Game Buzz: The Colonists

Time for an overview of a pretty epic game called

image by BGG user Mavericius
image by BGG user Mavericius

The Colonists is a game designed by Tim Puls that was published in 2016 by Lookout Games, with an English edition published by Mayfair.  The game is for 1-4 players, and can take anywhere from 30 to 360 minutes (or more).  Why the large time span?  The game is played over the course of four eras, and you can choose to play as many or as few of those as you like.  You can also save your game between sessions, so you don’t necessarily have to play all four eras at once.  It is a civilization building game, and players are trying to put everyone to work over time while dealing with limited resources.

A game of this scope will naturally have a ton of components, and this is no exception.  There’s 62 hexagonal place tiles, 202 building tiles, 72 embassy tiles, 8 warehouse extensions, 36 storage facility tiles, 3 market tiles, 1 small market tile, 4 basic storage upgrades, a starting player marker, 16 steward pawns, 120 colonist meeples, an alchemist, an altruist, a laborer, a round marker, 40 tools, 55 dollar coins, 30 brick chits, 20 coal chits, 30 robe chits, 90 wood chits, 50 clay chits, 40 ore chits, 30 plank chits, 20 iron chits, 50 food chits, 140 improvement cards, 28 market cards, 4 balance cards, 4 era cards, a round card, 3 overview cards, 4 community boards, 9 colony overviews, and a score pad.  Shuffle the colony overviews and select 4, which will define the colonies for the game.  You’ll place the corresponding Embassy tiles according to those colonies, as well as Warehouse Extensions, Basic Storage Upgrades, and Special Ambassadors as needed.

To build the board, place one Market in the play space.  Then shuffle all of the starting places, and allow each player to take turns drawing places and adding them to the board.  After all 12 are in place, the first player adds a second Market, making sure that at least two places separate it from the first Market.

Each player gets a community board, balance card, and a steward.  Two farms go in available spots on your board, and you add a farmer to each.  You’ll also fill your basic storage with a combination of wood and clay (your choice – there are three slots), as well as get one food and six tools.  Your Steward will begin the game on the Market of your choice.

image by BGG user Anny48
image by BGG user Anny48

Gameplay lasts for as many eras as you decided to play.  Each era introduces a new game element.  Era I has the second Market (last thing added in board setup).  Era II adds a third Market.  Era III adds a fifth colony.  Era IV replaces the Head Official with the Chief Officer.  You’ll also need to set up the appropriate Market cards, Improvements, and Places.

Eras are divided into years, which are further divided into two half-years.  At the start of each year, you’ll reveal a new Market card and three Places.  For each half-year, each player will take three consecutive turns.  A turn begins with moving your Steward to a new Place and carrying out the action described there.  There are six different types of Places:

  • Market: You can sell goods, take goods, or take another action.  Precisely what you can sell, take, or do is described on the year’s Market card.  You can only do one of these three options.
  • Resource Place: Take goods in the indicated quality.
  • Sustainers: Gain Food or Robes (Sustenance) or sell them.
  • Builders: Build a new building, or remodel an existing one.
  • Refiners: Exchange basic resources for refined ones.
  • Other: These are Places that don’t fit into a category.

As you take these actions, you are focusing on developing your community through Buildings, Improvements, and Diplomacy.

At the end of a year, you follow a five-step process before proceeding to the next year.

  1. The player with the Starting Player marker is now the Starting Player.
  2. The Starting Player adds the three face-up places to the board.  This will not happen after the fifth year of an Era.
  3. Redistribute colonists among your residences and buildings.
  4. Sustenance – feed your people.  Workers might need food and clothing, depending on their level.
  5. Your Money and Production Buildings produce goods.

After the Production Phase of the fifth year, the Era ends.  If you’ve reached the final Era, figure out whose community is worth the most money.  They win.

image by BGG user punkin312
image by BGG user punkin312

Of course, I’ve just scratched the surface of this game.  There are a lot of details I skipped over because this is definitely a heavier game and it would take me too long to write.  I think it looks very interesting.  I like the way the board expands, and it seems that there are a lot of ways you can develop your community.  I know this game is really super long, but I think it’s one I’d really like to try out sometime, if just to get the feel for how everything works together.

Thanks for reading!


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