8 Best Engine Building Board Games – Tableau Building Games

Best Engine Building Board Games

If you enjoy playing board games like Wingspan and are looking to expand your horizons into the world of engine building games with a new tableau building game, then you came to the right place! Engine building board games are so much fun to play and are really rewarding when you nail the strategies and gameplay involved. Knowing the best tableau building games is key to having a great gaming experience. In this article, we will go over the best engine building board games to play for your next game night.

Our list of the 8 best engine building board games include:

  1. Wingspan
  2. Imperial Settlers
  3. It’s A Wonderful World
  4. Terraforming Mars
  5. Everdell
  6. Underwater Cities
  7. Fantastic Factories
  8. Splendor

As we play more engine building board games, we will be sure to add to this list! Keep reading for more details on these super fun and rewarding engine building board games. Some of these are even featured on our list of best game night games overall.

What are Tableau Building Games & Engine Building Board Games?

First off, its important to note that ‘Engine Building’ and ‘Tableau Building’ mean the same thing. They are just different ways of saying this type of game and we will use both variations in this article.

When playing a tableau building game, each player has a set of resources personal to them (cards, tiles, player boards, etc.) in which they are able to manipulate and build their personal components of the game by performing different key actions and gathering resources that will progress them further in the game.

In an engine building game, players must choose wisely when performing actions and how they spend their resources. These actions determine the quality of gameplay and the quantity of resources they have throughout the engine building game.

Each person has a personal array (or game board) in front of them that they use to store resources and plan out different actions. A variety of different actions are available to a player and the way they plan and decide to perform these actions will greatly affect the outcome of the game.

Engine building board games are just one type of board game that is part of a larger array of board game types.

Engine Building Board Games

Engine Building Board Games & Tableau Building Games

There are many tableau/engine building games currently on the market. Some of them are really awesome to play and are worth trying at your next game night! Engine building games are great for board gamers who are looking to expand their horizons beyond their classic board game such as monopoly or scrabble.

We have compiled a list of the best tableau building board games for your next game night. They are in no necessary order, so feel free to choose one or a few engine building games to play that stands out to you!

If you are looking for more games to play, then be sure to also check out our article on the best games for game night.

The Best Engine Building Board Games

Here is our list of the best tableau building games that you can add to your list of engine building board games.

1. Wingspan

Wingspan is probably the most known engine building game to a lot of people and it will most likely be the first game that you play in this genre of board games. It’s a competitive, medium weight, card-driven, engine building board game that is a must have tableau building game!

Wingspan can be played with 1 to 5 players and game play can last between 40 to 70 minutes. In this game, you are a bird enthusiast. You research, watch, and collect birds with the main goal being to discover and attract the best birds to your network of wildlife preserves.

Wingspan Board Game

A player’s actions consist of creating powerful combinations of birds and habitats that will gain you food tokens, lay eggs, and draw from hundreds of unique bird cards. You must plan ahead and choose wisely when playing these unique bird cards.

The winner is the player with the most points after four rounds. Wingspan is a great engine building game that will be sure to take flight at your next game night.

Click here to get your copy of this awesome engine building game, Wingspan!

2. Imperial Settlers

Imperial Settlers is a game for 1 to 4 players that can last 45 to 90 minutes. The simple version of the game consist of constructing buildings, harvesting resources, and attacking your neighbors.

Imperial settlers is a great engine building game because of all of the card decks provided and each deck having different objectives. To play each faction to maximum efficiency takes a lot of planning and performing actions that will required all components to work together as a whole in order to be truly effective.

It is one of the best engine building card games as it lets players lead one of four factions and build empires by placing buildings, then sending workers to those building to acquire new resources and abilities.

The game is played over five rounds where players must take various actions in order to explore new lands, build buildings, trade resources, conquer enemies, and score victory points. The player with the most victory points at the end of the game wins.

Get your copy of imperial settlers and start playing this awesome engine building board game today!

3. It’s A Wonderful World

In this awesome engine building game, It’s a Wonderful World, you must choose your path and future as an expanding Empire. This game is for 1-5 players and can be played in about 30-60 minutes.

As an expanding Empire working against other players who are also trying to expand their Empire, you must use strategy in order to develop faster and better than your opponents. You’ll carefully plan your expansion to develop your production power and rule over this new world.

Each round, players will draft 7 cards and then choose which ones will be recycled to immediately acquire resources. They will also decide which cards they will keep for construction to produce resources each round and/or gain victory points.

Players must add fully built out cards to their Empire in order to increase their production compact for each round. Players will have to plan out their constructions carefully as the production phase works in a specific order.

We love It’s A Wonderful World and we are sure you will too! Click here to get your copy today.

4. Terraforming Mars

Terraforming Mars is a popular engine building game that you will most likely hear a lot of people talking about. It’s a sweet mix of engaging gameplay, a cool theme, and the shared mars board that adds a lot of player interaction.

