Tapestry by Stonemaier Games was relatively polarizing when it released two years ago, and yet it’s still a game that hits the table for me regularly. You can read my complete review on Tapestry here to get all of my thoughts and musings on the game. Additionally, it’ll help you get in the mindset as I review the expansion for Tapestry: Plans and Ploys!
With any expansion, the question becomes, “Is this expansion pivotal to taking my enjoyment of the game to the next level?” With Tapestry: Plans and Ploys, that answer is definitely yes. There were some lingering issues with the base game, some of which are addressed with the expansion. Plus, it adds a gameplay element that can help give players some focus with their goals in the game.
Let’s dive in and see how it plays!
Tapestry: Plans and Ploys Gameplay
First, let’s talk about what you’re getting in the box:
- 10 new Civilization mats
- 15 Tapestry cards
- 7 Painted Landmark Miniatures, sculpted by Rom Brown
- 4 Space Tiles, and a reprint of a misprinted Space Tile from the first printing
- 12 Landmark tokens
- 5 Landmark cards
- 1 Exploration bag
Basically, the Civilizations, Tapestry cards, and Space Tiles are giving more options available at the setup of the game and more diversity when drawing cards and tiles during the game. At its core, the expansion only offers one real change to the game, and that is through the use of the Landmark cards.
At the beginning of the game, each player gets to choose a Landmark card. This is a personal Landmark goal that they can complete in order to gain a physical Landmark miniature to place in their capital city. All five of the cards have conditions that award the Landmark at the end of your turn if the associated criteria is met.
One of my personal qualms with the game is that the capital city map can be something of an afterthought depending on your strategy. And, depending on the strategies of the other players, it can be frustrating when you don’t get any landmarks because other people beat you to them.
By adding in these Landmark cards, you are guaranteed to have a shot at a Landmark that won’t be swiped away from you by another player. It’s your own – your precious. This seemingly small addition to the game actually gives a wonderful peace of mind, and affords you more strategic planning by plotting out where you want that Landmark to go in your capital.
Staking Our C.L.A.I.M. on Tapestry: Plans and Ploys
Once again, the miniatures by Rom Brown are exceptional. Generally speaking, they’re all distinguishable from the other miniatures already in the game, save for the Digital Studio, which looks quite similar to the Tech Hub. Either way, the miniatures were a big component in what inspired the game in the first place, so I’m happy to add more variety on that front. Plus, there’s a little Friendly Local Game Store (FLGS)!
I also appreciate the Landmark tokens. These are just small cardboard circles that you can place on the four advancement tracks to signify that Landmarks are remaining. It’s not really a necessity, as you can just put the Landmarks on those spaces anyways, but it’s a subtle change that makes it so you don’t have to take all of the miniatures out of the box with the setup. Just place these tokens instead.
The quality of everything else matches the quality of the components in the base game. On top of that, the miniatures get stored in their individual compartments as a part of the included insert.
Finally, one of the components that isn’t talked about much is the Exploration bag! This is just a linen bag that you can use to store the Exploration tiles for players to randomly draw from. I had actually been using a woven bag of my own to serve this purpose, as I’d found that stacking the tiles upside down next to the board cluttered up the table. I’ve replaced that bag with this one, and I’m happier than a clam!
Strategy-wise, the addition of the Landmark cards can help point you towards specific advancement tracks. For example, the Urban Farm is granted if you have at least 6 exploration tiles in your supply at the end of your turn. Perhaps the Exploration track would help you get that Landmark early.
Or, you might have the Game Store Landmark, which can be earned when you have at least one Tech card in your top row. This doesn’t necessarily point you towards the Tech track, because you get free upgrades every turn, but going down the Tech track would give you more options of Tech cards that have adequate requirements for you to make that second upgrade.
The other three Landmarks are strictly tied to your capital city. You can either complete 2 districts, have 3 income buildings of the same type, or have a complete row or column to fulfill the requirements for these cards, respectively. I really wish there were more Landmark cards to give some additional variety, but it sets up Stonemaier Games to include those miniatures with further expansions.
