The game mechanic "Engine building" is where a player builds up a system that can generate resources, game currency, or victory points. It can be achieved by purchasing cards that have abilities, or gaining access to abilities on a player mat, or building structures that give abilities.
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Engine building can be achieved in many ways in many different games. It can be building structures that give you abilities to produce more resources or bonuses. It can be cards that have abilities that are active in your play area. Also it can be revealing abilities in a player mat by buying upgrades or game pieces.
In Terraforming Mars, which is my favorite engine building game, you start with a player mat of many different types of resource production and a corporation with its own abilities or starting hand and resources. There is a deck of cards where you can start building up your engine by purchasing these cards and putting them in play with a n ability like increasing production of a resource, building a structure that gives victory points or getting you closer to achieving an attribute on a winning condition.
You can also choose actions from a menu of items by purchasing structures or to increase production. And also you can purchase cards with abilities to give you victory points or increase production or to add resources.
Here are a list of engine building games to look into:
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