Building a Civilization from Scratch
Hello my wonderful readers! Today, in the first of series of regular posts, I am going to
talk about a game that you've likely been seeing a lot of on social media: Tapestry.
Tapestry is a competitive, civilization building game designed by Jamey Stegmaier for 1-5 players in which players will craft their civilization's own history from the beginning of humankind into the near future. I hopped on the preorder for this one pretty early and have gotten it to the table A LOT in the past couple of weeks with both me and my gaming group having a great time playing it.
So, without further ado, here are 3 things that I absolutely love about Tapestry.
1) Streamlined Engine Building
Taking a turn in Tapestry is incredibly simple. So simple, in fact, that the entirety of the rules for the game is easily condensed down into 4 pages filled with clear and concise examples. New players can sit down to learn the game from another player in as little as 10 minutes. Gameplay consists of 5 income turns (which primarily allow you to gain resources) and as many advance turns as you can manage in between those income turns.
The majority of your turns are advance turns, where you will be advancing one of your player tokens on one of the four tracks (science, technology, military, or exploration) on the board (see above). You'll then spend the listed resource cost to gain a benefit (and optionally spend extra to gain a bonus). As you progress further and further down each track, the benefits and bonuses become increasingly better and more powerful, all of them helping to further strengthen your civilization. Typically, when you run out of resources you will then take an income turn, gaining resources and points from each income space that you've uncovered during your advance turns.
It's really as simple as that. As you progress further and further down the tracks, the benefits and bonuses you gain and the income turns you take will progressively become better and better, earning you more and more resources and points. In your first couple of eras, you might gain 4 or 5 resources and maybe 10 points from your income turn, whereas in your 4th and 5th eras, you could be gaining as many as 16 resources and more than a hundred points. Although the gameplay itself is simple, it provides you with plenty of opportunities and choices that will allow you to craft a totally unique, epic and immensely satisfying engine.
2) High Asymmetry
Tapestry is jam-packed with variability. For starters, the game comes with a whopping 16 different civilizations to be played with. Perhaps you'll be the Futurists, who mysteriously start the game more advanced than others, or maybe you'll be the Isolationists, who just want to be left alone, or perhaps the Architects who value an organized and well structured capital city mat (which, by the way, you'll get 1 of the very different 6 available). What I can't stress enough is that all of the civilizations are TOTALLY different from one another, each one having its own unique mechanics and abilities that change the way you play the game every time.
Another great bit of variation comes from the 43 unique Tapestry cards which you'll play over the course of your income turns to create the history of your civilization (see photo above). One game, you may be extremely militant going through dark ages, militarism and revolution while in another you may be fostering peace or going all in on building as many landmarks as you can or perhaps inventing and upgrading some of the 33 totally unique technologies that await your discovery. Every game you'll be able to choose what history you decide to tell, and it will likely be a very different story the next time you play.
The possibilities are surprisingly endless for such a seemingly simple game, and that really seems to be the point. No matter how many games of Tapestry you play, the high amount of variation in Civilizations, Capital Cities, Tapestry Cards, Tech Cards, Exploration Tiles, Landmark Buildings, and more will make each new game feel totally fresh and different. You're strategy will be forced to change with each new game in order to better solve this puzzle you've been dealt and it's an absolute delight. Like I said, I've played the game probably 10 times or more and I am still finding myself discovering new cards, new tiles and new interactions between the various tracks that I never encountered before. Every new game feels fresh and totally different from the last game.
3) Attention to Detail / Theme
Take a moment to admire the beauty and awesomeness of the landmark and income buildings:
(Picture Credits: Stonemaier Games)
Last but not least, I have to talk about Tapestry's theme and production. It should come as no surprise to anyone that this game is incredibly well produced. Designer Jamey Stegmaier, as always, spared no expense in crafting this game with only the highest quality components and artwork. Just look at those landmarks and income building miniatures! Each one is incredibly detailed (with the landmarks being hand-painted) and based off of sculpts by the incredible Rom Brown. (Seriously, follow this link real quick and just scroll through his work because it is incredible.) The artwork is absolutely sublime, like you'd expect from a game illustrated by well-known Everdell artist, Andrew Bosley. (Look at his work too, he's amazing.) There are so many aspects about the physical design I could talk about. I can't even begin to describe or explain how nice the "frosted" player mats are, you just have to feel them for yourself.
But fear not, all of these premium components do serve a greater purpose then just being flashy. They contribute to Tapestry's overall "epic" theme and scope. You are nothing but a "Maker of Fire" at the start of this game and, over the course of 1 - 2 hours, you are going to actually build an entire civilization from scratch. The best part? You define your own history. You aren't tied down by how human history has played out in real life, you can do what you want! You might explore space before you've even developed mathematics, or build lethal drone assassins before you've even conceived of pottery, it's totally up to you. Your history will be wild and crazy and uniquely yours which is part of what makes this game so fun and charming. At the end of the game, regardless of if you've won or lost, you can back at all the buildings you've constructed, territories you've conquered, technologies you've, tapestry cards you've played, and be proud of this spectacular civilization that you've created. It gives a wonderful sense of accomplishment and, next game, you'll get start all over and build another new and totally unique civilization.
So there you have it. Those are 3 things that I love about Tapestry. Have you played Tapestry or do you want to? For those that have, what's your favorite aspect of it?
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