Is the expansion to the epic Tapestry worth your money?
Note: This expansion (we bought the base game) was given to us by Stonemaier Games for an unbiased review.
Plans & Ploys is the first expansion to the epic Stonemaier game Tapestry, so if you’re reading this and you’ve not played Tapestry, go away and read my review of that first!
Now, if you have played and enjoyed Tapestry you might be wondering whether it’s worth investing in the expansion? Otherwise you wouldn’t be here right? Or you might have not enjoyed Tapestry but want to know if Plans & Ploys is likely to change your mind and improve on the experience? Well, first of all what do you get in this relatively small expansion?
10 new civilisations (so that’s 30 in total now!) and adjustments to the original 20 for better balancing
7 new landmark miniatures (five that go with new landmark cards, one that goes with a new Tapestry card, one that goes with a new space tile)
5 landmark cards
15 new Tapestry cards (including some ever so sneaky ones)
4 new space tiles (+1 replacement for an error in the original)
12 landmark tokens
Mini solo campaign
Cloth bag for drawing landmark tiles
The new civilisations are the obvious draw to the expansion as they offer 10 new distinct ways to approach the game, and some have particularly interesting mechanics which immediately drew me to play them. For example the Spies allow you to (amongst other things) see an opponent’s hand of Tapestry cards during each income turn. This will help you determine whether to attack them or not. Or the Recyclers who may “recycle” fully upgraded technology cards and upgrade them a second time. There are some very interesting civilisations.
The new landmarks and corresponding cards are probably the least exciting bit about the expansion. As ever the miniatures look fantastic and are in keeping with the others from the base game, but they don’t add much to the experience. At the start of the game each player gets a random landmark card, which names a landmark and a way of earning it for your capital city. Sounds cool, but in my opinion they’re all too easy to earn, in that you probably would achieve them all by the end of the game anyway. Therefore the only benefit is if you manage to earn it at a crucial point, perhaps earning you a bonus resource for finishing off a 3×3 grid in your capital city just when you need it.
The 12 landmark tokens are useful reminders that when the first player enters a new era they gain the landmark.
The new space tiles aren’t that interesting but the additional Tapestry cards are where this expansion really comes to life. There are five new trap-like cards which can be played during conquer actions (or as regular Tapestry cards but you’d be mad/desperate to play them as such). Basically these cards can help you counter attack Trap cards that are played against you. This puts pressure and uncertainty back onto the person playing the Trap card as they can end up with egg on their face.
In addition to all the new bits and bobs you get a glossy booklet with a solo campaign in it. I love it when games put a lot of effort into the solo version, and Stonemaier Games never ever let us down. Here you get five setups, which play around with the rules, civilisations and automa behaviours to give you five very different solo games. I found the original solo game hard enough to win, these are fantastic and offer some tricky scenarios. For example Scenario 2 “World War” massively expands the conquering side of the game, with every explore action becoming a conquer action and each player gaining an extra 10 outposts at the start of the game.
Overall I really like the expansion because I love the original game and this just adds more replayability and intrigue. If you have played the game a lot, and have played as or against most of the civilisations then I would definitely recommend Plans & Ploys. It’s definitely a “more stuff” expansion rather than adding specific new modules or rules. The extra Tapestry cards add a whole extra layer of tactics to the conquering of territories which for me is a good thing,. In the base game you can sit pretty with your Trap cards and expand freely, but with the expansion you don’t know if the person conquering you has a counter-card.
One minor gripe about the civilisation balancing is that it doesn’t address the civilisation we both think is most overpowered and that’s the Isolationists. They have always seemed way stronger than all the others and remain unchanged at game’s start.
If you’re not that fussed about the base game, I don’t think Plans & Ploys will do enough to change your mind, but that’s ok, the game isn’t for everyone right?!
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