When Tapestry first came out and I saw the components and the price point I just wasn’t convinced this was a game that would make it into my collection. It has civilization building and action selection which are themes and mechanics that interest me. Yet, at a hefty price point I was pretty sure this wasn’t the game for me.
Fortunately Gameholecon, a gaming convention here in Wisconsin, came along and the wife and I signed up for a game of it. What we found was a game that both of us really enjoyed! With well over a dozen plays this past year it’s closing in on my most played game of the year.
Let’s get on with the review and find out what makes me enjoy this game so much.
- Players: 1-5
- Playtime (with Setup): We find it between 90 and 150 minutes
- Publisher: Stonemaier Games
- Designer: Jamey Stegmaier
Let’s Talk about Game Components
There is quite a bit in the box. From the pre-painted monuments, to the little plastic buildings, resource trackers, little cubes, dice, and other bits there quite a bit to cover.
Overall, the components in Tapestry are all good quality. The careful thought into the design of these components adds to what, I feel, makes the game look visually appealing on the table and fun to play.
One of the first things that surprised me when I played the game for the first time was how thin the player income boards, civilization cards, and your capital board are. At first I thought this was a ding against the game, but what I have come to realize is that they have a great coat of some form of plastic. This keeps them relatively impervious to fluids, prevents components from sliding around, and actually is more durable than I would have thought.
Buildings and Monuments
One does not simply talk about Tapestry without talking about the monument game pieces. These pre-painted structures have an art design all of their own. It’s really a love or hate view for most people. They have grown on me, but I don’t feel that they add anything to the game. In addition, when they sit on your capital they are so much larger than the other buildings that it almost seems silly.
In contrast, the small building components are made of a nice game quality plastic. They are dramatically smaller than the monument components, making them look almost silly next to the massive monument tokens on your capital city mat. Still, these components are really high quality with enough detail to make you want to look at each one and check them out.
There are Tapestry cards and Tech Cards in this game. These cards have all been given the same treatment as your income mat, capital city mat, and civilization mat in this game. This makes the cards more durable. Couple that with the coating helping keep the cards from sliding around. Honestly, these are some of the best quality cards I have seen in a board game in a while.
Other Bits and Bobs
The outpost tokens really fall flat for me. While they are detailed and the same plastic as the buildings they just don’t feel like outposts to me. I know that there are others out there that feel that they are fine. I like the fact that they aren’t just another boring plastic or wood bit, but I wish they had a little more character to them like the various buildings do.
The cubes that you spend most of your time with pushing up tracks and for various other tasks seem like a let down as well. You will spend most of your time in the game handling these. The tracks on the board are circles and it feels like those should have at least been disks. This would have freed up the cubes for all of the other things they do. Toss in a few stickers for those disks to make them representative of historical civilizations. Could you imagine if the red player had a Roman sticker while the Green player represented Germany?
Is this really a Civilization Game?
The honest answer is yes it is. You are going to develop your civilization’s technologies, explore new lands, conquer the landscape, and use science to do things smarter and faster. When you take a look at the things you are doing, rather than analyzing the best move for you to make, you can see the tapestry of your civilization unfold before your eyes.
Sure, the game has all of those elements of a good civilization game but it falls short on the theme side. The game feels overtly high level in it’s fictitious world where you and the other players compete. Sure, you can explore and conquer tiles, but when an opponent topples your outpost and you see them take control of a territory it’s not that much of a big deal. Let alone, it could be that your civilization is in the Dark Ages based on the Tapestry card you have played, but you are also discovering quantum physics.
This really loose application of theme makes the game work and flow really well, but it’s hard to not laugh some times at how the decisions you are making seem to create almost comical combinations of your civilizations advancement during a game.
If there is one place where Tapestry shines brilliantly it’s with the game play. The rules are 4 pages with plenty of pictures and guidance for you to be able to pick up, teach, and understand the game quickly.
On a player’s turn, you will do one of two things. First option for you to do is an income turn. You actually start the game having to do your first income turn and after your fifth one your game is over. During an income turn you will activate your civilizations abilities (sometimes), play a tapestry card (sometimes), score points, advance technologies, and collect resources. It’s the most complex action you have. The reference cards help step you through it brilliantly and after your first one or two you have the hang of it.
What you will do most of the time is select a technology track to advance on, pay the resource cost, move your cube up, collect the benefit and potentially pay for a bonus. These four tracks represent your civilizations science, technology, exploration, and military advancement. As you advance on these tracks, you will be able to gain technology cards, draw new tapestry cards, place buildings from your income mat to your capital mat, and if you are quick enough claim those big monuments to place on your capital mat.
The puzzle of your capital mat is one of the most interesting aspects of the game. As you place buildings on this mat, you are trying to fill districts (you have 9 square areas on the mat) to gain bonus resources. In addition, you are trying to complete rows and columns. These will allow you to score some points during income phases.
The decisions of which tracks to advance on become key as you sweat your decisions. Should I go strong on the military track, or do I want to build technologies. In most games you will push yourself to to top of a single track and get close on a second or possibly third. The limit of your ability to advance is your access to resources such as food, coin, worker, and culture. Moving up the tracks becomes more expensive as you advance so careful management of those resources becomes key.
I really enjoy Tapestry. I am always happy playing this game. When you do poorly, there’s always something to learn and apply to your next game. The game plays well at all player counts, though there is definitely a benefit to playing with 3 or more players.
I currently rate the game as an 8 on BoardGameGeek. I would rate it higher, but for it’s interpretation on theme and some of my minor concerns about the game components. That said, the production is stellar on the game. While I find that I am particularly hard on game components, I find that the production here is worth of it’s price point.
This game is relatively easy to get to the table, very fun to play, and easy to teach. At nearly $100 US to purchase, the price point is steep, but I would recommend you give this game a try. You might just fall in love with it like we have.