Updated: Apr 12
WBG Score: 9
Player Count: 1-4
Published by: Board&Dice
The "T" series are a group of games, all made by the same design team, all beginning with the letter T. They consist of some modern day big hitters and all do something interesting with the mechanics used. The design team are not without their own recent controversy. You can read more about that here. Tascini has since apologised for his actions and the publisher released an excellent statement on the matter here. From this, I was left unsure what to do about reviewing this game. But decided in the end to go ahead with it. Ensuring I covered three points.
I wanted you to have the above background. So you could decide if you want to read on.
I wanted to make it clear that there are many people involved in the production of this game that do not deserve to be punished by one person's actions.
I, and no one associated with WBG tolerate any form of racism or discrimination in the slightest. I find these situations abhorrent.
With that said, it is your choice if you want to read on. Anyone with a view on any way I could handle this better I would welcome your feedback.
Set up in Tiletum does take a while, but after a few games you will have it down to around five minutes. (At a push!) I will go through every step here. First, lay out the main board and give each player their own player board along with all the pieces in their colour. I sort all the colour pieces into individual bags to speed this up. On the player board, each person needs to place five house pieces at the top of the five houses on the left side of the board, leaving the far right space alone. Then place one house into Tiletum on the main board, and the other two by the side of your board. Next place five columns onto the first five spaces on the top right of their board. The remaining two are left by the side of the board. Each player will take one of each resource and gold depending on their position in the game. One gold for the first player, three for the second, five for the third and six for the forth. All pieces by the side of the board are available for use in the game. All piece's on the board need to be unlocked before they can be used.
Then on the main board, lay out the action wheel and action tiles around the dice action wheel at the top left of the board. For your first game, you don't need to use the action tiles. These just add more variety when you want it, replacing what is printed on the board. Then shuffle the bonus tiles with the compass symbol on the back and lay one around each dice space, and one onto each space on the map side of the board. Avoiding any spaces based on player count. This is clearly marked on the board. Then place one below the King track. Also by the king track, place one marker for each player on the zero space. Place one marker per player on the 10 point space, and the final one on the turn order track according to player order. Also by the king track, shuffle and lay face down three corruption tokens, leaving the rest in a face down pile.
Next, shuffle the contract and character tiles and place one onto each space on the bottom left of the board. Leave the rest in a face down pile by the side of the board with the remaining bonus tiles too. Next to these place out all the resources sorted into type.
Then shuffle the construction cost tiles and place one below each Cathedral space on the main board. Then lay out the Cathedral pieces in ascending order of value. Place these into each space, bar the one with the "X" on the construction value. This Cathedral won't be made this game. Next, shuffle and place three town tiles and four fair tokens at the top of the main board. This shows where the four fairs will be, the first is always at Tiletum. And what the fair will reward in end of round points. Then place the fair order tokens onto the board matching the cities the fairs are in to remind players during the game. A nice touch.
Finally, each player will place their Architect and Merchant token into Tiletum and one dice of each colour for each player is placed into the cloth bag. You are now ready to play. See, easy huh!?
How to Play
Starting with the first player, the dice are pulled from the bag and rolled, then placed in groups into their designated locations into the dice action wheel. Then flip the far right corruption token and move every player piece here back the number of spaces shown. Either zero, one or two. Then the main action phase now begins where players will take it in turns to take one dice from the action wheel. The colour, number, and location all matter. The colour will determine what resources they get. Blue dice make Iron. Pink make food. Yellow make Gold. Light Grey make Wool. And Grey make Stone. The number on the dice will determine the quantity of resource they get. And the location on the action wheel will determine the type and number of actions they can then do.
You will notice that the number of resources and actions will always add up to seven. If you take five resources you will have two actions. One action will get you six resources, etc. It's a clever way to balance this drafting process out. The locations around the action wheel will determine what you can do. When you take a dice, you can take the token if you want to if it's still there, then claim the resources and action available. But what do all these actions offer you?
The top right King space lets you move on the King track. Simply moving right into positive points by the number of actions you have. The Merchant space lets you move your merchants on the main board, take a token from the space the merchant is at, or build a house at the space the merchant is at. Similarly, the Architect lets you do the same but with Pillars. Move the architect, build Pillars with the architect or take tiles with the architect. The character space lets you take a character from the character track and add it to your board. They all cost one action point. Or, you can discard them all and refresh the layout. When you take one, you will place it into one of the four spaces on the right of your player board, your store house. All tiles you gain are always placed here. You can only ever have four at once, hence why sometimes you may not take one. Using character action points is how you move them from here onto your main board. Taking your turn in the right and most efficient order is key.
On the left side of your board you have six houses. Five with empty spaces for characters to move into. The bottom row costs one action point to move a character into. The middle row costs two action points, and the top row on the far left house costs three actions points. As you move characters over, you have to ensure they are the same type for each house but different across each other house. To complete a house and take the house piece off the board for later use, you must fill each character position and the basement space with a different crest for each household. The crest costs a certain amount of food, shown on the player board, and reward a different bonus each time. Moving crest can be done at any time. When you complete a house you can move a house and pillar from your supply onto any town currently without one of your houses/pillars on the map. You can also move your merchant and architect to any space, gain two resources and five points. So, well worth doing!
You will also increase your power in the action wheel selection in the chosen power of the characters in your house. Based on the symbol on the character you will move your bonus action point marker, based on the size of the house, to the matching action space on the action wheel to the symbol on the characters in the recently completed house. This will increase the number of actions when you choose dice from the space on the action wheel in subsequent turns.
