Worker Placement Mechanic with a Twist

I've been looking into lots of different games past few days ever since I got tons of recommendations from here and on the facebook group for me and my wife. And that got me thinking--what are your favorite twists on the worker placement mechanic you've experienced or heard of and why? (name the game too please!)

5 points by philryuh - updated 4 days ago | 76 comments | report | subscribe

Sliddell11 10 days ago | 4 points[-]

Targi caught my eye because it uses intersecting workers for various gains. Haven’t played yet so I can’t describe it in full detail, but it’s interesting and pretty cheap right now!

philryuh Supporter10 days ago | 2 points[-]

I'm not familiar with Targi's mechanics with the workers--will be looking forward to your thoughts on it after you get it!

Sliddell11 10 days ago | 2 points[-]

It’ll be new to me as well. I’ll for sure post something!

philryuh Supporter8 days ago | 1 point[-]

Yes! And let me know if there were any issues with Targi (you should've received it) :)

Sliddell11 8 days ago | 1 point[-]

Thanks man, I did get it! Sadly I’m gone for the weekend so I couldn’t play it yet...

Marshwiggle92 Supporter7 days ago | 1 point[-]

That stinks. 

Sliddell11 7 days ago | 1 point[-]

It does indeed... lol

Marshwiggle92 Supporter10 days ago | 2 points[-]

Plus one for targi. Such a cool mechanic. 

disom 10 days ago | 2 points[-]

+2 for Targi, such a great game. The expansion is getting an English printing this year, so I'll be buying the base game finally.

Sliddell11 10 days ago | 2 points[-]

Yeah super unique!

Marshwiggle92 Supporter10 days ago | 2 points[-]

Curious how you will like it. 

Sliddell11 10 days ago | 2 points[-]

Yeah, I’ll try to post something about it whenever I get the chance to play!

Marshwiggle92 Supporter10 days ago | 2 points[-]


WadeB1977 10 days ago | 3 points[-]

1. Viticulture: The Grande worker was a nice mechanic allowing one worker to be placed on a filled spot

2. Anachrony & Paladins: I like the idea of having different types of workers that perform different functions.

3. Raider of the North Sea: The place a worker to do an action and take a worker from the board doing another action at that location is a mechanic

4. Everdell: I like the use of workers to get a card engine started where what you really want to do I not use your workers as much by the third season because your card engine is running well.  

5. Sierra West: This is one where the workers can support one another through the use of cabins and has a little deck building aspect.

nealkfrank 9 days ago | 2 points[-]

I came here to say Raiders of the North Sea. I potentially will be playing that this weekend. Definitely a cool place and pickup mechanic there. You dont realize how much the timing of that will throw you off!

sdirrane Supporter9 days ago | 2 points[-]

I've played once so far and I'm hooked.  Such a fun game.

nealkfrank 9 days ago | 2 points[-]

Just dont play with too many people...I played with 6 one time with the expansions and it was a slog. 3-4 is the sweet spot. 

sdirrane Supporter9 days ago | 2 points[-]

Awesome.  I'll keep that in mind.  I think I'd be okay up to 5.  The first time I played was with 4 and it was great.  Of course I only have one expansion so at the moment 6 isn't even an option.

philryuh Supporter10 days ago | 2 points[-]

For Everdell, could you explain a little bit more on how a worker allows you to build your engine? It's a highly likely purchase for me this year so I'm curious :)

Huh.. I've heard of Sierra West before but never bothered to look into it. What you mentioned sounded interesting so I started peeking at the game page and it seems like it could be a great game for 2 players. How do you like it?

WadeB1977 10 days ago | 2 points[-]

You start the game with only 2 workers and get a new one each season and two in the last season. You use the workers to gather resources and the resources to play your cards. Certain cards (your city tableau) trigger other cards that will then give you more resources in many cases. If you use your workers efficiently you can generally get several cards in play with just a few resources. 

I got Sierra West in a trade more or less as an offshoot of the game I was really trading for. I've played all the modules and it's a great game. I think it works great for two players.

philryuh Supporter9 days ago | 1 point[-]

Ahh makes me even more curious about Everdell. I will be getting Everdell and Champions of Midgard in the upcoming months and I'm still deciding which game I should buy first haha. Viticulture has been a hit for me and my wife and I thought of going with CoM first to mix things up a bit with battle mechanics and dice rolling involved but Everdell sure sounds cool too.

I looked through a number of reviews/comments on Sierra West and I see lots of comments on long turns/down times and that two player would be best. Does the theme seem pasted on or is it integrated well into the mechanic?

WadeB1977 9 days ago | 2 points[-]

That is a good question. The fishing module seems to be the most well integrated. I'd probably say 50/50 on the theme. It doesn't seem overly forced but I could see an argument for a different theme that could be easily applied. So 50/50 on that. I'm a little surprised at the down time between turns but haven't played with more than two. Generally you'd be deciding how to place your cards between turns. 

philryuh Supporter9 days ago | 1 point[-]

Gotcha, there were so many criticisms about the long turns so I was curious what your experience was like!

nealkfrank 8 days ago | 1 point[-]

Everdell is a gorgeous game to boot. I enjoyed my solo play through. I think it could be a good fit with you and your wife since viticulture landed pretty well for you guys. 

philryuh Supporter8 days ago | 1 point[-]

Definitely, it's currently my top safe choice haha.

I'm kinda thinking of something like this at the moment: Viticulture -> Tuscany -> Everdell or Champions of Midgard -> PARKS -> Everdell or Champions of Midgard (whichever is left) -> Great Western Trail -> Gaia Project or an equivalent (I'll probably try to fit in a non-worker placement game somewhere there haha)

nealkfrank 8 days ago | 1 point[-]

GAIA PROJECT!!! I love that game with all my heart. Such a doozy. The best kind of doozy. 

philryuh Supporter8 days ago | 1 point[-]

Hahaha so I hear, I was talking with @tallon.simmons about the game :)

Marshwiggle92 Supporter10 days ago | 3 points[-]

Haven't played it. But I like the idea of arresting other players workers as in Architects of the West Kingdom

Also in Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar where when you remove your worker being the important part. 

nealkfrank 9 days ago | 3 points[-]

Tzolkin is the one that comes to mind for sure. I am very interested in playing this. I like the idea of placing your worker on the wheel and just letting them take a ride!

philryuh Supporter10 days ago | 2 points[-]

Tzolk'in is the one I was looking into yesterday, and the main inspiration for the post. Not sure if it'll be a hit with us or not but I was very interested in the time factor for the worker mechanic. I watched Rahdo's video of it from the days when he recorded on his phone with a lot of shaking going on haha

nealkfrank 9 days ago | 2 points[-]

Heavy Cardboard has a pretty solid teach and play through of Tzolk'in as well!

philryuh Supporter9 days ago | 1 point[-]

I should check it out, thanks!

Marshwiggle92 Supporter10 days ago | 2 points[-]

His video quality has gone way up. That is for sure.

Skurvy5 Supporter10 days ago | 3 points[-]

Scythe is an interesting look at worker placement. Although I guess it’s more action selection... 

sdirrane Supporter10 days ago | 2 points[-]

I have heard some people put this under Worker Placement as well.  I think it's mostly because you can train/hire what are called workers.  It feels like the workers in Scythe of more of an additional resource in the resource management aspect of the game.  I think I've managed to win with only 3 or 4 workers.


Comment deleted.

theDL 10 days ago | 2 points[-]

Yeah I wouldn't classify that as worker placement.

sdirrane Supporter10 days ago | 3 points[-]

I love this question!  Especially because it has me really thinking about what I love about the games I love.  

