A Place at the Table Blogs

A Place at the Table: Say What? Part 2

We are going to just jump right into part 2 of clarifying board game terms. So, away we go. You can find part 1 here.

Resource Management games are games where you need to manage your resources in order to win. In most cases, you will need to have a required amount of some item in order to complete an action. This could be something like building a road or upgrading an element of the game.

Drafting games are games where you will be given a hand of cards, and then you will draft a card for your hand before passing the rest of the cards to the person on your left or right. My favorite game, Terraforming Mars, has a drafting element to it. When I’m teaching Terraforming, I generally tell people that drafting is “pick and pass.” If you sit in on me playing (or teaching) Terraforming Mars, you’ll more than likely hear me telling Number One to “pick and pass” because he’s holding everything up. Rest assured, I only ever tell Number One that he’s holding things up. I’d never do that to other people. Well, maybe I’d do it to Kyle, but he can get distracted sometimes while playing games because he’s running the game night. (Sorry, Kyle, but you know it’s true!).

Terraforming Mars

Engine building games are games where cards are activated. When the cards are activated you perform some action or gain some sort of resource. In some cases, the activated action on your card may benefit the other players. In most cases, you start at the right most card and work your way left. I’ve found that it takes me a couple of plays to figure out the best way to maximize my engine building. There are some engine building aspects to Terraforming Mars. The most recent game to hit our table that is a fantastic example of an engine building game is Wingspan.


Deck building games are games where you build a deck a cards. Generally, the cards provide you with a resource or an action, and you play those cards in order to take the action or gain the resource. I’m not a fan of deck building games, so I don’t play them on a regular basis.

Role playing games are another big faction of gamers. In an RPG, you take on the role of a character and make decisions throughout the game. RPGs don’t necessarily have a “board”, so I don’t know if they technically fall under the category of “board games”, but RPG is an acronym that comes up in the board game community from time to time.

Speaking of heavy games, you will sometimes hear gamers refer to game as heavy or crunchy. For me, heavy games are games that will require some deeper strategy and planning out the next several turns in advance. Heavy and Crunchy can apply to different games based on the player. For some, a heavy game might be a game that requires a time commitment of more than 2 hours. Yes, some of us do play games that last more than 2 hours. It sounds crazy. If someone had told me 5 years ago that I’d voluntarily be sitting down to play a game that was going to take 3+ hours, I would have laughed and told them there is no way. But, here I am. You may reach this point as well, but it could take some time. Or you may find that you are more of a social gamer who prefers party games with a crowd.

A Feast for Odin: One of the “heaviest” games you will find. Literally and mechanically.

I hope that this helps you navigate the world of board games a little easier. Until next time.

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