As a follow up to Family Showdown channel’s list i have created my own Top 10 list of favourite board games mechanisms. I have listed a few games for every mechanism that i think represent it the best (of course, of those i have actually played). Btw, i have not consulted any official list of mechanisms when doing this Top 10. So i have came up with some on my own 🙂
10. Set Collection
One of the first mechanisms you learn when starting playing modern board games (and even some traditional card games). This is also often an additional mechanism in a board game. Like in Ticket to Ride where you have to collect sets of cards of a same color to be able to build tracks. In Tokaido you collect painting cards to create a beautiful panorama (and get lots of points by doing that). There are also small games, which are all about set collection, like Jaipur or Coloretto.
9. Dice Allocation
Not just rolling of dice, but allocation their results to various actions. This feels a bit like worker placement, but in this case results on the dice matter and changes the outcome. My favorite in this genre is my most played game – Zooloretto: The Dice Game. This is essentially “i divide – you choose” type of game. When you roll the dice and select how to spread them among the trucks. And then your opponent chooses whether to take some dice or roll more. In The Voyages of Marco Polo you place dice with their values on the spots to get the according number of resources. Dice Town also allows you to select how to use your “hand” of dice. And Nations: The Dice game lets you combine a few dice into a single value to purchase a card.
I think this mechanism fascinates me more in theory than in actual play, when you have to choose between a few cards. Sometimes every card can be worthless to you, sometimes you want to have them all or at least not give them to your opponents. 7 Wonders is the grand game of drafting. Almost everyone i have played it with loved it and asked to play again. Seasons has dice drafting mechanism for resouces collection. But advanced rules also allow card drafting before you start the game (for 3 phases of a game). This makes Seasons a lot more interesting, when you have to plan your strategy for 3 phases ahead and also make sure you don’t give your opponent valuable cards.
7. Area Control
Not necessary area majority. I mean any game in which you have to control territories, conquer them to get points. First one coming to mind is Small World, in which this is the core mechanism. Carcassonne is some sort of area control also. Especially when talking about farms 🙂
6. Position Based Actions
Didn’t know how to put it, but my examples may explain it better. Tokaido is one of my favorite games. In this game you move, if you are farthest behind everyone else. It’s a very clever design, which makes you think hard whether you really want to skip forward to get that valuable spot, but lose many turns, or play wisely and do not leave anything for your opponents. Another one, that came to my mind is Pergamon, though not very fitting. But in this game you go first, if you select a spot close to start, hence get less money.
5. Worker Placement
It’s an interesting, often mathematical decision, on which or how many workers to place on what places, to get resources, block your opponents. This would probably be higher on my list, if i have played more games with this mechanism. I can only mention Stone Age, which is just an OK game for me (too simplistic and i hate feeding mechanism 🙂 ). The other one is Targi, very nice little two players game. It not only has a worker placement bit, but your placement also defines what cards you get on the intersection of lines from your workers. Which also leads to tense blocking and isolating your opponent 🙂
4. Deck Building
This list can’t be complete without a deck building mechanism mentioned. Thunderstone is my number one game after all 🙂 I like selecting strategies based on the cards you have in hand and what is waiting for you in the cave, balancing of having some “trash” cards, getting rid of them (Thunderstone has neat mechanisms of converting bad cards into valuable things). Also, sort of engine building with cards in your deck looks fascinating to me. Other games i like in this genre: Dominion, Star Realms. The latter is even a direct confrontation game, which is not very common for deck builders.
3. Variable Powers
Having some special power that only you (or at least not every player) have is great. 7 Wonders already had “variable powers” based on the wonder you played with. But Leaders expansion gave a way for players to specialize more in various tactics. Although i don’t like the game itself that much, but i do like special powers in The Voyages of Marco Polo. This can also include cooperative games like Pandemic where every player has a special role and can help whole team to reach a victory in a special way.
2. Card Play for Actions/Combat
That’s one of those i had to came up with. Because i don’t really know how to put it exactly. Maybe the games i list here will help to make a picture. But i like, when you have cards (a hand, a deck) that help you make actions or do combat. Say Magic: The Gathering (you play spells and conjure creatures), Summoner Wars (similar to Magic, but here you have a board to move units around), Memoir ’44 (cards help you move your army, attack and do other things). Also Seasons, Warhammer: Invasion. I like having various cards, various options on your turn, playing them, countering moves of your opponent.
1. Tile Placement
I just love the feel when you draw a tile and look what you’ve got and where can you place it to benefit you the best, or when you have a bunch of tiles at your disposal and select which to place in the grid. Love the feel of building a puzzle on the table. One of my first games and one of my favorite games uses this mechanism – Carcassonne. To name a few others: Cacao, Völuspá (both of these games give you a selection of tiles to choose to play).