24th Nov 2022 - Tiletum

by RobinWed, 25 Jan (Updated at Wed, 25 Jan)

Who or what is Tiletum? How do you even say it? I preferred Tile-Eat-Um, while the videos seem to prefer Tilly-Tum; but a bit more research suggests the true pronunciation is/was most likely Teal-Tum. Anyway, it’s the latest in the series of “T” games from Daniele Tascini, so anything after the “T” is largely circumstantial.

It turns out the correct question should be: where is Tiletum? This is a game about renaissance merchants, in which we travel around western Europe to all the medieval merchanting hubs like Venice, Bruges and Hamburg… and Tiletum. One of the lesser-known merchant cities, but it does at least begin with “T”. And the game does have quite a lot of tiles in it.

This is one of the games from the Tascini/Luciani combo. I’ve not tried any of their other collaborations, but I really like the titles from each of them individually; and this one was very enjoyable too. It has the accumulator element that I associate with Simone Luciani’s games (Barrage, Golem), combined with the benign complexity of “T” games like Teotihuacan and Trismegistus. So yes, I really liked this game.

How did it go? Well, four merchant families started from their home in Tiletum (wherever that is). Their merchants went forth into renaissance Europe, as did their architects – it turns out every merchant in the middle ages had an architect in the family. After that it was, as John summarised in the trailer, a “move around and build stuff” kind of game. Paul and I sent our merchants to France to grab the prime spots at the trade fairs, John sent his people down to Italy, and David was mostly operating up north in Flanders and some little backwater called London. We acquired resources and built cathedrals and fulfilled contracts and hired characters; and then it was the end of the game and we all had lots of points. Paul and I came top but I’ve no idea how – it might have been by bagging the fair slots, or it might have been by sitting on the side of the table with the board the right way up.

The games downstairs were all land or sea-based, while upstairs there were two space games, which made finding your table nice and intuitive. The space games were both iterations on previous land-based games. Skymines is about mining on the moon, based on Mombasa – which looked challenging. Meanwhile Gaia Project, it was explained to me, is both better than its land-based forerunner Terra Mystica and also more thematically plausible. I guess it depends on your native epoch.

Continuing the theme of iterations on previous games, downstairs we had Hallertau, which looks like another Agricola-ish Uwe Rosenberg game. And, I discovered, it’s also the name of a place – and a more googleable one than Tiletum. Yet another place is Europe, which was name-dropped by Risk: Europe at the next table. Another Risk iteration, perhaps – though Sam was keen to clarify that it was actually quite different. And finally we had one of the straggler tournament games of Macao, which is yet another game named after a place.

Tiletum is an old name for the town of Tielt in Flanders, if anyone’s interested.