Welcome to my fourth Board Game Wish List. This month we’re going to feature a game that is making waves among the Legacy game camp: Charterstone. There are a few reasons that sets this game apart from the others in the field. The first is that is plays 1-6 players, so it is a Legacy game that can be played at lower player counts and therefore is a great game for couples. And some might say the even more exciting news is that this is a Legacy game that can be “wiped” and replayed as a fresh copy. But more on that to come later!
Introduction, taken from the Stonemaier Games website:
The prosperous Kingdom of Greengully, ruled for centuries by the Forever King, has issued a decree to its citizens to colonize the vast lands beyond its borders. In an effort to start a new village, the Forever King has selected 6 citizens for the task, each of whom has a unique set of skills they use to build their charter.
In Charterstone, a competitive legacy game scaled for 1-6 players, you construct buildings and inhabit a shared village. Building stickers are removed from cards and permanently added to your charter on the board, becoming action spaces for any player to use (kind of like Lords of Waterdeep, Caylus and Ora et Labora). Thus, a few available buildings soon grow into a bustling village with dozens of actions.
Charterstone features the following:
- streamlined starting rulebook: learn as you play and add rules as you unlock content
- engine-building elements within each game and over the course of the campaign
- a branching storyline where short-term decisions have a long-term impact
- a secret component found in only one other board game
- 75+ “crates” to unlock: 36 metal coins, 350+ unique cards, and 230+ wooden tokens (exactly 12 of each resource: wood, coal, grain, brick, iron, and pumpkin)
Your journey through Charterstone’s many secrets will last 12 games, but it doesn’t end there. Your completed village will be a one-of-a-kind, variable worker-placement game. Or you can purchase a completely optional recharge pack to play a second campaign.
The Introduction, taken from the Rule Book
Charterstone is a legacy game, which means you will make permanent changes to the game, mostly in the form of writing on the board/cards with markers (provided by the players) and stickers.
You will start out with access to only a small portion of the content in this box.
Don’t open ANYTHING unless specifically instructed.
My Overview of Charterstone
While not much information has been revealed yet about Charterstone, which is what you’d hope for in a Legacy-style game, there are some aspects about this game which are known:
- This game is a Worker Placement game
- The buildings that you develop in your Charters remain on the board for all subsequent games
- You are not limited to the action spaces in your own Charter
- There are ways to continue development of a Charter if a person is unable to attend for a session, allowing them to jump in and not be “behind” compared to everyone else.
- The game will play solo with an Automa system (which can also be used to represent absent players at higher counts), and can play up to 6 players
- You learn and play rules as content gets unlocked
- There are more than 75 crates to unlock, contained within a large Index box with a magnetic clasp.
- You can purchase a Recharge Pack which will allow you to replay the entire Legacy by using the other side of the board and a new set of stickers/cards/rulebook.
- The game will be a complete, unique, fully-playable game long after the Legacy mode to the game is completed.
- You’ll have the ability to name your character, along with other various items along the course of the campaign (although the naming isn’t mandatory)
- There are six types of resources collected and used to produce things at buildings.
- There are a very limited number of each resource (12) so the game is meant to encourage you to spend resources as you gain them rather than store them up for later use.
- There are also only 36 coins, each a $1 denomination. Further encouragement to not horde this resource.
- The coins are going to be thick, metal coins. No punching of cardboard in this game!
- The rulebook is called The Chronicle and begins with a lot of empty spaces where stickers, unlocked throughout the game, will add additional rules. There is rumor that you might even get some stickers to place over the existing rules, updating/replacing them.
- The game is going to be printed and available in 8 languages.
- The Automa system comes with 13 cards, but more may get unlocked during the game.
- The game’s Automa can be used in both single and multi-player games.
- The Automa’s gameplay contains only five steps: Draw a card, place a worker, gain VP, gain benefits, discard the card. Simple!
And here’s a brief rundown/overview of the core rules that you’ll see from Game 1:
- There will be 5 random advancement cards face-up (and when one is purchased, a new one replaces it) and 3 random objective cards, a progress track that corresponds to the player count, a general supply of 72 resources and 36 coins, and each player’s personal supply of persona card, constructed building card, 2 workers, and 12 influence tokens.
