Type: Legacy / Euro / Worker Placement
Time to play: 60-75 minutes (Teaching: 10 minutes)
Best played with: 4 Players (1-6 Players)
I have been looking forward to writing this review for some time. Getting to the end of a legacy game is a challenge in itself, but making notes along the way and trying to work you what you can say without spoilers…. well that’s a whole different ball game. Here’s my best shot though!
So, quick recap. A legacy game is a game where the rules change, the board changes, or basically the whole game changes between each game. This is a feat of modern board games where stickers, cards and new pieces come into the game as things progress. Meanwhile the core game here is placing two worker meeples on buildings to trade resources, money and points. Get the most points to win each game.
The good legacy games are also good games though – so let’s start there. The very first game of Charterstone is quite simple and not particularly compelling. Place a worker, place a second and recall. Simple, but an elegant addition that if another player (or you on the second turn) use the same space, you get your piece back. Rather than worker placement blocking your opponents from accessing a space, they need to trade the need for that space with the negative of handing their opponents piece back.
So what types of actions – gather resources, spend resources to build, and then spend the empty cards to open “boxes”. New boxes, new buildings, new rules and new peoples. This is simple then – you are playing a mini-game that is perfectly in line with the main game. You want to open boxes, cause let’s face it that’s fun. You want to score points because that’s how you win. The two things are perfectly correlated. Opening boxes is one of the best ways to score points (well that and the objectives).
Simple solution then, follow the trail of crumbs until you have the game end. This first one is almost incidental. However, you now know how to play. Oh, and without spoiling it…. you probably had some pretty material rules added in this first game.
For me, I really enjoyed the fact that the game changed as it went. There were moments of confusion and excitement as the new rules pushed forward new strategies. Each new card, new action, new piece offers a new way to achieve very simple steps. They don’t change everything all at once, but they make what you are already doing easier.
Also, your own success is reinforcing. The more you build, the more it will help you in the long run. The better the engine you will have for points for the next game, and in the long term those buildings are worth points. Okay, that’s a little bit of a spoiler, but come on – you expected that!
What’s enjoyable then – short turns and simple actions. Combine that with lovely art, and a fun thematic town builder. This game, when finished, is an incredibly deep and interesting game. You will learn it piece by piece. Oh, and each version will be different. What got built in my game will be different to others and what got built will matter to how it plays.
This game plays at a lot of different player counts and I can see how they would all work well. For me though, 4 is a nice number. A little bit of random building, a low amount of downtime, and still some really interesting opportunities to build purposefully over the course of a game. Too few players, the randomness will take over. Too many, and there will be long gaps between turns.
The downside to this game? Well actually here I will be controversial. I hated the “guidepost” mechanism. A card that gave an extra goal each time and that gave extra rules sometimes. These could break the game more drastically or de-correlate the win condition of the game and the other goals you were going for. Okay, mostly being second and getting the guidepost is worth it in the end, but that’s a bit of a shame to me – I preferred it when the objectives were clearer and rules were cumulative (not overwritten).
Other than that, the final reveals are not that exciting, or interesting. However, right till the end I was enjoying the way the game was building. New mechanics, new options, new ways to reconstruct the engine. Like watching someone take apart a delicately balanced watch, add a piece and reconstruct it. It was not just what I would do in each game, but what every player around the table would do. This is why it becomes a highly enjoyable and fascinating game.
- If you want your first legacy game, this is a great starter and a worthy addition to the genre.
- If you want to play the best worker placement, I have to admit this is only top 20 (only…)
- If you win, keep going for the final legacy payout