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10 Best Engine Building Board Game Reviews

Are you looking for the best engine building board games? Then you have come to the right place because we are counting down our top 10 picks! An engine building board game is a subsection of strategy games and they are usually quite complex. 

The term engine doesn’t come from the power source you find in a vehicle though. It means there are lots of small things and options that allow you to build something bigger and greater. But what does this mean? 

Well, it means you have many different ways to win. But these aren’t games like Monopoly or a card game you can play down at the pub. The best engine building board games are complex and intricate and require players to manage many different things. In some ways they are similar to RPG board games.  

Now, these games can clearly be a little intimidating at first, especially if you have never played one before. But once you get into the swing of things there really is no other type of board game quite like them. 

But that’s enough of the introduction, let’s get right down to it and look at our picks for the 10 best engine building board games. 

10 Best Engine Building Board Game Reviews

IMAGE PRODUCT
  • Mixes RPG and engine building gaming elements
  • Designed to ease players in gently
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  • Combines engine building and RPG elements
  • Ideal for group gaming sessions
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  • Classic engine building gameplay
  • Plenty to do with many different resources to manage
  • Ideal for longer gaming sessions
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  • Simpler design makes it great for beginners
  • A very unique approach to engine building board games
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  • Fast-paced gameplay
  • Numerous expansions are available
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  • Simpler, deck building gameplay
  • Great for beginners
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  • A unique twist on the engine building formula
  • Lots of room for strategic gameplay
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  • A fun twist on the Wild West setting
  • A good middle-ground when it comes to complexity
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  • More relaxed, laidback setting
  • Brilliant artwork and craftsmanship
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  • Intricate, complex gameplay
  • Amazing Viking setting
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1. Catan The Board Game 

On Sale Catan The Board Game

Yes, Catan is a popular RPG board game but it’s also a great example of an engine building game as well. There are a lot of things to do and manage in Catan especially when it comes to building roads and managing terrain. 

Now Catan isn’t solely an engine building board game but it still ticks all the necessary boxes. You have to build up your forces and invest in what you believe is the right way to proceed. 

Of course, like in any good engine building board game, there is always the risk these investments could fail. 

But that is just part of the experience and fun. If you are a fan of strategy games then Catan is easy to recommend and a great way to get introduced to engine building board games as well. 

It’s suitable for up to 4 players, so ideal for group gaming sessions. 

While it is quite complex it’s designed to ease players in gently to its many mechanics. So, don’t be intimidated this game would make a great engine building board game for first-time players.  

Pros 

  • Mixes RPG and engine building gaming elements. 
  • Designed to ease players in gently. 

Cons

  • Requires a lot of space to set up. 

2. Scythe 

On Sale Scythe

Scythe is another RPG game that can also be classified as an engine building board game. In Scythe up to 5 players will go to war with each other using mechas but that is just the beginning of the game. 

In Scythe you’ll also need to explore the board together, build up and manage numerous different resources, and more. There is a lot to juggle in Scythe and you’ll need to build up your resources to beat your opponents and win. 

There are a number of expansion sets you can use to alter the game as well. And plenty of room when it comes to developing your winning strategy and building a bigger and better engine. Scythe isn’t a very beginner-friendly game but if you are experienced with more complex strategic board games then it could be a great jumping-in point. 

Pros 

  • Combines engine building and RPG elements. 
  • Ideal for group gaming sessions. 

Cons

  • Not a very beginner-friendly game. 

3. Terraforming Mars Board Game

Terraforming Mars Board Game

The last two games in our list have been lighter engine building board games. But Terraforming Mars is a pure 100% engine building game! Players are tasked with well what the name of the game says terraforming Mars. 

Players will need to build up their resources which means managing many different materials like steel, titanium, plants, heat, and more. Players also need to keep tight control over their credits as well. 

Each player will have to manage their empire carefully and build things up gradually. But you need to think about your priorities carefully. Do you focus on generating energy or make gathering materials your aim?  

Suitable for up to 5 players Terraforming Mars is considered the classic engine building board game experience by many people. It can also be expanded with numerous different expansion sets that add new elements to the game. 

Pros 

  • Plenty to do with many different resources to manage. 
  • Classic engine building gameplay. 
  • Ideal for longer gaming sessions. 

Cons

  • Will require a lot of time and space to play. 

4. Splendor 

On Sale Splendor

Splendor is a very different take on engine building board games. Unlike the vast space adventures or huge worlds, you’ve seen in the other board games this game is a little more low-key. 

In Splendor you take on the role of a gem merchant. There are 5 different jewels and as a merchant, you need to work on expanding your operation. This means building up a bigger mining operation and getting better transportation and tools. Every turn in Splendor is filled with risk and making the wrong investment can be very costly. 

But like all good engine building board games, you start with nothing and can build a huge jewel empire as you progress further into the game. Splendor offers a simpler engine board game package for people and is a great choice for first-time players. 

Pros 

  • Simpler design makes it great for beginners. 
  • A very unique approach to engine building board games. 

Cons

  • The less complex design might not appeal to everyone. 

5. Race For The Galaxy 

On Sale Race For The Galaxy

Looks like we are going back to space with Race For The Galaxy. Like many engine building board games, this is a deck-building game as well. Players are tasked with building their own space colony and you have to grow and build more quickly than your opponents. 

Yes, it sounds simple but like any engine building board game, there are a lot of options for you to consider to reach your end goal. As you play more and more of the galaxy becomes open for you to conquer. Players can even colonize the same planets as well. 

But of course, racing to expand your colonies and forces means you are going to go head to head with other players sooner or later. Do you focus on social developments, build up your military, or try and balance everything? 

