Design Diary

This is a compilation of the designer diary entries posted in the Tapestry Facebook group. They are listed here in chronological order, with the most recent entry at the top.

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August 18: Influences and Inspirations

Leading up to and during the design process for Tapestry, I played and researched a number of other civilization-themed. I wanted to make sure I fully understood what a civ game felt like, what players would expect, and what I could add to the genre. I also just play a lot of games in general, so there were some other influences as well.

Among the games that label themselves to be civ games that I played were: Golden Ages, Civilization V (video game), 7 Wonders/Duel, Civ: A New Dawn, Through the Ages, Clash of Cultures, Nations, Nations Dice, Antiquity, Imperial Settlers, and Through the Ages. I also played Sid Meier’s Civilization (the board game), but not until after Tapestry’s design was complete. I’ve also played and enjoyed Trade on the Tigris since then.

If you’d like to see my favorite things about those games and an overall ranking, here’s the video I filmed earlier this year: https://youtu.be/Hg6v-slQFTg

I think the quintessential civ game is the Civilization video game. I actually hadn’t played it, but my company’s cofounder, Alan, had played it a ton in college. So he was a great resource, as were videos on YouTube about more recent iterations. I also ended up playing Civilization V a bit, especially to understand the “one more turn” aspect that I’ve heard so many people talk about. I really liked that you started with so little and ended up with such a vast, advanced empire—I tried to replicate that in Tapestry. I also enjoyed the asymmetry and the look of the map. Oh, and the tech tracks were a great source of inspiration for Tapestry’s advancement tracks.

From among all of those other games, you’ve probably seen the influences (things I liked and disliked) mentioned in my other design diary posts. For example, it didn’t make sense to me that if I, say, invent the wheel, that you also wouldn’t be able to invent the wheel (i.e., I claim a card, preventing you from claiming it). I also knew that some of the punishing elements in acclaimed civ games—while thematically sound—just weren’t a good fit for my style of design. Also, as discussed yesterday, I wanted to make sure Tapestry was a civ game in scope, not a dudes-on-a-map game.

A few common elements I decided not to include were religion and happiness. For religion, while it’s certainly had a huge impact on our real-world history, Tapestry doesn’t feature real-world locations, events, or people. Religion is a sensitive subject, so I figured it would be best not to include it. As for happiness, I just wasn’t sure how to quantify it, especially given the scope of Tapestry’s story arc. If we’re spanning from the beginning of mankind into the future, it didn’t seem to make sense to look at the happiness of everyone in your vast civilization at any given time.

During the blind playtest process, I think every survey I sent included the question, “Does this feel like a civilization game? Why or why not?” The prototype had no art, as I wanted the mechanisms themselves to have that civ feel. The answer wasn’t always “yes,” but I got a lot more affirmatives as each wave of playtesting progressed.

A few other games that influenced (or resembled) Tapestry are A Feast for Odin (spatial element, lots of actions), Mombasa (use of tracks), Everdell (no rounds), and Russian Railroads (tracks and escalating VP).

I’m sure there are other influences that I haven’t mentioned—perhaps you’ll notice them in the final game.

To date, what is your favorite civilization game, and what makes it feel like a civ game to you?

August 17: Military, Conquering, and Player Interaction

So far I’ve explained the core actions on 3 of the advancement tracks, which leaves just 1: military. Today I’ll discuss the military track, conquering, and recap the various forms of player interaction in Tapestry.

From early on in Tapestry’s design, I realized that I needed to do certain things so Tapestry was a civ game, not a dudes-on-a-map game or an empire-building game. That isn’t a knock on those genres (Scythe fits into both of those genres). Rather, I really wanted Tapestry to feel epic in scope, and that meant implementing a macro view of map expansion, not a micro view of troop movement over a specific period of time.

Real-world history is bookmarked with famous wars and battles, so I did try for a long time to capture those memorable moments in Tapestry. But it always seemed to detract and distract from the core gameplay when tried to implement combat mechanisms.

So conquering in the final version of Tapestry works like this: If you gain a “conquer” benefit (usually on the military track), you choose a territory adjacent to a territory you control and place an outpost token on it. That territory must have at most 1 other token on it (usually an outpost, but there are some civs/tapestry cards that let you place other types of tokens), and it can’t be one that you already control.

Next, roll the conquer dice and choose the benefit on one of them. The red die gives you VP and the black die typically give you a resource. As I mentioned on Thursday, you only need 1 set of dice, but extras will be available during the Tapestry preorder in early September

If you conquer an opponent’s territory (i.e., a territory with an opponent’s outpost on it), you “topple” that outpost. It’s tipped over on the territory. It’s very important that their outpost remains in place, as it means the territory has 2 tokens and thus can’t be conquered again (this prevents players from just fighting back and forth over the same territory—it gives meaning to the final conquer for each territory).

This is also the reason why each player starts out with 2 of their outpost tokens on their starting territory—those territories can never be conquered. Each player has 10 outpost tokens, and once they’re on the map, they can’t be moved or removed.

Even though conquering an opponent’s territory can permanently switch control and improve your board position, there is a risk: trap cards! These are disguised as tapestry cards, and they’re why players keep their hand of tapestry cards private.

If you try to conquer my territory and I reveal a trap card, your outpost is toppled instead of mine (both tokens still end up on the territory). I also gain 1 of any resource for the pleasure of luring you into my trap.

Just so drawing a trap card is never a wasted action, you can alternately play it as a tapestry card on an income turn to simply gain 10 VP.

Why does territory control matter? Part of it is just that expanding gives you access to more places to explore and conquer. Also, on both your income mat and other places in the game, you might see a red hex icon inside the VP icon. It means, “Gain 1 VP for each territory you control.”

Also, there are some achievements on the board related to control, such as if you topple 2 opponent outposts or if you conquer the middle island on the board.

That segues into the overall topic of interaction. During the development and blind playtesting process, I focused a lot on giving players reasons to pay attention to their opponents. That’s the type of interaction I enjoy—you’ll see very little “take that” in our games.

So here’s the comprehensive list of all of the types of interaction in Tapestry (reasons to pay attention to other players):

–exploration (if I place a territory tile, it takes away a place that you could explore, but it could be a place that you’ll expand to)

–conquering and traps (should my civ move towards yours or away? Do we broker peace with each other? Do I set you up for a trap?)

–achievements (can you be the first to achieve these goals before other players)

–face-up tech cards (if I really want a card, I need to take it before someone else does)

–a number of tapestry cards compare you to other players or impact other players

–advancement track landmarks (a race among all players to reach new tiers on the tracks)

–a number of the asymmetric civilization abilities create interaction—often positive—with opponents

–neighbors (you can look at your neighbors when trying to upgrade tech cards, and if you’re the first of your neighbors to enter a new era on your income mat, you gain some extra resources)

Even though players can’t disrupt each other’s core actions in Tapestry, I think that list indicates a fair amount of player interaction.

I just have a few remaining design diaries before the full rulebook of Tapestry is revealed (though at this point, I think you may know all rules in the game—it is, after all, only a 4-page rulebook)!

August 16: Debugging Tapestry (written by Morten Monrad Pedersen)

One of the challenges when designing a game is to avoid strategy “bugs”. This can be weird and overpowered strategies (“The Halifax Hammer” in A Few Acres of Snow), infinite loops (the “Roofing Company” infinite resource loop in Glass Road), strategies that end the game prematurely (“Rusviet-Industrial” in Scythe), etc.

