Joseph works as an editor in one of the magazines dedicated to video games. Here, at RecRoomPick, he’s given the opportunity to enjoy the reverse of the medal – the no less engaging world of offline games.
Ryan knows everything when it comes to gaming, both online and offline. Since his early years he’s been in love with arcades, air hockey, and foosball. Finally, he’s given the opportunity to share his knowledge and opinion on the hobby of his life (and even get paid for it!).
Last updated: May 15, 2021
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The best worker placement games don’t just excite – they also educate, and that’s why they’re getting more and more popular. The market is flooded with a wide array of options, so how do you choose that ideal one? Luckily, we’ve done all the hard work for you.
Here, we’ve reviewed the six best ones, taking so many factors into account. Each game on our list is incredibly engaging and educating; there’re different options for various age categories; some are easy to learn and quick to play while others are more complicated, which adds to the overall fun and practical use. On the list, you’ll find complex, truly educating options for older kids, as well as those designed for ages 10 and up. Some require more time to set them up, while others don’t contain many components and are ideal for taking them with you on trips. Overall, we’re confident you will find something perfect for you here.
Describing the magnificence of Gugong is no doubt a daunting task, but we will try. But before we do, we must inform you that this is by far our Editor’s pick, and it merits its spot on this list. On the surface, the game is basically about players trying to climb up the power and influence ladder, but it’s more than that. The game is complicated and easy at the same time, but the level of entertainment it delivers can’t be matched by any game on this list.
In their quest for power and influence, players assume the roles of influential Chinese families. As the game requires, they bribe their way to the top, but since corruption is banned in the land, the bribes are disguised as gifts. So, you must offer players gift cards that are of higher value than the ones you’re given, which will prompt you to make strategic decisions regarding the actions you want to take. The game provides up to seven locations to score points, which range from straightforward ones to slightly complex ones.
What makes it stand out? The board, the gift cards, and the art are gorgeous. The game’s length is also perfect, as players need to play four rounds. With the fantastic gameplay, the game has excellent replay value. You can either play alone or with up to four other players, depending on your preference. It’s perfect for people who appreciate games that emphasize tight play, efficiency, and balanced strategies.
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind? The only issue we have with the game is that its theme is pasted on. You could literally change the theme of the game and still have an excellent game.
The next on our list is an incredible, competitive legacy game that is certain to keep you on the edge for as long as it’s played. Being a legacy game, your decisions and actions will change the gameplay and future outcome permanently, so you need to make the smartest decisions of your life. While we admit that the game could be somewhat unusual, we assure you that you’re guaranteed to get loads of fun, alongside your friends or family, of course.
Wondering what the game is about? Well, it’s about the Forever King of Greengully Kingdom, who in his bid to expand his kingdom, has issued a decree to its citizens to take over the enormous lands outside its borders. He chooses six players for this task, one of whom you are. In the game, players build structures and live in a shared village. Once you complete your village, it will be a unique worker placement game with a lot of variabilities. Apart from being easy to play and involving no difficult rules, gameplay, and directions are intuitive.
What are its best features? We liked how it allows up to six players to play simultaneously, making it an ideal game for an average-sized family. The playing time is decent too, as the game is designed to last for up to 45 to 75 minutes, which is a lot of time for tons of fun. The components are also made of high-quality materials, which guarantees a high level of durability.
What could be better: The only complaint we have about the game is that the storyline is a bit too straightforward.
One annoying thing about most worker placement games is taking turns. Apparently, players hate taking turns, and the maker of this game perfectly understands that. With Pendulum, players will be vying for the throne of the Timeless King, and in order to achieve that, they will obtain power, become popular and prestige, while being super-efficient. Finally, they will aim to achieve a legendary feat. Each player will aim to be the only one to gain all of these by performing different actions across the four rounds. Each of them will take action using their workers, while the sand timers will be ticking.
