Tapestry is a wonderful game. You can find my review for the base game here. And then the Arts & Architecture expansion here, the Plans & Ploys expansion here, and finally the Fantasies & Futures here. They are all wonderful, I am a big fan.
There has been significant discussion surrounding the balance of this game, a project spearheaded by designer James Stegmaier with considerable ambition. The game boasts 16 civilizations, each providing unique scoring mechanisms. While playtesting occurred before the game's release, the true litmus test lies in releasing the game to the public for widespread playtesting.
James Stegmaier has meticulously gathered data through players logging their scores on the Stonemaier website. This data includes information about the civilization they played with and against. This extensive dataset has enabled Jamey to make adjustments to each civilization, addressing concerns about game balance. Personally, I appreciate some level of asymmetry in a game, viewing it as an inherent part of the gaming experience. However, I recognise that not everyone shares this perspective, and I commend Jamey for earnestly addressing and attempting to rectify this issue.
The result of all this is this small release, offering all 31 final revised Civilization mats from the core game and all the expansions along with two revised capital city mats from the base game. Its available to buy now for $20, but do you need it?
First, lets talk about what comes in this little box.
31 Revised Civilization Mats
2 Revised Capital City Mats
1 Civilization Complexity Chart
The revised mats are a big deal I would say. The changes on them are sometimes quite significant. Take a look for yourself.
The revised version is displayed on the left, featuring the updated logo in the bottom left corner. For comparison, the original version is positioned on the right. Not only have adjustments been made to how the Mats function and their overall balance, but there's also enhanced clarity in their functionality.
Acquiring all the Civilization Mats through this set is a compelling option, especially if you haven't purchased the expansions yet. I would recommend it solely for that reason. However, it's not just about achieving a balance; it represents a comprehensive refresh. The process involved extensive research, leveraging thousands of data points from both BGG and the Stonemaier website. It is impressive to me what has been done here.
Some changes are more nuanced, like those involving the Militants. However, I notice a significant improvement in the clarity of the wording. Previously, there seemed to be some ambiguity regarding the first income turn and why there were limitations on gaining anything when all the outposts were still active without having had the chance to deactivate them.
I particularly appreciate the adjustments made to the Traders. The previous version's effectiveness relied on opponents placing territory tiles, which could easily be circumvented if others were aware of your Traders mat. The new rules provide the player with this mat more agency, allowing them to exert a greater influence on their own destiny. This revamp elevates the Traders mat, aligning it more closely with some of the more popular Civilization mats.
Additionally, the box includes two revised Capital City mats. While I'm less certain about the necessity for these changes, I encourage you to examine them yourself. The updated versions are positioned at the bottom for your reference.
I speculate that the changes to the Capital City mats aimed to mitigate the creation of numerous small, challenging-to-fill single areas, potentially complicating the use of larger Landmark buildings. While it appears to be a minor adjustment, I surmise that these alterations might not have occurred without the imperative for Civilization mat upgrades. Nonetheless, the changes are inconsequential, and they introduce a more open design to these mats.
The box also contains a complexity chart and a comprehensive list of all the Landmark tiles, detailing their functionalities (which extends to the reverse side of the card).
This guide proves to be a valuable resource, aiding in the decision-making process when selecting Civilization mats. It serves as a quick reference to identify the expansion from which a particular Civilization mat originates, distinguishing between those from the base game and various expansions.
In summary, I consider this accessory to be quite useful, particularly for avid Tapestry fans. It is a must-have for those who regularly engage with the game. However, if you play more sporadically and haven't been significantly impacted by the asymmetry, you have the option to acquire only the necessary adjustments or continue playing as per the original game design.