We thank STONEMAIER games for this free review copy and we will happily past this on as a donation to St Thomas Hospital. We also thank the NHS for all their work! TAPESTRY is a civilization game from Stonemaier, the company behind board games hits like WINGSPAN. Now for the novice firstly, a Civilization game means simply, a game in which you are building a civilization from the birth of using fire to touching the stars. TAPESTRY is a 1-5 player, medium complexity game, designed by mega maestro Jamey Stegmaier. He comes to this after designing VITICULTURE, SCYTHE and CHARTERSTONE. Games that have been exceptionally popular and even more profitable. I am a fan of the label and I am a fan of the genre as well. I loved the original CIVILIZATION game, liked very much the Sid Meir CIVILIZATION games that some will know from the PC games that were and are popular. I enjoyed the heavy THROUGH THE AGES and dabbled with bits of 7 WONDERS but never fully entered its world. Excitement building, 3 players set up, Set up done, 120 minutes into a game of TAPESTRY, scoring commences and my notes are overflowing.  My notes denoted not only my own game but comments on the rules of play from friends, reviews of the online conversations and help and of course the items in the box. I also then had made another note, one that might be the best place to start ‘When is a civilization game, not a civilization game?’


I will get to the question but as always have to begin with what is in the box. Big box btw. Big heavy box btw. 1 box. A game board with dual sides for 1-3 and the 4 and more players. 4-page rulebook (for group players and another for solo play). 2 reference guides (identical). 18 prepainted landmark miniatures (28-70mm tall and very good quality). 100 income building miniatures (all nice enough with tecture and detail.) 16 asymmetric civilization mats (different skills and features civilizations and the like). 6 unique capital city mats (varied by climate really). 5 income mats (the same). 43 different tapestry cards (one of the most interesting parts of the game). 7 trap cards (a nice touch). 48 unique territory tiles (Add a flavour and ambition to play, they also look good). 15 unique space tiles (Yes the stars!). 33 tech cards (with varations of the abilities and returns involved). 3 custom dice (very nice quality). 65 player tokens (cubes, some were damaged), 50 outpost tokens (nice hexagon styled items), 1 custom insert (for a variation called Shadow Empire), 28 Automa cards (solo mode and will discuss the complex nature of these rules), 1 Automa mat, 1 Automa rulebook
6 reference cards and a landmark board.


Setup looks difficult from the visuals on offer on the box. Pieces phobia is a real thing for some and if you were to gawp at thcktoo long, well it might overcome you. But and its a b BUT!, it is actually quite intuative. So lets gets on with it.  (This is for 3 players and the Solo version is completely different.) Take the board, have it on the correct side for the number of players. Each person takes a income mat, choose a colour from the 5 on offer, take 5 of each of the income building miniatures. Then draw 2 civilization cards from the 16 on offer randomly, choose one. Take a city map that corrosponds with those on the board (these differ depending on numbers but remember that players should have different ones.) Place two of your outpost tokens on the corresponding number and player tokens on the gauges for military,science, technology and Exploration. You are then kind of ready to play!

The best walk through ever can be found here thanks to Rodney Smith from Watch it played  https://youtu.be/FXbGIj_2cGk

Gamplay for TAPESTRY has been touted by some as revolutionary. It might well be for the Civilization games of the near and immediate past. The mechanics work swiftly. Instead of six or eight different choices or processes you have two stepped choices. One is INCOME. See this as running the financial processes of the civilization. Well for the first round of the game that is. In this yout one tile and one Tapestry card. After this first round, if you run the income process, you will move the ERA forward, which is very important. Now your other choice is too ADVANCE. This means in simple terms, you allocate and spend resources collected, moving player tokens along a track, be that the historical, technological, science or exploration track and gaining bonuses to build your civilization. This is pretty straight forward. Well compaired to other games. It also plays well, which is a blessing. Simple can sometimes be painful because it is say slow or stifles interactions, reduces growth, hampers improvements and the like. Here it doesn’t totally resolve these issues but it makes the game move. Movement equals interest and that builds excitement because you can do things and they matter. When you move era on the 2nd income process, this also makes for compelling play because it is an active process. You canse your civilizations skill lay tapestry cards, Upgrade tech and of course, earn money! All of this plays well.


Well we loved the visuals. Well done and great work Andrew Bosley. He lifts the core parts. The civilization designs, the tiles, the tech cards, the tapestry cards. They make the game feel like a world of its own. I think back to bad game art and this is a study in exceptional art. We also adored the pieces (robust, nicely shaped and designed). They have a nice placement mat and, although some are left in the wilderness like spare parts, mostly they look good and stand proud on the table. We loved gameplay. Simple, effective, well designed and better executed. Income and Advance options have the intended effects of simplicity and are active and compelling (as we said above) but also they do something else. It makes competition varied and over the three games we played, each time was distinctly different. This is very valuable indeed. When you purchase, often from saving money or from wanting it for a particular event (birthday , Christmas etc) You want to hone play and others also want to replay. Maybe even more valued is the fact that you can grow around the board differently. Also to note again, well done for that insert. It keeps everything in order and looks good.


Right, well it is always hard to be blunt and review with respect and clarity, so the group discussed a few things and these were the inescapable points. There were three things we HATED. One, the solo mode. Designed by Morten Monrad Pedersen with Lieve Teugels and Nick Shaw, it has a few issues. The card system is clunky, it lacks variety, has issues in execution and finally, respectfully, adds an unneccesary addition in the shadow empire. I understand why they did this but it lacks the grace of the games multiplayer elements. Two, the city maps. 6 is too few. You will repeat after 6 games and that is unfair for someone paying so much. You will also find that one is very easy to max out quickly. This is not good. Third and final, the eras. Five is quite short in reality. The main reason is that some players choose to grow fast and target certain tracks. We sneakily added 4 more eras to the game and it worked. There should be an expansive element to up this. It makes the game and players have more time (yes a whole hour more) but it really works as an integral part of the game.


Stonemaier have given us a civilization game that is simple to play and simplier to master. You might feel it is an easier lead in to the genre then others but they might be wrong. The easy mechanics are digestable. Players unfamiliar with civi games will appreciate this. Those who are familiar with the genre, will probably feel less challenged. I dont feel that will hold for long. This said one player in the set felt that the game lacks expansive qualities. He argued, as a civi game fan that the limits were the narrow path you are forced down. I would disagree. I sated that TAPESTRY masquerades as an entry level game but it supersedes this. And how.



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