Liga: Review of Imperial Settlers

ImperialSettlersDesigner: Ignacy Trzewiczek
Publisher: Portal Games
Players: 1-4
Time: 60 minutes

(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!

The Game

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.

About Andrea "Liga" Ligabue

Andrea "Liga" Ligabue is a game expert contributing to many games related international projects including Gamers Alliance Report, WIN, ILSA Magazine and Boardgamenews. Member of the International Gamers Awards Committee is coordinator of Play - The Games Festival and founder of the project Ludoteca Ideale.
This entry was posted in Essen 2014, First Impressions, Reviews. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Liga: Review of Imperial Settlers

  1. Jacob Lee says:

    Describing how you “feel” during a game is helpful to someone considering a game, but knowing your background gives more credibility to what you’re saying. What other civ-lite games have you played that you feel missed the mark?

  2. Hi Jacob.

    I wrote a lot both for the old boardgamenews and for opinionatedgamers so I hope people could have an idea of my background … anyway … I’m still looking for a real “over the top” civ-lite game and, as told, Imperial Settlers is not really going in this direction (it miss exploration and a real tech-tree evolution). Actually I think is much more close to Domionion. Nations and Through the Ages are, actually, on top. I was disappointed by Tempus (a good game but not a civ-lite game) and Civilization: the boardgame (too long and complicated).
    I liked Roll Through the Ages idea, hoping to see it implemented in other ages … I think Tiny Epic Kingdoms could be interesting ( I red the rules and I’m waiting my kickstarter copy) but, of course, it is not historical but fantasy.
    Innovation is a game I love but it is not a really civ-lite game.
    What a civ-lite game has to have ? Exploration, development, technology tree, player vs player interaction … is it possibile to have all of this in a 2 hours experience ? Who knows ?
    good play

  3. Jacob Lee says:

    Thanks for clarifying that. I’m sure I’ve read everything you’ve written all the way back to boardgamenews (RIP), but I never paid much attention to which articles were yours specifically or Eric’s or whoever. But your take on Imperial Settlers (got it, haven’t played it yet) is more meaningful when I know that you like Nations (me, too), but not Tempus (disappointing for me). Martin Wallace did a better job make a civ game with Rise of Empires, but it fell short, too. I had some fun revamping the whole thing so I do enjoy it a lot more now. On its own it has development, tech tree, interaction, but exploration . . . if you mean discovering new things then it’s lacking that, but expansion and area control it does have. I’m looking into Borderlands right now (despite what Tom Vasel says) only because it’s pretty cheap these days and could have potential.

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