Viticulture - First, the grande worker (what a cool mechanic to once around be able to get around being blocked.) . I also love playing at 3+ (the more the better) because I also love the bonus action spot.  I love my $1 discounted workers.  With Tuscany I love the special workers.  But for me, the absolutely best worker placement aspect (and maybe some will disagree with this actually being workers placement) is the turn order selection.  I love the theme of placing your rooster to wake you up earlier to get going, or wake you up later to get something extra for "sleeping in".  This ramps up even more in Tuscany.  I think it's brilliant to not just go clockwise but to take your turns based on when your rooster crows.

Raiders of the North Sea - I love the place a worker pick up a worker.  At first it feels like I'm going to be able to do the two actions I want every turn.  But nope, that's simply not true.  Or sometimes your plans are foiled by needing to pick up a worker before you place one, but your not allowed to do that.  I'm thinking of an instance of wanting to pick up a worker to gain silver to spend on hiring a crew member.  But unfortunately that sequence isn't available.  But even more than that (which I know a lot people praise the game for) I like the multi color workers and needing to plan your strategy around which color working you'll be picking up for your next turn.

philryuh Supporter10 days ago | 2 points[-]

I tend to get marveled/fascinated by all the different aspects of a game when I first play them (if it's a good game), either with things like the player boards in Root, components in Viticulture and the wakeup mechanic, etc haha.

Viticulture/Tuscany - Yes! I love the bonuses. And I 100% agree about the wakeup/retiring mechanic behind the workers. It's so thematically integrated that it's intuitive and adds so much depth into your strategy since you need to be aware of not just how many workers your opponents have left, but how early they will be retiring as well.

Raiders of the North Sea - I still need to try this one. Have it in my wishlist and hope to get it this year.

Edit: For Tuscany, have you had a chance to play with the other special workers? Haven't gotten to try them out yet and have no idea what they do haha

disom 10 days ago | 3 points[-]

Village has to be mentioned. The way that your workers eventually have to die to score points and/or bring on the end game. It really pushes the theme and makes the game more immersive.

philryuh Supporter10 days ago | 2 points[-]

Ohhh this game! I I remember someone on reddit sharing about this a while back, how he received the news of his uncle passing away while he was playing Village:


That sure is a unique mechanic. What sort of feeling does the gameplay try to create? I especially wonder if an older crowd would feel any differently while playing this.

disom 10 days ago | 3 points[-]

I had not seen that Reddit thread, thanks for sharing.

The gameplay can definitely make you feel like you're over seeing a family over generations. You might not take certain actions because you'll move your tracker over the bridge and you're not ready for one of your workers to go. But it's not always a bad feeling, they might be immortalized in the village chronicle for the job they held.

I've definitely seen people mention that they don't care for the game because of how close to home it hits. Time is fleeting and we'll all experience an end.

philryuh Supporter10 days ago | 2 points[-]

It's certainly interesting how a board game could stir up that kind of emotion in us. I can imagine myself being impacted as well if I were to play after experiencing something like that.

indigopotter Supporter10 days ago | 3 points[-]

Keyper is interesting because the players flip the boards around to control what actions will be available each round.

philryuh Supporter10 days ago | 3 points[-]

Keyper seems to have a mixture of interesting mechanics around the workers. Watched a bit of Rahdo's video to look into it and it sure seems unique! How do you like the game?

indigopotter Supporter10 days ago | 2 points[-]

While it's nowhere near a game of screwage, there are little elements where you want to take an advantage (especially when taking workers for the next round; you don't just get a player-color set back like in most games). So it depends on who you play it with. If I played it with random people that I'm not married to, I could just make the best move and not worry about it. I appreciate the cleverness of the design but it's not the best game for us 2p.

philryuh Supporter9 days ago | 2 points[-]

Gotcha, that's good to know. I do wonder how these types of games will go for me and my wife. I've yet to find out our healthy threshold for those types of interactions.

indigopotter Supporter5 days ago | 1 point[-]

@philryuh Keyper is on sale at GameNerdz today, if you're interested. 

philryuh Supporter4 days ago | 1 point[-]

Thanks! Why must you do this to me... lol

Will have to watch a few playthroughs see if I really should get it or not.