Like all good engine building board games making the right decision isn’t easy. Race For The Galaxy can also be expanded in numerous different ways with several expansion sets. The galaxy is a big place after all. 

Pros 

  • Fast-paced gameplay. 
  • Numerous expansions are available. 

Cons

  • Deck-building design might not appeal to everyone. 

6. Dominion Second Edition

On Sale Dominion Second Edition

Dominion Second Edition is one of the most popular deck building and engine building board games. Each player is a monarch and you have to race against each other to get more and more control of the land. 

Building a bigger kingdom isn’t easy though you have to face threats, manage resources, build an army, construct buildings, and much more. With a wide range of expansion packs, Dominion can be enhanced in many different ways. 

But if you are new to engine building board games then sticking with the basic set is advised. Dominion Second Edition is designed to be more streamlined as well which makes it a good game for beginners and less experienced players. 

Pros 

  • Simpler, deck building gameplay. 
  • Can be expanded in a wide number of ways. 
  • Great for beginners. 

Cons

  • Simpler gameplay might not appeal to everyone. 

7. The Manhattan Project

The Manhattan Project

Suitable for 2 to 5 players The Manhattan Project is a bit of a hidden treasure when it comes to engine building board games. It isn’t one of the leading names but well worth checking out if you want to experience something a little different when it comes to the core engine building board game experience. 

If you’re looking for one of the best engine building board games then this game could be for you! In The Manhattan Project, each player is tasked with building the most destructive bomb possible. But you aren’t throwing nukes at other players. 

Each player will have to build up their own resources and research facilities in order to build the biggest bomb. It’s all about using your resources in the best way possible in order to out-think your opponents. 

Do you want to prioritize bomb development or work on sabotaging the other players? That is just one of the things you need to consider. Like all good engine building board games, there are so many different ways to win. 

Pros 

  • A unique twist on the engine building formula. 
  • Lots of room for strategic gameplay. 

Cons

  • Might not appeal to fans of more traditional engine building board games. 

8. Great Western Trail

Great Western Trail

Suitable for 2 to 4 players the Great Western Trail is a Wild West adventure but rather than shootouts each player will have to work the cattle trade! This game is all about building a powerful engine by focusing on economics. 

Yes, that might not sound like a very interesting board game. But it really is a very unique engine building experience. There are a lot of things for players to think about from hiring farm hands to developing your ranches, building rail lines, and much more. 

But of course, the end goal is to get the best cattle possible and sell them for the most money. The Great Western Trail isn’t really beginner-friendly but it’s not an overly complex game either. It hits the perfect middle-ground and is sure to be a great choice.  

Pros 

  • A fun twist on the Wild West setting. 
  • Lots of options for engine building. 
  • A good middle-ground when it comes to complexity. 

Cons

  • Requires a lot of space to set up. 

9. Everdell 

On Sale Everdell

Everdell is one of the newest engine building board games on our list and also one of the most unique. There is no intergalactic conquest or race to the top. In Everdell you are tasked with building up your animal village as it expands across the world. 

It’s a much more laidback game and carries a relaxed fairytale-like whimsy to it. But don’t worry, like all engine building board games you will still need to build up your resources, create new facilities, and out think your opponents to win. 

The game is great if you’re looking for an engine building board game for family night. But also ideal for people who want to try something a little more relaxed. The board and pieces are beautiful works of art and while this game might not be for everyone we think it is well worth trying. 

Pros 

  • More relaxed, laidback setting. 
  • Brilliant artwork and craftsmanship. 

Cons

  • Setting/ style might not appeal to everyone. 

10. A Feast For Odin 

On Sale A Feast For Odin

In a Feast For Odin, players are tasked with entering the ancient world of the Vikings. Now as I’m sure you can imagine there is a lot to think about and consider when it comes to building up your new empire. 

Player’s will need to balance trading, raiding, hunting, plundering, building houses, and exploration. Yes, there is a lot to do and think about in every round in a Feast For Odin. But that is exactly what fans of engine building board games want! 

With numerous different resources, hundreds of different cards, and a versatile board this game has got everything you need for a long group gaming session. Suitable for up to 4 players a Feast For Odin is sure to be a fine choice for anyone who enjoys the traditional engine building board game experience. 

Pros

  • Intricate, complex gameplay. 
  • Amazing Viking setting.  

Cons

  • Not really suitable for younger players. 

Choosing An Engine Building Board Game 

So, that finishes up our list of the best engine building board games. Now as I’m sure you can see there is a lot to think about isn’t there? Engine building board games are one of the most complex board games available. Let’s look at some FAQs you need to think about before choosing one to try. 

How Much Time Do You Have To Play?

There is no denying that the best engine building board games can take a long time to play. Now if you are going for a long gaming session this won’t be a problem. However, if you don’t really want a long gaming session then choosing a game like Splendor is recommended because of its simpler mechanics and faster-paced gameplay. 

How Much Space Do You Have To Set Up?

Many engine building board games come with a wide range of different pieces and huge boards. This certainly helps with the immersion but not everyone will have room to set them up. If you only have a smaller space available then a game like Dominion Second Edition is a good choice.

How Experienced Are The Players?

Many engine building board games are very complex and these wouldn’t be a great choice for beginners. Not if you want them to enjoy the experience anyway! So, if you are new to engine building board games then choosing a simple game like Race For The Galaxy is recommended. These games are still fun but offer a simpler package for new players. 

So, What’s The Best Engine Building Board Game?

Well, it wasn’t easy but we have to give our pick for the best engine building board game to Terraforming Mars. This game really encapsulates everything that’s unique and wonderful about engine building board games. 

It’s got a great setting, many different resources, and is suitable for up to 5 players. Yes, it’s not the most beginner-friendly game but it’s our favorite and sure to be a good time if you’re up for it. 

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