Spotting such bugs is what playtesting is for, and in this regard solo gaming has a major advantage because…

… when playtesting solo there are no other players to annoy

When I hunt for bugs, I’m annoying for other players. During the Tapestry playtesting I sat there apparently doing nothing, and nothing, and nothing, and nothing, and nothing while thinking many turns ahead to look for exploits. Other humans would have been bored to tears, but the Automas (artificial opponents) behaved like they were patience incarnate.

I would roll the game back to an earlier state, play again slightly different from there, roll back, tweak, etc. Sometimes meticulously writing everything down. Instead of complaining about this like humans would, the Automas even let me write on them when I couldn’t find my notebook.

Humans generally don’t take kindly to players who take over their game pieces and control their every action. The Automas on the other hand sat there as if they were just mindless stacks of cardboard and let me make all their decisions for them, so I could experiment with weird strategies.

They were happy to play the game for hours on end, never got bored, never said they wanted to switch games, and as if by magic they were available whenever I wanted to play, which meant that I’m probably the person who has played the last revisions of Tapestry the most.

Interaction, engines, and exploits

Because of this the solo playtesters and I could experiment with Tapestry and look for potential exploits in ways that few multiplayer testers could, which was good, because Tapestry has a couple of features that can lead to exploits.

First, there’s limited negative interaction between players, which means that it’s harder to prevent an opponent from pulling off a specific strategy than it is in games with many ways to hurt each other.

Second, it’s an engine builder so unfairly gained advantages can potentially be snowballed into landslide victories.

Solo testing improves the multiplayer game

During the development there were a few times where we managed to tune our Tapestry engines so that we could max out basically everything in the game and building more than the capital city could accomodate and we found ways to string long series of moves in just the right order to combo excessively.

We worked with Jamey to tweak the issues away after which we pounded away at them again to make sure that the holes had been closed properly without opening new ones.

The result of our work was that not only did the game become available to solo gamers, it was also made better for those who’ll never open the solo mode rulebook.

August 15: Science

What is a civilization without science?

It was really important to me from the beginning that each track—technology, military, exploration, and science—to have a core mechanism that really *felt* like you were doing that thing.

The way science ended up working is one of the most pleasant surprises for me to discover during the design process for Tapestry. Basically, early in the design process, back in the days when there were 8 different tracks on the board, I decided to try using a dice mechanism for science.

My reasoning was that early forms of science started out as a bit of a gamble. You might hope to discover one thing, but you actually answer some other mystery of the world.

The mechanism was simple: To “research,” you rolled a d8, advanced once on the corresponding track for free (remember, there were 8 tracks back then), and gained the benefit.

Much to my surprise, this version of research was an instant hit with playtesters (including myself). Which is pretty odd, right? Instead of choosing the track you want, you’re leaving your fate to a die.

BUT IT WAS SO MUCH FUN.

I’m not kidding. People were positively giddy every time they rolled the science die. They would do it early in the game when they felt overwhelmed by other choices, and they would do it late in the game in the hopes of getting a “free” benefit on a more expensive track.

I was so bewildered by how much fun it was that I did some research into the psychology of random rewards. If you’re interested, here’s an article to check out: http://www.psychologyofgames.com/2018/07/fortnites-success-is-due-to-random-chance/

As the game evolved, so did the research mechanism. But the science die remained. After we switched to 4 advancement tracks, the custom die only needed to have 4 sides, but rolling a d4 or even a d8 isn’t nearly as satisfying as rolling a chunky d12 (my favorite die). So the final die is a custom d12.

Here’s how research works: You roll the science die, and then you *may* advance for free on the corresponding track. If the research icon has an X below it, it means that nothing else happens. You’re just advancing, not gaining any benefits or bonuses. You’re just pushing yourself forward on a track, moving towards better benefits and landmarks.

The science track also has research icons with no X. For those, if you choose to advance, you’ll gain the corresponding benefit and you may pay to gain the bonus (if any).

Eventually you’ll advance far enough on the science track that you’ll stop rolling the die. Instead, you’ll simply choose from the available tracks (specific icons), advance for free, and (as long as there’s no X), gain the corresponding benefit (and pay to gain the bonus, if any).

The science track ended up being one of the most difficult to balance. At times it was too powerful; others, not as much. And it was almost irresistible to playtesters either way, making it even more difficult to determine that it needed rebalancing. But as Morten will tell you tomorrow, I think we figured it out.

One quick note about the Tapestry preorder from Stonemaier Games in early September (4 days, games will ship to you from regional fulfillment centers in September): There are a total of 3 custom dice in Tapestry—1 for science and 2 for military, which I’ll discuss on Saturday. You only need 3 dice. BUT if you want a set of dice for each player, extra sets will be available on our webstore during the preorder (and after, while supplies last—we can always make more too). A “set” is 1 of each of the 3 dice, so if you think you’ll only play Tapestry with 3 total players, you could buy exactly 2 extra sets of the dice. If you want. It’s totally not necessary, just an optional perk.

August 14: Tech Cards

Let’s talk about tech cards today! There are 33 of them in Tapestry, all unique.

You already got a good look at the technology track on the game board, which I revealed in the first design diary post. Here it is again to jog your memory.

The card icon you see here represents an “invent” benefit: Gain a tech card and place it to the right of your capital city mat in the bottom row. There are always 3 face-up tech cards next to the board, and if you don’t like any of them, you can draw randomly from the deck.

That’s it! For now. It’s as if you’ve conceived the idea of paper, penicillin, or time travel, but you haven’t actually figured it out yet.

It’s only later—typically during an income turn, but also elsewhere—that you get to upgrade a tech card. You then slide a card of your choice up to the middle row and gain the benefit in the circle.

Or, if you already have a tech card in the middle row, you can fully invent it by sliding it to the top row and gaining the powerful benefit in the square. The catch here, though, is that you can only upgrade to the top row if you or a neighbor (an opponent sitting directly to your right or left) has achieved a specific prerequisite like “be in the second tier of the military track.”

In this way, the tech cards are a little bit like a Magic mechanism called “suspend,” which is one of my all-time favorite mechanisms. You’re playing a card that does nothing at first, but simply by being patient, it’ll burst into action with a powerful ability (and help you a little bit along the way).

Most of the 33 tech cards are actual technologies. I picked some of the classics—eyeglasses, dynamite, and the printing press—but I also tried to include some important inventions that don’t get as much credit as they should, like ammonia, canned food, anesthesia, and plumbing.

But there are also 6 tech cards that result in you gaining a landmark (the other 12 landmarks are gained from the advancement tracks), like the library and the com tower (one of my favorite sculpts in the game).

Which tech card are you most looking forward to inventing?

August 13: Exploration and the Map

While Through the Ages and 7 Wonders have shown that civ games can work great without maps, I couldn’t couldn’t resist putting one in Tapestry. Today I’m going to talk about Tapestry’s map and exploration.

It took quite a few months and iterations to figure out the foundation for the map system, though. Originally I experimented with a hub-and-spoke map system, which I tested using a map of Europe. It was fine, but it didn’t scale well, and it felt stagnant–with it, players would be using the same map every game, while I wanted each session of the Tapestry world to feel different.

Eventually I switched to the hex map/tile system that’s in the final game. I think I was designing this around the same time as the Scythe modular board, as the two share a combination of (a) a partially preset board (b) tiles that you place on the board. Unlike the Scythe modular board, though, there’s no tile setup required for Tapestry. You just put the board on the table.

