worker placement

Worker Placement: Place a guy. Do a thing.

Place a guy. Do a thing. That’s all there is to worker placement games, right? Well, according to the BoardGameGeek glossary, it’s a bit more complicated than that. Worker placement is “a term used to describe the game mechanic which involves a ‘token-based, turn-limited, locking action selection menu’. Players, in turn order, place tokens (aka workers) to select various actions presented on a board, cards, tiles, etc. Once an action is selected, it usually cannot be selected again on that round. Often players may think of this as a supervisor deploying workers on various jobs.” That sounds involved, so let’s look at some worker placement games the LudiTeam enjoys playing to see if we can’t get a clearer picture.

David T. on Worker Placement Games

Worker placement is one of David’s favorite euro mechanisms “because it models both scarcity of options and the need to prioritize so well”. Because there is an abundance of worker placement games available, he prefers ones “with a twist”.

For example, David likes how Dungeon Petz uses workers to bid. He likes how The Manhattan Project has specialized workers. Alien Frontiers‘ use of dice also appeals to David. He says that “Euphoria does it more elegantly”, but he finds games are decided on the luck of a double roll a little to often for his liking.

Worker placement games don’t have to be friendly either. One of David’s all-time favorites, Dominant Species, uses a worker placement engine to drive the “mean area control game”.

Harry-Pekka on Worker Placement Games

Harry-Pekka finds the old tried and true Agricola to be an excellent example of worker placement games. “Agricola gives the feel of work being done and its rewards being harvested.”

Rhiannon on Worker Placement Games

In writing this post, it occurred to me that two of my current top five games all include worker placement: Dominant Species and Troyes and both in very different ways.

David’s already mentioned Dominant Species, and I’d have to agree with him. Dominant Species can be a really nasty game when it comes to the area control portion of the game; it is about survival of the fittest after all. However, the placement of workers can be just as mean if you’re not paying attention to other people’s actions.

My favorite dice as worker placement game is Troyes. Throw in The Ladies of Troyes (one of the few expansions I think enhance a game), and there’s one heck of an experience. You place guys in an area, which determine how many of a certain dice color you get. You roll the dice, which allow you to do an action so many times, sometimes even locking out the ability of others to do the action altogether. You can manipulate the dice. You can steal them from other people. It’s just great.

Helvetia is another game where I really enjoy how worker placement is used. For me, it’s better than Agricola because I find it feels more like I’m trying to flourish in my small mountain village than run a farm. You not only have to select actions from a shared board, you also have to man the buildings in your village or the villages you’ve married into. Seeing the people “working” in the village (or sleeping after they have) always makes me feel productive.

You on Worker Placement Games

The first widely recognized worker placement game is Keydom. Out of curiosity, have any of you played this? I recently saw it on auction on eBay for an exorbitant amount of money and wonder if it’s worth it. What worker placement game do you think needs more love? What’s the oldest worker placement game you’ve played? What are some worker placement games that integrate theme into the gameplay well?

There’s also some debate as to the defining characteristics of worker placement games. Does BGG have it right, or do you think of worker placement games in a different way?

Check Out Worker Placement Games by LudiCreations

ESSEN – In Essen, players are exhibitors trying to sell their board games at a large board game fair in the the well-known city of Essen. Each player tries to sell a different genre of games – euros, Ameritrash, war games, etc. – to become the most profitable exhibitor at the fair.