Game Buzz: Charterstone

When Stonemaier Games burst onto the scene in 2013 with Viticulture, they quickly became the gold standard in how to run a Kickstarter campaign.  After taking the world by storm with last year’s release of Scythe, they’ve now started to try to test the waters outside of Kickstarter.  I believe that their first game to be released without crowdfunding is

image by BGG user jamerystegmaier

Charterstone is a game by Jamey Stegmaier that is coming soon from Stonemaier Games.  It’s for 1-6 players, and is kind of a new look at legacy games.  Legacy games are experiences where you make permanent changes to the game so that the system evolves with each play, and you may end up with a completely different experience than anyone else who attempted it.  In Charterstone, you play through a twelve game campaign, at the end of which you will have a fully playable worker placement game that will be unique to you and your group.

At this point in my game buzz articles, I usually give an overview of components.  However, I don’t know what they are.  I’ve been trying to keep myself away from spoilers for the game, especially after someone spoiled an aspect of Pandemic Legacy for me.  So let me assure you that this will be a NON-SPOILER overview.  It basically covers the initial setup, and how the first game might progress, as well as some aspects of the game evolution.  If you don’t want to know anything about the game, you should stop now.

[image redacted]

The game comes with several boxes that you’re not to open until instructed.  The first box you open is called the Index, and contains a bunch of cards that will be kept in the same order.  They are all numbered.  These cards will walk you through setup – pull out the board, pull out the game components, etc.  The cards are stickers, and you’ll affix them to the rulebook as you go.  The used cards are kept in an archive for a purpose I’ll go into later.

The board is split into six main charters.  Each player will choose one to be theirs for the entire campaign.  You’ll get another box that contains your pieces, including workers, influence tokens, and a VP marker.  Each player gets a character that matches their charter, which you can name.  Additionally, you’ll get a starting location that you affix to the board in your charter.  Inactive charters can be played using automa rules, though it is suggested that you wait a couple of games to start doing that.  Eight assistants are shuffled together with inactive charter cards and five are dealt to an advancement board, and five objectives are shuffled with three dealt out.

On your turn, you’ll place a worker or take your workers back.  When you place a worker, you follow three steps.  First, if the space was occupied, return the worker to its owner.  Then, pay the cost of the space.  Then you gain the benefits, depending on the space.  This could be resources, money, advancement cards, objectives, new buildings, points, or the ability to open a crate.  Crates allow you to pull new cards from the index.  New buildings can be put up in your charter, providing new actions.  As you play, you may also gain new personas.  You can choose to use these at the beginning of future games in the campaign.

When a game ends, you’ll do a final scoring.  You’ll get points for having the most influence on the reputation track and special icons on your cards.  Each glory star you pass on the VP track allows you to buff up your stats for the next game.  If you have the most VPs for the game, you’ll mark a victory spot which will gain you points at the end of the campaign.  Non-winners now get to name their charters, as well as the charters of the winner(s) and those that are inactive.  You’ll then carry over your stuff to the next game, either starting immediately or storing it until later.

[image also redacted]

I have yet to play a legacy game, and I honestly think this would be the first one that I’d be able to get people to play.  Most people I usually game with wouldn’t like the theme of Pandemic Legacy or Risk Legacy, or don’t like the idea of having a disposable game.  This one has been designed so you can keep playing after the legacy elements are over.  You can also get a recharge pack so you can reset and play a new campaign with different people using the back of the board.  I think it looks very interesting, and I look forward to hearing how it goes over with people.  I doubt it will blow up like Pandemic Legacy did, but I think it will appeal to a lot of the more Euro-y players.

That’s it for today.  Thanks for reading!

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