Tiletum (Game Review by Ben Bruckart)
- Designer: Simone Luciani and Daniele Tascini
- Publisher: Board and Dice
- Players: 1-4
- Ages: 14+
- Time: 75-120 Minutes
- Times Played: 4
Tiletum refers to the modern day city of Tielt in Belgium. Imagine for a moment, that you are a merchant traveling through Renaissance Europe and establishing trade houses, fulfilling contracts, building cathedrals, gaining favor of nobles, and participating in fairs. Easy and familiar Eurogame theme.
But what is it really?
Tiletum is a dice selection, action game where dice are rolled and placed around a wheel that rewards actions with an inversely proportional amount of resources. Specifically, the number of Action Points (AP) you get is equal to 7 minus the number of resources gained. For example, if you take a die that grants you 5 resources, you would only gain 2 APs. There are just six dice slots and 5 actions plus a wild you must manage to win victory points.
The Turn Summary
Tiletum is a very tight game. The structure of the game is there are four rounds, and within each round there are five phases. The heart of the round is the action phase, where each player will take 3 sets of actions. So, you only have 12 turns in the whole game. Sound like other tight/fun Luciani designs? Yes! Never enough turns to do all the things you want to do, so efficient and well-planned play is rewarded.
This game comes with a nice carboard setup and a few wood components in each player color. The game’s primary resource are colored dice (20 in 5 different colors). The dice each represent different resources: yellow = gold, pink =food, white (light grey) = Wool, grey = stone, and blue=iron. Each player has a small player board which accommodates some light tableau building. The player has a wagon piece (Merchant) and a compass piece (Architect) and they both start in the city of Tiletum, together with a House. Why did they use that as the name of the game? Because, clearly, “Tiletum” is Latin for “tons of tile”. And yes, over the course of the game you will get tons of tiles. Tons! Some are Character tiles, some are Bonus action tiles, some are Contract tiles and they let you do a wide variety of things from taking extra actions, enhancing your current action, or getting more stuff. to crests to helper abilities. They add a lot to the fun of playing the game, but they have to be managed properly.
The rules are explained below but to skip to my thoughts click here.
Gameplay and Scoring
As described above, the four rounds have five phases:
- Preparation phase
- Action phase
- King phase
- Fair phase
- Cleanup phase.
1. Preparation phase
In the Preparation phase, a number of dice are rolled (for example, 11 are rolled in the 3-player game) and placed around the Action Wheel according to their numeric value (regardless of how many of a number are rolled). Below is a picture of the Action Wheel. Dice are rolled and placed around the wheel according to their pip value.
For example, if three of the dice turned out to be a five-value grey die, three-value pink die, and one-value blue die, then they would be put near the wheel on those spots. The wheel doesn’t show any action types; instead, it is placed on the board as shown below, so the dice would then be associated with the actions next to those pip numbers. Over the course of the game, the wheel can be rotated, to associate different pip numbers with each action.
2. Action Phase
The heart of the game is here in the Action phase. Each player takes turns taking a single die from the Action Wheel, getting the resources associated with the die color, and then performing actions associated with the wheel spot.
The Action Phase consists of three identical parts. At the beginning of each part, a corruption token is flipped over to reveal how many spots the players move back on the King Track. Corruption tokens move players back between 0 and 2 spots. Then, in turn order, each player chooses a die and resolves it. So during this phase, each player will have chosen three dice and resolved each one.
Before I go into each of the actions, let me talk about a section of the player boards. On the right side of the player board are locations where you put your chosen dice (which tracks how many turns you’ve taken) and also a spot of four empty locations. This is called the storehouse. When you carry out actions, you will often be able to take different kinds of tiles. Before you can use them, they must be put into your storehouse. Some tiles can be used right away and some you’ll have to (or want to) save for later on, but you can never discard a tile from your storehouse. You can only take a new tile if you have a free space in your storehouse. This restriction forces you to manage your tile usage, as you try and maximize taking actions that will fill your storehouse at opportune times, setting up future turns of actions.
To recap, when you select a die, you get the corresponding resources and action points. So if I select the five-value grey die. I would get five wool and then two APs. If the Action Wheel was oriented as shown above, the five-die is in the character action, so I would get to use two ‘character’ APs.
Now I will describe the actions. The rulebook has good example and scenarios that demonstrate them all.
The Architect Action:
You spend your corresponding action points to do any of the following:
- 1 AP: Move your Architect on the map, from one spot to an adjacent one.
- 1 AP: Add a Pillar from your personal supply to a Cathedral. Your Architect must be located in a Town with at least one empty Pillar space and you may not already have a Pillar at that Cathedral.
- 1 AP: Take one Bonus tile from the Town where your Architect is located, if one is available, and place it in your Storehouse.
