I absolutely love placing tiles! There are really two different ways games implement tile placing in a board game. There is city building, where you are putting down tiles to make a city either collectively of individually. Then there are exploration type games where you are going out trying to discover specific areas of either resources or other things. I want to remind you that these are games that I feel use this mechanism the best or most unique. That doesn’t necessarily mean I like the game as a whole over other games. It just means that I think these games do this mechanism the best……in my opinion. I am trying to keep 4x games off this list, but there might be one that finds its way on here. So, lets get our exploration hats, hiking shoes and maps and set off for…..The Best 3 games with…Tile Placement/Exploration!
Akrotiri is a 2 player exploration game published by Z-man Games and designed by Jay Cormier and Sen-Foong Lim. It really makes you think and make tough choices on where to place your tiles. The mechanic is simple to learn. Take a tile at the end of your turn and place it on your next turn. If you don’t like your tile you can use an action to get a new one. The great part of this is where you place your tile. Your object is that you are trying to discover temples on the islands as you explore them. You can literally place your tile anywhere on the board, but the challenge is putting them where you need it the most. The temples will be on islands based on where icons are located in the world. Your temple cards will tell you that certain temples need to have red icons to the left, blue icons above and white icons below the temple. So, deciding where to place your tiles that will help you out and not the other player is a nice little mind game.
Tikal is an oldie but a goodie. In this exploration game, from Rio Grande Games, there are two different ways to play. You can either draw blindly on each players turn from the top of the stack and place it on the board or turn over a number of tiles for each player in the game and auction them off. I highly recommend doing the auction. Michael Kiesling and Wolfgang Kramer really hit the nail on the head with this game. One issue I have with exploring games is often times, usually me, a player will not draw good tiles and another player will. The beauty with this game is that when you auction them off, every one sees what is available for this round. Not only that but you bet with victory points. It’s a really nice game about getting the tile that you really want and deciding how many points you are willing to part with to get it. Especially late in the game when points are close and there are only a couple rounds left. Just a nice little variation to a normal mechanic that makes the random tile draw more strategy based.
My group was a little upset with me when I traded Archipelago away (this is an understatement!). I was not crazy about the game as a whole but I could not argue about how well the exploration is done in this game, published by Asmodee. Not to mention this is one of the best looking games I have ever seen. The art on the tiles, by Vincent Boulanger, Ismael Pommaz and Chris Quilliams, is just phenomenal! In Archipelago, the tiles are arranged in a stack off to the side of the playing area where every one can see the top tile. All the tiles are double sided so you can see the first one and what it has to offer. When you explore, you can choose to take and keep the top tile, either knowing you can use the top side or the other side of the tile, or you can choose to discard the top tile and take a chance on the next tile. I really like this mechanic in the game. I like that there are 4 choices that I can have when placing tiles, one of which I can see. There really is not a “bad” tile in the game and it all depends on if you can place the tile or not. There are tiles that benefit you more based on your secret objective cards but there are things on every tile that can be utilized. I love the fact that you have to make that quick tough decision of what tile to take.