Tableau building in games can be a tricky thing to describe. It is when you have an area in front of each player where usually cards are added to enhance your available actions, areas or resources throughout the game. It is also very similar to “engine building” games. Normally these tableaus are limited to each player meaning you can only use your tableau and other players use their own tableau. There is usually very little interaction between players when it comes to tableau’s in gaming. It’s all about who can get what cards placed that best suits their strategy. Some of the best tableau building games do this “engine building” very well, leading to them being better than other available games that use the mechanic. Having multiple strategies and plenty of options to use through out the game will differentiate you from the other players and allow you to focus on your chosen strategy. So, now onto the Best 3 Games with…Tableau Building!
Deus is a great game. I love everything about it. It is pretty simple at its core, which is why I like it so much. You can play a card on your tableau, put a building out, follow through with actions on the card, pretty basic really. BUT the truly great part about Deus is that the cards are a series of 5 different colors and every time you add a card to that color, you get to activate ALL the cards in that color in your tableau. This is where the game shines! It is so satisfying to play a card in the first round and have it pay benefits through out the rest of the game. That one card might activate 4-5 additional times for the rest of the game which is really a fun and well done mechanism in the game.
2. Valeria: Card Kingdoms
Valeria: Card Kingdoms is very similar to Machi Koro for those that have played it. In Valeria, you recruit Citizens, fight Monsters and take over Domains. When you recruit Citizens they go in your tableau in front of you. Each recruit has a number associated with it and on a players turn they roll two dice. Every player then activates each Citizen they have that has that number listed on their cards. The person who rolled the dice will get slightly better options than the players who did not roll the dice. This is a great mechanism, that your tableau activates on every one’s turn, not just yours. These Citizens give you resources that allow you to recruit more Citizens, fight Monsters or gain Domains. This tableau game has a solid system that keeps every other player engaged the whole time.
Elysium is great in that it has two different types of tableaus. One for your special actions above the player board and another (the Elysium) below to house your “families” cards for end game scoring. The cards come in a variety of colors and each color has a number. Once you gain a card it goes to the top of your tableau and can then be used through out the game for a special action or rule. They don’t score you any points until you move them into the bottom part of your tableau called the Elysium. Once you put them there, you can no longer use the special power. You put the cards in “families”, which represent allegiances to the various Greek gods including Zeus, Poseidon, Hera and others based on color or number. This is such a fantastic method of implementing the tableau. The tough choices you have to make, about which cards to keep up top for actions and which ones to move down for points, are brilliant in this game. It is also a very attractive and well made game and plays very smoothly.