Last year, we reviewed the new big box title from Stonemaier Games, Tapestry. Following up on the massive successes from Wingspan and Scythe, it had quite a bit to live up to. And while it hasn’t yet attained those heights, it’s still in the top 250 games on BGG and I’ve certainly enjoyed my plays of it to date.
Today we are digging into the first expansion for Tapestry. If you love the game, is this something you’ll definitely be wanted to add? What if you didn’t like it to begin with? Does Plans & Ploys fix any of the problems that some might have experienced? Well, the only way to find out is to read on…
Tapestry: Plans & Ploys is a relatively small box with a lot of varied content for you to add into your base game of Tapestry. Most noticeably, there are 10 new civilizations to choose from. You can obviously mix them in with the original sixteen. So, for starters, you increase the pool of civilizations by more than 60 percent.
You’ll also have new space tiles to add to the supply. One that replaces a slight misprint from the original and new ones that will reward you with additional victory points for moving up a certain track once you’ve reached the far reaches of the universe.
There are more Tapestry cards as well. The most interesting of which is a bit of a variation of the base game’s trap cards. They can be played when an opponent tries to topple a territory you control. Unlike the traps though, they have a variety of outcomes. The surrender card, for example, lets the opponent control the territory but lets you roll the conquer dice. And surprise party will give you points when someone tries to conquer you, but only if you have advanced more on the military track.
Probably the biggest change, gameplay wise, is the new landmarks in Plans & Ploys. During setup, each player will choose a landmark—and its accompanying card—in reverse turn order. Each landmark has a requirement that must be met, but as soon as you meet that requirement you get to add the landmark to your capital city.
Oh, and there is a bag for the territory tiles… if that’s something you wanted.
Game Experience with the Expansion:
As you can probably tell from the overview, Plans & Ploys is without a doubt a “little bit more of everything” type of expansion. More civilizations. More tapestry cards. More space tiles. More landmarks.
There doesn’t seem to be much here that really ties everything together. It’s conceivable you could mix everything from Plans & Ploys into your base game and play through a game without seeing any of the new content, except for the new landmarks.
So that seems like the best place to start—do the new landmarks change the game in a meaningful way? Well, kind of. The requirements for adding one of your landmarks aren’t terribly difficult to achieve. You will almost assuredly meet the conditions at some point. They include things like finishing two districts in your capital city and placing three of the same type of income building. They can certainly give you some direction early in the game though and if you give it more focus it may allow you to progress your capital city more quickly.
Which, of course, means you may be able to generate more points from the capital city. I’ve generally found the science track to often be the least powerful, so in theory, making it easier to fill your capital city should make science more powerful strategy-wise. I certainly haven’t played hundreds of games to test that theory, but in practice, it didn’t seem to move the needle enough for me to focus on it.
The new civilizations are welcome and add some variety if you are a hardcore Tapestry player that has played with all the base game’s 16 civilizations. There are a few standout new civilizations that feel pretty unique—Islanders can place territories on their civilization mat and the Spies can look at the opponent’s hand of tapestry cards. All of them are distinctive enough though and none of them feel entirely wasted, although most of the time it boils down to different ways to generate a few extra resources on income turns.
The additional space tiles and tapestry cards don’t add enough to really write home about. I like the idea of more interactive cards that change the combat, but it’s still a pretty low risk move for the attacker. The new trap-like cards, just like the original traps, mostly help the defender but without punishing the attacker significantly.
Tapestry: Plans & Ploys gives you more things to put into your Tapestry game. If you are playing Tapestry a lot and you feel like you want more civilizations to explore, I think you’ll be happy with what you find here.
If you are lukewarm on Tapestry or it fell out of favor with you at some point, well, there isn’t enough here to bring you back in. The landmarks are the biggest change, gameplay wise, and they don’t really change much. The combat is still mostly uneventful even with the new tapestry cards. This is a box to give hardcore fans more to explore.
So, should you get this? If you have played so much Tapestry that you really want more civilizations, pick this up. Otherwise, maybe hold off until you have.
• A huge increase in the number of civilizations available.
• More variety in the tapestry and space tiles to freshen it up a bit.
• Landmarks don’t feel like they provide a big change to the gameplay.
• Combat is still a low risk proposition.