Four friends meet at a buffet restaurant on a regular night out. This isn’t one of those trough and self serve jobs. You know the one I mean, where if you go too late in the day, then it doesn’t matter which section you select from, as every dish is cross contaminated with the other succulent meals on offer. This is fine dining, where the dishes are managed to within an inch of their lives. Nothing is reheated and everything is fresh.
The four friends meet and greet, start talking, share stories. The waiter comes round and gives each of the friends their own cutlery and plates. One of the plates is bigger than the others. One person has been given a really big spoon. The other two forks. The last diner is given two sets of cutlery and two plates. The waiter lights the candles on the centre of the table and they change colour as they burn. The aroma from the wax and the wick is calming and peaceful and also seems to have everyone feeling every so slightly hungry and ready to feast. Drinks are ordered and various cocktails and sparklers arrive, with even the simple apple juice having the type of presentation that a bride on her wedding day would be proud of.
The friends all make their way up to the first table and gather their starters, a simple chicken vegetable soup with gluten free sour dough bread, slightly warm and toasted. Just like the cutlery, each are given slightly different bowls from their friends, with differing amounts of soup and consistencies. When the four friends return back to the table, the conversation moves on to job news and frustrations and triumphs. Some take so long to tell their news on what is happening in their own timelines that they aren’t close to finishing the starter and wave the others to go back to the buffet set up without them.
Reluctantly, half of the group make their way back to the stalls, but not before the waiter has made them change into their second course footwear, because what is fine dining without comfortable feet. One heads to the selection of curries on offer, the other pads over to the vegetarian stand and both start to fill their given plates while overhead the ice sculptures change from a warm amber to a delicious lime green. They return to find only one friend still polishing off the last of their soup and mopping up every last morsel, almost removing the sheen off the bowl itself. The other has decided to head to the island set up in the middle of the restaurant, where the bite sized tapas sit. You make claims to one of the two available bowls, no more, no less.
The night continues, as the friends work their way through conversations and glasses of various coloured refreshments. Some are jokingly scolded for rushing ahead, while one slow poke is still only on their second course. Two of the party are greedily eyeing up the frankly astonishing desert trolley
(that includes a petting zoo). There’s trifle there for goodness sake. How could anyone refuse such a delight? Right in between the baked Alaska and jam tarts and frozen sugared rose petals. It is all so lovely, all so filling and all so very slightly over the top.
Two hours in, three of the friends pat stomachs and loosen belts and wait for their companion to finish while in the background the acrobats are about to start. Once the last spoonful is finished, the bill is totalled up and as is traditional in these moments, one threatens to pay for everyone, while someone else argues internally what possessed someone to order the very expensive wine. Money is paid, goodbyes and hugs are shared and everyone promises to be in touch and not leave it as long as the last time.
This sums up Tapestry. A game where there are so many over indulgences in the components that I’m not sure 2023 Jamey would be happy with the decisions made on the sheer amount of plastic that this game contains. There is a lot here that could be changed for much more innocuous cardboard chits, ones that maybe properly fit the spaces they are meant to cover on the individual player boards. It’s a baked Alaska with a sparkler sticking out of the top. It’s the entire restaurant staff dropping what they are doing for a Happy Birthday flash mob.
I’ve heard about civilisation imbalances and I totally understand it. There are clearly some powers that are going to give you an advantage over other players. I heard about the complaints about multiplayer solitaire and I also get it? The level of interaction here is minimal and completely not compulsory. You can spend an entire game doing your stuff and if you don’t try to explore the island and topple other players, then you’ll pretty much be making your own way through Tapestry. There are some conditions where you can’t upgrade a technology unless other players are at a certain level, but apart from that, this is very very euro.
For all of its presence on the table, Tapestry doesn’t demand as much of your concentration as potentially implies. Your moves are singular and mostly uncomplicated, with the income phase being the only point where you maybe need to stick the brain into second gear. There’s a few edge cases that come up on how to play as the four page rulebook explains a lot but doesn’t seem to explain everything as much as it could do.
Tapestry isn’t one of these games where you’ll sit around the board in a stony silence allowing people to work through their strategies in their heads. Its a game that comes with chat and caveats, in that if you’re clear to other players what they’re actually going to be playing as opposed to what they think they might be playing, then there’s a chance they’ll kick back, relax, and probably have a good time. It is like going some place fancy and posh and pinkies in the air when you drink the tea, and covering your mouth when you burp. Secretly you’re giggling, because we’re all just pretending its actually a ‘civilisation game’. Fun times.
This review is based on the retail version of the game provided to us by the designer and publisher at a discounted rate. We give a general overview of the gameplay and so not all of the mechanical aspects of the game may be mentioned.
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