Luck or Not: Board Game Mechanics At Play

What type of board games do you prefer?

There are so many different types of board games and a myriad of ways to play.   BoardGamesGeek calls these ways to play “mechanisms” or board game mechanics.  

Catan on BoardGameGeek has these mechanisms:

  • Dice rolling
  • Hexagon grid
  • Income
  • Modular Board
  • Network
  • Route Building
  • Race
  • Random Production
  • Trading
  • Variable Set-up

I mention Catan because I believe that it is a wonderful introductory or beginner game.  It has network and route building and involves trading.  I love these activities in a game, especially trading!  David will not play Catan although he has played it many times, especially when our boys were young.

For David, the deterrent to playing this game is the Dice Rolling.  David has the most terrible luck when luck is part of gameplay.   Catan allows you to place your settlements on the edges of land types.  Each land type is numbered 3 to 11 and when that number is rolled on two dice, players collect resources if their settlement is on the edge of that numbered land type.

Numbers most likely to be rolled are 7, followed by 6 and 8.  David will always find that 3 and 11 will be more likely rolled when he is playing even though he has chosen a 6, 8 or 9.   If the dice rolls inhibit you getting resources to trade and build with, the game is not going to be a lot of fun. 

Last weekend we played Little Town.  This quick to learn board game comes with complexity much bigger than its box size and doesn’t have dice rolling as a mechanism.  In fact, it only has two mechanisms;  Tile Placement and Worker Placement.

Little Town is also an excellent introductory or beginner game that does not rely on dice rolls or luck.  Your resources are collected depending on where in the town you place your meeples.  Using these resources, your meeples can then buy tiles that allow more resource generation.  Use your own tile for free or pay a coin to use another player’s tile.  It is challenging and fun.

This is a game that earns its 7.3 rating on BoardGameGeek, Catan has 7.2. 

So, which board game would you choose?

Posted in

David and Helen


  1. Kieran P on May 5, 2021 at 5:56 pm

    I don’t mind a tiny bit of luck based gameplay, but games that rely on perfect starting placement and constant dice rolls, like Catan, do get a bit unfair. Inevitably, one player ends up stuck with what they started with, because they never get anything from the rolls.

    They fixed this with Catan Starfarers. In that version, if you’re below a certain amount of VP, you get free resources of your choice. This also helps speed up the initial slow start to the game. Worth checking out.

    • David and Helen on May 5, 2021 at 7:55 pm

      I haven’t played Catan Starfarers before. Would you say it was your favourite Catan? Have you tried Little Town?

Leave a Comment