- First player is determined by rolling the Charterstone until it shows an active character.
- The 12 influence tokens are used on objective cards, quota chart, reputation track, and other places. If you run out, you cannot use actions requiring them. They cannot be moved and there are only a few ways to regain influence.
- There are seven types of advancement cards and more get unlocked over the course of the campaign and go into the general supply. When gaining an advancement card, you select from the face-up cards and put it face-up in your supply, flipping a new one face-up into the supply. When new cards are gained or the pile is empty, shuffle the cards into the deck.
- Assistants are one type of advancement card which give you bonuses during actions. You gain them via the market and can add a name to their card.
- Constructed buildings are a type of advancement card and add buildings to your Charter. A crate on the card means you keep it to unlock a crate later, one without a crate goes into an Archive box that holds pieces that no longer serve a purpose.
- You either place a worker onto a building or remove all of your workers from the board during your turn. Moving to an occupied building sends that worker back to its owner’s supply. You must pay the shown cost to move to a building and then gain its benefit.
- There are five buildings in an area known as The Commons, which allow you to build buildings in your Charter, unlock crates on your constructed building cards, complete objectives, trade a resource for money, or pay resources and money to gain an advancement card (face down or face up)
- Unlocking a crate gains you VP, moves the progress token, and archives the constructive building card. Many crates unlock new personas.
- When scoring one of the 3 random objectives, you gain VP and advance the progress token. A player can score each objective only once per game.
- You can sell commodities to gain victory points and/or reputation, and there are buildings to unlock that may offer additional benefits.
- There is an end-game benefit of VP for being highest on the reputation track and is raised on the quota and progress tracks and some buildings.
- The progress track is the timer for the game and advances when a building is constructed, a crate is unlocked, or an objective is scored. It also advances when a player starts their turn with no influence tokens.
- Each player gets the same number of turns in a game. Scoring the most VP is the object of each game of Charterstone.
Why This Game is on my Wishlist
- This game drew inspiration from three heavy hitters in the Worker Placement category of board games: Caylus, Ora et Labora, and Lords of Waterdeep. Not only does it make thematic sense that a building you put into you charter will still be there during the next play, but the ability to use other players’ buildings is a great mechanism to include. Over the course of twelve plays of this game, each player’s charter is growing and developing, adding new places to send your workers. You won’t get blocked from a space forever if someone else builds the building you need – something that is very important over the course of a legacy campaign. An added bonus is that you can still send your worker to where someone’s worker currently is located, sending them back to the player’s supply. So even during the course of the game you are never actually blocked out of a space you really need.
- Most games rely on Kickstarter to upgrade components, or sell them as add-ons for those who want to “deluxify” their game experience. This game isn’t being run on Kickstarter, which is a great thing in itself. But the even better news is that every retail copy will have the nice wooden components and the thick, metal coins. Some people really love punching out cardboard. I’m one of those who enjoys it. Yet at the same time, this game is going to look and feel great for each and every person who plays the game. There is no chance of feeling like you have something inferior because you didn’t shell out an extra X amount of dollars for the upgraded components.
- I really love the concept of being able to continue playing the campaign even if a player cannot make a game night. Of course, I can’t imagine who would want to miss out on their chance to play through the full 12-sessions of the Legacy campaign, but the fact remains that some people won’t be able to make every session. Life happens, and to some people their life’s priorities aren’t board games first. Crazy, right? The ability to have an Automa “cover” for them for a game is a stroke of brilliance that will enable groups to make it through the campaign without having to wait for everyone to be able to get together and have the time to play another session.
- Let’s talk about the Automa for a minute. I’ve become a huge fan of Morten and his Automa system. Viticulture was a simple system to run. Scythe took that same system and beefed it up and it was excellent for that game. They made the right choice with this one to scale back closer to the simplicity of the Viticulture system because you’re going to have more than just solo gamers using this Automa system. Solo gamers are used to, and willing to, think a little more and get more involved in resolving an automated opponent. The casual gamer will want, and value, simplicity in playing the Automa. This was a great decision and the right move for this game.
