Published by: Rock Manor Games
# of Players: 1 to 5
Brass Empire transports you to the Steampunk world with beautiful art that fits the theme perfectly. For your first few plays you will be partially distracted by looking at all the card art. The cards themselves are your standard card stock that you would see in most deck builders. Brass Empire has large plastic cubes in 3 colors that represent victory points and hit points. The rule book is well designed with lots of illustrations and great explanations of everything going on during gameplay. Towards the back of the rule book are descriptions of the corporations and a glossary of key terms used on the cards. One important component for deck builders that some publishers ignore is the box insert. Brass Empire provides an insert that makes set up easy for each game and protects all the cards.
Brass Empire is a deck builder that brings in some combat from collectable card games. The main premise of deck builders is that you start off with a small deck of basic cards and of the course of the game you buy cards to add to your deck making it stronger and towards an end game condition. Brass Empire uses that concept and expands it. During set up, players will each select a corporation to lead and the 5 starting cards for that corporation. These will be set aside and form a reserve deck that only they may be able to purchase from. All building and unit cards will be shuffled together and form the design deck. You will take all employee cards and shuffle them into their own labor deck. Each deck will have 6 face up cards in a row that will be available to all players to purchase and will be refilled immediately. Each player starts with a deck of 7 clerks and 3 union works that will make up their starting deck along with a mining platform that starts the game already in play face up. Each player will draw 5 cards and the first player will start their turn.
When the player starts their turn, they will flip over all buildings under construction and resolve any effects. The player will then play employees to gain labor, construction, and/or brass that you will spend to acquire new cards. The new cards will go into your discard pile like most standard deck builders. The player can also play unit and building cards. Unit cards are placed face up, but cannot attack on this turn, but can be attacked by the other players during their turns. When you play a building card, you will place it face down showing that it is under construction. Buildings cannot be attacked while under construction. After you have played all the cards you want from your hand and settled their effects, you will move onto an action phase.
During the action phase you will use the units that have been played on previous turns. Units can mine for brass from the mining pool equal to their attack value. The mining pool is a central pool of brass that players can earn during the game. Once this pool is depleted the game ends after everyone has completed their turn for the round. The other action units can take is to attack another player's unit or buildings. Each unit and building has an attack and health value in the lower right corner of the card. Damage is done at the same time and when damage has met or exceeded the health value of that card, it is discarded. The player who destroyed the unit or building gets 1 brass from the mining pool for each unit or building destroyed. You will use health cubes to track how much damage has taken as damage is persistent and units/buildings do not heal at the end of your turn.
Once you are done with your actions you will end your turn by discarding all employee cards and drawing 5 cards from your personal deck. Play will keep going around till the mining pool is empty and everyone finishes the current round. Players will total up brass earned from the mining pool and add that to the brass earned from cards in your deck. Each card has a brass value in the lower left corner. The player with the most brass wins the game.
I am a fan of many deck builders, but they must have something of their own to standout for me to enjoy. Brass Empire does that with the Steampunk theme and having units to attack other player's units and buildings. I like how each corporation has their own flavor with their 5 unique cards. I like that there is a row to buy employees and another for units/buildings. This allows me to be able to make a decision on if I want to be able to get more resources or do I want to start gearing up to sabotage other players. I like the fact that damage persists after your turn is over. This compensates for a player who might have that super tank or damage dealer that you can not seem to finish off with one attack. Now you can at least get rid of him hopefully on your next turn or someone else can finish it off for you. A problem with a lot of deck builders is the just buy money strategy and win. You can not do that in Brass Empire. There are too many check and balances that make that strategy not work and force you to have a more balanced approach. I enjoyed the art for the majority of the cards. I did have an issue telling some of the corporation colors apart and some of the text on the cards can be hard to read from afar. This issue comes up when trying to decide which player's cards to attack. I enjoyed Brass Empire as a more competitive and aggressive deck builder similar to Star Realms. This will stay in my collection for times I want that aggressive attacking deck builder. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys deck builders, especially ones like Star Realms and Ascension. Players who are tired of deck builders will probably not enjoy this game despite the differences.
+Aggressive attacking for a deck builder
+2 rows of cards available to buy that do different things during the game
+Best at 3 players
+Good box insert
-Will not change opinion of those who are sick of Deck Builders
-Some text will be hard to read on other player's cards
-Corporation colors are hard to tell apart in some cases
-If you do not like attacking other players