To be honest with you I never considered doing this as a Best 3 mainly because I didn’t think there were very many games that included this mechanism. Also, I will admit that I really didn’t understand what it was or what to look for with this mechanism. Route or Network Building entails players making a continuous connection to gain something out of if. So, think of ANY railroad game, where you are laying tracks to connect cities to each other. I must say that I am not a huge fan of railroad games though there are plenty of games that I play that utilizes that aspect, spoiler alert for an upcoming Best 3. These routes or networks don’t necessarily need to be transportation though. They can be units, buildings, terrain, etc. Anything in a game that connects and continues on from a certain point. I want to express again that these games I chose are games that I feel do the best job of this mechanism. They are not necessarily my favorite games that have that mechanism. For instance, Power Grid is an obvious choice if I was going with the best games with this mechanism, but the Route/Network Building in Power Grid is not its strength….it is simply connect cities for money. That being said, here are my Best 3 Games with….. Route/Network Building…..
3. Via Nebula by Space Cowboys
Via Nebula is a new game in 2016 by designer Martin Wallace. He is mainly noted for his deep thinky games like Brass, which almost made my list. I really enjoyed the strategy and light Route Building in Via Nebula. The board is made up of plenty of hexagon spaces that have either a terrain, monster or resource tiles on them. This game is all about making a path from the buildings you want to build to resources. In order to do that, you need to clear out terrain and claim resources spaces….but be aware…once you claim a resource tile and place a path down…..ANYONE can use it! You really need to plan ahead also. Monster areas can never be covered up, while Petrified forests cost 2 actions to clear by putting a meadow tile on them. Once you have a clear path from a resource to a building sight of your color, you can start collecting resources to build at that sight. This makes it difficult because buildings require more than one type of resource. This is a nice Route Builder that you can utilize others actions.
2. Saboteur by Mayfair Games
Saboteur also made my Best 3 Hidden Roles list but for different reasons. The thing about Saboteurs that makes it unique is that every one is using the same Route…..maybe. Some will be trying to get you to go to the right way while others will be trying to block you or go a different way. On your turn you can add a card to the caves. You have to find out who is on your team and whether they want you to get to the gold or not. But once you know the information it could change or saboteurs will try to prevent you from getting there. I really like the push pull of everyone working on the same Route or Network and trying to complete or not complete the goal. Saboteur 2 even adds more things to consider while playing, like the gem dwarf where all he wants to do is collect gems. Or the team aspect. Not only are their the good dwarfs but they can be on two different teams.
1. Myrmes by Ystari Games
Myrmes has one of my favorite themes….ants. I don’t know why I like it but I do. I guess if there were any games about living the life of an animal I would like it. Why are there not any games about being a lion? or elephant? Tracking and hunting prey and gathering resources? Hhhhhmmmm, maybe I am on to something…but I digress! In Yoann Levet’s design you are all an ant colony and at times going out into the world hunting prey and claiming territory with pheromone tiles. This is how you gain resources. When you go out into the world you can choose to place a pheromone tile down. When you do this you place resources on the tile for what you cover up. Then each round you will harvest one of those resources. The key is making sure you refresh your pheromone tiles when depleted. You can destroy one of your used up pheromones by using a dirt resource then place another on top of it to get more resources. The pheromones also act as a better way to travel. When you move in the world each space costs one movement space, you normally only get 3. You can treat all your connected pheromone spaces as one space. Not only that but you can destroy your opponents pheromones to place one of your own. There are good levels of strategy and multiple uses to the Route Building in Myrmes that makes me love it.