“Euro” games, -titles with little-to-no interaction between players, with a focus on placing workers, building engines and moving cubes around a board-, have never been my jam.
Tapestry is an epic civilisation building game where each player begins with a small group of settlers who have just discovered fire. As the game progresses, you’ll develop technology, culture, language and commerce, as well as add unique eras to the timeline of your civilisation to create a tapestry of events.
For a game with so many (literal) moving pieces, I was shocked and amazed to find that Tapestry only has four pages of rules! The game is startlingly easy to teach, and like most well-designed euros, once you understand the meaning of the symbols (which are all very intuitive), gameplay is fast and efficient.
Like Wingspan and other Stonemaier games, Tapestry has a focus on fluid play. It’s not the kind of game where you’re supposed to spend long minutes on your turn while your fellow players wait for you to make decisions which ultimately do not effect them.
In many ways, Tapestry is a race. You want to be the first to progress the furthest along any (or all) of the four Advancement Tracks- the progress bars that flank the board representing where your civilisation stands in development of Exploration, Military, Science and Engineering.
Each Advancement Track is broken into four tiers, and when you’re the first player to progress to a new tier, you score one of the many unique, beautifully sculpted (and painted!) landmark tokens to place in your capital city to represent your civilisations leading charge in that particular field.
The capital city mechanic is a supremely satisfying one that sees you placing your new buildings (armouries, markets, farms and houses) on a grid that represents the capital of your civilisation. Of course, depending on the terrain, this may prove difficult, and you’ll have to invoke some proper city planning if you’re wanting to eventually build that Launch Pad between the mountains to take your people to space and explore beyond the island that sits in the middle of the board.
The narrative of Tapestry is intentionally vague, allowing you to infer the story of your civilisation as it develops. While you start with a unique civilisation card that gives you a special ability and framework for your narrative, no two play-throughs will ever be the same.
I had a great time explaining how my civilisation of Alchemists- a people who push their luck for the further development-, had mastered commerce at a higher degree that any of the neighbouring civilisations and yet for some reason had not discovered how to write (due to full progress in Engineering and low progress in Science respectively). Adding to that the following era, where I played a Tapestry card that plunged my civilisation into the Dark Ages and… well, it’s fun to explain just what is going on in each of the players capital city, that’s for sure!
There is a lot to like about Tapestry, and although it has a premium price tag, the overall quality of the game and especially its components mean that your money is supremely well-spent.
Stonemaier games have a reputation of having amazing components. In Tapestry, not only does this mean beautifully sculpted and fully-painted buildings and landmarks for you to place in your capital city, but also all the player boards, civilisation cards and capital city mats are finished with a strangely gentle sand-paper texture to prevent your meeples from skidding across the table if the board suffers a slight bump.
Tapestry is a great single-player experience, perfect for those who like to challenge themselves, plan far ahead and do their best to combat the very well-designed AI opponents you’ll be racing against.
With a double-sided board separating the game for the 1-3 and 4-5 player marks, the game always has your best interests at heart. You’re not punished for having a big playgroup, nor are you required to find a different game to play when two of your friends have to cancel on game night.
With patient players, Tapestry makes for an excellent family game, and teaches the values of forward thinking, timing, and resource management.
If, like me, you enjoy a competitive experience, then Tapestry represents a great opportunity to test your mettle against your fellow players- a set up where everyone has similar tools, and strengths and weaknesses you’ll have to adapt to exploit quickly in order to beat out the competition.
The core mechanics of Tapestry make it a game that begs to be replayed and explored. No sooner had I tallied up the Victory Points from my first game before I began to reset the board and shuffle up the deck of starting civilisations to immediately begin again.
Tapestry continues what is now the Stonemaier tradition of being supremely popular- and leading up to Christmas time, this is a hot premium title for the board game fanatics out there.