- The artwork for this game is fantastic and fitting. Jamey and his team gave special consideration to the visual aspect of this game. For instance, Jamey mentioned that the Pumpkin Market building is constructed using Pumpkin, Coal, and Metal. You can visually see the prominence of the three resource colors: orange for pumpkin, black for coal, gray for metal. Even if you cannot see the name from across the table, you should be able to visually see what it is and what went into it. Gong Studios and Mr. Cuddington did an excellent job from what we can see so far of the game’s visuals.
- This is a Legacy game that isn’t co-operative, isn’t Risk, and doesn’t require 3+ players. This is finally a Legacy game that my wife would enjoy that we could get and play as just a couple. Over 65% of my logged games are played together with just the two of us, and another 15% is me playing solo. That means 80% of my gaming time is not spent with a group, so being able to play at a low player count makes this a game we’re very likely to be able to pick up and play through the campaign in a reasonable amount of time. I’m guessing we aren’t the only couple out there who has been waiting for a game like this one to finally get into a Legacy game.
- The idea of the Recharge Pack is fantastic. I’m not sure if I’ll be among those who want to do a second full campaign of the game, but at the same time I don’t see any reason not to do so if it was fun the first time. This would allow me to do once solo and once with my wife. Or we could do one runthrough together and then a second time trying to add a larger group. Since the board comes double-sided already, why wouldn’t you want to end up with two very unique sides that could be played on in their final forms? That, right there, is a stroke of brilliance.
- Many Legacy games become disposable once you’ve finished. They are nothing more than decoration you could hang on the wall, because the game itself is no longer playable. You’ve reached the end. Some gamers are fine with that. They are one-and-done sorts of gamers. But for those of us who want games that can be pulled out and played time and again each year, this game is wonderful. After the campaign is finished you’ll have your own unique, but fully playable, copy of Charterstone. It’ll be your own copy of a Worker Placement game. I can see this being a trait other Legacy games will try and imitate in the future, because this is something that will make investing in a copy of the game worthwhile. You don’t get just 12 plays out of the game. You get as many as you’d like for the rest of your life.
- There is such a deep level of consideration that has gone into aspects of this game, many times considering the customer and their experience. If you read the design diary Jamey has kept, (link at the bottom of this post), you’ll get to see some of those decision points and the reasoning along the way. For instance, why he decided to include metal coins into every game. Why he decided to produce Recharge Packs for the game, for those who’ve demanded being able to replay their unique Legacy games without needing to buy a second full copy. The decision on producing the game up front in so many languages. The reasoning behind making naming things optional. The experience involved in “unlocking” a crate. Not only is it fascinating to read that design diary, but it also reflects the customer-oriented mindset they put into the production and experience of this game.
- I’ve written before about Stonemaier Games and how they’ve made me a customer for life. They continue to do so with their openness and transparency. If you check out that design diary mentioned above, you’ll find that the most recent post in there is being open and honest about a new ship date. A few weeks ago, this game was slated to release in October. It is now pushed back to December, and they discuss the reasons why. That open communication is important, and a huge reason why I am a big fan of Jamey and the team at Stonemaier Games. As he mentions, better to tell us now a realistic date than for us to find out it is delayed a week before it is supposed to hit stores.
As of 8/10/2017, the expected release date for Charterstone is December 12, 2017.
Where you can learn more about this game
- Stonemaier Games’ Design Diary – https://stonemaiergames.com/games/charterstone/design-diary/
- Charterstone Teaser Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQBjfQr2B14
- Charterstone Main Page on Stonemaier Games’ Website – https://stonemaiergames.com/games/charterstone/
- Reviews and Media on Charterstone – https://stonemaiergames.com/games/charterstone/reviews-and-media/
- Charterstone BGG Page – https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/197376/charterstone
- Charterstone Facebook Group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/charterstone
So what are your thoughts on Charterstone? Are you excited to get a chance to play this game? As you can tell, I can hardly wait for December to get here so I can get my hands on a copy of the game! Leave a comment and let me know what aspects of Charterstone you enjoy/appreciate/are excited for.