This game is a beautiful, simultaneous action game, with flexible player abilities for one to five players. Essentially, the game is about efficiency, with each player needing to invest and manage their time efficiently. It’s a very entertaining game, but mostly enjoyable for people who like fast paced-decision-making. However, it’s worth noting that at 14+, the recommended age is pretty high, as kids below 14 years can hardly understand or enjoy it.
What are our favorite features? We love the fact that the game doesn’t need players to take turns as up to five players can get involved at a time. The game can also be played for up to one and a half hours, which makes it a really long game. For people who enjoy it, this is a good thing.
What could be better: While the game is truly entertaining, it is very hard to audit. With the way the game is designed, it’s next to impossible to monitor players and ensure nobody is cheating.
You may want to sit this one out if you don’t like stuff related to wizardry and magic, but if you’re a fan of Merlin’s magic, or more specifically, Harry Potter’s wizardry, there are chances this game will soon become your favorite possession. In this game, you get to battle it out against different Hogwarts houses for the House Cup while playing as your favorite Hogwarts House. This game essentially provides an avenue for the brightest students to contest, and it’s amazing.
The game is very easy to learn and teach as the experience is completely streamlined. Yet, it’s profound and rewarding as it’s filled with a variety of plays. It allows you to gain knowledge, lessons, and magic, while completing the most difficult of tests from the Wizardry world. The game includes more than 500 components, and for point tallying, there is a collectible House Cup Hourglass. In the end, the player with the most points for his Hogwarts House will become the House Cup Champion.
What are its best features? The game is very competitive, which keeps you on the edge till the end. And it’s designed to last for about 75 minutes, which is long and great. It’s recommended to be played by players aged 11+, which is a good thing considering that most of the best worker placement games have higher age recommendations.
What could be better: You can’t play the game as a solo player, which could make it useless if your partner or friends aren’t into Harry Potter tales.
With its perfect blend of dice-driven combat and worker-placement to produce a strategic and exciting experience, Champions of Midgard is a true game of champions, providing all the excitements you may be looking for in a worker placement game. Despite being a fast-paced game, the rules are easy to learn. It’s generally easy to get familiar and up to speed with the gameplay. So, what is the game all about? You might be wondering.
Well, it’s a game of four players, where each player must assume the character of a Viking leader who is dragging his people to glory by battling mythical monsters like Draugr and trolls. Many of the monsters have limitations about the kind of fighter that can be sent to fight them, and each of them has his dice pool. To raise your chances of winning, you must strategically place workers in different spots on the game board.
Inherently, the dice pools make the game more dependent on luck, but you must still be really strategic when devising ways to supply your people with building material and food.
What do we love it for? With the recommended age being 10 years and above, it’s a perfect game for a family setting. People love it when games allow kids to be involved, and so do we. Also, the game’s design is so simple, yet so immersive, thanks to the “blame” dynamic, where the players, otherwise working together, undermine one another, with the end goal of becoming the most prestigious warrior.
What could be better: The game has too many components, so it takes a long time to set up. Apart from that, the board may not be ideal for shorter players because of its long aspect ratio.
If you know a thing or two about worker placement games, then you would know this game brings a rather shrewd twist to the worker placement genre. It can be played by two to five players, so you can either play it with your partner or involve your kids, depending on your preference. However, even though its rules are fairly easy to learn, in our opinion, the fact that it’s recommended for persons up to or above 14 years may cause some concern, especially if you have kids below that age who you’d like to involve in the game.
Though unique, the game is delightful. Your aim is to purchase residences where “citizens” reside. You will then buy businesses where the citizens living in those residences you purchased will be working. The way you place the business/residence cards can create connections or links that earn you more vital points or money. Basically, the game is all about each player competing to build the most booming city avenue. Despite all the fun, the game is very affordable.
Why did it make our list? The game is easy to learn and play, which is a massive advantage. It is also easy to set up, since there are not too many components to put together.