The style the Andrew Bosley (the artist) and I settled on was inspired by the latest Civilization video game. The beige areas are unexplored, and the art in those areas is just background art waiting for you to place tiles on top of it. There are 6 starting regions for this 5-player game, with each starting hex’s terrain corresponding to that player’s capital city mat.

Each starting area is designed to give players the immediate option to explore (3 adjacent unexplored hexes) or conquer (3 adjacent explored hexes). I’ll talk about conquering soon in a post about player interaction (there’s conquering, but no combat).

To explore, you’ll typically choose to advance on the exploration track onto an “explore” benefit (it’s an icon that appears several times on the track).

You’ll select a territory tile from hand (you’ll collect these during the game as income and on the exploration track; there are 48 unique tiles), place it on an unexplored hex adjacent to a territory you control, score VP based on how you oriented the tile, and gain the benefit on the territory tile (e.g., 1 resource). I wanted to give players a feeling of discovery when explore, hence the different benefits on the tiles.

This is a pretty powerful benefit, as you’re getting a lot all at once. In playtesting Tapestry, I found this to be the right balance for exploration, as (a) your ability to explore is limited by your expansion on the map and (b) you’re just placing tiles, not gaining ownership of them, so you could potentially be helping militaristic opponents.

For scaling reasons, I decided to make the game board double-sided. One side has a tighter map for 1-3 players; the other side has a larger map for 4-5 players.

It’s rare that you’ll fill the entire game board with tiles, but it’s still neat at the end of the day to see the nations and continents you created, especially since the tile-placement mechanism incentives players to align terrains with each other.

But wait, there’s more!

In addition to playing and researching civilization games during my design process, I also read a lot of comments from people on BoardGameGeek and reddit about what they wanted in a civ game. One comment in particular stood out to me: A person mentioned that they wished civ games didn’t only take place on the ground (Earth, a single planet, etc).

So in Tapestry, if you advance far enough in exploration, you can explore outer space.

There’s no map for space, just tiles that you’ll place next to your player mats. There are 15 of them in the game (also drawn randomly like territory tiles), and like benefits at the end of other tracks, they’re all VERY powerful.

That’s all for exploration! What do you think of this style of exploration? Do you prefer civ games to feature maps?

August 12, 2019: Tapestry Cards

The name of the game is Tapestry, but why? How is that concept manifested in the game?

Let’s start with the name. I typically brainstorm dozens of names for new games. We narrow it down to a few favorites, and our lawyer runs a trademark search on them, and we pick from those that survive the search. We often pursue this process while a game is in the design process (we don’t wait until the design is complete).

In this case, I really liked the name “Tapestry” because many medieval civilizations in history used ornate tapestries to record important parts of their history. That’s exactly what I wanted the game to be–not only did I want stories to emerge from the advancement tracks and interactions on the map (more on that soon), but also from specific memorable developments and bookmarks in your civ’s timeline.

This is what the tapestry cards do. In yesterday’s design diary, I mentioned that players each take 5 income turns over the course of the game. The primary way they track these turns is by playing tapestry cards on your income mat–you’ll play them at the beginning of your 2nd, 3rd, and 4th income turn (there’s also one, the Maker of Fire, built into every income mat to start the game). At the end of the game you can look at your tableau to see how your civilization’s idealogies changed over time.

The 43 unique tapestry cards are a mix of “when played” cards (instant benefit) and “this era” cards (ongoing benefit for the era you just began). Like other aspects of the game, timing is crucial with many of these cards–they don’t dictate your strategy, but if you plan on playing a certain card, you may make adjustments around maximizing it.

Unlike tech cards, which I’ll discuss soon, tapestry cards are a blind draw. This is related to my design philosophy that players shouldn’t be required to read text from all the way across the table. However, to counteract this randomness based on feedback from playtesters, I decided to integrate a tapestry card draw into the income mats. That way you end up with an abundance of tapestry cards in hand from which to choose (as well as ways late in the game to discard cards you didn’t use to gain points).

I also want to mention here that Andrew Bosley was wonderful to work with on these cards. I always ask our illustrators to feature a diversity of people in our games (gender, race, age, etc), and Andrew was very receptive to that. While the cards don’t refer to real historical moments, we also tried to be respectful and sensitive to events and developments these cards might remind people of–if we missed something, it was not intentional.

Also, thanks to some last-minute tips from Josh Ward, who you often see in our Facebook groups, we added some fun Easter eggs to a few of the cards. Can you spot any in the photos I’ve featured today?

August 11, 2019: Income and Game End

My Sunday Sitdown YouTube video today will be about how games end, so it seems like a good time for me to talk about that aspect of Tapestry today.

I’ve mentioned that the main type of turns players will take in Tapestry are “advance” turns (advance once on a track of your choice). The other type of turn is an “income” turn. Each player will take exactly 5 income turns during the game.

I knew I wanted players to collect income in Tapestry, as it’s a staple of many civ games (including Sid Meier’s Civilization). It conveys a sense of progress, and it feels good to get an increasing amount of resources over the course of the game.

The traditional tabletop method of letting players collect income is by structuring the game with a set number of rounds. While this works for many games, it just didn’t feel right in the early playtests for Tapestry. If we’re running separate civilizations over thousands of years, why are we pausing at the same time to collect income? Does turn order or first player change (and if so, what does that mean thematically)? Also, since there are sometimes interactive elements during income turns in Tapestry, they can’t be taken simultaneously anyway.

So I subconsciously took a nod from Everdell (which happens to be the game that Tapestry artist Andrew Bosley is most known for) and incorporated income turns into the flow of the game. You either take an advance turn or an income turn, and income turns are limited to 5 total.

At the beginning of the game, your income mat (all income mats are identical) is filled with income buildings. Like the landmark buildings, these were hand-sculpted by Rom Brown. Each player gets 20 of them, so there are a total of 100 income building miniatures in Tapestry.

Many of the benefits on the advancement tracks let you gain an income building (remove it from your income mat and place it on your capital city mat–see the August 9 design diary for information about that). Doing so reveals an income benefit.

When you’re ready to take an income turn (usually when you run out of resources, but not always), you’ll check to see if your civ ability triggers, you’ll play a tapestry card (more on that in an upcoming post), you’ll upgrade a tech card of your choice, gain all VP based on your income tracks, and then collect all other income (resources–which you keep track of on your income mat–territory tiles, and tapestry cards).

Over the course of the game, the VP and income you receive on income turns will increase exponentially, which is one of the reasons I’ve compared Tapestry to Russian Railroads. In both games, you may only gain a few victory points the first time you take an income turn, but in the final round you might collect 100+ VP. I really like that sense of progression in any game.

All of these are organically integrated into each income turn, including the very first turn of the game when you pretty much just collect resources and the last turn of the game when you pretty much just gain victory points. There’s nothing else to remember to do at the beginning, end, or middle–everything is always shown on your income mat.

As for the end of the game, because players choose when to take their income turns, it means that players will finish the game at slightly different times, with the player who finished first keeping a close eye on the VP track to see if opponents will catch them. It’s rare that player who have finished must wait for more than a few minutes, because the remaining players are waiting for fewer players to take their turns.

I think that’s it for today! If you have any questions, I’m happy to answer them.

