Games for the Aspiring Engineer
Tim Mossman
United States
Gaithersburg
Maryland
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Growing up, I was lucky enough to be exposed to a number of good boardgames. In retrospect, boardgaming was a terrific form of "brain exercise" for me then, as it still is today. One particular genre of game that helped guide me to my current professional field - engineering - were the games where you got to design/build something with which to compete in the game, play, and then go back to the drawing board with what you learned. With that thought in mind, the following is a list of games that have some aspect of designing or building the forces (prior to play) that you would bring to bear in gameplay. Please feel free to add anything else that you think fits.
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1. Board Game: Car Wars [Average Rating:6.36 Overall Rank:2106]
Tim Mossman
United States
Gaithersburg
Maryland
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Car Wars and its various expansions saw a lot of action when we were in High School. Designing "Road Warrior" vehicles with which to battle was just great fun. I probably burned as much (if not more) time designing than I ever did playing. Achieving balance between mobility, armor and firepower, while faced with finite vehicle mass and space limits was a classic optimization problem. The Truck Stop expansion added 18-wheelers, buses and RVs to the game and really opened up the design space to really deck out monster vehicles.
 
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2. Board Game: BattleTech [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:866]
Tim Mossman
United States
Gaithersburg
Maryland
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Battletech was a natural evolution from Car Wars, but involved very similar design principles. How to balance mobility, armor and firepower against weight and space constraints? The best new wrinkle in design was the concept of heat management - I really want the particle projectile cannon, but can I deal with only firing it every other turn in battle to avoid overheating my mech?
 
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3. Board Game: Magic: The Gathering [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:151] [Average Rating:7.46 Unranked]
Tim Mossman
United States
Gaithersburg
Maryland
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Magic, and its card-collecting game brethren, took pre-game design to a whole different level. Granted, having more cards permitted more creativity in design and more optimization in deck performance - an issue that has been discussed at length elsewhere and is not intended to be rehashed here. However, even with a moderate collection, an incredible variety of deck designs were possible. Even with a relatively pedestrian set of cards, I had a lot of fun playing the role of "tackling dummy" against a good friend with more disposible income and a more robust card collection. Was even able to cook up some clever deck designs that would hold their own against, and occasionally beat, "better" decks.
 
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4. Board Game: Speed Circuit [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:1699]
Tim Mossman
United States
Gaithersburg
Maryland
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Was exposed to this game for the first time when I watched the Speed Circuit semi-final at the World Boardgaming Championships this year. Absolutely loved the aspect of "designing" your vehcile - starting speed, acceleration, max speed, braking, and wear points - to suit the racetrack and how you anticipated attacking the race.
 
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5. Board Game: Strat-O-Matic Baseball [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:1150]
Tim Mossman
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Gaithersburg
Maryland
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This game may seem to depart from the earlier entries, but "baseball" games where you get to set a line-up before play is very much akin to "designing" your team. Simulating baseball has been a great introduction to statistics for a lot of folks.
 
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6. Board Game: RoboRally [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:349]
Tim Mossman
United States
Gaithersburg
Maryland
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Roborally gets an honorable mention - it doesn't really qualify as involving pre-game design, but any game that is essentially computer programming has to be mentioned on a list of games for engineers.
 
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