Worker placement A to Z
Henrik Lantz
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Uppsala
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I thought it was time to make a new and complete list of worker placement games. Several other lists of this type exists, but most are getting old and I haven't seen any list that is as complete as I would like it to be.

Most of us probably have an idea of what constitutes a worker placement game, but I also think that there are disagreements about this. To me, a worker placement game is a game where the players have a limited amount of workers that they can place in certain areas on the board. Each area gives the player the ability to do a certain action or to collect a certain resource (token, card, tile, etc.). Some games only accept one worker, where some other games accept more than one and even workers from different players.

An important distinction is that in worker placement games, the players compete for the areas in which their workers are placed. This is a difference from worker management games, where each player has their own areas in which to place their workers and there is thus no competition for these spaces. To distinguish the genre from roles selection, these games should preferrably also have more than one worker.

I will also only add the games I have played myself (and remember well enough...) and hope that we can make this list as complete as possible together. Please add all the games that are missing!


Edit: This list earlier included worker management games, but I have now deleted those games. Some games, like Le Havre, are still there but could be removed if the consensus says so.
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1. Board Game: Age of Empires III: The Age of Discovery [Average Rating:7.57 Overall Rank:139]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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A longer worker placement game that scales extemely well from 2 to 5 players. The players fight for majorities in the colonies, and place their workers to get more workers, ships, and resource tokens. There are different types of workers in this game. It is for example possible to attack the other players workers using soldiers, and there are priests whcih convert natives and thus give the player more workers and so on.
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2. Board Game: Agricola [Average Rating:8.02 Overall Rank:17]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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The most popular worker placement game, and for many the definition of such a game. Here the players manage their own farm and place their workers to get resources such as wood or reed and to perform certain actions such as sowing a field. Only one worker is allowed for each space, and the competition for these spaces is fierce.
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3. Board Game: Alien Frontiers [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:163]
Hunter E
United States
Seattle
WA
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Still forthcoming (soon, though -- they just charged for kickstarter preorders!), this game involves dice-based worker placement; however, it's rather unlike the Kingsburg mechanic: Instead of trying to combine to hit a target goal, different dice combinations are used in different ways on different spaces (i.e. highest die, sixes only, pairs/triplets, runs). Unusual among the WP games I've played, there isn't a starting player; rather, play is continuous, with every player moving his or her dice at the start of each turn, which leads to some really interesting situations around what's open or not each turn. Great fun, can't wait to have my own copy.
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4. Board Game: Asking for Trobils [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:2095]
Christian Strain
United States
Houston
Texas
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This game adds the Bumping mechanism to worker placement in which you can "bump" another player off of a location in order to take the spot. In Asking for Trobils, the effect is, you give them an extra turn in doing so. This gives the player the choice of either getting what they want right away and giving the other player an extra turn, or waiting for a later turn to take the spot when free.

It also has a new mechanic that allows players to customize and enhance what they get when going to different locations.
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5. Board Game: Carson City [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:340]
Yoki Erdtman
Sweden
Södertälje
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Carson City is a highly thematic worker placement game IMO. In the game you play developers that try to best exploit the area in and around the budding Carson City. It is the only worker placement game that I know of that allows you to challenge another player for actions by dueling over them, this aspect mainly appeals to new players, and with experience firepower is used to intimidate your opponents, more than for actual dueling.

It's a medium heavy game with the basic rules, but when using the red side of the personality cards and the river side of the map, it becomes a hardcore gamers game and very cutthroat.
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6. Board Game: Caylus [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:46]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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Perhaps the game that made the genre popular. All buildings are placed in a row, and only the buildings up to a certain pawn called the provost are activated. It is possible, and often necessary, to move the provost so that buildings where your opponents have placed their workers are not activated. Long and fairly complex game. Only on worker per building in this game.
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7. Board Game: Caylus Magna Carta [Average Rating:6.95 Overall Rank:672]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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A slimmed down version of Caylus. Most of the mechanisms remain, but one type of resource has been removed and some mechanisms (such as the building of the castle) have been simplified.
 
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8. Board Game: Cuba [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:419]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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It is something of a stretch to call this a worker placement game since only one worker is used per player and in a rather different way, but I still think it fits. Each player has a board with rows of spaces that give resources or can be used to place buildings on. One worker is placed on one of the spaces, and only spaces on the rows that the worker is placed on are activated that turn.
 
