Tapestry Strategy Notes, Part 2


This post is a follow up to Tapestry Strategy Notes from a few days ago. As luck would have it, I got ill the day after I uploaded that post and spent several days at home. Without anything better to do, I played the Tapestry single-player variant against the Automa several times. I used this as an occasion to experiment with different strategies and see if I can go beyond the conclusions I made in my previous post.

As a reminder, Tapestry is a civilisation-building board game for 1-5 players by Jamey Stegmaier. Each player Advances on any of four (or five with expansions) Tracks to earn Benefits and Victory Points. I got the game from my partner for Christmas and we have since been frequently playing it together. It is a game that has sufficiently simple rules (base game manual is only four pages) that everybody can enjoy it without going too deep into the mechanics. At the same time it has plenty of complexity due to the interplay of these rules that it can also be a lot of fun for those who want to dig into strategies and maximise their scores.


The following strategy notes are based entirely on my own experience and observations of the game. I do not play competitively and until recently all but one of my games were two-player games against my partner with and without the expansion. I played only one five-player game without any expansions. This week, I also played several games against the Automa in the game’s single-player variant.


  • I capitalise words that refer to gameplay items and actions, such as: Track, Advance, Tapestry Card, etc.
  • I refer to spaces on individual Tracks using their name from the game board and a letter-number where the letter refers to the Track (E-xploration, T-echnology, S-cience, M-ilitary, A-rts) and the number refers to the space on that Track. E.g., M7 refers to the seventh space on the Military Track so Tanks.

The winning strategy is to play the hand you were dealt

The main lesson I learned in these last few days is that you cannot win Tapestry by deciding your strategy upfront. If you decide to play a specific strategy independently of your Civilisation, the different card draws (Technology, Masterpiece, and Tapestry), or even what your opponent(s) is(are) doing then you are unlikely to score very high. You might even find yourself complaining about randomness and a strong luck element in this game. Whilst luck will always help, the key to playing Tapestry well is not to make the cards fit your strategy but to fit your strategy to the cards.

Before you have to make your first Advance Turn many of the random elements of the game will have been revealed to you. You will know your first Tapestry Card, the first three face-up Technology Cards, the first three face-up Masterpiece Cards, and you will know what your opponents’ Civilisations are. This is when you should make your first decisions about your strategy. In my games against the Automa I have found that I can consistently have a good game by adapting to these random card draws rather than deciding my strategy upfront.

With that in mind, you also need to keep adapting as the game progresses. As new cards are drawn and as your opponents make their moves you may have to adapt your moves to make the most of these developments.

Capital City scoring with more players

In my previous post I expanded on the value of the Capital City as a great mechanism for scoring Victory Points (VPs) especially in few-player games. When playing against the Automa, the Shadow Empire is also included. The Shadow Empire is not a full bot like the Automa but it has its own tokens on each Track and competes for Landmarks as if it was a third player.

I found that this increased competition for the landmarks was enough to reduce the importance of always making sure you can score your Capital City multiple times. Until then, my experience in two-player games was that you basically walk into a full Capital City without even thinking about it so missing out on scoring the Capital City was throwing VPs away. With the Shadow Empire filling out the Capital City required more effort and was definitely not something that “just happened” anymore. It seems that three players are enough to reduce the overwhelming point potential of the Capital City.

In these last few days I also played one more two-player game but with the Shadow Empire and Twin Impact (from Arts and Architecture) rules increasing the competition for the Landmarks. And indeed, scoring high on the Capital City was no longer so easy. It appears that the Shadow Empire is a great additional mechanic for two-player games to avoid having scores dominated by the Capital City.

The Technology Track is a great support

Previously I wrote how the Technology Track is a good supporting Track. In playing against the Automa I found that is not just a good supporting Track - it is a great supporting Track. I would even go as far as recommending pursuing the Technology Track up to Tier I or II regardless of what your main strategy ends up being.

Going up the Technology Track can greatly pay off due to the Technology Cards. A good Technology Card can greatly enhance your strategy (and as previously mentioned, the Technology Card draw should influence your strategy) with some great Benefits such as:

  • Additional Income Buildings which help you build up your resource generation engine. Very valuable in the early Eras when you can still benefit from the building over multiple Income Turns. Some, however, require two Upgrades to yield an Income Building which may or may not pay off. Though, often it does if used to uncover the final VP-scoring space of the Income Track.
  • Advance on a Track which can save you a lot of resources especially if you use it to Advance through Tier III of a Track. However, some of these Benefits require you to forfeit the Benefit and Bonus of the space you are advancing into. Nevertheless, I found that forfeiting a Benefit that supports my current strategy less is worth the resources saved to later take advantage of more powerful Benefits.
  • Re-activate the Benefit (and you may pay for the Bonus) allowing you to replay a very powerful Benefit if timed well. This Benefit is so good that I would often play to arrange my tokens to maximise the value of this Benefit rather than try to fit it into my current token placement.

