Spiel 2014 Preview: Imperial Settlers

Posted by James (admin) on October 1st, 2014

Imperial Settlers game setupImperial Settlers is a new game from Portal Publishing by Ignacy Trzewiczek.  Apparently it re-implements State 51; however, I read the rules to Imperial Settlers and have played State 51 once some time ago, and Imperial Settlers appeals to me a lot more.  (Imperial Settlers was released at GenCon earlier this year, but is a Spiel release too.)

Each player is trying to make the most successful civilisation by using cards to increase their abilities and generate resources.  After 5 rounds, the player with the most Victory Points (VPs) wins – VPs can be earned during the game, as well as for locations they have at the end of the game.

Each player’s faction is slightly different and has its own set of cards, but all players can also use cards from a common deck too.  Each player gets a faction board which helps align their cards into rows of the 3 types of cards (Production, Feature, Action) – player’s own faction cards are placed to the left of their board and common cards to the right.  Each card has a colour in its lower-right to show what type of card it is too.

Each player has several cards in their hand and can pay the cost to build/place these cards so they can use their effects during their turns.  Instead of being used as a location, faction cards can become ‘deals’ which means they get tucked under the very top of the player’s faction board with just their edge protruding to show what resources these cards generate each round.

At the start of each round, players draw 1 of their faction cards and then gain 2 common cards by selecting them from a limited amount (s0 there will be some element of balancing taking items useful to you over taking ones that your opponents want.)  Then, players gain the resources/tokens/workers/cards/VPs that their locations, deals and abilities generate.

Next, players take actions one at a time to build new locations (cards) from their hands, convert locations into deals, activate locations, etc.  This is the main part of the game.  Once all players have passed, all used and unused resources are discarded – so this encourages players to be as active as possible every round.  One rule I really like the sound of is that, once a player has passed, they can not perform any more actions but they can also not be affected by any other player too – this sounds really interesting and also stops players with lots of options from overpowering those without.

Imperial Settlers boxImperial Settlers is a game of building an efficient engine via combinations of cards that generate useful resources and create great effects.  In general, Production locations generate resources, Feature locations give special constant abilities and/or rewards for doing specific things, and Action locations have abilities that can be activated by placing worker(s)/resource(s) on them.  Within these 3 types, the locations seem quite varied so there should be lots of ways to combine them.

Performing some actions requires specific items; i.e. turning a location into a deal costs 1 food, razing your own location costs 1 raze token (2 for an opponent’s), action locations have various specific costs, etc.

Players can raze common location cards from their hand to generate resources, but they can also raze opponent’s already-built common locations too – so, this will add some player interaction (and probably a healthy dose of paranoia).  Players can add defense tokens to their cards to make destroying them more difficult.

I really like the sound of Imperial Settlers – it seems relatively light but with lots of potential options and variety, especially as each faction’s cards are different.  I think there will be a lot of demands for the limited resources you have each round which will require a lot of tricky decisions.  Whilst I find I’m not especially talented at creating engines in most games (although some do click with my thought patterns), I still enjoy them and Imperial Settlers seems to offer an appealing mix of depth and simplicity.

Imperial Settlers comes with separate rules for a single-player game, which is a nice addition, as well as a few variants for the regular game too.  The artwork looks great and the rules are laid out really well.

More info and the rules are available on Portal’s Imperial Settlers web page which can be reached using this shortlink: bga.me/ImpSettlers  Pre-orders can be made here: bga.me/portal14

For more Spiel 2014 previews, check out my Spiel 2014 Previews page which lists the games on my radar with links to their previews too.


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