What could be better: The game is brilliant by most measures, but it does come with some flaws. First, the game feels flimsy, which is actually not surprising because of its price. Asides from that, the game lasts for only 30 minutes, which may be too short for most people.
Things to Consider
Reviews are helpful, but you need more than them to reach a great buying decision. Knowing this, we have created this all-encompassing guide, where you will be told more things you need to know in your search for the perfect worker placement game for your needs.
What is so good about worker placement games?
As a parent, your instinct prompts you to seek for the benefits your kids stand to derive in everything at all times, which is normal. If you’re wondering what benefits worker placement games will do your kids, we have put them together below:
Reduces Screen Time
We know some television shows and phone apps are educative and productive for children, but most experts from different related fields advise parents to limit their kids’ screen time. According to research, kids spend about seven hours per day on electronic devices. Bear in mind that this is five hours more than the amount recommended. And it has many consequences, some of which include depression, insufficient sleep, low test scores, obesity, and anxiety. This can also increase the chances of the kid not having an interest in educational activities later.
As an alternative, parents need to keep an eye on the amount of screen time of their children and engage them instead in fun stuff like worker placement games. This way, they will see improvements in their physical health, mental health, academic life, and social life. Reducing the amount of screen time that your kids enjoy can also create more opportunities for them to interact with each other and spend more time together as a family.
Aids Natural Socializing
While some children find it naturally easy to socialize with people, other kids find it a tad difficult. For this kind of kids, socializing with familiar faces or relatives can be even hard. However, playing a worker placement game changes this; it offers them a chance to socialize naturally with others, thereby getting them used to it.
Any good worker placement game can get rid of the bad energy from social settings while retaining the good energy of friendly competitions. These games are able to do this by providing social settings that are filled with like-minds, and by employing an organized set of protocols and rules. This gets rid of the weight of inventiveness that is existing in other similar situations.
Also, worker placement games give kids the chance to cooperate with others without needing to deal with the pressure of finding things to discuss. For shy kids or kids who are dealing with anxiety, this is a very helpful way of working through their issues without needing to face extra social pressures. When a child interacts with other kids during an organized game such as this, they will be developing and refining their social skills naturally.
While you may not know the importance of having a healthy social life, studies have revealed that interacting and socializing with others is one of the most effective ways of leading a fulfilling and happy life.
If your kid needs a confidence booster, worker placement games offer a perfect solution. Since these games often help to make socializing less difficult, they also help kids to be more confident in their abilities. Every time the kid makes a decision during a game, they are developing their self-esteem and confidence.
Besides, when they devise a winning approach, they will start perceiving themselves as being gifted and capable. Such a child will also see himself as an intelligent kid who can devise and implement an effective strategy. Let your kids practice their decision-making skills and abilities by buying them worker placement games that need them to use different kinds of strategies and plays, such as the Harry Potter House Cup Competition.
As they get familiar with making smart and quick decisions, they will also be acquiring practical skills that will be helpful when they become adults. As a human being, the stronger your ability to quickly make smart decisions, the less your chances of getting overwhelmed. This game helps build children’s self-assurance, which will in turn help to boost their confidence.
Boosts Cognitive Function
Most worker placement games need a high degree of focus and skill. Whether you are looking to remember something, do quick calculations in your head, or keep a tab on a particular pattern, your mental agility is increasing, without you even knowing it. According to a study, older people who played games when they were younger usually have a better cognitive function in areas like thinking speed, problem-solving, memory, and general cognitive ability than their mates who didn’t engage in such games. With this research, we now know that cognitive decline does not need to be unavoidable.
Strengthens Family and Friendship Bonds
While you come together to connect, compete, and strategize over worker placement games, the bond between you and your folks is getting strengthened, without you even realizing it. The foundation of playing worker placement games is cooperation since it usually needs players to work together. This makes it a nice way to spend time with your family and friends and strengthen your bonds.