August 10, 2019: Asymmetric Civilizations

One of my favorite elements of civilization games are asymmetric factions/nations/leaders. So I knew from the start of the Tapestry design process that starting and ongoing asymmetry would be a part of the game.

As is my typical method for asymmetrical design, though, I playtested the game (locally and blind playtesting) for a long time to make sure the foundation was solid before adding the different civilizations. During that time I was amassing a number of ideas (and getting increasingly excited about implementing them).

By the time we started testing the asymmetric civilizations, I had over a dozen concepts. I figured we would eliminate those that players weren’t enjoying as much and eventually end up with 8-10 unique civs.

But what I found is that most of them actually worked quite well. They needed tweaks and adjustments for clarity and balance, of course, but there were very few civilizations that needed to be outright cut.

As a result, the final version of Tapestry has 16 unique, asymmetric civilizations, each illustrated by Andrew Bosley. We didn’t hold back anything for an expansion.

At the beginning of the game, each player randomly draws 2 civilization mats and selects 1. Typically you’ll also end the game with just 1 civ, though there are a few ways to gain another.

Consistent with the rest of Tapestry, the civilizations don’t represent real-world nations. They’re more like cultural identities and ideologies. Each is designed to give players something unique and powerful to do without pigeonholing them into a prescribed strategy.

Also, with all the other things going on in Tapestry, I found that playertesters sometimes forgot to use their civilizations. So many of the final civ abilities trigger during your income turns (when you’re specifically reminded to check your civ mat).

With yesterday’s reveal of the capital city mats and today’s reveal of the civilization mats, you might be curious about the material we used for these mats. It’s really hard to tell in the photos, but we used a special process called “frosting” the cardstock to give it a really nice texture. If you’ve played Monolith Arena, it’s the same procedure used to make those mats. So they have a premium feel to them, but they’re also designed not to warp.

My hope is that these 16 asymmetric civilizations create a ton of replayability for Tapestry (in addition to the other variable elements that I’ll discuss in future posts). Hopefully you might even have some ideas for new civ mats after you play Tapestry, and if you share them in this group, we might test them, develop them, and include them in a future expansion!

August 9, 2019: The Landmarks

I’ve wanted to design a civilization game for a long time, but it wasn’t until 2 years ago that something clicked and made me move forward with it. That something–more of a “someone,” really–was a sculptor named Rom Brown (http://cultofgame.blogspot.com/).

Rom’s hobby is to create tiny, detailed sculpts upon request for pretty much any game. They’re made out of clay, hence “Codename Clay.” I happened to stumble upon his website to see a building he had created, and instantly I had a vision for what the civ game could look like.

I reached out to Rom and explained the idea, which involved making a test batch of a few sample buildings to see if Panda could replicate the look of clay in painted plastic miniatures. So we gave it a try, and they turned out great at both levels (the only nervewracking part was sending the sculpts from New Zealand to China!)

This initial process took several months, which gave me time to start to work on the initial design for Tapestry–I needed to figure out what these fancy buildings would do in the game!

I also had to balance the cost of making these types of miniatures, as prepainted minis are very expensive. I knew I wanted at least *some* of them to be prepainted–there was just something really special about the aesthetic. I was only going to make 1 civ game in my career, so I wanted it to be really beautiful.

Along the way, the buildings separated into two groups: Prepainted “landmarks” and unpainted “income buildings.” I’ll talk more about those income buildings in an upcoming post–today is about the landmarks.

There are 18 prepainted landmark building miniatures in Tapestry. They range in height from 28mm to 70mm. They all fit into a custom insert, accompanied by a diagram on the side of the box indicating where each building fits:

Each landmark represents that you are the “first” to do something in the world of Tapestry. For example, if you’re the first to invent metallurgy on the technology track, you gain the forge building and place it in your capital city. You have the world’s first/oldest forge. Rom designed the landmarks so that as you advance further, the aesthetic of the building becomes more futuristic. The result is similar to what you see on the front of the box, cities with a mix of old and new.

12 of the landmarks appear on the advancement tracks. The other 6 show up on tech cards, which I’ll discuss in a future post. Of note about the advancement tracks is that the buildings were originally going to be placed on those tracks during setup, but we found in playtesting the final board with the final minis that they made it hard to read the icons on the board from certain angles. So we added a separate landmark mat for those 12 landmarks:

So why do these landmarks matter in the game? Each player has a capital city that is represented (a) on a starting hex on the game board and (b) as a randomized player mat matching the topography of the corresponding area on the board. You will place landmarks and income buildings on this mat during the game to try to complete rows and columns (to gain ongoing victory points) and complete 3×3 districts (to gain instant resources).

The income buildings are each 1×1, but the landmarks feature a variety of base sizes. The only restriction is that they can’t be placed on impassable terrain (red dots on the landmark mat; though, the red dots are also good, as they count as “complete”). So there’s a bit of a puzzle–inspired by A Feast for Odin–to decide exactly where to place your landmarks.

The height of the buildings doesn’t really matter (other than adding to the dramatic skyline of your capital city), though in the rare case of a tiebreaker at the end of the game, the player with the tallest building wins.

I anticipate that some people might ask why we don’t offer a version of the game with unpainted minis or tiles instead of these fancy landmarks, and I think that’s a perfectly reasonable question. We debated those options. But in the end, I decided that these prepainted buildings were an integral part of the experience of playing Tapestry. Your civilization will be vibrant, colorful, and elevated!

Which of these landmarks do you look forward to featuring in your first capital city?

August 8, 2019: “Advance” Turns

Thanks for joining me for the first design diary post for Tapestry! I have a lot to cover over the next few weeks, and I want to start with something specific and meaty so you know what the game is all about before I delve into other anecdotes that happened during the design journey.

So right from the start, I want to share with you the core mechanism of Tapestry.

Like many of my games, there are no rounds or phases in Tapestry. Each player simply takes turns clockwise until the game ends (I’ll talk about how the game ends in a future post). On most of your turns, you’ll be taking something called an “advance” turn.

An advance turn is short and simple: You’ll pick one of the four tracks (technology, science, military, exploration), pay a cost, advance your token one space on the track, and gain the resulting benefit (then optionally pay to gain a bonus, if any). All players have tokens on all 4 tracks–there’s no blocking.

This is your main choice on pretty much every turn of the game: In what way do I want my civilization to advance? Other than increasing costs on each track, the game doesn’t limit your advancement. It’s perfectly normal in Tapestry for a player to focus on 1 or 2 tracks and neglect the others. This is part of the narrative of the history you’re creating–you may not have invented wagons, but you understand nanotechnology. Or you may not know the basics of mathematics, but you wield drone assassins.

As you advance on each track, the benefits you gain become increasingly varied and powerful. In total, there are 48 different track benefits. That’s a daunting number, and there are a lot of icons, but at any given time, you only have 4 options. This narrows your decision space while giving you a distinct feeling of progress as you advance.

It also allowed the game to cover a wide variety of advancements in a fairly accurate order (within each category). Each track starts near the beginning of mankind and extends into the future.

The action-selection system wasn’t always this way. For the first few months of playtesting, the board had a wild, busy layout. It was overwhelming, and fortunately I realized that the variety of options on the board could be maintained while streamlining the system down to 4 tracks instead of 8 branching tracks. The 4 tracks that were removed were shifted to another system in the game that I’ll talk about later.

