I appreciate Energy Empire more as well despite the theme of Waterdeep being a bit more appealing for me.
Waterdeep lacks dramatic moments and build-up I’m looking for. In Energy Empire, your turns get progressively bigger and more grand as you get more buildings set up. There’s also a really nice pacing to big moves where you often need to take a few small moves in between. When you pull off a huge turn using a ton of energy and workers in a single turn, it’s extremely satisfying.
I think Waterdeep is a much more even experience. Finishing quests is a little exciting, but nothing really punches in a dramatic way in that game. I think it lacks drama. The dice and combat in Champions of Midgard seems like a clever way to combat it. I also prefer The Godfather for its dramatic shoot-outs and crazy ally abilities. I still like Energy Empire the most. Its build-up is so exciting. I can’t wait for my next turn. And I love how the theme is executed throughout.
Russian Railroads is my personal favorite worker placement game. It also has an extremely dramatic engine build-up (with players shooting into the 400 point range in most games). I like it most because I think it best manages limiting options in a very strategic way. You’ll want to find a strategy that isn’t competing with any other players to succeed. So you have to watch everyone carefully, understand what they’re going for, and tailor your strategy to stay out of their way. I find it the most interesting execution of the worker placement blocking tension.