tapestry board game player board

Tapestry Review

tapestry board game on table

Name: Tapestry

Year of Release: 2019

Player Count: 1 – 5 Players

Playing Time: 90 – 120 minutes

Designer: Jamey Stegmaier

Publisher: Stonemaier Games

Primary Mechanisms: Variable Player Powers, Area Majority, Income, Tile Placement

Weight (According to boardgamegeek.com): 2.91


I received Tapestry as a Christmas present from my wife last year but until the other night, I had only tried the solo mode once before, and I didn’t even finish it that first time around. I stumbled upon the SGOYT Geek List (as well as the 1 Player Guild) this week and thought that this would be a great time to get Tapestry to the table again.

First, I want to touch on the theme of “Togetherness” in solo gaming. For me, solo play usually occurs when we first purchase a game. My wife is notorious for saying that she’ll play with me the first day/night I get a new game, but by the time we get through our day, cook and eat dinner, and get our three children in bed, her capacity to work through a brand new game is basically 0. So it’s pretty much a ritual that I will play the game by myself the first night (or two) so when she finally makes it to the table, we don’t have as many questions or situations where we have to hunt through the rulebook for guidance.

Obviously, not all of our games have an official solo variant (or an unofficial one posted somewhere on the web), so in those cases I have to play as both of us. Unfortunately, it has also become a ritual that whatever player I deem as my wife beats the pants off of the player that I’ve deemed myself. I typically sulk over the loss (even though it was to myself…) as I tear down the game and then in the morning my wife will ask “So did I win last night?” with a smirk on her face.

Setting up Tapestry, I was eager to see if my battle against the Automa would turn out more successful than all those past attempts against myself/my wife. Spoiler alert: it did not.

Set Up and Rule Book 

tapestry board game player board

I typically relish setting up games. I love getting every little thing in its precise place on the table. I love lining up meeples in rows or making sure every deck of cards is squared up perfectly. That being said, I loathe setting up Tapestry. For some reason unknown to me, it is just headache inducing and the solo version is no different. Honestly, it might be worse because not only are you setting up the Automa (the bot that scores points against you) but you’re also setting up the Shadow Empire (a bot that can’t score points but is no less annoying as it sweeps in and steals landmarks and hands them over willy-nilly to the Automa.)

Once the board was up, I set my task at hand to re-reading the solo rules. If you have any experience with any other games where Automa Factory is involved, you know the quality they put into the rule book. Tapestry is no different. I will admit that I think the description of how exactly the decision cards work could be improved. When reading through it, it didn’t really click for me until I had played through a few turns. I could see someone being supremely confused with this mechanic and how it is intended to work, possibly to the point of not trying solo again. Or maybe, I’m an idiot, who knows?! Anyhow, with the board set up, and the rules out of the way, I was prepared to bring my “civilization” to new heights.

Gameplay and Session Description 

tapestry board game components

I shuffle the Civilization Cards, these really nice large format cards depicting the different powers each player can wield, and I end up with the Historians. I’ve never played this civ, so that’s exciting. Right off the bat, I find the .pdf on boardgamegeek.com detailing some Stonemaier recommended changes to each civilization in order to bring some more balance to the game. Historians don’t need any changes I see, so at least that is one less thing to keep up with.

The Automa’s favorite track is Military and the Shadow Empire’s is Exploration. I mentally decide that I will probably work up the Technology track unless some other variable pushes me towards another track. Speaking of the Technology in this game, you might have noticed that earlier in this write-up, I placed the word “civilization” in quotes. This is because even though the box plainly states this is a “Civilization Game” it is not thematically a civilization game! I don’t have any bones about that, honestly doesn’t matter to me but thought it might impact someone’s feelings about it. Case in point, I somehow invented Time Travel during the same turn as inventing The Nail. I start to move my tiny blue cubes up the track as the red and yellow opponents do the same. I end the 1st income phase, and both my enemy and I sit at a measly 6 VP’s.

During the 2nd era, I’m the first to score a landmark. I grab The Forge and place it in my capital city. Tapestry has a really neat game within the game where each real player (Automa doesn’t get to enjoy this aspect of the game) has a Capital City board. This board has a grid with certain squares blocked off with a red circle. As you remove buildings off your Income Mat or win landmarks from the main board, you place them in your capital city (around the red-circled squares) with the intent of filling up rows and/or columns. This will eventually score you more resources as well as VP’s. With my acquisition of The Forge, I had grand desires of building up my capital city and raking in the points.

