tapestry box

How Tapestry Set Fire to Board Games

Stonemaier Games dropped a bomb on the board game world last week by announcing a new game: Tapestry. In the days since, thousands joined the game’s Facebook group. The game’s listing shot to #1 on Board Game Geek’s “Hotness” chart. It’s a hit! But how did this happen?

Stonemaier Games is on a roll this year. They earned a Spiele de Jahres award for their bird-collecting game Wingspan. Meanwhile, older games like Scythe and Viticulture maintain a foothold on hobby gamers’ tabletops.

Tapestry is poised to duplicate that success. The company is printing 25,000 numbered copies, a huge sign of confidence. Many board games struggle to sell 5,000 copies in their lifespan, but there’s enough buzz around this game that buyers are worried about getting copies. The Fear of Missing Out is strong with this one.

The Bayeux Tapestry Was Pretty Too

In a design diary, Stonemaier Games head Jamey Stegmaier wrote about brain-storming names and picking the most appropriate name from survivors of the trademark search. (“Civilization” was taken.) The name “Tapestry” was inspired by the idea of civilizations telling their stories through images.

It’s a strong choice, and not just because it’s appropriate to the theme. The name also implies richness, an ornate quality. High-quality components are already a big part of the Stonemaier Games brand, and the early images have emphasized “Tapestry’s” visual richness and attention to detail.

Then there are the miniatures:

tapestry miniatures

You don’t need these big, chunky figures. Cardboard tiles would work fine. But the buildings look immensely satisfying to plop down on a player board. Today’s board game market demands high production values, and Tapestry delivers.

The Traditional Path to Overnight Success?

Tapestry’s hot launch is about both past and present. Stonemaier Games has built a strong reputation over six years. And Stegmaier has been more than a publisher. His blog posts and interviews have cemented his reputation as one of the good guys in games. Many publishers credit their companies’ success to his advice.

But there is another more X-factor in the mix: sheer ambition.

In his design diary, Stegmaier writes that he’s only going to make one civilization game. He wants to make it beautiful, functional, and fun. That drive shows in the graphic design, the miniatures, and the four-page rulebook. He’s going for one of the hobby’s holy grails: the light civilization game that you can play with friends and family.

That’s a hard game to make. Many publishers have failed before. So we don’t know yet whether Tapestry will succeed. But Stegmaier’s ambition and passion shows in the story he’s telling about the game, and players are responding. We’ll see in a few weeks whether his hard work and our faith pay off.