When I shifted to the more streamline system and eventually entered blind playtesting, I gathered data on which tracks people were completing and which felt more fun to use (often the two answers were the same). There were some big adjustments along the way to update the core actions, then a lot of fine-tuning specific actions and identifying problematic benefits.

So that’s it! Pay the cost, advance your token, gain the benefit.

Part of the reason I’m sharing this with you today is because it’ll help tomorrow’s big component reveal make more sense. There’s a hint about this in the photo.

If you have any questions about this action system, feel free to ask in the comments!

180 Comments on “Design Diary

  1. Seems like a simple core framework that any amount of complexity can be grafted onto. Always good when the core of a game has very little rules overhead, imo.

  2. Is each benefit only attainable once as there would there be no gain to benefitting twice or more OR are there options to repeat gain benefits?

  3. Fascinating. Intrigued to see more. I am eager to see if it just as easy explaining in the diary, as explained in 4 page rulebook!
    Since no direct conflict happens, what’s the use of mini… ahem, hiring a sculptor?

  4. Sticking to the go around clockwise until done has proved hard to do in some games for me. Was this harder to implement in a civ game, especially with no turn order changes throughout for sometimes a rubberband for latecomers?

    1. The clockwise portion wasn’t difficult (I think players find that pretty intuitive). Removing rounds and still having income was much more difficult–I’ll talk about that soon. :)

  5. Is there any chaining? Like, I advance to “pottery”, and since I already have “irrigation”, I now automatically get “farming”.

  6. I’m getting really excited for this game. Its one of my favorite genres of games and I can’t wait to see more of your take on it.

  7. love the simplicity of the details and i was sold when you said there was a 4 page rule book. I love the idea of civ games but there always so daunting. Can’t wait for tomorrow!

  8. “Or you may not know the basics of mathematics, but you wield drone assassins.” this feels wrong xD unless I guess maybe they were an advanced tech discovery and they’re used w/o proper understanding?

    1. I think the same. It only would make sense for me if, for example, a civilization can have access to drone assassins by purchasing them but can’t create them by themselves because they don’t know mathematics.

      1. Agree, am a bit worried too. I get that Tapestry takes place in an alternate reality with loose ties to our world but I would prefer if the same basic rules of logic still applied.
        More advanced achievements need their pre-requisites to be in place for everything to makes sense. Having an logical progression in place makes the game easier to teach and learn.

  9. ooo. Nice. I’m already looking forward to stealing tech from my rivals (I figure that’ll be one of the possibilities?)

  10. “… you may not have invented wagons, but you understand nanotechnology.”
    My favorite sci-fi short story revolves around technologically inferior (compared to humans) races that are still able to do FTL travel, and this sentence gave off a vibe similar to that story.
    And so my hype is increased :) I find the ability to create civilizations fundamentally different than ours very appealing.

    1. Oh, I don’t think there’s any chance they’ll sell out that quickly. Even Wingspan–which people were super excited about–sold only 5000 copies in our 7-day preorder. The Tapestry preorder will be 4 days.

      The miniatures are painted by hand at the factory.

      1. Hand painted, that’s amazing.

        I can see a lot of new Wingspan customers buying a copy of Tapestry, especially since it’s beautiful and only has 4 pages of rules.

        Maybe the trailer should follow the movie industry to encourage newbies, “From the creators of Wingspan and Scythe comes…” :) New gamers will probably be more familiar with your games than Mombasa and Russian Railroads.

  11. Those landmarks might be the most gorgeous looking tiles for tile laying I’ve ever seen in a game. And tile laying doesn’t seem to even be the main focus of Tapestry.

  12. Granted there’s a lot of game I don’t know yet, but with four tracks, five players, rewards for being the first to reach spaces on the tracks, and the statement that most turns will be moving up a space on a track, my first thought is that a five-player game is going to open with four players staking claims to different tracks and the fifth stuck picking one of the others to chase after and hope they stumble / divert focus. Or there are not-yet-revealed reasons to spread out on tracks that make up for not getting landmarks…?

    1. Philip: It’s very rare that a single player advances on each of the tracks and neglects the other tracks. Usually several players are competing over each track. Also, there are 6 landmarks found on tech cards, so even in a larger game, there are other ways to get them.

  13. Through playtesting were adjustments made towards balancing playing “wide” (advancing four tracks evenly) versus playing playing “tall” (focusing on one or two tracks)? Does racing to get the landmarks provide an advantage or by the end of the game everyone has a good amount on each track so other factors determine wins and losses?

    1. “Through playtesting were adjustments made towards balancing playing “wide” (advancing four tracks evenly) versus playing playing “tall” (focusing on one or two tracks)?”

      Definitely! That was a huge part of playtesting.

      “Does racing to get the landmarks provide an advantage or by the end of the game everyone has a good amount on each track so other factors determine wins and losses?”

      It’s certainly one strategy, though you might sacrifice something else by doing so.

  14. I’m extremely excited for this game. I’m curious about the game’s depth. I love Scythe because it seems like there is always something more to think about. I never feel like I’ve “mastered” it… there’s too much going on. Might I get the same feeling playing Tapestry? I hope the highly thematic nature of it won’t mean that there’s less strategy involved. (I’m encouraged that you ranked it as being slightly heavier than Wingspan in the livestream)

  15. You say its like Russian Railroads, does that mean there are ‘upgradable’ markers. In RR the actions move you along the tract, it sounds like in Tapestry moving along the tracks produce the actions, which way is it?

    1. It’s more of the sense of progression along the tracks that I’m using as a comparison here, as well as how you score exponentially more points later in the game than earlier in the game.

      1. Orleans is my favorite game ever! In Orleans you move up the tracts and gain a 2 benefits, plus some end game points. If I took out the bag building aspect in Orleans how does Tapestry”feel” different than moving on a tract in Orleans?

  16. I’m interested to know why Game Trayz didn’t do this insert? Is it because the rest of the game already cost so much or was there another reason?

  17. Wow this is very similar to my WIP Roll and Write entry for the coming contest on BGG. So excited to see same concepts floating around. I got inspired to do this when I saw rules for Kingdomino Duel.

  18. Will the player mats be boards like they are in Viticulture, or the material you used in Between Two Cities: Capitals? (What is that material, anyway?)

  19. Hi Jamey – I’ve never followed one of your prerelease designer diaries before — really looking forward to the updates. On that note, should we expect a new one every day or just during the week?

  20. 16 civs for a 5 player game? This is up there with Tzolk’in’s Tribes and Prophecies expansion in terms of excess compared to what’s needed (which had 13 for a 4 – well 5 with T&P I guess), which isn’t a complaint.

    Even more curious about the material now, though.

    1. Also while I typically see flavour text as being an uninteresting way of bringing theme into board games – Off to the side, isolated from the gameplay – I really like how you’ve used it on these.

  21. Jamey, the card art is as beautiful as 7 Wonders. Great choice.

    I’m undecided to use cardstock for my game’s player mats or cardboard. I’m worried about warping too. Do you have to issue many replacements for warped Scythe and Viticulture player boards?

    I noticed on the isolationist card that it protects territories from being conquered. Does that mean players can steal territories from each other?

    1. We’ve gotten the most requests for Scythe boards, which may at least partially be related to the glue holding together the layers. But yes, overall, despite the type of high-density cardboard we use in Scythe and Viticulture, we still get too many requests related to warping. Hence my desire to find something thinner that doesn’t warp but still feels really high quality. I think we’ve found it for Tapestry.