The Merchant Action:
Similar to above, you spend action points to:
- 1 AP: Move your Merchant on the map, from one spot to an adjacent one.
- 1 AP: Add a House from your personal supply to a Town. Your Merchant must be located in a Town with at least one empty House space and you may not already have a House in that Town. If the House space contains a Building Bonus, receive it now.
- 1 AP: Take one Bonus tile from the Town where your Merchant is located, if one is available, and place it in your Storehouse.
The Character Action:
- 1 AP: Take a Character tile from the Character offer (there are always 5 tiles on display) and place it in your Storehouse, then replenish the offer immediately.
- 1 AP: Discard all Character tiles from the Character offer, then replenish the offer immediately. Discarded Character tiles are mixed, face down, back into the pile of Character tiles.
- 1/2/3 AP: Move a Character tile from your Storehouse to a Room on floor 1/2/3 on your Player board.
Filling all the room in a tower of your player board releases a house into your personal supply for use by the wagon action. There are some restrictions about placing types of people in your towers that you must weigh and pay attention to.
As a free action, you can place a type of tile called a crest at the base of a completed tower that lets you earn extra AP every time you take a specific action type. This is important for squeezing out efficient moves.
The Contract Action:
Here you can spend action points but the cost depends on the contract tile position (see below).
- X AP: Take a Contract tile from the offer, spending the number of Action Points indicated below its space in the offer, and place it in your Storehouse.
- 1 AP: Exchange one of your Resources for a different Resource. The first time you do this during your turn, receive one bonus Resource of your choice.
The King Action:
When performing the King Action, for each Action Point you have, advance your marker one step on the King track. If you end up on a step already occupied by other player markers, place yours on top. Your marker on this track can never go above the “+15 VP” position. The King track indicates if you will gain or lose points at the end of the turn and and affects the next round’s turn order.
The Joker Action:
Choose one of the other five Actions. Spend all your Action Points on the options available for that Action. All Action Points must be used to perform the same Action. You cannot split them between multiple Actions.
One thing I didn’t explain was the blank spot next to each action. When setting up each round, you will put action chits on those spots that can be optionally taken as a bonus to the first person who performs that action. It goes into the warehouse and can be used to supplement turns.
Additionally, there are some free actions or tasks that you can always do like spending two gold to gain one other resource, fulfill contracts, spending food to move crests, and spending stone to contribute to the building of a cathedral. We used a pretty good player aid found on bgg (link at bottom).
3. King Phase
After every player has selected three dice, the rounds ends and you proceed to the King phase. Here you look at the player markers on the King track. See who is where, score positive or negative points based on their position, and reseed the next turn order based on who is farthest ahead and, if a tie, who got their first.
4. Fair Phase
At the end of each round, there is a fair in a designated city (these are randomly determined each game). In order to score for a fair, you need a presence in that city, which means you need to either have your Wagon marker there or a House there. The points earned depend upon certain things you have accomplished thus far—the things required are also randomly determined each game. The points available at the fairs can be significant, so this gives the players objectives to shoot for each game.
5. Cleanup Phase
During this phase, you rotate the wheel one position (so different pip values are now associated with each action type), replenish bonus actions, re-shuffle corruption tiles, and return the dice to the bag so they can be selected next round.
After four rounds, you do some additional scoring:
- Multiply the number of Houses you have on the map by the number of Pillars you have on the map and gain that many Victory Points.
- Count the number of Completed Buildings you have, meaning those containing both a Crest and all (1, 2, or 3) Rooms filled with Characters. For 1/2/3/4/5/6 of them, gain 0/0/5/10/20/30 Victory Points.
- For every 4 Resources left in your personal supply, gain 1 Victory Point.
High score wins and ties are broken by turn order.
My Thoughts on the Game
Tiletum is a polished and well-crafted game. The rules were good which is a huge bonus here. There is a lot of chaining together moves and the game provides some counters to help you with that. You may have six or more action points and when performing actions, you trigger a couple other sets of actions, so it’s easy to get distracted without them. We often talked through our actions out loud and counted with the action markers.
This is an excellent game and I recommend it to anyone who likes Luciani games or tighter/crunchier games. The teach can be a little long to new players but repeat plays obviously are shorter. The one thing I realized playing the game is that you cannot specialize, you absolutely must diversify and do a little of everything.
There is a lot of good about this game. I consider Luciani designs to be top tier for euro games.
The negatives are small but noteworthy if considering purchasing for your collection. There is a slight misprint on the back of one of the corruption tiles and the colors of the dice are unique but perhaps not different enough. My game group had difficulty differentiating between the grey, light blue and dark grey colors for wool, stone, and iron but some people had no issues.
