Gateway Games: Introduction to Worker Placement Games

Gateway Games: Introduction to Worker Placement Games

October 16, 2018 Off By Tifa

Gateway Games is a series of articles aimed at helping you find the games that are right for you. Today I’m going to talk about worker placement games.

In worker placement games players place game pieces on a shared board to show what action they are taking that turn. Generally, the pieces (usually a meeple or pawn of some sort) thematically represent a “worker” who is completing that action for you and only one player can use that action space for the turn. This means that turn order is an important aspect of these games and often changes based on who is winning or some other factor.

There are many amazing worker placement games, including some very complex ones. I am going to introduce you to some games that are more friendly for beginner board gamers.

1. Fresco

Fresco is a beautiful game where players take on the role of artists in the Renaissance. Not only is Fresco aesthetically stunning, but the game is thematically pleasing. The goal of the game is to collect the most points by painting portions of the cathedral ceiling. Each round starts with players deciding how early they will start their day. If you start too early, your workers will be upset and you could end up with fewer workers to use. If you start your day late, you can get even more workers at your disposal (because you’re such a great boss!), but you’ll have the last choice for what actions you want to do that turn. After waking up order is decided, players secretly pick what actions they want to take on their turn behind a privacy screen, assigning their workers to the actions they want to complete – buying paint, mixing paint to create new colors, painting portraits to raise funds, sending workers to the opera to boost morale, or painting the cathedral. Then, players take their turns, starting with the artist who wakes up first. The game is finished when the cathedral is almost complete and the artist with the most victory points wins.

2. Stone Age

In Stone Age players take on the role of cavemen in the prehistoric race for survival. As the game progresses and civilizations are developed, players gain access to better tools, knowledge, and buildings that will help them collect resources. You must balance getting resources to build evolved structures, increasing the population of workers, and feeding your people all while competing with your opposing cavemen. One of the great aspects of this game is that almost everything you do can lead to victory points if you collect the right Civilization cards, so there is more than one path to victory.

3. Lords of Waterdeep

Lords of Waterdeep is a fantastic worker placement game themed in the Dungeons and Dragons world. Wonderfully designed, Lords of Waterdeep combines elements from a variety of game genres. Players take on secret identities of one of the lords of the city of Waterdeep, competing with the other lords for ultimate control. Using Agents and hired Adventurers, players complete quests, construct buildings for the city, or play Intrigue cards. The buildings add an interesting element to the game of an ever-expanding board of actions for players to choose from each turn. The game ends after 8 rounds, so you know exactly how much time you have to collect the most victory points and earn your place as the sole ruler of Waterdeep.

If you play these games and want to jump deep into the pool of complex strategy games like this, I recommend trying Caylus, Le Havre, and Agricola. I do not recommend these games for new players.

I hope this was helpful for people interested in trying out some games beyond what they have already played and as a guide for turning your friends and loved ones into hardcore gamers.