WBG Score: 8.5/10
Player Count: 1-5
Published by: Stonemaier Games
Designed by: Jamey Stegmaier
If you are looking for a review of Tapestry, then head here. If you are looking for the expanion, Plans and Ploys you are in the right place. But read it quick, you may need to head to the shops afterwards. I am about to get very excited about cardboard!
Tapestry is a fantastic game. I love the look, feel and variety in the base box. It’s the type of game that doesn’t need an expansion because it feels quite complete, but it is certainly rife for multiple ones due to the Civilisation cards, like the alien races in Cosmic Encounter, being endlessly expandable.
But here we are! The first expansion for this brilliant game. Let’s roll through the main additions and changes.
7 landmark miniatures and Landmark cards. These are the main new additions to the game and are a fantastic development to the game for a number of reasons. The landmark cards work by each player being giving out one card during set-up. The player who is taking the last turn gets the first pick, and this alone is a nice way to balance out the turn order.
Each landmark card will have a specific goal on it. Players do not have to complete this task; they can avoid it entirely if they wish. But if they achieve it, they then can add the specific landmark miniature to their capital city. This is a nice way to earn a landmark building compared to the usual way which is often more of a race as to who can get to that part of the game track first.
Designer Jamey Stegmaier talks about the cards also offering some direction to new players at the start of the game. With four tracks to move round, and the choice being entirely up to each player as to which one they start with, having some small prod in one tracks direction can be a welcoming guide for your first few turns.
The cards ask you to try and have at least two complete districts, at least one complete row or column, or at least three income buildings of the same type in your capital city; or have at least six territory tiles in your supply or at least one science card in your top row. These tasks can encourage players to go down different routes from each other. This helps spread out the play a little which for a four-player game I find can be quite helpful in the first few rounds.
I like this addition and will use in every game moving forward. Not all players will fulfil the task early or at all, but I do like the chance to get a building that only I can get and the sense of direction this offers new players.
There are only five of these cards so the other two landmarks can be gained via either one of the new Tapestry cards or one of the new Space tiles.
15 new Tapestry cards These bring in a new ‘zest’ to the game. Jamey talks in the rulebook about wanting to reward ‘conquering’ which is my least favourite part of the game. But was based on Jamey’s desire to encourage and reward more ‘sneaky and clever’ play.
‘Manifest Destiny’ allows players to conquer a territory adjacent to your capital city and then gain the benefit on any territory you control. ‘Surprise Party’ is a great card to play when an opponent tries to conquer you. It allows you to topple their outpost instead and gain 15 more points if you are more advanced on the military track than they are. The ‘Double Cross’ allows you to counter a ‘Trap’ card to essentially ‘Nope’ that card and gain an extra five points.
There are many others too, and they all add a sneaky twist or extra element or landmark building to the game.
Ten new Civilisation mats. This is the most obvious way to expand this game. Playing with new civilisation mats for the first time is exciting for me. And more mats mean’s more ‘first times!’
Here in Plans and Ploys we have Spies, Advisors, Treasure Hunters, Infiltrators, Recyclers, Tinkerers, Aliens, Utilitarians, Islanders and Riverfolk. They all bring their new fresh way to play the game and I think will breathe an air of life into the game for those who have played the base game civilisations multiple times.
I like the way the Aliens allow you to explore the space tiles a lot quicker, and the Spies offer a fun way to earn benefits from neighbouring players. But my favourite new civilisation mat is Utilitarians. They allow the player using this mat to start the game with one tier II landmark and gain benefits whenever you gain extra landmark buildings. I love chasing after the buildings in the game. I find the process of filling my capital city enjoyable. Trying to piece everything together in a ‘tetris’ style is a lot of fun. Completing districts, rows and columns is very satisfying. But now getting extra benefits from simply getting the buildings is an extra reason to chase down the buildings.
4 space tiles. These offer the chance to get more benefits when you manage to achieve the feat of space travel. Jamey spoke of the feedback from the base game where players felt that reaching this huge feat should be more richly rewarded . Another simply gives you the Monolith landmark miniature which feels quite exciting in a Space Odyssey sort of way!
Scenarios for solo play. This is a fantastic addition to the solo version of this game. I enjoy most Stonemaier solo games. The ‘Automa’ is a brilliant system that is always very clearly explained with options for varying difficulties.
I love campaign games and find this an easy way to make solo experiences better so I was delighted to see these five new scenarios in this expansion have this option. They can be played as one offs, or as a series of challenges and I love the second option. They add a bit of story and a focus to each game and work well to make the solo experience more challenging.
There is also the addition of a small hessian bag for the territory tiles to be placed in and 12 landmark tokens to lay on the board at set up which help to serve as a reminder to the players when a specific building has gone. When the first player reaches this space, the tile is removed. If you want to see which buildings are left and where they are, this makes assessing the board a lot easier. It's a useful addition.
Overall, this is a brilliant little expansion. If you like Tapestry, this will add a lot and keep the game fresh for many more games. If you don’t like the vase game, this wont change that. There are some small tweaks to make the game work better against some small grievances. But it doesn’t drastically change anything as I don’t think that was necessary.
The one thing I would like to see in future expansions is more narrartive brought in. I love civilisation games for the story the create as you play. This is lost a little in Tapestry and I would like to see more of this added and something brought in that would encourage players to care more about the specific technologies they are advancing in, and the order they do this. I find this is sadly completely overlooked most games I play.
I look forward to more expansions for this game and hope that it continues to be supported with more civilisation and tapestry cards and perhaps a bit of story for many years to come.