As a person who plays a lot of the medium/heavy games of Essen, it’s hard not to compare them to each other. Other similar games I looked at and played in this arena are Lacrimosa and Rise. Tiletum is a very well crafted and very tight Euro game. Luciani has done it again for me and has provided another excellent game. Other games of his to consider are Darwin’s Journey, Tzolk’in, Golem, and Lorenzo il Magnifico.
Thoughts of Other Opinionated Gamers:
Larry: I’m still in the process of exploring Tiletum, but all indications are it’s another great title from the peerless design team of Luciani and Tascini. The dice mechanism gives you consistently tough choices and the large number of bonus tiles available allows you to cascade your actions to give you those oh-so-satisfying big turns. Even though it’s a bit rules heavy, none of the actions are particularly complicated, so this is a little more accessible than the designers’ usual games, without sacrificing any depth. The choice of dice colors, which can be hard to distinguish, is definitely annoying; you’d think a publisher called “Boards & Dice” would do a better job here. But overall, this is looking to be one of my favorites from 2022 and could well wind up being my personal game of the year.
Doug G.: Shelley and I both ranked this one in our Top 3 of games played in 2022. As I said in our review of the game on the podcast, the rules for this are very well written, making it easy to learn and teach. I wish more designers and publishers took the time to get their rulebooks looking like this. The game’s inventive use of dice for resource collection and action points works very well and we loved the angst this one produced as decisions narrow over the course of each round.
Patrick Brennan: The board style throws you back to Euro gaming circa 2002 but then the modern twists come. I love the action wheel idea – pull dice out of a bag, roll, allocate them to their designated action based on their pip value and then players have numerous options – take high resources (in the type you need) and low action points (in an action that’s hopefully also useful), or low resources but a high number of actions in the action you want, or middle of each. The resources are dictated by the die you take from that action slot. There’s so much to think about – scarcity in the resources you want, scarcity of future action points in the action you want, and each round the number of action points in your preferred action type will drop while others go high. There are lots of different approaches to scoring VPs and you’re presented with different means within each approach. The AP can get frighteningly high with this many options, especially if the die you wanted is taken just before your turn. The iconography overload will also make initial games longer and a 4p game can stretch well over the 2hr mark if you’re not mindful, and yes this is despite only getting 12 turns each – turns can be long! There’s enough variability in the setup (eg different round-by-round VPs objectives) to offer significant replay though and that’s the other attraction.
Craig Massey: I have no idea where Tiletum is going to land in the long term. It’s on the shelf for now, but for how long remains to be seen. Most of the other “T” games have come and gone. For the moment I’m enjoying what the game has to offer. Tiletum feels like a step down from the complicated nature of more recent “T” games which is a good thing. Maybe this will be the title that favors complexity over complicated. If so, Tiletum will stick around longer than its predecessors.
Joe Huber (1 play): So – I should state up front that I don’t find the peerless design team of Luciani and Tascini nearly so peerless as Larry does. In fact, Teotihuacan might be my least favorite game of the past decade, and Marco Polo II managed the rare feat of not only not being for me, but of turning me off of the original at the same time. Even Tzolk’in, which I do enjoy, is a game I consider to be broken; I just can forgive that for the cleverness of the gears. Of course, I do really enjoy Grand Austria Hotel, so one never knows. With some foreboding and a dash of hope I dived into Tiletum and found it – acceptable. Not so overwrought as some of their designs, and as a result a lot more accessible. In spite of Doug’s experience, we did not find this rulebook so easy to get through, eventually having someone teach the game to us – and having to go back with questions we couldn’t find answers to in the rulebook. All that said – it’s not a bad game, and for those who love other designs from the duo but want something a bit lighter I suspect the reaction of others above is more likely to resonate than my own.
Dale Yu ( 3 plays): Like Joe, I also do not find the design team an automatic positive. I have found that some of the previous designs end up being grinding repetitive affairs (and generally take way longer to play than I want to spend on a single game). That being said, when I had my first look at this game at GenCon 2022, I was instantly interested in the game as it looked to be much more streamlined that some of the previous rambling designs. Here, I really like way you can chain actions together with clever dice choices, etc. For me, the dice are the only negative in the game. The colors just don’t stand out, and I really wish they had simply chosen plain white dice as one of the choices in order to not have confusion. In all 3 of my games, we have had at least one incident where a player thought they were taking a die for the wrong resource… But, other than that, this is a nice tight Euro design where everything works together just right. The game length also suits me; with my games coming in the 60-80 minute range now. I was taught the game on my first play, and it seemed easy to pick up – later, when I read the rules, I did feel like everything was included in the places where I expected the information to be. This has turned out to be one of the top games from me from SPIEL 2022.
Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers
§ I love it! Ben Bruckart, Doug Garrett, Larry, Patrick Brennan, Lorna, Dale Y
§ I like it. Craig Massey
§ Neutral. Joe Huber
§ Not for me… Alan How
Obligatory Cat in the Box Picture: