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Easy Worker Placement Games That Are Still Satisfying To Play

Worker placement games are some of my favorite games. I love the competition and interaction between players. But they can get complicated, especially as most include other mechanics and extra elements that ramp up the difficulty level. Easy worker placement games are great for learning the mechanic. But easy doesn’t have to mean they lack challenge or strategy.

Below are 10 easy worker placement games that still allow competition even for experienced gamers.

1. Lords Of Waterdeep

Lords Of Waterdeep Cover

In a lot of ways, Lords Of Waterdeep is the perfect easy worker placement game. Players play as secret leaders of the city of Waterdeep. You recruit adventurers, send them on quests, and hopefully complete quest cards. You can also add new buildings to the board and take some other actions. And that’s basically it.

There are a few additions to the mechanic but it is very close to being pure worker placement, and despite the Dungeons and Dragons setting and box art, it isn’t at all related to the mechanics of DnD. It’s light, easy, and fun. It makes a good introduction to the worker placement game type and it remains fun even for more experienced gamers. It takes 2 to 5 players but plays best with 3 or 4 and a game takes around 2 hours, although it does depend on player count.

2. Stone Age

Stone Age Board

Stone Age is an easy worker placement game and is great for casual gamers, as well as those new to the mechanic. It’s also still a great game for more experienced gamers. In it, players take on the role of a tribe of Stone Age hunter gatherers. They send their people out to hunt, gather resources, and also to trade. It is a dice-based game, which means there is luck involved, but this also makes the game a little easier for newer gamers and there are tools that can be used to change the value of a die, which mitigates the luck somewhat.

As well as worker placement, Stone Age incorporates some set collection while cards give bonuses at the end and pay for contract completion, which does offer a little more interest. Stone Age can be played by 2 to 4 players and is best enjoyed by 4 people. It takes about an hour and a half to play a game.

3. Everdell

Everdell Cover

One big problem with worker placement games is that they can feel repetitive after a couple of games. You get stuck playing a certain way and using a specific strategy. Either it works, in which case, why change it, or it doesn’t work and it makes you determined to master it.

Everdell has the usual set of rigid worker placement options, but it also has four spaces that are taken up by a random selection of forest cards. These can render certain strategies useless and make other strategies more beneficial. It kind of forces you to play a different way each time.

Everdell is a cute game but the combination of tableau building, contract cards, and worker placement gives it a decent depth of gameplay without making it too confusing. It plays 2 to 4 players and is best with 3 or 4 people with a game taking around 90 minutes to complete.

4. Targi

Targi Cover

Even the best worker placement games can get a bite samey. So it’s nice to see a bit of a different take on the mechanic, as well as a different setting. Targi uses a set of cards to make a 5×5 “board” in the middle of the table. The outside cards are always the same and offer standard actions like gain resources or trade. Players place three of their workers on these outside cards but can’t place workers on rows or columns where there are already other meeples.

That’s fairly standard fare but where Targi is a little different is in the 9 cards in the middle. Workers can’t be placed directly on these cards, but where perimeter workers cross, the player gets to take those additional actions. Targi is a 2 player only worker placement game, and while the production value could have been a little better, it’s an enjoyable game that’s easy enough to play, but adds a little twist to typical worker placements. Expect a game to take a little longer than an hour.

5. Pan Am

Pan Am Cover

Spanning the 1920s to 1960s, Pan Am sees players starting their own small airlines aiming to create profitable routes between major cities of the world. In the meantime, the titular Pan Am is buying up profitable routes, which will sometimes include those belonging to players. Being bought out by Pan Am isn’t necessarily a bad thing: in fact, it can generate a lot of money. Players also get shares in the company, and the player that has the most shares at the end of the game, wins.

Pan Am is a worker placement, but it’s another that introduces slightly different elements of the game mechanic. Players have to essentially bid on some of the worker placement tracks, so if a player is already there when you want to use the position, you have to bid higher. It returns the original worker to their player and grants you the position. Throw in some Destination cards and Directive cards and you have a very good worker placement.

