The EFG staff defines gaming terms that are either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you find confusing and we will try to include them in future editions!
Worker placement is a mechanic found in some popular board games. Mechanics are styles of how the game plays, and once a player is familiar with a mechanic it can make it easier to learn a different game that also employs the same mechanic.
In worker placement games, or games that have the worker placement mechanic, players have a token, most commonly a meeple (see our definition of meeple). The token can also be a figure or acrylic standee. There has also become a huge demand for high quality and unique meeples, figures, and acrylic standees.
These tokens are the “workers”. On their turn, players place their workers on the board. The location of worker determines the resource or benefit the players earn. In many games a token or meeple placement prevents other players from moving to that space. Since players have a finite number of workers, they must be very thoughtful and strategic in their placement choices.
In some games, like Everdell, there are spaces that only one meeple may be placed per round and some spaces that an unlimited number of meeples can be placed. That said, the most valuable spaces limit one meeple at the location per round. With the less valuable spaces open to multiple players.
In Age of Heroes, as in many other worker placement games, the spaces are limited to one token per space. Players need to be very thoughtful and strategic on what space they want to take. Since there may be more than one player going for that location, it helps to have multiple options in mind. By having a plan, it can help keep the game moving, and minimize Analysis Paralysis. (See our definition of Analysis Paralysis here.)
History of Worker Placement
“Keydom published in 1998 by R&D Games holds the credit with being the first worker placement game. From there other games emerged with worker placement. This has become a popular mechanic that encourages publishers to get creative with meeples and tokens.
Examples of Worker Placement Games:
- Everdell (2018)
- Stone Age (2008)
- Marvel: Age of Heroes (2023)
- Trails (2021)
- Agricola (2007)
The Worker Placement mechanic has become ubiquitous to the board game world. While there are many other mechanics you may find in board games, this one has set the imagery and become an icon for the hobby.
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