I played Tuesday night after dinner and finished playing a full solo game. In Tapestry you play against the Automa and the Shadow Empire. The Automa are the opponents who score VPs. The Shadow Empire is sort of a "half-ass" Automa, where it's job is to cause you some trouble, and sometimes to help the Automa.
Tuesday's game finished 100-58 for the Automa. 😯 And that was Level 1 (easy) difficulty. However, I was pretty certain I was still doing a few minor mistakes and not scoring a couple things properly (which actually would've helped the Automa more than me).
I was excited and impressed to see a 4-page rulebook, and a 4-page Automa rulebook when I unboxed the game Monday night. It was a quick read to get the idea of the rules, and then you have the handy double sided reference chart to help with both the track elements and tech cards. The reference charts are wonderful. They're quick and very handy to check. The rulebooks unfortunately are lacking.
I am a huge Stonemaier fan (as my ST friends know) and I'm also very easily pleased. However, I found myself much more than normal, diving into the rulebook. I don't mind that in games. I enjoy the learning process of gaming. BUT, when I'd dive in, I'd still be confused as I brought my attention back to the game board. That's not normal. In browsing forums, there's definitely a consensus that the rulebook is lacking. Like most games, much of it comes down to the wording and paying attention to HOW things are written. But in Tapestry's case, I still don't always find it clear enough.
I'll use Brass Birmingham as the example, because that's the first rulebook that came to mind when I saw how small this one was. Brass Birmingham's deep strategy and complexity comes wrapped in a 12-page rulebook. HOWEVER, the majority of answers are very clear and right there for you. Tapestry (for whatever reason) that's not quite the case.
Solo Mode Point #2: The Automa rules need more clarity. 🤔
After Tuesday's game, I took a break from the table for a night and jumped on YouTube to find a solo playthrough to figure out what I did wrong while running the Automa / Shadow Empire. I came across this awesome playthrough from One Stop Co-Op Shop (like Rodney Smith helpful!). This showed me that I was right when I said I made MINOR mistakes. I was pretty happy about that. But it also clarified a few questions that were still lingering for me. When I went back to the rules tonight, they were there, but I also now knew what I was looking for. Which says, they're not as clear and concise as they could be. However, I was now very excited to bring Tapestry to the table and get it down pat!!
Tonight I attempted to be the greastest civilization. I drew the Isolationists. These guys have an advantage when they conquer, so I knew I was going to approach tonight with more exploring and conquering in mind.
And that I did!
The game was WAY smoother. I was MUCH MORE confident in running the Automa and things were now making sense. I still dove into the book the odd time, just to confirm I was remembering right from what I learned in the video and I was. 😀 It was a very different experience tonight. The other night was fun, but there were still questions left unanswered. Tonight it was so smooth, I was able to focus on the fun of the game itself!
I EVEN BUILT A SPACE SHUTTLE!!!!!!
HOW AWESOME IS THAT!?!?!?
Sadly, despite advancing so far on the exploration track, I didn't have enough resources to experience INTERSTELLAR TRAVEL. Damn!! 😧 But at least my Isolationists got to brag about their space shuttle.
Solo Mode Point #3: Stonemaier games Automa system is as good as ever
Stonemaier's Automa factory, design (in my opinion) the best A.I. opponents. It's excellent. The Automa and Shadow Empire (once you figure it out) are very simple to run and they give you a great challenge that feels as close to a human opponent as possible. I love that. Yes, as usual there's iconography to learn, but honestly I never find that to be a big issue. Once you learn it, it's like reading; it just makes sense. It's the other rules and scenarios around it that can sometimes be tricky. Tonight's playthrough was very smooth and very enjoyable!
This was the end of the game... with a very different score than Tuesday night when I was still figuring things out. Tonight my civilization lost 153-141. 😮 That's more like it!! It was pretty cool throughout the game to be back and forth with who was leading in VPs. It was alot of fun!
Solo Mode Point #4: The Automa keeps you on your toes
As usual, Stonemaier games' Automa keeps you on your toes. You need to be mindful of what they're doing, and what they could be up to in the near future so you can best plan your approach. I love it!!
Yes, the rulebook is not Stonemaier's best. However, the quality of the game (from components to mechanisms to artwork) absolutely is!! It's very fun! As Jamey Stagmeier says, it's a "light civilization building game". After making my purchase I was honestly considering trading or selling Sid Meier's Civilization because "why do I need two games with similar aspects?". Now I know, that's not going to happen. They play very differently, Tapestry is definitely lighter (although deep in strategy without question), and they give a very different feel. I'm excited to have both on my shelf. 😀
I truly hope that despite the rulebook issues people don't just push this game aside. The game itself is alot of fun. The variety and replayability is massive!! 16-Civilizations, 6-city maps AND 4-levels of difficulty when playing the Automa. WOW!!! Not only that, the different paths to victory you can take, the abundance of options to achieve VPs... It's awesome. I hope that posts like this (and/or some BGG forums) will help convince you not pass up Tapestry if you're already thinking about it. Take your time. Watch the video I posted. Watch Rodney Smith's video on how to play the multiplayer game. Read the forums and ask questions if need be. It's all worth it for a very enjoyable civilization building experience. 😀 To add to that, because it's a 'lighter civ building game', it would be easier for 'rookie' gamers to enjoy a "bigger feeling" experience with slightly less complexity.
... Did I mention I built a space shuttle tonight!!?!?