(thanks to Portal for the review copy)
There is a legend in gamers’ communities and it talks about the perfect civ-light game: a game able to recreate the feeling of the rise and fall of civilizations condensed in less than 3 hours of intense play with all the needed details and, if possible, great graphics and materials. Many candidates tried and failed.
Luckily Imperial Settlers doesn’t aspire to that but, unexpectedly, got much more than other candidate with a real nice card based empire-building mechanic built on the success of 51st State with many improvements and new twists. Thanks mr. Ignacy Trzewiczek!
In this review I’ll briefly explain the game leaving the stage to meanings and feelings. There are other places where you can read the rules: what I can offer you is what I feel playing it. We can start!
From 2 to 4 empires will fight trying to get most victory points in the end of a 5 turn battle. The game is played with decks of cards: one specific deck for each faction (empire) and a common deck. Every turn you will get one faction card from your deck and two common cards chosen from a pool of available. In the second phase your buildings (locations) will produce: men, food, wood, stones, swords and golds. In the action phase you will use these resources to play cards (buildings) and/or activate cards.
Common cards can be played as locations or discarded (razed) for a quick cash; faction cards can be played as locations or as deal to improve your production.
Cards can be production locations (some income in the beginning of each turn), features (offering your civ some special abilities) or actions (use some resource to activate and get something else).
You will score some Victory points during the game and for locations in the end.
|Synthesis and Emotions
Imperial Settlers is a 2-4 player real engaging multi-player solitaire. There are so many possible way to score and so many combinations that you can play it endless of time looking for the right combo or the winning strategy. You can dig your faction deck looking for special cards or just try to use common cards. Raze or build ? Build or deal ? With one man and one stone I can activate this card that give me 2 victory points and then buy a new card with the other two man … but I need some woods too …
Playing Imperial Settlers you are enchanted by the amount of little-big choices you have to take turn by turn. I’m sure you will need a lot of time to become confident with one of the empires and then you can try another one. The faction and common cards are so much that every game will play different but of course every faction has peculiarity: strong and weakness points.
In two-players games you can take time looking your opponent empire but this is much more difficult with 3-4 players. There is not a strong player vs player interaction and is not so easy to stop a well-built engine but you can raze opponents common locations to slow down.
I don’t know if it is perfectly balanced or if it will resist in the years but I’m sure I’ll play Imperial Settlers with fun many time exploring different strategies and factions before getting bored and that is something not so common nowadays.