nealkfrank 8 days ago | 1 point[-]

Along this line, KeyFlower is an interesting game with auctioning and worker placement intertwined. 

philryuh Supporter8 days ago | 1 point[-]

Sure seems to be a well liked game, although I've heard it can take a long time to fully grasp it.

nealkfrank 8 days ago | 1 point[-]

Ya, I have no played it myself, but it seems like it could be a lot to comprehend. You basically have multiple different forms of currency in the different meeple colors, then you have to decide if you want to bid them on a the tile or use them to go to the action on the tile. Definitely some tension in the decision making. 

nealkfrank 9 days ago | 3 points[-]

Cooper Island is a worker placement game that I am learning about currently. Seems interesting, not many WP games include tile placement!

philryuh Supporter9 days ago | 2 points[-]

YES! That's one that I've been eyeing on since thinking about last year's Essen. Hope to get it some day (hopefully this year? haha)

nealkfrank 9 days ago | 2 points[-]

I am watching a playthrough of it on Heavy Cardboard (I am mentioning them a lot), they do a good job of teaching a game to completion and showing off how it plays. Cooper Island seems fiddly as heck just due to the amount of components but it could be a good one! 

Marshwiggle92 Supporter9 days ago | 1 point[-]

Fiddliness was my overwhelming feeling that I got. 

nealkfrank 9 days ago | 1 point[-]

Nothing will be as Fiddly as Antiquity but yes, there is a lot of pieces and the stacking can for sure make it a bear. 

philryuh Supporter9 days ago | 1 point[-]

@nealkfrank @Marshwiggle92 - ok, I should look into it more. As much as I'm attracted by some of the mechanics involved and the idea of the game, I greatly appreciate games that are more... "smooth sailing" kind of experiences. Fiddliness doesn't go too well when my wife and I usually play at 8 or 9pm after our son goes to sleep and we're running on our last bit of battery left!

nealkfrank 8 days ago | 1 point[-]

This makes a lot of sense, the set up alone would probably feel overwhelming I think. The concept and actions of the game are not too complex from what I can tell but there are just a lot of components. After a long day, I would look for an easier game to set up. This would definitely be a game night with gamers kind of game. 

Marshwiggle92 Supporter9 days ago | 1 point[-]

Fiddliness isn't necessarily bad. But if you are on the last bit of battery when playing it... I would maybe look into it more. 

nealkfrank 8 days ago | 1 point[-]

I agree, just preference and what you are looking for. 

1nf1n1ty Supporter9 days ago | 2 points[-]

Three come to mind as my top choices,

Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar: I love this game. What makes it different is that you leave your workers on spaces as they advance. This creates a choice in that you wait for a better payout, but aren't doing anything with your workers as you wait for them. That coupled with the fact that you always have to place or take off (but not both) on your turn makes this amazing.

Trajan: Another of my favorite games. This game has a rondel that you manage to choose your actions. This means that you just can't choose any action whenever you want or as much as you want because you are limited by the rondel. The rondel adds extra bonus options as well as strategy.

Alien Frontiers: My wife's favorite. You roll dice and place them. This game has an improvement over Kingsburg it that both low and high rolls can be useful so you don't always have to roll high to win. The mix of the cards for abilities, and then the territory control of the moon, make this a big winner in our house.

philryuh Supporter9 days ago | 2 points[-]

Tzolk'in - It's such a clever design to bring in that much simplicity into a relatively deep game. Just not sure yet if it will be too dry for my wife's tastes or not.

Trajan - I've yet to play a game that has rondel mechanics. I've heard Great Western Trail mentioned as having a rondel and I've been wanting to try that for a while now. Hopefully this year!

Alien Frontiers - Funny you mentioned Kingsburg, I hadn't heard of it until someone recommended it to me and my wife. I've yet to play a game with dice workers and I'm pretty sure I'll love it. Do any other games come to mind that's similar in nature but have a different theme?

