Introducing: the Engine Building Game

Ferrari with text overlay introducing the engine building game

Some of us know our way around a car, and some of us couldn't even find the engine on this Ferrari. (Hint: look in the trunk!) The good news is, you don't have to know anything about car engines to enjoy engine building games! If you're new to hobby gaming, the engine building game style might throw you for a loop at first. One of our hottest selling games, Wingspan, is an engine builder that takes a little getting used to. We're here to help. In today's blog, we demystify the engine building game.

In an engine building game, you start out with relatively weak turns where you can't accomplish much. As the game moves forward, you build up resources that make your turns more powerful, helping you to earn what you need to win.

Let's use Wingspan as an example of an engine builder. You start the game with some (really really gorgeous) bird cards in your hand, and there's also a draw pile of birds available to anyone. To build your bird engine, you must lay the bird cards down onto your player mat. Once you have laid a bird card down, the birds have special powers that kick in as you activate them. Some birds hold eggs, others get you food tokens, and still others offer lots of end-of-game points. Each turn, you have to decide which combination of birds to activate on your player board. The strategy of Wingspan is all about laying down powerful birds to build your engine and deciding what you want that engine to do.

Just like on a car, once you "start your engine," it should just keep running. As the game goes on, your player board in Wingspan gets better and better at generating points for you (like an engine that runs faster and faster). Will it be enough to win? That ultimately depends on your strategy (and the other players' strategies, of course).

We've previously demystified deck-building games, and it turns out, deck building games like Dominion are also engine builders. Why? Because in Dominion, you build a deck of cards to draw into your hand that becomes more powerful over time. Late in a game of Dominion, your hands should be generating points for you much more quickly and easily than at the beginning of the game. It's just like in Wingspan and other engine builders we carry like Terraforming Mars.

Ready to try it? Here are some of our favorite approachable engine building games to get you started.

Whistle Mountain box cover  Everdell box coverWingspan board game box

About the Author

Annie is one of the founders of Board's Edge Games, and she loves writing about board games. You can learn more about Annie and co-founder Lisa here, follow us on Instagram, check us out on BoardGameGeek (BGG), or see what we’re backing on Kickstarter.

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