      I’ll talk about the map/military/conquest soon. :)

  22. 16 different factions, that might indeed give us a lot of playability, first to try them all, next to get better at each of them!!! Very nice! So do these factions give you steering into which tracks you are going to improve on?!

    1. The civilizations do give you a little nudge in certain directions…well, at least some of them do. Others just give you a unique ability unrelated to the tracks. They’re all different, and they all still give you the freedom to choose from various strategies.

      1. That sounds really cool jamey! Nice to have the freedom but also nice that it gives possibility to take advantage of an unique ability was given to you.

        I really think its fun and clever that every of your games have such a unique element. Since i am a graphic designer i am always exited by visually appealing elements. In viticulture the glass drops blew my mind, in scythe the stunning map with so much graphic detail and in tapestry the pre- painted buildings. I like how you push the limits!

        I am curious how you experience a launch of one of your products, you talk a lot of elements or mechanics you like about it, and about what you have always wanted to see. But i am curious about your emotional experience. How do you experience that something that is born in your head as an idea, has had a lot of growth, and than at the end when everything clicks together with a beautiful design laid over it and than your ‘baby’ gets thrown into the world and people can reject or accept it. What emotional rollercoaster do you go through?

  23. Well, it certainly feels good to have people be excited about something I made and then also actually like it. So I have some nerves that go along with that hope. I’ve tried to desensitize myself to a certain degree, though, especially as those opinions start to arise, just so I can remain stable and happy. While I want my games to make other people happy, I don’t want my happiness to be dependent on what other people think about me.

    1. You should be proud of your work Jamie! You have a good track record and that is why people get excited about your work! People will have their opinions, and not ever game will be for every person, but at the end of the day you made something you wanted to in the way you wanted to. And there will be plenty of people that will love it!

      For me, your track record got me in the door, and each of these design diaries gets me more and more excited about the game. Can’t wait for the preorders and to get it on my table to share with my friends!

    1. I solved that by integrating the abilities into the flow of the game as much as possible. Often that means they trigger during income turns when there is a reminder to look at your civilization mat.

  24. Hey Jamie,
    very excited by your new creation!
    Will you be able to present it in person in Essen this year? It would be great to have a chance to meet you there. Keep up the great work you are doing!

  25. I’m absolutely pumped about this. Ever since I got a hold of scythe, I became a big fan of yours! Keep up the good work

  26. This looks so interesting. Can’t wait to see a video of the gameplay. AT any rate, can you make the pictures bigger so we can see the text better? My old eyes even with reading glasses, can’t discern all the text.

    As always great to read insights on your design process.

      1. Jamey, 12 of the images don’t get bigger when you click on them (including the rules image), they do nothing. Most of the ones that do get bigger are very low resolution (the text is blurry on the cards).

        FYI: Tapestry is almost impossible to find on your website using in mobile-view in portrait on a smartphone. It’s there on landscape mode but not portrait. It’s missing from the menu when you click on games. It’s also missing when you visit the page “All Games”.

        Even on desktop view you do not have Tapestry on the “All Games” page.
        https://stonemaiergames.com/games/

  27. Not sure if you’ve answered this yet or not (apologies if you have) but do you think it’s possible to fully cover all spaces in your capital city by the end of the game?

  28. I know it’s a few days since you revealed the advance action, but it’s been buzzing around in my head – “Pick a track to advance on, pay the associated cost, move one space along that track, gain whatever the space you move to says” is such a simple concept, and one that on paper at least – in a lighter game than it looks like Tapestry is – should be very easy to explain to non-gamers and practically invisible to people who are into hobby games, and as I said earlier should be able to support games of a variety of complexities and depths. But I can’t think of any other games that use this specific mechanism.

    Were you inspired by any other games for this aspect of the game, and if so what because conceptually I love this simplicity and would like to look into other games using this ‘pick a track to advance on, move your pawn one space along that track, do whatever that space says’

      1. I’m surprised not because , but because how natural it feels now that I’ve seen it described – It’s one of those ‘…How has this not been done this way before?’ moments for me.

  29. Wow Jamey, this looks really incredible. I love the integration of the mini puzzle game into the capital city layout. Cannot wait to dig into this one. Seems to me like there’s quite a bit of potential for goofy lopsided strategies :D. Definitely got me interested.

    Also, these design diaries are so cool and informative.

    1. And the Crimean mech is in the background of the wartime economy card. (This might be commenting the same thing twice but if so the other one hasn’t shown up yet)

  30. Each post makes me more and more excited for this game! As for Easter eggs, someone’s already spotted your cats, but I thought the farmers working with scythes might be a nod and is that a tractor mech on the Wartime Economy card?

  31. Looking forward to this. That feudalism wording is somewhat unclear though. Is it “gain 3vp per landmark or gain 1 resource” or is it “gain either 3 vp or 1 resource for each of your landmarks”?

    1. We used two grammatical techniques to make it clear that they’re independent clauses. First, the big OR separates the two. Second, we repeated the word “gain” (if we didn’t repeat it, that verb would carry over from the first clause, connecting the two).

  32. VERY excited for this! I’ve held off on a Civ game for a while, but this one looks more like a world you want to jump into VS a world you just encounter. 👍

    Question: I’m having a hard time discerning the color palate of this game from looking at the pics in the posts.

    In some images of cards/boards it appears to have a more muted/industrial/neutral color palate like in Scythe.

    But then in other pics the colors look “happier” and brighter, reminiscent of Bosley’s work on Everdell.

    Can you clarify which ”color style” the game is headed towards in final product? 🎨

    Thanks

    -Patrick

    1. Patrick: Thanks for your question. The camera and lighting make a big difference. I would say that the overall look of Tapestry is bright and cheery, though there is a little bit of a muted tone to it (especially with the beige map/scroll backgrounds).

  33. In the “Income” update, you mentioned how you took a page from Everdell, and have income earned for each player at different times, which in turn creates players ending the game at different times.

    My concern is did you or how did you find a balance for players to finish around the same time? From my experience with Everdell, typically the player that finishes last wins the game because they had more card plays/combos to give them more turn which in most cases equates to more points.

    My concern for Tapestry is similar. Since players can control their income (and therefore the endgame), players who finish later can keep making moves/combos, to earn more points, while the early finishers can’t.

    1. It really all comes down to how you gain and use your resources during the game. Finishing later often means that you’ve been more efficient and optimized, which increases your chances of victory, but it doesn’t necessarily ensure that if you’re not translating those resources into victory points.

      1. I see your point. I guess my concern is how Everdell can be very luck based, in terms of what cards you can get, which sets the tone of how optimized and efficient you can be. So far based on your entries, it seems all the information to optimize moves in efficient ways is present on the boards, which should help in balancing when players end.

        Is there any other benefit aside from getting more resources for collecting income for each “era” first?

        1. There are some circumstantial benefits based on cards/abilities, but the standard, built-in ability is the resource bonus under the tapestry cards on your income mat. It may seem small, but it can make a big difference.

  34. Ok… I think I’m becoming a little too obsessed with this game. I don’t know all the rules & haven’t seen the main board, yet while sleeping I’m dreaming that I’m playing Tapestry! It’s a first for me. :-)

  35. I’m confused about the end of the game – I’ve read and re-read the posts above, and can’t work out what triggers it – despite the posting of the 12th being about endgame!
    Does the 5th income turn trigger end of game? Or is it something else? If the former, what’s to stop others playing for ages until they take their final income turn?

