Introducing: the Tile Laying Game
It's funny how many of these game mechanics sound like all work and no play. Tile laying? Deck building? Is this game night going to involve a trip to the Home Depot?
As far as gamer terms go, understanding "tile laying" is easy. You might also see it called tile placement. As a player, you place a tile on the board. Your objective and reward for doing this might vary from game to game, and maybe it's placed on your own personal board or a shared board, but all of these are just ways to keep the core act of tile laying feel like a brand new game. Maybe you want to build a route or a pathway (Umbra Via) so you lay down tiles like stepping stones across the game board. Or you might need to put tiles onto your own personal board to fill in a quilt pattern (Calico).
Maybe the most famous tile laying game of all is Carcassonne, which won the Board Game Oscars (Spiel des Jahres) way back in 2001 and still manages to be one of the best ones out there. Carcassonne is inspired by the medieval city in France with the same name, a city with fortified walls set in the countryside. So Carcassonne comes with more than 70 tiles that detail features of the countryside: road, town, farmland, or monastery. Once a player lays a tile down at the center of the table, the type of tile determines the action the player takes. Lay down a farmland tile? The meeple you place on top of the tile is a farmer. The board changes from game to game depending on how the players lay down tiles, and points are scored based on the game board composition and who built what.
Another popular way to use tile laying in a game is to complete a pattern or solve a puzzle. Calico and Sagrada are great examples of this tile laying game variation. In Sagrada, players have a stained-glass window pattern they must complete by drawing "tiles" (here, they are colored dice) from a central pool and placing them on the window grid. Points are scored based on how much of the pattern a player can complete after a set number of rounds.
There are a lot of board games out now, and so designers tend to mix and match mechanics to keep things fresh and try to come up with a game that feels different. Tile laying is often one part of more complex games like A Feast for Odin. In that game, you strategically place workers who gather tiles for you. You later use these tiles to fill spaces on your personal player board as in Sagrada. Terraforming Mars also features tile laying alongside other mechanics like deck-building or worker placement. In Terraforming Mars, a player can take many different types of actions on any given turn. One of those actions is to place an ocean, city, or forest tile onto the surface of Mars (that is, the board). The tiles you lay and the locations you lay them generate points and/or resources.
We carry a lot of different types of tile laying games at Board's Edge Games, so now that you know what we mean, try one out! Here are three of our favorites:
Or buy the most famous of them all: