The deckbuilding component is more action-focused than engine-focused, but I’m not ashamed to say that I borrowed a fair bit from Dominion, and learned a lot about card interaction, pricing, and design from reading dominionstrategy.com and playing lots of Dominion when Isotropic was still running Dominion games.
The base of the game is a territory control game, but without the dice rolling that you have in Risk. If 4 armies attack 3, 1 survives. That’s a fun half of a game (surprisingly), but what makes it interesting and provides a random element are the cards. Basic troops can move and attack, and that’s it. More interesting behaviors like jumping over enemy lines, moving farther, and hitting harder as well as responses that you can play on defense are in the cards.
There’s also a strong diplomacy/negotiation component to the game — it helps to convince people that you’re not a threat so they go after the other players, and there is bribery built right into the game to provide one more method of inducing cooperation from your (temporary) allies.
Your army holds territory, territory produces money (WarBucks), and you spend money on more troops and tech for your troops in the form of cards.
Mine Shaft Gap is a free science fiction board game. From the description:
Mine-Shaft Gap simulates a battle for resources on, above, and under the surface of a lifeless but treacherous planetoid. Players must seek out valuable metals and fuel materials and mine them, using the materials to feed their home planets, and inch closer to victory, while at the same time allocating resources to maintain or strengthen their armed forces and fortifications. Drill tanks tunnel beneath the surface of the planet while drilling stations pound away from above. Drilling stations are faster and more efficient, but are vulnerable to attack from above and even capture by enemy troops. But tunnels can cave in… And market forces are unpredictable. The resource making your planet rich today might be better off greasing the treads of your tanks tomorrow!
Postcard from the Revolution is a free wargame that fits on a postcard.
A Fair Battlefield is a free print and play boardgame set in a
pseudo-Napoleonic era. To win, you must push the opposing army back or outmaneuver it, so that your own army can advance and eventually carry The Flag into the other player’s territory. Meanwhile, the opponent can engage you in battles to stop your advancement and try to take control of The Flag.
In A Fair Battleground, skillful deployment and maneuvering is more important than raw impact, but typical winning tactical moves of the era like attacking the opposing armies from behind are forbidden. Asymmetry between players is given not by a different mix of forces or objectives, but rather by the interplay of two pairs of opposing roles (Advancing vs Contending and Attacker vs Defender) that the two players take and exchange during the game. These roles determine both what the players can do and when they can do it, as well as which of the different armies are more useful to each of them.
Battle resolution is basically luck-less, but a simple optional rule that adds a random factor is provided for players who prefer luck-based systems.
(Your Name Here) and the Argonauts is a free solitaire print-and-play game
of adventures and legends set in Grecian mythology. You will take on the role of a hero set out to recover treasure, slay monsters, and find a place for yourself in the retelling of Greek myths. The game is played with a set of (initially) 30 cards that represent the monsters, treasures, and gods will become the tale of your adventure. This deck, and your character, will change and grow as you play more games, which is meant to reflect how tales become more embellished and outlandish each time they are told.