Across my blog you may have see a wide variation of game genres – from wargames, through political and history-themed titles to different types of EUROs. Among the latter, a specific mechanic was always my favorite one – Worker Placement.
What is it? I think majority of boardgames players are familiar, but for the sake of clarity let us try to provide a definition. So, this will be a mechanic where players have a number of available tokens, usually referred to as workers, and take turns assigning them to different action spaces. Depending on the game, actions may resolve immediately or only once the worker is removed from the board. In most cases, a worker being present on an action space prevents another player from occupying it, or an action space may only have a few open spots, limiting the number of workers that can occupy that space. So there is always a tension between opponents to get the best spot possible.
Today I would like to share with you my three favorite titles. This is as always my subjective choice – this time also to large extent influenced by my wife, who definitely prefers those positions to my beloved wargames 🙂
Other articles in the series: Light / entry Wargames – my 3 favorite Medium complexity wargames – my 3 favorite Complex / advanced wargames - my 3 favorite Solitaire Wargames - my 3 favorite Travel friendly Wargames – my 3 favorite Commands and Colors games – my 3 favorite Card Driven Games (CDGs) – my 3 favorite
Dominant Species is a game that abstractly recreates a portion of ancient history: the slow start of the ice age and what that entails for the living creatures trying to adapt to the slowly-changing Earth.
Each player assumes the role of one of six major animal classes – i.e. mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibians, arachnids, or insects. Each begins the game more or less in a state of natural balance in relation to one another. But that will not last long – actually, the brutal fight for living space will be there from the initial round. And the Ice Age is progressing, with glaciation spreading across the Earth with every turn… Who will be best in adapting to such a inhospitable environment?
It always puzzled me and my wargaming buddies, how is it possible that my wife loves so much a game, where species are being eliminated / killed / evaporate in droves while at the same time she cannot stand “regular” wargames. It might be that abstraction helps. Whatever it is, that in essence super-brutal game is one of the favorites among our boardgames group.
So why is it such a great title for us? It has engrossing theme, wonderfully balanced workers placement mechanics, dominance aspect which provides nasty event cards but which in essence does not have to give you victory points! It is also one of the rare up-to-6-players games, which scales fantastically. What is more, it is also great that each animal class – mammal, reptile, bird, amphibian, arachnid, or insect – has its own unique treat.
If you have not played it – definitely try. Strongly recommended!
More about game:
Couple of words about the game before sharing my impressions. Still, I have a feeling almost everybody in boardgames hobby heard about that title 🙂
Agricola is a turn-based game. There are 14 game rounds occurring in 6 stages, with a Harvest at the end of each stage. Each player starts with two playing tokens (farmer and spouse) and thus can take two turns, or actions, per round. There are multiple options, and while the game progresses, you will have more and more: first thing in a round, a new action card is flipped over. Important: each action can be taken by only one player each round, so it’s important to do some things with high preference.
The game supports many levels of complexity, mainly through the use (or non-use) of two of its main types of cards, Minor Improvements and Occupations. That also makes it very re-playable.
That classic accompanies us from the moment it was published. Initially, purchased as a wedding present (!) for our best boardgames friends – Kuba and Agnieszka, become one of our favorite titles of all times. Back then, over ten years ago, we were not aware of the Uwe Rosenberg Harvest series not how prominent figure in the boardgames world he was. But I am glad we decided to get that jewel!
It is one of those games which never bores you. It has now many add-ons, but even in base version it provided a great, re-playable experience with tons of the possibilities. We loved the game so much that once digital version was published, we immediately got it. It accompanies us now on our vacation trips being much more handy than a big box. Again, highly recommended!
More about game:
Another take on Worker Placement mechanics is presented by Viticulture Essential Edition from Stonemaier Games. In Viticulture, the players find themselves in the roles of people in rustic, pre-modern Tuscany who have inherited meager vineyards. They have a few plots of land, an old crushpad, a tiny cellar, and three workers. They each have a dream of being the first to call their winery a true success. Sounds thematic? Oh, it is!
Each turn is divided in four seasons – Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter. Each has separate, specific actions which results depends whether you send a worker to them. Each game is different thanks to two Visitors decks – they can help you develop your vineyard (Summer ones) or sell your products / score prestige points (Winter ones). It is really exciting to check who this time decided to visit your vineyard!
Viticulture was a Christmas present for me and my wife and it was a very good choices. As you may see on above picture, there is no better way to spend time with this game and a glass of wine!
Should you be willing to take on additional challenge, there is Automa (solitaire) versions of the game. I really appreciate Stonemaier Games for adding that neat variant to almost all their games. While Automa is not a real opponent, the campaign with variable starting conditions as a really nice variety. Of course, again, strongly recommended position!
More about game:
And what are yours favorite Worker Placement Titles?