Board Game Bites for New Gamers: Worker Placement

by Mrs. Saint

The other week, we talked about the sheer volume of games and some online resources to help make purchasing decisions a little easier. For the next few Board Game Bites, we’re going to talk about game mechanics.  For me, when I was first starting out in the hobby a few years ago, it felt eerily similar to starting a job in a new industry. Every industry has its own lingo and acronyms and people in the industry use them so much they don’t realize that to the new person it sounds like they’re speaking a different language. Mr. Saint still sometimes has to explain terms to me we haven’t used before when it comes to the hobby. So if you’re new to gaming and reading the description of a game on BoardGameGeek or Board Game Atlas, don’t feel bad if it mentions one or five different mechanics and you’re not familiar with what those mechanics actually mean in terms of game play. Since these posts are short and sweet, we’re just going to cover one mechanic each week and give some games recommendations to try (both intro games and some mid to heavyweight ones).  This week, we’re talking about the worker placement game mechanic.

Until just a few months ago, we only had one worker placement game in our collection. Now we have five.  But what is a worker placement game? Worker placement  is just as the two words suggest, you have some kind of token/meeple/dice that is placed on the game board to claim  a resource/event/outcome. We’re going to use Champions of Midgard by Grey Fox Games to highlight what we’re talking about (our review of Champions of Midgard can be read here) for worker placement. 

In Champions of Midgard, you are playing as a Viking Leader and you start out with three Viking meeples -these are your “workers”. The board offers you a variety of options to place your three workers to try to score the most Glory to win the game. You may choose to place your worker on a spot to get more warrior dice (used for the game’s combat system) or you may want more of one of the game’s resources so you choose to place your worker on that round’s Merchant Ship. With the exception of the hunting space, Champion of Midgard only lets one worker be placed in a spot per round so turn order can sometimes matter, but when playing a worker placement game, it’s a good idea to have one to three ideas of what space is going to help you gain the most of what you need (resources, points, etc.). Most worker placements play similar to this manner, you have your workers and you’re trying to maximize their placement for that game’s scoring system each round. 

Champions of Midgard is a great game to introduce yourself or others to the game mechanic. I would also recommend Dice Hospital by Alley Cat Games (review coming soon) as another good intro game to worker placement. Notably, Dice Hospital uses individual player boards with placement spots rather than a board where players compete for spaces, further showing the diversity of this mechanic.  

If you’ve tried some intro worker placement games and enjoyed them and are looking for a more complex challenge, I suggest Dinosaur Island by Pandasaurus Games. And if you’re looking for a heavyweight game, check out Paladins of the West Kingdom by Garphill Games. 

Do you love worker placement games? What light, medium, and heavyweight worker placement games would you suggest? Let us know!

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