Tabletop Game Review – Tapestry + Plans and Ploys Expansion

Tapestry + Plans Ploys Expansion

Tapestry by Stonemaier Games
Price: ~$80.00
1 to 5
90-120 minutes
Perfect for:
Players who enjoy strategic civilization games based on engine building and resource allocation.

Tapestry is a game of evolution. Specifically for a civilization that begins with unlocking the mystery of fire and navigates their development path all the way to discoveries like nuclear power and space travel. As the tribe grows, they must give thoughtful consideration where to balance investments of resources across science, military, technology, and exploration. When time reflects, the civilization that has made the most progress will earn its place in history.

To begin the Tapestry game, two to five players choose a player mat to keep track of individual progress (solo game variant is also included).  A randomly selected faction which provides a unique way to score victory points, a capital city map, and all related tokens including those to manage resources. A centralized board tracks game progression across the four discovery tracks (Science, Military, Technology, and Exploration). Faction expansion across the world map, available technology upgrades, and overall victory points.

The base action on players’ turn in Tapestry is spending amassed resources to advance their civilization, by progressing along one of the four discovery tracks. When a player progresses, they often get to take a related action to bolster their flourishing tribe. For example, when proceeding along the Exploration track players often draw or place new world map tiles which typically yield resources and victory points. The Military track allows players to conquer the discovered world; the Technology track gives players one-time benefits through collected cards; and the Science track is a bit of a collection of the other three. Advancing on these tracks also grants players the ability to unlock and construct buildings in their capital city. This leads to increases in income production and overall victory points.

RELATED: Tabletop Game Review: Euphoria

In Tapestry you will play through a series of five Ages. Players typically expend their resources over a series of turns. Once they feel satisfied with their progress, they elect to advance to the next age and play a tapestry card from their hand. These cards usually grant an instant or long-lasting benefit such as immediate victory points or a reduction in resource cost for a particular action during the subsequent age. Next, players collect income based upon their development along the four discovery tracks. This could include both resources and/or scoring victory points. Deciding when to advance to the next age is at each players’ discretion. Once everyone reaches and scores the 5th age the game concludes and the person with the most victory points wins.

What works in Tapestry is the fantastic balance of strategy and resource management. Resulting in a robust, engaging, and competitive civilization-building experience that never feels too light nor too overwhelming. The paths to victory in Tapestry are plentiful; often shaped by the faction chosen by the player but not dictated. Most successful strategies hinge on finding the correct equilibrium between going all-in on certain tracks but still maintaining some level of progress across the others. Similarly, Tapestry has this wonderful middle ground. It is prudent to have a plan, but also being ready to improvise and re-calibrate if opportunities change given the nature of the game (i.e. what other players do).

This means Tapestry is never boring. Being vigilant and calculating is essential when considering various options. However, the scope is confined just enough that analysis paralysis is unlikely to sink in. This is a marvelous feat for a civilization game.

Is It For Me?

Players who prefer lighter games with more direction towards fulfilling objectives, or head-on competition, may not enjoy Tapestry as much as others. While Tapestry isn’t at the extreme end of complexity or decision-making, there’s still a considerable amount of thought that goes into the execution. This could mean long (read: epic) games, so those seeking something shorter may choose a different option. Furthermore, while there is some very light combat and racing to achieve milestones, players are largely in control of their own destiny. Well, aside from very occasional dice rolling that only mildly affects the overall outcome in the grand scheme of things. People looking for more consistent interaction with other players may not feel as invested.

Tapestry is a shining standout in the sea of civilization games. The vast array of variables play together harmoniously to create a unique gameplay experience each time it hits the table filled with entertainment and excitement from beginning to end. Not even mentioned yet are the fantastic miniatures, rich with detail and many which come gorgeously pre-painted. Tapestry is an absolute win for all these reasons. Coupled with the incredibly strong replay value—recommended at the absolute highest level.

Recommended if you like: Terra Mystica, Twilight Imperium (Fourth Edition), Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization, Euphoria, Scythe

Final Grade: A+

Tapestry: Plans & Ploys

Tapestry: Plans and Ploys Expansion by Stonemaier Games
Price: ~$30.00

Note: Players must leverage a copy of the base game, Tapestry, in order to use the Plans and Ploys expansion

With Plans and Ploys, players can expand and enhance their Tapestry experience by adding more variables and options into the gameplay. The expansion includes ten new civilization factions each of which grant a unique ability to the player which could help guide their strategy. For example: the Recyclists are all about technology. They get to upgrade a second card at the end of the age, and can even reuse a card after it has been fully upgraded (pushing it through the levels again) which has the added benefit of netting 5 victory points. The Utilitarians get bonus actions based upon the landmarks they construct over the duration of the game.

Other notable additions (among others) include 15 Tapestry cards, 4 space tiles, and various Automa (single player) rules and components. One new facet introduced to the game are landmark cards and corresponding miniatures. These cards (one each distributed to everyone randomly at the start of the game) allow for buildings to be constructed in a players’ capital city, should the requirement be met. For example, if a player has the Urban Farm card and they have six world tiles in their supply at the end of their turn, they get to place that building in their city.

What Works?

What works in the Plans and Ploys expansion are the fantastic new factions. Also the creative new ways to score victory points, and the suggested balancing mechanics. All wonderful upgrades for seasoned players. The additions are a natural growth to the core elements provide new small twists. However, don’t upset the great balance of strategy and complexity that makes the base game of Tapestry so wonderful. Particular care has been into the ideas of how to handicap or boost particular civilizations at the start of games to balance out the power for a more even experience. And finally, once again, the new pre-painted miniature buildings (7 of them) are exquisite.

The value of Plans and Ploys is entirely dependent on the mileage one has gotten out of Tapestry thus far. Plans and Ploys doesn’t make the game necessary “better”. Rattheher, it breathes new life into it through a refreshing set of add-ons. Plans and Ploys is highly recommended for groups who love Tapestry and want more having played it several times. However, it’s not “necessary” until that point (only because the base game is so great on its own).

Final Grade: A

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