The top right of your player board is where you will place your contracts when they are fulfilled. You will get these using the contract action on the action wheel above. They cost a different amount depending on their location on the row. This action also lets you exchange resources in a one for one ratio. You will also get one bonus resource the first time you do this each round. When you take these contracts they will go into your storehouse on the right. Then for a free action at any point, when you have the required resources shown on the contract, you can move it onto the left most available space above, claim the points on the tile and space you are placing it on, and take the pillar that was there. This is one of the main ways to score in the game.
The final action is the jester action which lets you copy any other action. If you have more than one action, you must copy the same action each time.
When you take a dice in this phase, you will take the resources, carry out the actions, and place the dice into the bottom right of your player board. Each player will do this three times each round. When each person has done this, you will then move into the King phase.
In the King phase, players will score points based on their current position on the king track. Anywhere to the right of the starting zero space and you will score positive points. The furthest right will take first place in the turn order for the next round. Anyone to the left of the zero starting position will score negative points, but then move back to zero for the next round.
Then you will move to the Fair phase where you will score points based on the current fair in the current round. You can only score if you have a house and/or your architect in the current fair town. Each fair scores differently and can include points for the amount of pillars or houses currently built, the amount of contracts completed, or the number of crests on your player board.
Finally, you move into the clean up phase where you will replenish action tiles taken from the action wheel and king track, shuffle all the corruption tokens and replace three more face down, return all the dice to the bag, rotate the action wheel one space clockwise, and then start a new round.
There are a few bonus action that can be done at any point such as completing a contract. You can also always spend two gold to gain one other resource. Spend two gold to change a dice face up or down by one before you take it. You can spend food to move your crest to a building. Use any helper tokens you may have previously taken which can give you extra actions or resources. And finally, you can help construct a Cathedral for any space where you have a pillar. These cost a various amount of Stone as depicted on the tiles placed at set up. When you do this, take the top Cathedral token and add the points shown on the tokens.
The game will go like this for four rounds, until the end of the fair scoring phase in the forth round, when the game will end. Players will then total their points based on in game scoring, one point for each group of four unused resources, points for the number of houses built multiplied by the number of pillars, and finally, points for all completed houses on their player board. It is zero for one or two rooms, five points for three, ten for four, 20 for five and 30 points for all six rooms completed. Well worth trying to do well here. Most points wins.
Is It Fun
Playing Tiletum is a wonderful experience. Sure, the set-up and rules may sound like a lot, but I have covered every detail here and I hope you got through it ok. And it really does play very smoothly. The rule book is excellent and offers good visuals and pictures. I would just take note of the extra actions shown on page 19 under "Tasks." These are all quite crucial, but seem like an after thought in the rule book. As you play Tiletum, you will very quickly get into the swing of the game. I was able to teach my nine year old in under ten minutes. It is an easy teach, and the board layout makes everything very simple. But I appreciate it may not sound or read like that! But it really is very simple.
The look of the board can be a bit drab. But the colour of the player pieces all really pop against this beige background. Making it a lot easier to see where you are, what your points are, and plan your next move. And planning moves in Tiletum is a wonderful thing. Combination turns is something very popular in games. Having a turn that feels like it is one action cascading into another feels great. Sometimes in games that offer this it takes too long to build up to these more juicy turns. It can also be quite a complex process to carry it out. Tiletum gets this right perfectly. You will be 'combo-ing' very quickly in this game. Taking food resources as you claim a pink dice, using these to move a previously claimed Crest token over to complete a house, which gives you more resources needed to complete a contract. All of which gives you more points, more houses and pillars on the board, and the chance to move your pieces. All before you have even taken you main action this turn! Sounds fun doesn't it?
Points will rack up very quickly. You can get into the high hundreds and double hundreds by game two as you learn the game, and develop your strategy. And all this is done in just four rounds of three turns. That is just 12 times you get to do something. But each turn can end up being quite impressive as you have seen.
Which leads to the only real negative point for me in this game. Downtime between turns can be long. In a two player game this is fine. But in a higher player count the wait can be frustrating and I would not recommend this game for anything over two players for this reason. It is not even a case of players taking too long or being struck with analysis paralysis. It's simply that some turns take a while to do. Which is juicy, satisfying and oh so fun for the player doing it. But a bit annoying for other players as you never quite know when they are done, and it does take a while.
But in a two, this game is a euro dream! If you are a fan of euro games in general, this may be one of your favourite new experiences at a game table. There are some question marks around this games longevity. There are a few variations at set up, but none will really change how the game feels or flows. You will essentially have a very similar experience each time you play this. However, as that experience is so good, I do not think this is a problem. It is ok for some games to just do one thing very well, and focus just on that. Tiletum is very much in this bracket, and I salute it for doing so. Too much is made on variation between games. Play a different game if you want a different feeling. I am very happy for Tiletum to keep rewarding me each game with a delightful, crunchy, combination filled game experience where I score hundreds of points and feel good about myself. Sure, some games you want to feel different each play. Narrative led games especially. But for a strategy lead euro, it's ok for me if each game feels the same if the game itself is good.
I would recommend this game to anyone who enjoys Euro games, has enjoyed the previous T games, and is looking for more of the same entertainment. It does not offer anything that is incredibly new/ Although I think the dice drafting is very clever in the way it is linked to the number of actions. But what it does do, it does very well. The game is potentially problematic due to one of the designers past actions, but I tried to look beyond this for this review. Personally, after not playing his games for a year, I am now ready to play these games again. I do not necessarily accept his apology, but I do not have all the facts, and I was brought up to forgive. I myself am not perfect, and feel everyone deserves a chance to educate themselves, better themselves, and understand how to be a better human.