Imperial Settlers is a civilization building card game for 2-4 players by Ignacy Trzewicek from Portal Games. You take control of one of four major world powers (Romans, Egyptians, Barbarians, and Japanese), each with their own unique deck of faction cards and attempt to create the best empire.
The majority of the game is made up of cards, there are over 300 included in the base game. The cards are good quality and the art is well incorporated with the theme. Each of the locations has a unique illustration to go along with it, and the faction locations look like they belong to their respective factions. Other than cards, there are wooden resources for food, stone, wood, and workers, and cardboard tokens for several of the other resources. Each faction board is double sided with a male leader on one side and a female leader on the other, which is a nice touch. There is also a scoring board included, although we don’t like how it is laid out as it can lead to confusion when scoring victory points. We also did not like how small the font was on the cards, especially when you have to draft them from the center of the table.
Imperial Settlers is played over 5 rounds. In each round you draft cards, collect resources, take actions until you pass, and then clean up. Actions include building a location, making a deal (which gives you more resources in each production), raze a building from your hand or from an opponents board to gain resources, activate one of your locations that you’ve built, or exchange workers for a variety of resources. After the five rounds, you add victory points for the locations you built to the ones you gained throughout the game, and whoever has the most victory points wins.
At first Imperial Settlers can seem very luck based because of all the card drawing and how big each deck of cards is. However while it contains some amount of luck, there are plenty of options to make because each card is multi use so there is bound to be a purpose for each card that you draw. A more skilled player who has a knowledge of their faction’s unique deck as well as an ability to plan for future rounds will almost always beat a new player. We don’t like how mean it feels sometimes, especially in a 2 player game. For example, after someone creates a building that you can clearly see they are going to benefit from soon you can raze it before they have even had a chance to use it once. Some people might enjoy that, but we didn’t like the conflict of tearing down something the other player had just built.
We liked the tableau and engine building aspect of this game. At the beginning of the game you get a meager 4 or 5 resources, while in the final rounds you are picking up handfuls of workers, resources, and gold. It has a nice sense of progression. We also like how there are strategies and rules unique to each faction.
- Nice unique wooden resource pieces.
- Good sense of progression during engine building.
- Unique factions.
- Skill wins out over luck.
- Small print cards and confusing point board
- Mean >:(
Final Thoughts and Rating
We enjoyed Imperial Settlers and liked the tableau building aspect of it, as it’s one of our favorite mechanics. We just like it more when it’s not so easy for an opponent to tear down something you’ve created. A good example of a game that has the same feel for us but isn’t so mean is Roll for the Galaxy.
Final Rating: [star rating=”7″ max=”10″ numeric=”yes”]