Thursday, February 7, 2019

My earliest memories of Worker Placement

Is it a sign that I’m old that I remember when worker placement wasn’t around?

Okay. I wasn’t into gaming when Bus came out and that’s considered to be the earliest example of what we’d end up calling worker placement. (Neat but weird game, btw) But I was firmly entrenched in board games when Caylus showed up like a grenade going off.

Confession time. I’ve never gotten into Caylus. It didn’t click for me or anyone in my circles. The fact that the cubes were bizarrely colorblind unfriendly did not help. But I do wonder what I’d think if I ended up in group that loved it.

So my real introduction to Worker Placement was Pillars of the Earth. Which was a pretty fun and accessible intro to the whole idea. For a little while, the game did very well for me and my friends.

But... the limited variety of craftsman and the order they came out became too predictable too quickly. Any game, if you play it enough, can become formulaic but Pillars of the Earth became that way faster than I’d have liked. And when I was told it could be solved by buying the expansion which cost about as much as the base game, that was the first time the idea of buying an expansion really stuck in my craw.

Stone Age ended up being the game that really won me over to the concept of Worker Placement. At the time, that felt a little weird. The whole rolling for dice to get resources made me wonder if it was really a Worker Placement game. And I have a friend who memorized all the cards and huts and became bored with the game. (But he did that not by intent but by playing it that much)

However, Stone Age was accessible and had some serious replay value. It was easy to teach and easy to get folks to play and easy to have fun with. 

There have been a lot of Worker Placement games I have enjoyed since then. Agricola and Lords of Waterdeep have been a big part of my journey. It’s a mechanic that has almost become an assumption, it seems to me.

But I personally got there by not getting into Caylus, stumbling over Pillars of the Earth and falling in love with Stone Age.

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