Saturday, September 27, 2014

Imperial Settlers - A Civil Review

Hi everybody!

Welcome back to for another board game review. Sorry about the couple of day break, it has been absolutely crazy here. So without any more delay here is the new review. Today I will be talking about Ignacy Trzewiczek's Imperial Settlers, a civilization building card game for 2 to 4 players.
Meet the Settlers
The game is a medium-light civilization builder. Each player picks one of the civilizations; either Barbarians, Romans, Egyptians, or Japanese. Each civ has its own strengths and unique abilities, this is represented within the civ's deck of cards. The unique buildings all have their own flair that relates back to the civilization. The example I can give, as I have played the most as the Barbarians, is they have a lot of abilities that use the production of opposing civs as their own as well as produce a lot of swords in order to tear other civilizations down. It fits well with the aspect of raiding and burning that barbarians are known for. Players begin the game with a combination of their own cards and the generic cards from the shared deck. These all represent buildings that can be made into your city for one of three purposes; production, features, and actions. Production buildings give you resources at the beginning of each round. These resources are used for everything in the game ranging from laying out new buildings to using special abilities. Features give you passive abilities such as "you may store any number of a certain resource". Actions give players special abilities at the cost of resources. Each civilization starts off with one feature, a handful of produced resources, and a special action as dictated by their civilization board.
The Roman Empire
 The picture is an example of the starting position of the Roman civilization and what is produced from their board. On thing about the resources, whether you spend them or not, they are all discarded at the end of the round with the exception of the ones you can store. You should take full advantage of all you have and use the resources to their full potential. After this we move on to the Action phase where players can produce buildings, use actions and features, as well as attack other nations by sacking their buildings. Sacking an opponent's building is satisfying and nets you some goodies including victory points, while denying some end game points to the opponent. Players may also make deals. A deal is using 1 food and a card from your hand to place the card under the top of your board (the blue area) to immediately produce the printed resource(s). The deal card continues to produce the resource(s) each round. You have a lot of options, however, you can only perform one action as your turn and must wait for it to be your turn again before using something else you desire. The rounds can be long or short, it depends on how many actions each player can afford or wants to make, but once everyone passes the round is over. The game lasts 5 rounds and the player with the most victory points wins.
A better look at the Romans
 Now I neglected to mention the Lookout phase. This begins each round with a small card drafting mechanic. A number of cards (the number of players +1) are laid out from the shared deck, face up. The first player picks a card and so on until there is one left. That card is discarded and another round of drafting begins. The second round of drafting is counter-clockwise where the last player goes first.
Drafting for 2

The game goes for about 45-90 minutes. The round count is short, with their being only 5, but their length is variable. Imperial Settlers has a good time to it as it doesn't wear out it's welcome before the game is over.

Now, let's get right down to it. The game is stunning. I love the artwork, from the chubby mustachioed settler on the box right down to the level or detail on the cards and the fantastic wooden bits. With that being said, there are some bits that are cardboard that I wish were wooden blocks; the raze swords and shields mostly.

The game plays smoothly and very streamlined. It reuses and cleans up the core mechanic of Ignacy's other card game, 51st State. Players familiar with that can easily jump into Imperial Settlers and vice versa. The rule book is alright, but missing some FAQs that make some of the concepts, like Deals and Razing, easier to grasp. However, there is a great FAQ sheet on Board Game Geek (Imperial Settlers FAQs ). I have even printed out a copy and keep it in my Imperial Settlers box just in case some rules lawyering is needed or new players have a few questions about something unclear in the book.
All The Bits
The game is really neat. It was my number 1 must have from Gen Con, I even went so far as to preorder it a few weeks before the convention. That being said, the game does not disappoint. I really enjoy it and even after a couple of games I wanted to keep going and play again.

It is one of those games that also crawls into your brain pan. I went to bed thinking about what I did, what I could have done better, and if I did something different maybe it would have changed the results of the game. It is one of those games you will be thinking about long after playing. With the games many player options you will always ask yourself "what could I have done differently?" It also generates some good after game conversation.

I can't recommend this game enough. It packs in enough choice and strategy to satisfy gamers of every skill level while maintaining a level of lightness that is inviting to newer gamers.
2 Player Beginnings
It was well worth the preorder and has brought a lot of entertainment.

My one complaint is that the game with 2 players feels different than with more players. Maybe it was just us, but there was less razing and turned into a more building/production oriented game where we tried to make the best cities possible in hopes of getting the most out of each round. Imperial Settlers really shines with 4 players. It works wonderfully and is a great addition to the collection.

Thank you all for reading. I hope you are enjoying coming back to Daemonic Teutonic.

Cheers,
Phil

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