Tapestry: A Guide to Non-Kickstarted Success

In case you haven’t heard Jamey Stegmaier and Stonemaier Games hav a new game out. It’s called Tapestry. Heard of it? I wouldn’t be surprised if you have, but don’t feel bad if you haven’t. Truth is, I’m about to give you all the info you could ever want or need.

Stonemaier Games has a pretty impressive portfolio. The company was founded by Jamey Stegmaier and Jeremy Stone. They’re first published game, Viticulture, has been pretty much adored within the industry ever since it was released. It’s success not only justified an expansion but also an “Essential Edition”. I am not ashamed to say I own the game and am quite happy with it in my collection. A few other games of theirs includes, Euphoria, Between to Castles, and Charterstone. Far and away their biggest, most successful title has to be Scythe.

Scythe currently sits at number nine as on the Board Game Geek rankings. I don’t doubt this one bit because the game has quite the cult following. While Scythe wasn’t their first Kickstarter, it was definitely the most successful, more than tripling the number of backers of any of their other campaigns. Jamey did a magnificent job creating a beautifully unique setting for the game. It was a big, accessible Euro game, complete with unique mech minis for each and every faction. Between the art, production values, and clean gameplay there was a lot for gamers to like. The game has since warranted multiple expansions, including a massive legacy style campaign.

Following the massive success of Scythe, Jamey has yet to return to Kickstarter. This is not for lack of publishing games, but rather, because he understands the purpose of the site. Kickstarter is meant to be a place to get traction and support as a small or new publisher. You know? The little guy who has a dream and no other way to make it a reality than by seeking the help of others. Unfortunately there are a lot of larger companies, with the available resources, that prefer to use Kickstarter as a preorder system for up front financing and to keep margins high. I applaud Jamey for not abusing the system, it clearly demonstrates his true character.

A little over a year ago Stonemaier Games released their latest, and possibly biggest hit. Wingspan was a game that has found its way into many, many homes. In the beginning the game was slowly teased, showcasing it’s stunning components in photos. The mechanics of the game highlighted here and there by Jamey in his personal blog. Before many people knew it the game was up for pre-order on their web-store and being sent out to gamers. The reviews were overwhelmingly positive. The game was a pleasure both to look at and play. Before long the first print run was completely sold out, with only a very small portion of games making it into actual brick and mortar retail stores.

The preorders for the second print run found themselves sold out in all the major online retailers months before the games even came into stock. I don’t believe it was until the 5th or so print run that there was actually enough copies of the game to go around. Supply and demand made this THE must have game for most of last year and some of this year. The game just had its first expansion announced and I’m sure its going to get quite the reception as well. It would seem they have a pretty good little business model on their hands.

Enter Tapestry, the most recent Stonemaier Games release. Jamey really played his cards right with this one. He began by teasing his designs through photos of stunning building miniatures. Claimed he wanted to create a civilization game that was not only accessible but also played in less than two hours. Blog post after blog post highlighted how appealing this game could be. There would be sixteen unique civilizations to play. Six different starting capital cities. Four different tracks to progress down. The game sounded good, really good. The hype was really building behind the game. There were a few unknowns though.

A date had been announced in which the preorders on their site would open. The first print run consisted of 25,000 copies, an unknown number of which were to be held to pass onto retail stores. What was also still a mystery was the MSRP. Jamey had mentioned this would be the most expensive Stonemaier game, passing up the $90 price tag of Scythe. The biggest mystery though was most definitely the opinions of the game. A good number of copies had previously been sent to reviews with ample time to play and truly take in the game. But, all of these reviewers were under embargo until the day the preorders opened. This meant that no opinions could be shared up until the time when the game actually became available for purchase.

Many of the initial reviews were positive, albeit some vague. But this wasn’t really important. For most fans of the hobby FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) had already kicked in. The preorders were all sold out within roughly 48 hours. The most amazing part was the first copies began being delivered within a mere couple days. I’m somewhat ashamed to admit that I too caved and ordered a copy despite my skepticism. Did I make the right call?

Well the game has now been in the wild for nearly a month and that has proven to be more than enough time for a handful more reviews to be available. There are a good number of gamers who really love the game. Unfortunately there seems to be an equally large number of gamers who find it a complete disappointment. The overall consensus though is that the game is good. Is it a civ game? No, not really. In order to make the game as accessible and quick as it is, a whole lot of theme had to be sacrificed. The concepts in the game are quite abstract. The combat is lackluster, the Tapestry cards are random, and the technology is kind boring.

Despite all it’s flaws, I still like the game. And for now it’s one that I’m glad I have in my collection. It is fairly accessible. The production quality, while is a bit excessive, is fantastic. And the decisions, quite abstract for a civ game, are fairly meaty and rewarding. There is luck, but that is important in an accessible game. And in the end Jamey and Stonemaier Games did it, they successfully found an alternative method to Kickstarter. So if you get the opportunity, I encourage to give it a play. And if you’ve read and watched the reviews and still believe you’ll enjoy it, then keep your eyes open for when it hits retail later next month in November.