1nf1n1ty Supporter9 days ago | 2 points[-]

Trajan is a different type of Rondel. GWT, your whole path is a rondel. In Trajan, you have a separate little one that you play sort of like mancala. Where you land your last one is the action you take. Thinking it out now, maybe it isn't a rondel as much as it is a mancala. Hmmm.

I think Alien Frontiers is an upgrade from Kingsburg because of the roll balancing. Kingsburg is punishing if you consistently roll low. However it is a more rich experience of building your own board that others can't mess with, where Alien Frontiers has the moon territory control. 

Troyes is another dice worker placement game. It is pretty dense. Marco Polo is another that is medium weight. I am sure there are others that I'm not thinking of. Other dice games that I like include Sagrada, Blueprints, and Roll Player.

I have all the games in this post and enjoy them. :)

philryuh Supporter9 days ago | 2 points[-]

Hmmm if that's the case then it does sound like Alien Frontiers would be a better fit than Kingsburg. Troyes does look like a lot at first glance--though I must say, I like the overall presentation of the game :)

I've been looking at a lot of titles by Daniele Tascini recently and Marco Polo seems like something that I should consider besides Tzolk'in (Marco Polo gives me an impression of being a more thematic game--what would you say?)

1nf1n1ty Supporter9 days ago | 1 point[-]

I don't know that either of them (Tz or MP) oozes with theme. That is probably due to my perspective in that I almost always see mechanics first, tactics and strategy second and theme last.

I'll say that I like Tz more as I find it a more interesting experience with the rotating gears and the timing options that takes. They are both great though.

And here is a pic of my painted TZ. I have 3d printed pieces and pyramids now too.

1nf1n1ty Supporter9 days ago | 1 point[-]

philryuh Supporter8 days ago | 2 points[-]

O_ O my goodness, knowing you, I should've asked if you blinged it hahahaha

That looks AWESOME. How long did it take? 

1nf1n1ty Supporter8 days ago | 1 point[-]

I am not sure exactly. Probably close to 8 hours, which is much longer than I would spend on a single piece. It is a complex one though

nealkfrank 8 days ago | 2 points[-]

WOW!!! Very well done! That center gear is beautiful!

1nf1n1ty Supporter8 days ago | 1 point[-]

Here is a close up with the 3d pieces I printed and painted.

1nf1n1ty Supporter8 days ago | 1 point[-]

philryuh Supporter8 days ago | 1 point[-]

Oooh you 3d printed the workers! Nice :)

Edit: how did you plan out the color pattern for the main gear?

sdirrane Supporter8 days ago | 2 points[-]

That's awesome!  I wish I had the ability to paint minis and bling out my games on my own.

nealkfrank 8 days ago | 2 points[-]

I just thought of Dominant Species as well. It is straight forward in that you select actions like normal, but everyone goes through in turn order and selects them but does not do the action. Then there is an action phase where the game state can drastically change before you have the ability to do your actions, plus it is an area control game on top of that. Pretty saucy. 

philryuh Supporter8 days ago | 1 point[-]

I tend to like games with area control! I've heard so many great things about Dominant Species but never looked into it because (1) I assumed it was a very complex game (which actually doesn't look too bad) and (2) I can be pretty shallow and the presentation of it didn't attract me to it. I'd be so down to try any sort of worker placement with area control with a great theme that my wife and I can get into.

Just to get an idea of what types of games are out there, I went to all games page and filtered the page to show games with area control and worker placement mechanics. Here are some examples that came up:

  • Scythe
  • Dominant Species
  • Teotihuacan
  • Troyes
  • Alien Frontiers
  • Keyper

nealkfrank 8 days ago | 1 point[-]

Honestly, the presentation of it kinda drew me away from it too, I have not played it but it just came to mind after watching some teaches on it. I have seen people change out the dominance cones with actual figures of mammals and reptiles and insects. Definitely makes the presentation more fun and less "Cones of Dunshire". 

I am not sure I would put Teotihuacan on the area control side of things, borderline work placement, more like work placement roundel!