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9. Board Game: Dungeon Lords [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:186]
G L
United States
Georgia
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My favorite new worker placement game. Players plan orders secretly, then all reveal at the same time. Depending on the priority which you assigned to your action, you might either get a better reward for where your minion was placed, or be entirely blocked off.
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10. Board Game: Giants [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:894]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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A strange, but good, hybrid of a train game and a worker placement game. The main idea is to place your workers so that they form lines and can transport your statues to their final place to give you points. But there is also a sorceror which is used ina typical worker placement way. He can be placed in certain spaces to give the player logs that aid in the transports, more workers, or hats to place on the statues to mention a few possibilities. Good game with beautiful components that went a bit under the radar.
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11. Board Game: Le Havre [Average Rating:7.91 Overall Rank:37]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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The follow-up to Agricola, and also one of the most popular games here at the geek. Here the players only have one worker each, and each player also owns some of the buildings that the workers are placed on. However, for a fee, the players can place their worker on the other player's buildings, and there is often competition for the most popular buildings. Definitely a worker placement game.
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12. Board Game: Kingsburg [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:267]
Henrik Lantz
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Uppsala
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A worker placement game, but here dice are used as workers. Each player has three, or rarely four dice and the spaces on the board all have a number. The players roll their dice and place them to match the number in the spaces. For example, a player could place a dice result of 3 and dice result of 4 together on the 7 space, or on space 3 and 4 separately. Only one die is placed at a time though, and the space you waited to grab can already be taken when it is your turn the next time.
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13. Board Game: Leonardo da Vinci [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:981]
Eric
United States
Ann Arbor
Michigan
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Worker placement game. I have only played this 2 or 3 times, so I cannot comment too much on it, but the interesting twist here is that there are two criteria to "winning" a spot: chronology and total number of workers placed in a given spot. For example, if Spot Q looked like this:

A
BB
CC

B would go first with two workers, C would go second with two workers (which were placed after B), and A would go last with one worker (despite having played on that spot first). All players would get the privilege/action associated with that spot, but with increasing costs (1st = 0 florin, 2nd = 2, etc). Each player may only play on a spot once per round, but may place as many workers there as they wish in that one action.
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14. Board Game: Manila [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:627]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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This game doesn't really feel like a worker placement game, but it fits my definition. A lighter game where the players try to get boats which they placed their workers on to harbor. There are also pirate and dock spaces among others, and you have to be both lucky and clever to win this game.
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15. Board Game: Mecanisburgo [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:4045]
Hunter E
United States
Seattle
WA
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Haven't played this one, though my copy's on its way. This is worker placement with a twist; like Carson City, players can play workers into spaces already in use, and there's a conflict phase. The big twist is, each of your "worker" pawns corresponds to one of up to eight character cards in the player's employ, by way of a number hidden on the bottom of the pawn -- other players don't know who their opponents are deploying where (and thus their skill, specialty, etc) until the placement phase ends. I'm really excited for this, though it looks like it's not for everyone (see: over two hours play time, sci-fi theme, kinda corny art, and a symbol vocabulary that makes RftG look like Go Fish)...
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16. Board Game: The Pillars of the Earth [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:232]
G L
United States
Georgia
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Often described as "Caylus Light", Pillars is a medium weight worker placement game for 2-4 players. The players use workers to claim resources, then convert those resources into VP using "craftsmen". Craftsmen are drafted, and other actions are selected during the "master builder" phase, in which each player has their pawns randomly drawn out of a bag to determine placement order. Common complaints are that this drawing out of the bag introduces too much randomness, and that the game feels "scripted" because the same craftsmen are available in the same turns in each game. IMHO, the expansion (which also allows 5 and 6 players) does a lot to correct both of these problems.
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17. Board Game: Royal Palace [Average Rating:6.89 Overall Rank:1073]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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This is a worker palcement game with a twist. In this game the workers are placed at the entrance to the castle, and will have to walk to the other rooms where they allow the players certain actions or resources. After being placed the workers often remain on the board, and although each player has many workers available, they also become a limiting resource themselves. There is also an area control aspect to this game.
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18. Board Game: Stone Age [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:79]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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A medium weight worker placement game, and a great entry into the genre. The twist here is that several workers can be placed in spaces that give resources, and that each worker allows the player the roll of one die. You have to roll high enough so that you can meet the cost of the resource, and hopefully get more than one. There are also cards and some upgrades that can be received in some spaces.
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19. Board Game: Tribune: Primus Inter Pares [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:473]
Steve Bachman
United States
Colonie
New York
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Definitely my favorite worker placement game, but I also haven't played many of them. Tribune gives plenty of flexibility for game length and number of players. Toss in the expansion, and it gets plenty of play.
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20. Board Game: Vasco da Gama [Average Rating:7.30 Overall Rank:440]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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A more recent worker placement game, and one with a twist. Here the workers are placed together with a numbered disc, and the workers are resolved in number order. This makes planning quite tricky. For sure an analytical game.
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