Terraforming Mars, you take on the role of a corporation working to terraform the planet Mars by raising the temperature, oxygen level, and ocean coverage. It’s an epic engine builder where you play cards that grant resources, allow you to terraform, and give you victory points.
Chaining cards together lets you take huge turns as your engine ramps up. With amazing combo potential, Terraforming Mars is arguably the best sci-fi themed engine building game out there.
A gateway engine building board game, Splendor has simple rules but gives players satisfying engine building decisions each turn. The premise is that you collect gems which can then be used to reserve cards, buy cards, and earn victory points.
Some cards give gem discounts or bonuses that chain together to create an efficient gem collecting engine. With quick turns and short playtime, Splendor is perfect for getting new gamers hooked on engine building.
As one of the first and most popular deck building games, Dominion deserves a spot as an engine building classic. You start with a simple deck of cards, but throughout the game you add better cards that chain actions, give you currency to buy more cards, and grant victory points.
With tons of card variety between games, Dominion offers limitless options for building the perfect card combo engine. It inspired countless other deck builders.
In beautiful forest kingdom of Everdell, you recruit critters who allow you to gather resources, construct buildings, and score points. As you play critter cards, your tableau comes together to form combos that let you take big turns.
Everdell combines engine building with tableau building for a gameplay experience unlike any other game. It’s easy to learn, family friendly, and super satisfying to play as your engine develops.
6. Race for the Galaxy
This sci-fi card game charges you with building galactic civilizations by settling planets and developing technologies. To do so, you play cards that act as developments, settlements, or goods that power your engine.
The amount of card combos you can pull off makes Race for the Galaxy one of the best examples of engine building in card games. It offers deep, rewarding gameplay in under an hour.
In this deck-building and worker placement game, you manage a team of adventurers exploring ruins and collecting artifact in Siberia, where a massive meteorite crashed near the Tunguska River, awakening ancient corruption. To recruit better adventurers and tools, you need to build a deck engine that gains resources and allows for bigger turns.
The fun of Expeditions comes from chaining card abilities together to pull off powerful moves like playing multiple cards or activating adventures’ skills twice. This engine building paired with meaningful worker placement decisions makes Expeditions stand out.
With gorgeous art and a satisfying progression from early game to late game power turns, Expeditions provides a fresh take on deck building and engine building fused together. This long-awaited sequel to Scythe is an underrated gem!
8. Century: Spice Road
In this simple but engaging engine builder, you collect spice cubes to purchase upgraded spice cards from the central market. Each spice card provides a special ability like gathering resources, upgrading cubes, or gaining victory points.
Chaining these cards powers your engine as you work to collect the most victory points from purchasing spices. With games under 30 minutes, Century: Spice Road is a fantastic introductory engine builder.
In this alternate-history game, you control a faction working to explore and conquer territory in Eastern Europa. To do so, you gather resources, enlist troops, upgrade abilities, build structures, and move around the board.
All of these actions chain together to form an engine that allows you to gain power and popularity. The synergies between generating resources, building structures to produce more resources, enlisting troops to control areas, and upgrading to improve your faction are incredibly satisfying.
With its innovative engine building mechanics blended with area control and strategy, Scythe provides one of the most rewarding and replayable experiences in board games. It’s a modern classic!
10. Atlantis Rising
In Atlantis Rising, you need to rescue as many people as possible when the mythical island of Atlantis begins to sink into the sea. To do so, you must optimize your deck of cards to maximize actions on your turn.
This push-your-luck deck builder creates satisfying turns as you chain together cards that give you movement, allow you to rescue people, or gain ongoing abilities. It’s a unique mix of deck building, engine building, and worker placement.
That wraps up our list of the 10 best engine building board games out there. From classics like Dominion to recent hits like Wingspan, these games showcase the best of engine building mechanics. Each provides an experience where you construct an economic engine from scratch and see it power you to victory.
When seeking your next favorite board game, consider giving one of these fantastic engine builders a try! Building a smooth engine is one of the best experiences in gaming. And be sure to let us know your favorite engine building games that should have made the list!
Q: What are engine-building board games?
A: Engine-building board games are strategic games where players compete to build the best engine or strategy to win the game. It involves using resources, cards, or other game elements to create a system that generates points or advantages.
Q: Which are the best engine-building board games in 2023?
A: Some of the best engine-building board games in 2023 include Wingspan, Terraforming Mars, Catan, Race for the Galaxy, and many more.
Q: What makes Wingspan a popular engine-building game?
A: Wingspan is a popular engine-building game because it combines beautiful artwork, strategic gameplay, and a unique theme centered around bird-watching. It is known for its immersive gameplay and high replayability.
Q: What is the objective of engine-building board games?
A: The objective of engine-building board games is to create the most efficient engine or strategy that generates points or advantages, allowing players to outscore their opponents and win the game.
Q: Are engine-building board games fun to play?
A: Yes, engine-building board games are widely considered fun to play. They offer engaging gameplay, strategic decision-making, and the satisfaction of building and optimizing your own engine.
Q: Can you recommend some easy-to-play engine-building board games for new players?
A: Sure! Some easy-to-play engine-building board games for new players include Catan, Race for the Galaxy, and Wingspan. These games provide a great introduction to the genre and are enjoyable for players of all skill levels.
Q: What are the best strategy board games of 2023?
A: Some of the best strategy board games of 2023 include engine-building board games like Wingspan and Terraforming Mars. These games offer deep strategic gameplay and are highly regarded among board gamers.
Q: How many players can participate in engine-building board games?
A: Engine-building board games typically accommodate a range of players, from 2 to 4 or more. The player count may vary depending on the specific game, so it’s always a good idea to check the game’s instructions or description for the recommended player count.
Q: Are there any engine-building board games that can be played as a party game?
A: While most engine-building board games are designed for smaller groups, there are some party games with engine-building elements. For example, games like Catan can be played with a larger number of players and still incorporate engine-building mechanics.
Q: Can you suggest some engine-building board games that involve dice?
A: If you’re looking for engine-building board games that involve dice, you might enjoy games like Roll for the Galaxy or Machi Koro. These games combine dice rolling with engine-building mechanics, creating a unique and engaging gameplay experience.
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