2nd Edition

Building Blocks of Tabletop Game Design An Encyclopedia of Mechanisms

By Geoffrey Engelstein, Isaac Shalev Copyright 2022
    626 Pages 72 Color & 206 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    626 Pages 72 Color & 206 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    626 Pages 72 Color & 206 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    Building Blocks of Tabletop Game Design: An Encyclopedia of Mechanisms, Second Edition compiles hundreds of game mechanisms, organized by category. The book can be read cover to cover and used as a reference to solve a specific design problem or for inspiration and research on new designs. This second edition collects even more mechanisms, expands on and updates existing entries, and includes color images. Building Blocks is a great starting point for new designers, a handy guidebook for the experienced, and an ideal classroom reference.

    Each Game Mechanisms Entry Contains:

    • The definition of the mechanism
    • An explanatory diagram of the mechanism
    • Discussion of how the mechanism is used in successful games
    • Considerations for implementing the mechanism in new designs


    Chapter 1 Game Structure

    Chapter 2 Turn Order and Structure

    Chapter 3 Actions

    Chapter 4Resolution

    Chapter 5 Game End and Victory

    Chapter 6 Uncertainty

    Chapter 7 Economics

    Chapter 8 Auctions

    Chapter 9 Worker Placement

    Chapter 10 Movement

    Chapter 11 Area Control

    Chapter 12 Set Collection

    Chapter 13 Card Mechanisms


    Geoffrey Engelstein is a game designer and educator. His designs include the Space Cadets series, The Dragon & Flagon, The Expanse, and Super Skill Pinball. He has published several books on game design, including GameTek: The Math and Science of Gaming, Achievement Relocked and Game Production. He is on the faculty of the NYU Game Center as an adjunct professor for Board Game Design, and has been invited to speak about game design at PAX, GenCon, Metatopia, and the Game Developers Conference.

    Isaac Shalev is a game designer, author and educational games consultant. Isaac has designed tabletop titles including Seikatsu, Waddle, and Show & Tile. Isaac runs Sage70, Inc., a data strategy and games-based learning consultancy that serves nonprofit organizations. Isaac lives in Cary, NC with his wife, three children, and a dog.

    "If games were lands to be explored, they would be far too large for one explorer to master. Building Blocks of Tabletop Game Design is a much-needed atlas for the explorer—giving a framework of what to look for in a game, and a focus for game play that will be useful for understanding the whole. The game scholar will find this invaluable."

    —Richard Garfield, creator of Magic: The Gathering 

    "People talk about the art of game design or the craft of game design. Engelstein and Shalev hone in on the science of game design with a razor-sharp scalpel. This book will be within arm’s reach as I work on games and I expect it to be consulted often."

    —Rob Daviau, creator of Risk: Legacy and Chief Restoration Officer of Restoration Games

    "The most comprehensive and well-researched encyclopedia of game mechanisms that I’ve seen to date."

    —Matt Leacock, creator of Pandemic

    "The value of this work lies not only in the thoughtful descriptions and discussions of the building blocks themselves, but in the cataloging of example games for each section. So many design problems have been solved before, and this book gives designers a handy overview of those solutions."

    - Elizabeth Hargrave (designer of Wingspan):