Our Favorite Game Mechanics | LONG List

December 15, 2015

We love all kinds of games. But we don’t all love the same kinds of games.

In all of our game reviewing, the League always tries to bring you our objective thoughts, with a touch of personal opinion thrown in. When we’re sitting at the table, though, our differences are quite clear and personal feelings often come out to play. It’s true, you won’t often get me sitting down to play a heavy Euro for three hours straight without a little bit of coaxing and perhaps a big cup of coffee to keep me awake through it. With that being said, we’d like to share with you some of our favorite game mechanics and our favorite examples that employ them!

Area Control


Belfort revolves completely around a fun and tense battle for five separate city districts. It’s all about careful placement, strategic second-place point grabs, and last minute location-stealing.


Tammany Hall

Tammany Hall is quintessential, rage-inducing, cutthroat area-control. Gain supporters in different districts to levy voting power and then ruin everyone’s day.


Cockroach Poker

I love bluffing and deception as a mechanic – or do I…
In my line of work, there are not many opportunities to lie and act unethical (which, after further thought, I suppose that I can’t think of many jobs that encourage this). Instead, I get my fix through gaming. Goading other players into acting one way or another based on limited information and a smile is extremely satisfying – especially when it works. And when it doesn’t, it’s always good for a laugh!

Route Building

Inca Empire

The idea of empire-building is always one of my favored board game subjects, and forming a network of connected territories under your control is a good subset of that category. In Inca Empire, you may get points for building temples and founding cities, but this happens only /once/. It’s the connections between these locations that form the backbone of your empire, and you’re rewarded every turn for each site that has been connected, no matter who originally built it.


Commerce! The Spice must flow! With a pile of goods located at points A, B, and C, what’s the best and most efficient method I have of fulfilling the needs of cities D, E, and F? With points scored for the length of the route you move the goods along, sometimes efficiency isn’t the best method if you have an engine strong enough to haul the load.

Co-Ops with a Traitor

Dead of Winter

I like the traitor mechanic in general because it adds tension to a cooperative game and keeps you from fully trusting everyone. It also seems to remove some of that “alpha gamer” in co-ops. I love Dead of Winter and think it makes great use of the traitor. I actually find the traitor to be pretty difficult to play here, which makes me appreciate it; you have to know when and how to act as the opposition in this game. A traitor-like action too early or poor implementation can out you very quickly. Overall, it becomes a fun experience in Dead of Winter that I really enjoy, win or lose.


For the next-best game, I wanted to highlight a slightly different take on the traitor mechanic, and with a lighter game. In Saboteur, you have an entire “saboteur” team working against a slightly larger team that wants to succeed in racing to the end of the mine shaft and retrieving the gold nugget. The traitor team is attempting to sabotage this by placing cards along the path that may lead the long way round or block it entirely. The fun with this game is that, as you figure out who the saboteurs are, you can play action cards on them to prevent them from playing more cards or undo their actions completely. Saboteur is a fun party-style traitor game.

Tile Placement

Tash-Kalar: Arena of Legends

This game really has everything: hand management, area control, tile placement, pattern building – what’s not to love about Tash-Kalar?! Placing your pieces onto the board only to have your opponent move them around and ruin the pattern you’re trying to build is one of the most frustrating things. But it is so sweet when you get that pattern just right and can summon a being right on top of their heroic piece and steal the spot!

The Duke

The Duke is a fantastic abstract strategy tile-laying game that can be played by all level of gamer. The prescribed movements are printed on the tiles themselves and utilizing those movements to capture your opponent’s tiles is so satisfying. It brings the sentiment of chess and checkers in a new form. Bringing new warriors into the field and hunting down your enemy duke is fantastic challenge every time.

Pick-up and Deliver


In Istanbul, you take on the role of a merchant walking around to different market tiles. Aided by your loyal assistants, they will pick up items and load them into your player cart. You then can deliver these items on other various tiles. All in search of the precious rubies that help you claim victory. At the heart of Istanbul is a simple pick up and deliver game that is encased in a great puzzle and offers many paths to victory. I find the game is at its best when you randomize the tiles on each play.

The Great Heartland Hauling Company

 The epitome of a simple pick up and deliver game that offers a great theme and easy rules. Players will be trucking along to fulfill delivery orders by picking up cubes, moving them along the interstate and delivering them to locations that have a demand for that product. The trick is you need to have those cards in your hand to be able to pick up/deliver them. The game offers different board setups and advanced rules to keep things fresh. This is a great intro game to the pick up and deliver mechanic.
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CONTRIBUTOR: Pediatric Nurse. Shameless fangirl. Fierce competitor. Light gamer.