Published by: Portal Games
# of players: 1-4
Imperial Settlers is a card based engine building game by the brilliant mind of Ignacy Trzewiczek. In Imperial Settlers, you are the leader of a historical faction seeking to dominate up to 3 other factions in new lands. You will explore, build and fight your way to becoming the dominant faction. Can you lead your faction to victory or will your opponent raze your buildings and become the winner?
Portal Games brings an art style that reminds me of many free to play Facebook games like Farmville. While I enjoyed the colorful and cartoonish art, I can see others being turned off by it. Tokens are a mix of wooden meeples and goods to cardboard gold, swords, shields and technology. Also included are thick cardboard faction boards that provide the start of your faction. Cards are well designed with lots of color and easy to read game text and symbols. There is good news to all those who, like me, still have nightmares from reading the Robinson Crusoe rulebook. Imperial Settlers' rulebook is laid out very well and is easy to understand. The back of the rulebook has a rules summary which is great for a refresher or to help new ones learn the game. The box has plenty of room for current and future expansions. I recently purchased the insert from www.thebrokentoken.com and it works great for setup and storage.
A game of Imperial Settlers consists of 5 rounds, with each round divided into four phases. First is the lookout phase, where players will draw 1 card from their faction's deck and then draft 2 cards from the common deck. Next you will go into the production phase by collecting goods based off your faction board, deals, and locations. The next phase is where the majority of your time will be spent playing. The action phase will have you taking turns building locations, making deals, razing cards or buildings, using locations, and trading workers for resources. After everyone is done completing action, they will move into the cleanup phase. In the end the player with the most victory points from actions and buildings is the winner.
The addition of Why Can't We be Friends? and the Atlanteans expansions allows you to build faction decks. This deck building engages those hardcore gamers that want customization and lots of replay. Each faction has their strengths and weaknesses but all are very balanced with each other. Building your faction's engine feels very satisfying and you can feel the progress each round. Atlanteans adds their faction to Imperial Settlers and with them includes technology tokens. The tokens increase production, provide victory points, permanent shields for a building, and work as a good. These tokens add a new layer of challenge and you have to rethink old strategies and make new ones.
I didn't know if I would like this game when I first looked at it. After a few games I have enjoyed it a lot. I enjoy it so much that it is currently on my top 10 games list. The reason I enjoy Imperial Settlers is because each faction plays uniquely and it feels so satisfying to see your faction's engine evolve over the rounds. The balance of focusing on your own faction and attacking others is just right and will not upset those who prefer a peaceful game. The base game provides lots of fun right out of the box. The addition of expansions gives gamers who may grow bored with the base decks, the ability to build their own decks. This adds a whole new level to the game and makes it so the entry level gamer and hardcore gamer each will enjoy this game for a long time. This can be very tricky to do but Ignacy has knocked it out of the park.I also enjoy games were I feel I always have a chance to win. Imperial Settlers, with its balance of factions, accomplishes this very nicely. I look forward to each new game of Imperial Settlers as a new experience. All of this has given Imperial Settlers a permanent home in my collection.
+ Factions are very different but balanced
+ Rulebook is helpful and makes it easy for new players to learn
+ Expansions add a new level of play and deck building
+ good components that do not distract from strong gamplay
+ Entry level and hardcore gamers will both enjoy this game
- Cartoony art may turn some away
- Would like to see more factions