    1. Laurie, eventually you will run out of resources and can’t do anything.

      When you want you can take an income turn by placing a card on your tapestry board. This will generate VP and resources for you to continue playing.

      When your tapestry board is full, the game is over, over for you. Others might be a few minutes behind, so you will wait for them to finish.

      I’d guess you’d probably calculate your score while waiting, and become immersed watching others finishing their turns while insincerely wishing them luck :)

      1. Actually the design diary doesn’t explain if the game is over at the very moment you place that last income-turn-tapestry card or if you continue after that last card for 1 more round until you use up all your new resources and cannot do anything (not even another income turn of course).

        1. Gerald is correct that all players will run out of resources at some point. In your 5th income turn, you don’t gain resources (you’re not allowed to gain resources or do anything after that 5th income turn).

          1. So are there any advance turns you can do without resources? I’m still struggling with why you would want to prematurely end your part of the game with your 5th income turn, when others will carry on playing and advancing – or are you *forced* to take that final income turn, and end your game, because you can’t do anything else? If so, then the main thing you have to do above all else is get resources so you can play more turns…

          2. Laurie: No, all advance turns have a resource cost. And yes, on your turn you MUST take an advance turn or an income turn, so when you run out of resources in your 4th era, you must take your final income turn. You can’t pass. Resources to take more turns are important, but it’s exactly which actions you choose and when you choose them that is more important than anything.

          3. Laurie: “I’m still struggling with why you would want to prematurely end your part of the game with your 5th income turn”.

            We may know next week when everything is revealed. For the moment I can guess that the main board (yet to be revealed) might have players compete over territories.

            I can imagine a situation in which you have 2 resources remaining and to take an advance turn you need 2 resources, pretty good. However there is a territory on the board near you that requires 3 resources for you to take control over. You can see another player will be able to take that territory in 2 turns. What do you do?

            Take an advance turn now, and then an income turn, and then hope you are lucky that the territory is still there 3 turns from now, or do you prematurely take an income turn to ensure you get that vital territory?

            All what I said is speculation, however there will be territories and a main board, and I know Jamey would not make a game in which your decisions are just “automatic”.

  36. I like the feeling of spatial exploration that maps give, but my favourite tabletop civ game, Patchistory, doesn’t have a map, so while all things being equal I’d say “Yes I prefer civ games to have maps” it’s clearly not something I need in them. It all depends on what parts of civilizations the game is modelling.

  37. One thing I am curious about – are there any other ways of gaining resources outside of income turns, or is that a unique benefit to moving along the exploration track and the explore actions it provides?

    1. There are a few ways throughout the game, including exploration, conquering, tech cards, some tapestry cards, and even a few benefits on the advancement tracks. They all play into the “one more turn” aspect of the game.

  38. I love seeing the board, the bevel edges give the score track a much nicer look (initial impression from the photo) than on a 90 degree square board. Always thought those score tracks like in Terra Mystica, Brass, Concordia look a little bit awkward. No idea if I will change my mind once I see it up close.

    Since this is a luxury product, I wanted to ask you Jamey if you played around with the idea of raised starting areas, so that when placing the tiles they would be level with the rest of the map? It would also serve as constraints for the tiles so they are less likely to move out of place.

    1. I considered a few upgrades like that, but in the end, like most of our games, Tapestry was already over budget for the maximum I wanted to charge for it. So I couldn’t do everything–I had to pick and choose what I thought was the most important. :)

      1. Why not just have starting areas be special tiles that are placed on the board to begin? Wouldn’t that easily solve the problem?

          1. I had the same thought regarding a dual layered board. It would be so nice and flush at the end and really satisfying to fill in the hexes as the game progressed.

  39. Typo Jamey: “The style the Andrew Bosley (the artist)”

    The board looks great. Very impressed with the round edges!

    Interested to find out if conquering without combat will still have a sense of take-that loss or not. Maybe outposts share territories like in Concordia :)

  40. Any chance of seeing the 1-3 player side of the board?

    This game looks awesome! I always like games that have some component of hidden tile exploration like Eclipse or some versions of Catan.

  41. I spotted Biddy and Walter on the Marriage of State Card!

    1 easter egg found for me.

    Love the concept and will be on board as soon as it opens to help crash the site with the pre-order bonanza.

  42. oh, of course somebody already eagle eye spotted the cats!

    But how about the the worker holding a “scythe” on the Feudalism card…

    That’s no accident.

  43. This is amazing. I was thinking just yesterday that what was missing was the exploration and conquest element.

    Wow.

    One question: You mentioned that the 6 start locations were linked to the city type. Does that limit the city types available for a 3 player game? Or if each of the 3 player game locations have 2 types, would that mean those two double-types don’t play in the same 3 player game, slightly restricting the number of possible combinations? (If so that seems unlikely to be a huge problem).

  44. great way to do exploration as I love discovery & tile placement both (reminiscent of Tikal) & creating a map (reminiscent of Carcassonne & Isle of Skye) is fun & always looks cool . . . love the idea of taking it to space in the end ~ very unique

  45. Wow, you’re making a TON of progress on this game!

    Question: So it looks like wherever you sit at the table, only 1 of the areas (let’s say exploration) will be facing you, and the remaining (technology, military, and science) will be upside down to you.

    Has this been a problem in play testing or do people adapt pretty quickly to it?

  46. A small quibble but it seems like all the portions of the map that show the brown, unexplored color should be able to have explore tiles placed on them.

    Put another way, once all the tiles are filled in, you’ll still have an outside ‘border’ of unexplored color. Why not just make that all blue so that once explored it’s pleasing to see your explored lands go right up to the sea?

    1. That’s intentional. It’s not meant to look like you’re all on an island surrounded by water. There are plenty of unexplored regions beyond this part of the world. And person, I think the map background evokes mystery and the unknown–I don’t think it’s objectively worse than blue.

    2. Because that would cause border placement of tiles to score 2 to 3 points extra, and push people towards the edge rather than towards each other / the middle island.

  47. This artwork looks so similar to Ryan Laukat. IF you got him to do the art, then my insta buy is even more of an insta buy.

    1. The artist also did Everdell. His name is Andrew Bosley, but as you can read from the design diary Jamey likes to call him “The Andrew Bosley” :) it’s not a typo :)

  48. Jamey, I’m already sold on Tapestry. All these diaries are doing is just making the wait more difficult! But I look forward to each one because I’m a glutton for punishment.

  49. And there’s (some of?) the positive interaction you mentioned as part of the announcement – Not as pronounced as in e.g. Brass with the ability to use other people’s resources taking them closer to flipping that tile – but present, and something else to consider when deciding what track to advance on.

  50. Hi Jamey,

    I am really enjoying the experience of reading each day more of your new game (this is the first time I follow one of your design diaries). This has a similar thrill for me as following a Kickstarter campaign. Also, the insights into your design process are very interesting.
    Looking forward to reading more here. This is a set pre-order for me :)
    Quick question: are the landmarks fixed in orientation for placement on the capital board or can they be rotated?

    All the best!

  51. Hi Jamey,

    I’m really enjoying the design diary so far!

    One question: Are the technology and civilization cards sorted in some way, like by ages?
    Could be weird if your civilizations first technology would be time travel.

    Greetings from Germany!

    1. That’s the thing about Tapestry–your civilization’s story will end up being a little weird. We found it to be more memorable that way (and less fiddly than sorting through a bunch of different decks at different times).