Building your emotional intelligence and knowing how to effectively read the body language of others are some of the primary elements of connecting with others. Each time you interact positively with someone else, the bond you have with that individual gets strengthened. Playing worker placement games aids the kind of entertaining and positive atmosphere that is required to promote profound connections with other people and to aid strong family bonds.
When you play work placement games, you usually end up engaging in interesting conversations with the other places. And the laughter that usually comes with playing games will initiate healthy emotional body changes that will raise your general happiness.
Provides Kids with Valuable Teaching Tools
While not all work placement games are designed the same, there are many options on the market that can provide kids with valuable lessons. Playing these games can slowly teach children important soft skills like how to communicate, follow rules, be patient, stay seated, lose gratefully, wait for their turn, be honest, work as a team, think outside the box, and relish the process.
Apart from that, playing worker placement games with your kids enables them to acquire cognitive skills that will aid their success later in life. According to research, playing these games helps to reinforce the prefrontal and hippocampus cortex in the developing brains of kids, which leads to enhanced cognitive functions like reason, problem-solving, logic, planning, memory, IQ, and attention.
Additionally, playing a variety of work placement games with your kids can help them strengthen their concentration skills and increase attention span since they need to concentrate on little details during the game. However, you must note that for a child’s attention span to be increased, each of the players needs to be completely committed to playing the whole game without being disturbed or interrupted. Completing the game without being interrupted is the only way kids will benefit from playing worker placement games.
Features to consider when choosing a worker placement board game
Before choosing a suitable game, endeavor to consider all of the important factors below:
Before you choose a game, you need to consider its recommended age and the ages of the individuals who are likely to be playing it. For instance, if your kids are tween/pre-teen, you’d be better off with a game like the Champions of Midgard as it’s recommended for persons aged ten and above. Bear in mind that these recommendations are important, as the complexity and difficulty of each game often play a huge role in the ages it’s recommended for.
Number of players
You also need to consider the number of players a game can accommodate simultaneously. If you enjoy playing solo, then you can’t go for a game like the Harry Potter House Cup Competition as it has to be played by two people at least. Meanwhile, if you have an average-sized family, you’d be better off with a game like the Charterstone since it’s designed to be played by up to six players.
The playing time is another important factor you must consider before choosing a worker placement game. Ideally, a game must strike a perfect balance between being too short and too long. If the playing time of a game is too short, it may not provide enough fun. On the other hand, a game that goes on for too long may end up boring out players, no matter the amount of fun they had in the beginning. Thus, you need to figure out your perfect playing duration and choose a game that offers that.
If it will be fun for adults as well
Apparently, these games are often played by adults as well, even though it’s mostly played by children. The storyline shouldn’t just be enthralling for kids; it has to fascinate their parents as well so that everybody can play together during family times. We must mention that some worker placement games may be too straightforward or simple for adults, so you must keep that in mind during selection.
If you are looking to take one of these games on a trip, you need to watch out for a few factors in it – ease of setup, if it allows for solo plays, and it has to be compact when packed. In our opinion, no game ticks these boxes better than Gugong.
While most people love games that go on for an hour, at least, there are people who prefer games with short playing times. If you are in the latter category, the Sparkworks Penny Lane is the ideal fit for you, with its playing time of 30 minutes.
For any parent who has little kids, work placement games are almost a must these days. With the many benefits they offer kids and adults alike, they’re becoming a staple in every modern home. That said, the competition in the market is stern, with different games vying for the top spot. In the end, Gugong came out as our number one pick, fighting off competition from some of the best work placement games ever made.
In the second and third spots are Charterstone and Pendulum, respectively. While both games don’t look like your everyday worker placement games, they offer loads of fun, with their intuitive gameplay and fast-paced nature. Both games are also similar, but there is enough between them to separate them. Interestingly, each of them is perfect for an average-sized family, but their rules may be a little too complicated for tween kids.