Tessera is a 2-4 player tile-laying game reminiscent of Dominoes in which players are competing to score the most points. Featuring a Roman mythology theme in which players are attempting to earn the most favour of the Gods, players play cards (featuring beautiful mosaic designs) into the Temple grid. The card can adjoin, be totally separate from, partially or wholly overlap, other cards already in the grid. Once played, if the card has joined existing areas belonging to the God(s) on the card then the player may choose to either score points immediately or improve their multiplier(s). If scoring immediately, the player counts the number of tiles in the conjoined area they just played into and places that many scoring tokens into the column where that God token is present.
Each player has their own board to keep track of their multipliers and points and a major part of the game is correctly judging when to score points and when to build up for more scoring later. There is a pleasing amount of interaction as the players vie for the favour of the Gods, but these acolytes are fickle and prone to changing their minds so you must expect other players to not only maximise their own scoring but look to diminish that of their opponents.
The winner of the game is the player with the most points at the end of the game. Players simply multiply the total value of tokens in each section by the multiplier above it to work out their grand totals.
The rulebook includes include background information on the history of Roman mythology and the seven Gods featured in the game. Some of them are very familiar in popular culture whilst others may be less well known.