Tapestry has been one of the most anticipated games of the last year and I’ve been no exception to fall under its charm. I’ve been a fan of civilization games of all types from tabletop to video games (hello to Sid Meier’s Civ). That means I couldn’t just let Tapestry go unnoticed and untried. And boy, I’ve played!
Worth mentioning, that Tapestry was published by Stonemaier games, who have previously released a bunch of very good and successful games including Scythe, Viticulture, Wingspan, and Charterstone. Stonemaier has been monitoring the performance and balance of Tapestry very closely and has even released the Civilization Adjustment guide which Poromagia will send you with the game so you can just focus on playing the game. How nice of them!
What is the game about?
In the game, you will take the role of a civilization leader taking your people to prosperity. How you will do it is all that tapestry is about.
All 16 civilizations that you could play for.
Despite having a complex (on the first sight) board, cards, and multiple components, the game rules are unbelievably simple. On your turn, you will do only one of two things: take an income turn or advance on the advancement track.
Income turn is when you score the points and receive resources from your income mat. You can only do 5 income turns in a game and by taking the 5th turn you also automatically finish your game. The game starts with an income turn and that is the only time you will take the income turn at the same time with all the other players. During the rest of the game, all players can take their own income turns at their speed.
The board with 4 advancement tracks.
Advance turns is when the real game happens. Use your turn and resources to advance on any of the 4 available advancement tracks: Military, Science, Exploration and Technology. Each of the tracks has its bonuses and special traits. Where you would go is influenced by (but not limited to) already played Tapestry cards as well as the civilization abilities of you and your opponents
Your capital city: helps you to get resources and victory points.
How you can get points varies a lot on how you decide to play your game. The game ends as the last player takes their 5th income turn. A player with the most points wins.
What I enjoyed
- Many paths lead to victory and lots of liberty. This is my favorite part of the game which also allows us to replay it many many times. You have a complete (sometimes even overwhelming) amount of freedom of what you can do during the turn and how you will drive your civilization to victory. Tracks and civilizations are well balanced which means that no matter what path you choose if you find the optimal way to use your assets (civilization abilities, Tapestry and Technology cards), you will have a good chance to win.
- Easy rules and intuitive board. We’ve all been here, you’re excited about the game but your enthusiasm fades with the size of the rulebook. Tapestry’s authors deliberately tried to tackle this common issue of the over-complexity of board games and they nailed it. The rulebook of this game is only 4 pages long and it takes about 5-10 minutes to explain the game to newcomers. The board and cards are very helpful for new and continuing players.
- High replayability. With so many variables: different Tapestry cards driving your story, a variety of tribes and many tracks you could work on, this game has so much to give.
- Extraordinary art and components. This game has received lots of praise for its components: art, miniatures and cards. Even the paper quality of bigger cards (tribes and income mat) is extraordinary. It’s indeed one of the highest quality games I’ve played. The boards and tribe cards are covered with a special material that would make them last much longer. Unfortunately, this does drive the price of the game. But looks at those! I don’t own many miniature games, but these little houses I’ve been showing to my family members and friends. No regrets.
Miniature buildings that unlock as you research technologies.
What could be better
- Your civilization story feels… soulless. The theme is everywhere, yet it’s not that related to gameplay. My Militants (insert any tribe name) researched Warplanes (insert any tech name) not because it suits thematically, but because I wanted to get this action or this amount of points. Here’s another example: very often we would discover “video games” and “banking” technologies but “language” would be still unexplored. Can my people play video games without being able to communicate? The theme adds some fun, but it just wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to feel the progress that over the “centuries” my civilization advanced and went through these steps in development. Sadly, it felt quite missing the theme.
- Lack of interaction. Now, for many people, this is what euro-style games are all about. My gaming group loves the games where you can actively cooperate and maybe even backstab each other. For a game, dedicating so much to a military path, the conquering of other civilizations feels one-sided and weak. If you decide to conquer an opponent (there’s close to none benefit of doing so), you will lay their outpost and put yours on top. That territory can not be regained or conquered again. There’s no resistance unless your opponent has the special “trap” tapestry card.
Conquering the outpost of your opponent.
- One game can last a different time for all players. Since you can take only 5 income turns during the game and you can take it at your own pace, all the players might finish the game differently. That being said, the game encourages advancing faster by awarding players with points, resources or buildings for those who achieve certain things first. However, if you know you are going to be second, there’s no need to hurry anymore. For us, it meant that the whole group would wait for 20 more minutes for the last player to finish their game.
Is Tapestry for you?
I loved Tapestry. Every time we played the game, we were taking different paths and tried new things. The learning curve is very important and it has been a pleasure to discover the better performing combinations of tracks, tribes, and cards.
If you love civilization themes and/or strategy games you should definitely try Tapestry too. This is also a game for you if you enjoy planning and building your game strategy and calculating the future. At the same time, the game is much lighter than typical gamers’ games. It’s incredibly easy to bring Tapestry to your game night and your gaming group will pick it up naturally.
I’ve been playing as long as I remember myself. When I was a kid I dreamt of building my own games, and now I’m trying to make it a reality. Board games carry me away into a different world where I can be a knight, a researcher, a kingdom builder or a zombie fighter. Love semi-coop and engine building games. Favorite game of all times: Dead of Winter.