Here we will take a look at the 10 top worker placement board games based on popularity. This is a series to take a look at a specific board game mechanic and out of every game ever released in the space, what are the most popular as of right now, the middle of 2021. We will give some information on each title, as well as, some insight into why it might have landed at its particular spot on the list.
Worker placement is freeform drafting where players are fighting over spaces to try to get things or perform actions. Usually, you have a set number of "workers" and players take turns placing them one at a time on available spaces that do things. There is usually limited room, so you need to weigh what to prioritize and hope your opponent doesn't beat you to a space you are trying to get.
#10 | Caverna: The Cave Dwellers
Uwe Rosenberg is one of the greatest living designers and a master in this space. You are going to see his name several times here. His seminal drop into this space that was beloved by critics and audiences alike was #Agricola originally released in 2007. This was the follow up to that game and many say that this is an even better worker placement game that built on that revolutionary title.
You are the bearded leader of a small dwarf family that lives in a cave in the mountains. You begin the game with a farmer and his spouse, and each member of the farming family represents an action to take each turn. Together, you cultivate the forest in front of your cave and dig deeper into the mountain. Create something amazing from nothing.
#09 | Stone Age
Stone Age has been around since 2008 so it is one of the oldest on the list. This is a staple on many of the best worker placement games and people often point to this as one of the best gateway games. This is a game that introduces a lot of people to the hobby and genre so it makes sense that it is popular. It is very easy and streamlined so certainly a very accessible one.
Players live in this time as historically accurate as possible. You collect wood, break stone and wash your gold from the river. Important tasks include trading freely, expanding your village and achieve new levels of civilization. With a balance of luck and planning, you compete for food in this pre-historic time.
#08 | A Feast For Odin
This is another game from Uwe Rosenberg that is one of the most complex on this list. You are managing a lot of things and building up a massive empire. There is a ton to do and the depth on this one blew people away when it dropped in 2016. Many content creators talk highly about this game which has translated into lots of interest.
You are reliving the cultural achievements, mercantile expeditions, and pillages of those tribes we know as Viking today. In this game, you will raid and explore new territories. Along the way, there is plenty to do from collecting goods to achieving a financially secure position in society. In the end, the player whose possessions bear the greatest value will be declared the winner.
#07 | Raiders of the North Sea
Publisher Garphill Games has gone from unknown to one of the most popular names out there very specifically because of their North Sea and West Kingdom Series. Each of these games blends this great style from Icelandic artist The Mico with fantastic play mechanisms that are unlike anything ever seen. Best yet, they are all unique experiences that stand on their own. This is the gem of the North Sea series originally released in 2015.
Raiders of the North Sea is set in the central years of the Viking Age. As a Viking warrior, you seek to impress the Chieftain by raiding unsuspecting settlements. You will need to assemble a crew, collect provisions and journey north to plunder gold, iron and livestock. There is glory to be found in battle, even at the hands of the Valkyrie.
#06 | Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar
This is a worker placement game that excellently blends in the very synergistic rotating gear mechanism. The flow of gameplay and exciting moving has long impressed gamers since it released in 2012. This one is a bit of a surprise because you do not hear about it very much anymore, but it is striking, unique and a great game.
Players can either (a) place one or more workers on the lowest visible spot of the gears or (b) pick up one or more workers. When placing workers, they must pay corn, which is used as a currency in the game. When they pick up a worker, they perform certain actions depending on the position of the worker.
#05 | Orléans
This is the one on the list that is kind of open to interpretation of how much of a worker placement game it is. This is more about pool building and resource management that fighting over spaces, but you have a lot of paths to take and there are tough decisions to make. This is much more complex than your typical game in the genre, instead of managing one type of citizen, here there are many.
You must assemble a following of farmers, merchants, knights, monks, etc. to gain supremacy through trade, construction and science in medieval France. Grow your influence and attract as many people as possible so you can perform the maximum amount of actions and get far ahead.
#04 | Architects of the West Kingdom
The second worker placement game from Garphill Games is the most popular in their second trilogy of games, the West Kingdom series. People are blown away by how much care are put into these games and again this is a brilliant melding of theme and gameplay. This is still fairly hot off the presses, releasing not too long ago in 2018.
Set at the end of the Carolingian Empire, circa 850 AD, you are a royal architect who must compete to impress your King. You will need to collect raw materials, hire apprentices, and keep a watchful eye on their workforce. These are treacherous times, points are gained by constructing various buildings and advancing work on the Archbishop's cathedral, but look out, rival architects will stop at nothing to slow your progress.
#03 | Lords of Waterdeep
Not only does the dungeon and dragons theme bring people in but this is a really good worker placement game. This is that title that no matter what comes and goes it tends to stick around all the best of lists because it was the pioneer in the fantasy adventure space where everything else is more growth and management. People say #Champions of Midgard could replace it, but this still has the name recognition.
You are one of the secret leaders of the city, ruling from the shadows. Through your agents, you recruit adventurers to go on quests on your behalf, earning rewards and increasing your influence over the city. During the course of play, you may gain points or resources through completing quests, constructing buildings, playing intrigue cards or having other players utilize the buildings you have constructed.
#02 | Everdell
Besides #Root, no other game satisfyingly submerges you deep in the forest with all its magical creatures like Everdell. People just love this card game. There is tons of flavor and games are really fun. There is nothing new or interesting to this one but it's solid and you get to make interesting decisions. Having just released in 2018, it is still benefitting from its freshness.
Beneath the boughs of towering trees, among meandering streams and mossy hollows, a civilization of forest critters is thriving and expanding. The time has come for new territories to be settled and new cities established. You will be the leader of a group of critters intent on just such a task. There are buildings to construct, lively characters to meet and events to host.
#01 | Viticulture
It makes sense that Viticulture lands at the #1 spot on the list of the top worker placement board games. The gorgeous and fantastic game is the title that put Stonemaier Games on the map. Its only been out since 2015 so it is still relatively fresh and cutting edge. This is one of those titles that makes all the lists and content creators, regardless of who you go to, will gush about this game.
You are in the roles of people in rustic, pre-modern Tuscany who have inherited meager vineyards. You start with a few plots of land, an old crushpad, a tiny cellar, and three workers. Play through seasons and choose where to put your workers to build up the resources to create a wine empire.