With that said, you do have to be careful with the Square Upgrade requirements. Some can be very high (e.g., Lithium-Ion Battery requires that you or one of your neighbours’ have reached Tier IV of Exploration) and with some you can be very unlucky (e.g., Technology Cards from Fantasies and Futures require that you have played a Charmed Tapestry for the Square Upgrade).

The Income Buildings you gain from pursuing the Technology Track are also nice (especially the first one) but I found that if the Technology Track was not my main focus I would often contemplate picking the Technology Card on the Stone Tools (T3) space instead of a second Market which would only uncover a VP-scoring space on the Income Track.

If the Technology Track is not your focus it is generally worth going up:

  • Stone Tools (T3) for a second Technology Card.
  • Metallurgy (T4) for another Technology Card with the option to first discard the three face-up cards.
  • Glass (T5) for an Income Building on a non-Market Income Track and an extra Technology Upgrade.

Which one to stop at will depend on your overall strategy and situation in the game. If you are ahead of others on this Track it may even be worth going ever further for the Landmarks and using this as an opportunity to incorporate even more Technology Cards into your strategy.

The Arts Track is a great inspiration

I also previously wrote that the Arts Track is another good supporting Track and can be very powerful thanks to the Masterpiece Cards. However, the opportunity cost for these cards is much higher than for Technology Cards. Because of this cost I would not consider the Arts Track as much of a no-brainer as the Technology Track. It should be a much more conscious decision motivated by a good Masterpiece Card to support your strategy.

Once you have already paid the cost to get to Dance (A3) for that first Masterpiece Card it is often valuable to go further:

  • At Symphony (A5) you get an Inspiration Tile and can pay for the bonus to get another Masterpiece Card.
  • At Rock Opera (A7) you get another Masterpiece Card with the option to first discard the three face-up cards.
  • At CGI Animation (A8) you get another Inspiration Tile.
  • At Infinite Spectrum Photography (A11) you can pay the bonus to get another Masterpiece Card.
  • At Streaming Implants (A12) you can gain the Benefit of up to three different Masterpiece Cards (your or your neighbours’).

All these Benefits are great but the Track must be supporting other Tracks to be valuable. The full value of the Inspiration Tiles only comes out if you can expose all the spaces by gaining the appropriate Income Buildings. Furthermore, the Benefits of Flash Mob (A9) and Infinite Spectrum Photography (A11) are usually only worth it if you are using it to Advance on Tier III or IV of another Track. Otherwise, you might be paying a lot for a minor Benefit.

Therefore, the Arts Track can have great synergy with the other Tracks, but as it has a higher opportunity cost than the Technology Track it usually also requires a higher focus on the Track itself than when using Technology as a support Track. Also note that just because the Arts Track is also a supporting (inspiring) Track it does not mean it is not worth investing a bit in the Technology Track.

Conquer die rolls

I did not touch the subject of the Conquer die rolls in my previous post but I often read about it on the BoardGameGeek Forum that I wanted to offer my two cents on this subject. The prevailing opinion on BoardGameGeek seems that you should always take the black resource die result and never the red VP die result. I do not agree that the situation is so black and white.

In the first two Eras gaining an additional resource is almost always the right choice as that resource can be used to build your engine for the later Eras but in the last two Eras the situation is less clear cut. A single random resource might no longer allow you take a meaningful action. Tier III advancement is very expensive and Tier IV has strict resource type requirements and your opportunities for using just one resource to set you up for massive VP gains is more limited in the later Eras. On the other hand, assuming you Control at least four territories you will be averaging 5+ VPs from the red die and possibly more if you made some extra Conquests through your Civilisation, Technology Cards, or Masterpiece Cards. It does not sound like much, but it is more than the VPs you would get from a single Technology Card from the Market Income Track. And with each additional Territory you Control the higher the chance for a higher VP roll. Therefore, unless the black resource die can give you the resource you need for some specific play you have in mind, I recommend you also consider the red VP die in the later Eras.

Wojciech Kozlowski
Quantum Network Engineer

Quantum network researcher and developer.