“I lift things up and put things down,” an older quote from a Planet Fitness commercial-turned-meme. That jesting statement describes, in a nutshell, the board game mechanic of tile placement. You pick things up and put things down, minus a few caveats for scoring purposes. The tile placement mechanic in board games has been around since the age of dinosaurs. Seriously, I saw it on the internet. Don’t Google it, just trust me. The three tile placement games in this list are games I believe should be on every gamer’s shelf.
Publisher: Z-Man Games
Number of Players: 2 – 5
Play Time: 30 – 45 minutes
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Tiles and meeples, how could you go wrong? Carcassonne is French city building in medieval times at its best. You have cities, roads, farmers, knights, robbers, and more. At the start of the game, the shared city building area will have one dedicated starter tile placed out on the board. The first player must build off of this tile. On your turn, you will draw one face down tile from a pile of tiles set off to the side and then decide to place it following a couple of rules such as roads must connect to roads, cities to cities, and grass to grass.
You also have a set of meeples to start the game, and these meeples can be placed down on the tiles you place to perform different actions, such as farmers on grass areas, robbers on roads, knights in cities, etc. The latter two will come back to you once the city or road is complete. These meeples will then score victory points immediately. The farmers however, once placed, will stay out on the board for end game scoring thus leaving the players decision “do I place this here and lose this meeple for the rest of the game? Is it worth it?”
There is some great strategy you can discover playing Carcassonne. This is a classic tile placement game that has many expansions that have been released over the past 18 years. This is a game that has stood the test of time. With or without the expansions, the core game in itself is wonderful and it deserves a spot on every gamer’s shelf.
Publisher: Blue Orange Games
Number of Players: 2 – 4
Play Time: 15 – 20 minutes
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At a price point that you cannot beat and artwork that is so fun, bright, and colorful, Kingdomino is a must own family tile placement game. Bruno Cathala hit a grand slam with this 2017 Speil Des Jahres (Game of the Year) award winner. The goal of this game is to complete a 5×5 grid by drafting tiles and expanding your kingdom. You will be drafting tiles by using your meeple, in turn order, to select the tile you want most and in doing so setting the future turn order. Do you grab the tile you want most and go last? Do you take a tile you may be able to place for less points, just to go first in the following round? This is some of the strategy you may be encountering while playing this game.
There are 5 different types of tiles in the game represented by 5 colors and they must be placed no bigger than a 5×5 pattern. Like-colored tiles must be placed with at least one side of the tiles with same color touching each other. There are crowns on some tiles, and you will score at the end of the game based on the number of crowns times the number of like-colored tiles in that that area. For example, 5 green tiles placed together to make one area that contains 3 crowns, 5×3 = 15 points. You will score all of your areas with crowns this way. The player with the most points wins! There are some very cool scoring bonuses that can be included and a few game variants as well. Including an awesome two player 7×7 grid pattern variant which happens to be one of my favorite ways to play!
Isle of Skye
Publisher: Mayfair Games
Number of Players: 2 – 5
Play Time: 60 minutes
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This game is probably the most strategic of the three I have talked about here and probably the most advanced weight-wise in game play. I see it as more advanced for the simple fact that there are many more variable ways to score on your tile placing, and it also brings in an added strategic element, one of my favorite mechanics, auction/bidding. Who doesn’t love over charging their friends for things you know they want and taking their hard earned money? No? Just me? Like the other tile placement games I have mentioned, you will be picking tiles to place them in your tableau to build your town/kingdom.
You will be connecting roads, fields, mountains, and lakes with iconography on tiles such as cows, boats, lighthouses, barrels, and coins. These icons will allow you to obtain victory points for things such as set collection and specific grouping. The difference here is that you will be paying for those tiles with your money, money that you make by charging people to buy tiles that they may want from you.
This game will go 5-6 rounds based on player count and has 16 unique end-of-round scoring tiles. Four of those 16 tiles will be randomly drawn before the game to let you know what the particular set of scoring specifics are for each round. This keeps the game variability very high and makes for great replay value. As I said before, this tile placement title is a little more on the heavy side than the two I’ve previously mentioned, but in my book, it is still a game shelf staple.
So, if you like to pick things up and put things down, I highly recommend picking up these tile placement games and putting them down, after playing them of course. Rinse, wash, repeat.
We would love to know about your favorite tile placement games. Share them below and suggest a great game shelf staple for someone else.