As we’re talking about a Tapestry expansion here, there really isn’t much new to add in terms of Aesthetics. I suppose I could rank the Landmark miniatures in order of which ones I think are most awesome!
- Monolith – Mysterious, alien-like imagery is always a design choice that I’m happy to roll with.
- Urban Farm – The terraced greenery is really cool, and adds a nice splash of color that separates the Urban Farm from the other white/gray buildings.
- Game Store – It’s a cute little storefront! Plus, I think there might be a cat on the roof.
- Skyscraper – This landmark comes in at number 4 strictly based on its size. This thing towers over all other landmarks.
- TV Station – Instead of a bunch of dishes, this landmark features a rounded side of windows that would fit right in at Times Square.
- Stadium – Oh this could have been the absolute best one, but it’s too small to drive home that sportsfan excitement.
- Digital Studio – This is my least favorite, just because it’s a hair too similar to the Tech Hub.
All of the miniatures are great, however, so don’t let this ranking tell you otherwise!
Now’s the time to convince you why Tapestry: Plans and Ploys is a must-have expansion for your copy of Tapestry. In a world where thousands of new board games come out each year, why should this expansion make it to your shelf?
The personal Landmark cards are a really nice addition to the gameplay. Whether you play solo or with a full table, ending up with no Landmarks in your capital city is a feels-bad kind of moment. Sure, if this gets brought up people always say that you should pivot to another track or something to give yourself a better opportunity to get a Landmark.
But what if I don’t want to do that? What if I really want to try and be a Tech mogul in this game? Or, what if I’m playing with a table of 5 players? Then somebody is always going to have to double up on a track with somebody else. It’s unavoidable.
The second instance where you’d want to pick up this expansion is if you want more variety with the Civilizations. With 10 new Civilizations to choose from, you will have plenty to keep Tapestry fresh for many plays to come. Also, in case you aren’t a frequent flyer on BoardGameGeek’s forums, you’ll also find that the rulebook includes the Civilization Adjustments from the Civilizations in the base game. These were balancing changes to help bring them all to a more even playing field.
Overall, Plans and Ploys is giving you an enhanced experience in comparison to the base game, while increasing the replayability. I really like the new Civilizations that have abilities that really make it feel like your Civilization is different than all the rest.
One such example are the Recyclers. They allow you to start with an additional tech card, which is a huge jumpstart! Their other ability is that you can upgrade tech cards from the top row back down to the bottom, gaining 5 points in the process. If you take a tech-heavy track, you can gather a bunch of points from this ability. Also, if you play your cards right, you can get some really nice benefits multiples time over the course of the game.
All of the new Civilizations feel interesting and engaging. I’ve only gotten a chance to play with a handful of them, but you know that I’m itching to see what the rest are all about. Asymmetric factions are fun because they appeal to people who want to sample them all, as well as to people who want to take a subset of Civilizations and become masters of them.
Tapestry Plans and Ploys: A Landmark Addition!
It’s pretty rare for me to put together a complete CLAIM review on a board game expansion. Usually, expansions leave me comparing them to other expansions, or I’ll bundle that content with some other talking points on the game.
In the case of Tapestry: Plans and Ploys, the expansion was worthy of its own entry. It may not seem like much, but you really do get a lot of bang for your buck on this expansion. As with any expansion, it is really designed for people who already like the game. If you’re just starting out and haven’t played Tapestry yet, you should probably get some games of that in before jumping in right away with Plans and Ploys.
Just like its parent, Tapestry: Plans and Ploys gets the Nerds on Earth Seal of Awesomeness award! It’s a title that board game publishers swoon over, trying to win, but it’s only given to the best of the best. It signifies that this expansion is…awesome!
If you’re a Tapestry fan already, Plans and Ploys will breathe some fresh life into the game and offer many more hours enjoyment for your gaming group.
Disclosure: Stonemaier Games provided Nerds on Earth with a copy of Tapestry: Plans and Ploys in exchange for an honest review.