Terraforming Mars is a game for 1-5 players with gameplay usually lasting about 2 hours. Players must develop a ‘New World’ on Mars and make difficult choices in order to bring life to Mars.

As mankind begin to terraform the planet Mars, you must work as a large corporation and play project cards that will introduce plant or animal life to mars, build cities, or collect resources. Players keep track of their production and resources which go towards increasing your overall rating in your process to terraform mars.

It can be a bit complex at the start, but it’s definitely worth diving into. There’s a lot of expansions so you can keep on playing if you end up falling in love with it.

Get your copy of Terraforming Mars by clicking here!

5. Everdell

Everdell is a game of dynamic tableau building and worker placement. It is definitely one of our favorite engine building games that can be played with 1-4 players in about 40-80 minutes.

In Everdell, a player will be the leader of a group of critters with their intents on performing different tasks. There are buildings to construct, lively characters to meet, events to host, and so on. It’s a busy road ahead!

On their turn a player can take one of three actions. The first action includes placing a worker on one of the board locations, events, or destination cards. Workers will perform actions that will further the development of a player’s tableau. The second action includes playing a card that will either generate resources, grant abilities, and ultimately score points. The final action is preparing for the next season as workers are returned to the player’s supply and new workers are added.

Everdell Engine Building Game

The game is played through winter into the following winter. The player with the city with the most points at the end of the next winter wins.

Everdell is so charming and a must have in your library of tableau building games. Click here to get your copy!

6. Underwater Cities

Underwater Cities is an engine building board game for 1-4 players that can be played in about 80- 150 minutes depending on how many players are playing. Each player represents the most powerful brains in the world, where they were nominated to brains nominated to establish the best and most livable underwater areas possible, due to the overpopulation of Earth.

The main components of the game consists on placing cards and performing actions. Actions and advantages can allow players to intake raw materials that will allow them  to build and upgrade city domes, tunnels and production buildings such as farms, and desalination devices and laboratories in their personal underwater area.

Players also have the ability to move their marker on the initiative track (which is important for player order in the next turn), and collect cards, both special ones and basic ones that allow for better decision possibilities during gameplay.

Players have the opportunity to score victory points throughout gameplay that will ultimately decide the winner and the person who succeeded the must in building the best underwater city.

Underwater Cities is an awesome engine building game that you should definitely have on your gaming shelf.

7. Fantastic Factories

Fantastic factories is short and simple. It’s definitely part of the tableau building family, but is one of the lighter games. It can be played with 1-5 players in about 45-60 minutes.

In Fantastic Factories, it’s a manufacturing arms race! Compete against other players as you try to build the most efficient set of factories in the shortest time. You must carefully manage your blueprints, train your workers, and manufacture as many goods as possible in order to achieve industrial dominance!

There are elements of dice rolling, worker placement, engine building, resource management, tableau building, simultaneous play, and some card drafting. Each round is split into two phases, the market phase and the work phase.

During the market phase, you choose to either acquire a new blueprint for free or pay to hire a contractor.You need to be mindful of what cards are available in the marketplace and the strategies your opponents may be pursuing. During the work phase, all players simultaneously roll their dice and use their dice as workers to run factories. Each work phase is like solving a unique worker placement puzzle in order to optimize your output of resources and goods.

Once any player has manufactured 12 goods or constructed 10 buildings, the game end is triggered and one additional and final round is played. The player with the most points wins (combination of building prestige and manufactured goods).

Fantastic Factories is a great tableau building game that is very easy to get into. Pick up your copy today by clicking here!

8. Splendor

Splendor is a fantastic engine builder and a great gateway game as it’s easy to play, but there’s lots of strategy. It can be played with 2-4 players in about 30 minutes.

In Splendor, you must use your resources and recruit artisans to collect gems and become the most influential merchant of the renaissance. As a wealthy Renaissance merchant, you can invest in mines and recruit the most renowned artisans. Create a commercial empire of diamonds and gems to attract the nobles of the time and earn glory and prestige!

Turn-taking is fast: you have one and one only action! Watch your opponents, anticipate their actions and save your best cards. Try different tactics and strategies because only one player will become the richest and most influential guild master.

Become a wealthy Renaissance merchant and get your copy of Splendor today!

Wrapping it Up

There is our list of some of the best tableau building games and engine building board games that you can add to your board game shelf and play at your next game night!

Some honorable mentions that are definitely worth looking into are Gizmos, 7 Wonders Duel, Quacks of Quedlinburg, Viticulture, and Race to the Galaxy.

Looking for other other board game ideas? Check out our game night blog for board games and more!

We hope you found this article helpful. If you have any questions or suggestions, please leave a comment below. As always, happy gaming!


Hillary is a 28 year old board game enthusiast from New York who specializes in hosting game nights.

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