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Play Mechanics: An Overview of Resource Management Games

Posted Monday, 16-Feb-2015

A resource management game is one in which the players obtain resources (often commodities such as wood, metal, grain, etc.) and try to turn these into higher-level products (buildings, settlements, machines) and/or victory points in the most efficient possible manner.

The most famous and popular resource management game is The Settlers of Catan. Players represent small groups of settlers on an island laden with various materials such as sheep, ore and wheat.



Settlers of Catan Resources
Resources in The Settlers of Catan

These resources can be collected by building settlements nearby — each player starts with two — and rolling dice to determine which locations produce each turn.

Resources are then used to build roads, settlements and cities, or collect development cards. All of these directly or indirectly lead to victory points, and the trick is to generate points at a faster rate than one’s opponents, which requires skill at probability, trading, and strategic resource management.

The Settlers of Catan Card Game, a 2-player derivative of Settlers of Catan, offers more complexity and an extra resource (gold). At the heart of this game are several decks of action, building or improvement cards, which players can play to increase production, earn special powers, or directly gain victory points. This qualifies it, too, as a resource management game.



Settlers of Catan: The Card Game
Photo Credit: Mayfair Games


The resource management game Splendor is a recent release in which players have various types of turns available.  Some turns involve collecting tokens of various colors, and others turns involve spending tokens on various buildings. Some of the buildings are worth victory points directly; all of them have bonuses which can contribute to the cost of further buildings or, in the end game, pay for nobles which are worth more points.



Splendor Game
Photo Credit: BoardGameQuest.com


The highly popular Puerto Rico has some of the same characteristics as resource management games, with players farming for corn, indigo, sugar and more. The commodities are shipped for points or traded for money, which buys buildings, which confer special abilities and are worth more points.

Puerto Rico Game
Other popular resource management games include Kingsburg, Caylus Magna Carta, and Tzolk’in: The Mayan Calendar.

Published by BoardGamePrices.com

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