The Automa and Shadow Empire had different thoughts though. They quickly took the next three landmarks during the 2nd era. Not only was the Automa stealing landmarks, it began stomping across the map in the middle of the board.

Tapestry allows you to “explore” the map by placing new hex tiles (made up of mountains, grasslands, forests, etc.) over the empty water hexagons. The map is also there for you to spread your empire (in the form of Outposts) and conquer others. I had no intention of getting involved with this map too much, but by the end of the 2nd era, the Automa had already grabbed the middle island (scoring extra points) and was swiftly moving towards my tiny domain. My mortal enemy was now winning by 6 points as the second income phase ended.

I will mention that going into the 3rd era, taking the bots’ turn was basically second nature. Any trepidation I had when reading the rule book and trying to figure out which bot scores, which benefits are available, and even how to read the decision cards had basically vanished. What seemed daunting at the beginning of the game, finally felt easy. I’m also starting to get in the groove of scoring more points and gaining more landmarks (to both score in my capital city and to keep them out of the Automa’s clutches.) I end my 4th income turn and I’m feeling good, but then the bot ends theirs and comes back to lead by 8 points. One more round to go!

Unfortunately, the 5th era went downhill quick. So much that I basically blocked it out of my mind but I do know the AI ended up winning 186 to 153.

tapestry board game play through

General Thoughts

tapestry board game cards

Even though I lost, I had fun playing especially once I got into the rhythm. Most of my gripes with Tapestry don’t really change between the multiplayer and solo version. The Tapestry Cards are still very “swingy” and depending on how you draw, you might end up with a bunch of junk. I don’t really like that the AI will basically take the same amount of turns every game. Actual players have to make some real decisions on when to go to the income stage and start the next era but the Automa never has that problem. I also don’t really think that the Shadow Empire rule set is very consistent. It can’t score points and basically just races up tracks to stop you from getting the landmarks and/or hit the end of the track. However, all the landmarks it collects, goes to the Automa, which does score points for them in each income phase. By the 5th era, the bot is (I believe) scoring 3x points for each landmark it (or the Shadow Empire) has amassed. This seemed a little steep to overcome to me.

That being said, all the great things I love about Tapestry are present in the solo game. The way the Income Mat, your capital city, and just overall resource management works is fantastic. Each track feels very different, and I like being able to change my approach as I move through the games. Even though I complained about the Tapestry cards above, it is a nice feeling when you get some that synchronize nicely with your strategy. And who doesn’t love these awesome painted miniatures?!


Ratings are based on 5 main criteria: rulebook, setup, components, art & graphic design, and gameplay.  The first 4 criteria are rated 1 to 5 and the gameplay is rated 1 to 10.  These scores culminate in an “overall satisfaction” score that is rated from 1 to 10.  If the reviewed game has both a solo and multiplayer mode, I have assigned scores separately to give context to which mode we enjoy more.  


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Kristofer Solomon

Hey, everyone! I’m Kristofer Solomon and the creator of Board Game Breakdown. I’ve been playing board games since I was little, typically spending days on top of days playing Risk with kids from my neighborhood. As I moved into college, I started playing Magic: the Gathering with a group of guys and my love for board games slid to the wayside as I progressed into gulp adulthood (not to mention a long obsession with World of Warcraft.) Eventually, I fell back into the hobby in its current state when my wife (then girlfriend) bought me a copy of Ticket to Ride: Marklin Edition for my birthday in 2008. This simple to grasp, but strategic train game blew me away. I didn’t realize at the time that board games could be much more than your average game of Sorry or Trouble. We eventually got Catan, Small World, and other well-known titles and the rest is history.

I’m hopeful that the content of this website and its associated YouTube and Instagram channels can be informative to those who are either on the fence about getting a game, or maybe just looking for something new. About 50% of my gaming time is spent solo gaming so I enjoy touching on that subject when I discuss games as this is an area that is typically not focused on.

Thanks to all who spent even a minute perusing this site, it means a lot to me. Happy gaming!

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