Some players will find the artwork and possibly the gameplay a tad uninspiring, however.  Pan Am is a game for 2 to 4 players but players better at the higher end of that player count, to ensure more competition on the bidding tracks.

6. Century: A New World

Century: A New World Cover

Century: A New World is the third and final part of the Century trilogy of games, after Century: Spice Road and Century: Eastern Wonders. The games use different mechanics but while they can be played separately and independently, any two or all three can be combined to make a much bigger and more involved game. Century: A New World is the worker placement game of the set, and although it is a little more involved than Spice Road, it is still a relatively easy worker placement game.

In A New World, players have to explore outside their territory and use workers to harvest, upgrade resources, or trade. Players can also pay to take point cards or bonus tiles. Players rest to retrieve their workers, and Century: A New World uses a slightly different worker placement mechanic, in that you have to essentially outbid another player in a given space.

If the trade space is empty, you have to fill it with workers. If somebody else wants to trade after you, they have to place more workers than you have. When they do, you get your workers back. There is competition for worker placement spots, so it meets the worker competition requirement of the mechanic. But having workers bumped isn’t a bad thing, which means players will usually try and wait until a retrieve action leaves the space blank. The game is good, easy enough to learn, and it can be further expanded with the other Century titles.

7. Waggle Dance

Waggle Dance Box

We’ve been playing quite a lot of Waggle Dance in our house recently. It’s a dice worker placement game that is quick to set up and easy to learn. It is a good introduction to the genre, but it does have some player count problems. At four players, it feels like it’s dragging on, but at two players, even with the use of blocker dice, there doesn’t feel enough competition. With three players it gets the balance just about right, and even with two players its simplicity and quick game time make it a good choice.

The bee theme is good, and the use of cards and dice means that it doesn’t have to take up a ton of room on the table, either. Honestly, this one was a bit of a surprise for us. We hadn’t really heard of it before but have enjoyed quite a few games of it when we want something light.

8. Mint Works

Mint Works Box

But, if you’re looking for games that don’t take up a lot of room, you’d be hard-pressed to beat the Mint series of games. Mint Works is the worker placement game in the series and it comes in a mint-tin-like box. Mint-style counters are used as workers and they’re placed onto card-sized… cards.

There’s a decent amount of replayability, the game is really quick to learn, and there are automa rules so you can play solo, too. The game is really quick, and its size and simplicity mean it can be picked up for relatively cheap, so it is a good easy worker placement. I love the box and the theming, but while there is some replayability, it can get a bit repetitive with a two-player count and rounds will start to feel very familiar. It’s a good filler, a good introduction to the mechanic, and it’s easily small enough to play at a pub or cafe, but it would be out of place at a serious games night.

9. Lost Ruins Of Arnak

Lost Ruins Of Arnak Cover

In Lost Ruins Of Arnak, players lead teams of explorers looking to uncover the secrets of an uninhabited island. Players can find new dig sites, dig those they’ve uncovered, upgrade equipment, and use artifacts. It combines worker placement with elements of deck building, and it comes with some great looking components.

The game generally takes a couple of hours to complete and it is a little more complex than some of the others on the list, but if you’re looking for a worker placement that doesn’t involve farming and are looking to move the difficulty slider up to the next level, Arnak is a great place to do it.  

10. Tiny Epic Dinosaurs

Tiny Epic Dinosaurs Cover

I mostly love the Tiny Epic series. The games manage to pack a lot of game in a small package, and they are themed really well. Tiny Epic Dinosaurs is the worker placement title in the series. It tasks players with establishing and growing their own dinosaur ranches. Contracts offer victory points and ensure the scoring isn’t all calculated at the last minute. So you do have some idea of how well you’re doing before the end of the 6 rounds.

It is moderately easy to learn, the design is crisp, and it plays as well with two people as it does with three or four. As with the rest of the Tiny Epic series, there are automa rules that enable solo play, as well. Its low cost also makes it a good option if you’re looking for easy worker placement games to try out the mechanic.

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