    2. There is an element of ‘structure’ to the technology cards, due to the requirement for you or a partner to have reached a certain development on one of the tracks to unlock the top benefit. Time travel requires you or a neighbour to be at Age 4 on the Technology track to ‘invent’ it. But you could for example invent time travel, followed by the invention of the clock (meaning you could travel in time before you could actually track it!).

      1. I suppose that would be a weird memorable story for a civilization! :)
        I do like the ‘structure’ though, that I haven’t thought about yet.

        Really looking forward to be playing it myself!

  52. Hi Jamey,

    Discovered this yesterday and I am so excited. I am quite new to board gaming and to Stonemaier Games but I have heard very good things, so keep up the good work. I love how accessible this is. Our group in new to gaming and overly heavy complicated games don’t do so well, but we would love a good civ building experience. Tapestry looks like it going to be amazing for us.

    One question: I have a birthday coming up and would love this to be my gift. I read some of your diary to my wife last night and it really excited us. But I live in South Africa, would you ship pre-orders to here?

    My apologies if this is stated somewhere and I missed it.

  53. Hi James, is there a chance that one day we can buy some miniatures representing lakes and Hills and so on that we can place on the Red spots of our Capital City at the start of the game?
    Just to make it look even more beautiful and maybe also to make it visually more clear that at one Point you really have filled a row or colum completely..

    1. That’s a neat idea! There are a few cards (and maybe a civ someday) that will let players build on impassable terrain, but those players could always sub in the original mats. I think this is probably something I’ll leave to hobbiests and third-party accessory companies, but depending on Tapestry’s popularity, perhaps I’ll consider it. :)

  54. d12 are a very good die to roll, yes – I slightly prefer d20 for how they feel to roll, but d12 have larger faces for a given size so are a good choice for balancing clarity of symbology and how well the die rolls, imo.

  55. “If researching would push your player token off the end of a track nothing happens.”

    Did you find in play-testing if this “bad” luck acts as a catch-up mechanism?

    Tip for people that never want a bad roll:
    Just make sure not to advance all the way on any track until after you pass the last science die-roll :)

  56. I was initially thinking, “a civ game, oh that’s nice.” Then reading about the science track, as a scientist I said, “Oh man, now I am in! Let’s do this!”

  57. This is a bit difficult to read. If you have missed an entry (or, even worse, if you are starting now), then it is very difficult to find each day’s entry, particularly since they are sorted with the newest entry first.

    Scroll to bottom, scroll up a bit to find tiny date, read to bottom, scroll up to find another tiny date … oh, not that one, the previous one … read to next date, scroll up … rinse and repeat.

    1. Ya it’s a bit annoying lol but the nice thing is that when you visit the page you can immediately tell if there is a new entry

    2. Hi Jamey, just wondered if the Achievements pictured in today’s Design Diary are the same from game to game, or are they variable? Thanks for the updates, they are really good.
      PS I hope Biddy & Walter are on commission, my wife says they have convinced her that this is a game she wants to buy!

      1. Phil: Thanks! They’re the only achievements. I’m open to adding more, but those are the only ones I could think of that didn’t repeat some other ability or scoring element of the game.

  58. A question: What was the feedback from the testplayers regarding interaction. Did they feel it was enough or did many want more? Often I want my “civ games” to have much interaction but I have been really intrigued by this design…

  59. My two favorites are Through the Ages and Clash of Cultures. Both great in their own ways through I do miss the exploration and seeing your civilization spread across the map from Clash of Cultures when I’m playing Through the Ages. They both have the same problem, though. Zero sum. It’s very common in both of those games to have your most ideal move be something that doesn’t necessarily move you forward, it moves another person back (and thus indirectly helps your standing). Call me a care bear, but as much as I try to be ok with that sort if thing in a game, it just never really feels all that satisfying to do to another player, and it’s frustrating when it happens to me.

    I’m so thrilled and excited to see a civ game that will let me explore a map and spread around, while not having the zero sum mentality of those others. Sure, there’s conquering, but the victory point ramifications of that seem MUCH tamer than taking a city in Clash of Cultures or making someone lose yellow cubes in Through the Ages.

    I feel like you reached right into my brain and included all the things I love about civ games, and ripped out all the things I don’t. Adding in that capital city management is going to be a super fun puzzle on top. Not only do I get to see my civ spread around the map and explore, but I get to see my capital city grow as well. I’m very excited, thank you for sharing these design diaries!

  60. My two favorite civ-games include Historia and Nations. Both are multi-player and both are solo mode. To keep this positive, I won’t discuss the things that keep Through the Ages off my list and shelf but why the other two shall always remain in my collection. First, they both deal with military and advancements in ways that are beneficial to one side but not punishingly so to the other. They both play in a crisp 60 min solo and 90 to 120 min for multiplayer. Finally, in the end I can trace my achievements and awe what I’ve accomplished (Nations, cards replacing others through time and Historia the elaborate matrix).

  61. My favorites Civ games are Through the Ages and Antike. Antike, while a euro with rondel mechanics, has that evolving feeling with techs and conquer. Battles are diceless. A fine elegant euro with a Civ theme behind.

  62. My only civ game experience comes from playing Civ V on my PC. There are three big things that I like about it. (in random order) 1. The feeling of discovering new territories, wonders, city-states, and civs (and the resources they’ll provide) is always exciting. 2. Going into battle to take over other city-states and civs. 3. Researching new tech to build more adv’ed stuff. Tapestry has a little bit of all these things which I think is great. Although i still don’t like the whole “you may not have invented wagons, but you understand nanotechnology. Or you may not know the basics of mathematics, but you wield drone assassins.” thing lol it’s what’s keeping me on the fence. hopefully i’ll make up my mind come pre-order time

  63. I always liked Avalon Hill’s Advanced Civilization, mainly for its grounding in real history/peoples without dictating the outcome of any historical nation. I think I’ll miss that element of realism in Tapestry. But both seem to have a wealth of achievements on offer, so history is no restraint in either and nations can develop formerly each time. It’s that glancing connection to task history that fascinates me about Scythe too.

  64. For me the video games series is absolutely the best civilization expierience. I have played Civilization 2, 4 and 5. For me civ4 was the most thematic. The feel of advancement and on the same time the feel of the importance of all decitions make them fenomenal. Even the very first decitions, which you make in 4000bc, when you found your capital is felt when you are building spacecrafts. Actually, why I likes civ4 the most was how religion worked there. Beside the economic benefit from converting foreign cities to your religion, it had huge impact on politics. Before developing and adopting free religion it had tremendous impact on relations.
    Speaking of boardgames, I have only player 7 wonders duel and the new edition of Through the Ages. For me 7 wonders duels is ok 2p game and has very limited, if any, civilization feel. TTA is one of my favourite games of all time and I play it a lot with my wife (I don’t play the app, though I’ve tried). In TTA you also feel how your early decisions impact all game. I also love how military works, you have to keep an eye on it, you feel that it is absolutely crutial, but you rarely see aggressions or wars.

  65. For board or video game, I’m going to have to go with Sid Meier’s Alpha Centaurai – The sci-fi spiritual successor to Civ 2, with customizable civics to a finer degree than the customizable civics added in Civ… V I think? Might have been IV? (Though without the cool special powers that could be acquired via that), especially with the Alien Crossfire expansion.

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