This has been a game that I’ve been playing for a few months now with the group of people who joined me for Risk: Legacy and another game. We’ve been looking around for more session based games that build off of each other, and Charterstone, a euro style legacy game, seemed like a good fit.
In Chartertone, you take control of different charters in a new land where the Forever King has sent you. Each character has a different resource that they “control”. The important resources of pumpkins, wheat, wood, brick, coal, and iron, because even in this mythical land, the pumpkin spice must flow. So you are using your workers to collect resources, build new building in your charter, unlocking boxes that open up new buildings to you, and hiring assistants. When you open the boxes, you can get new buildings, and other things things that would be spoilers for the game, so I won’t write about them, though I accidentally did and had to delete part of a sentence.
So, what do I think of the game?
The mechanics work really well in this game and keep it moving along quickly. Turns are fast because you turn is place a worker or take your workers off of the board. And a lot of the game is finding ways to gather resources most effectively so that you can build your buildings and open up the boxes. The scoring works nicely as well, and while the scoring track is absolutely massive, you never really score the full way.
The game also has a fun character improvement mechanic. Your points at the end of the game determine the winner of the game, but also how many stars on the back of the box you get to fill in, each character has a box. These stars, once you’ve filled in a row, give you a particular bonus at the start of each game. Also, there are circles on the front of your character box that allows you to keep more things from game to game. Anyone who doesn’t win a game gets to fill in one of these circles. That way it helps balance out the potential issue of having a run away leader through the whole series of games.
Mechanically is really where the game shines, because the story might as well be pasted on top of it. With or without the story, I think that the game would have worked just fine, which is good because once you’re done building up your charters, you can continue to play the game just without the legacy aspect as a euro game. The story isn’t bad, it’s just not all that important to the game, and when they do try and add in some stronger story elements to the game, it doesn’t always feel like they fit into the game because there’s no real reason for it.
One important thing with legacy games is the unlocking of new rules and how they pace that out. I think that for the most part they do a good job, however, it can be fairly front loaded if you aren’t careful. Because opening the crates is basically the way that you’re going to get new rules, if you push for that, as our group has done, you’re going to end up with a situation where in later games there might not be as many crates to open up and that you might have the game fully developed prior to the last few games, so you’ll have fewer things to unlock.
One thing that I would say about this game that I don’t think works as well with this game is that it technically can have 1 to 6 players. You could technically play it by yourself, but it would be a pretty sad experience. And I really think that any number less than six, for while you’re playing the legacy part of the game, isn’t going to work that well. We’re playing with five, and it feels somewhat like we’re missing out not having that sixth player. It would also help keep the board tighter and more competitive having more workers on the board. I’m sure it’s still a good experience with less people, but you are going to have the best experience with a lot of people. One good thing, though is that once you’ve finished the legacy portion of the game, I think that any player count is going to be solid.
A final interesting thing about Charterstone. The board comes prints on both sides of the playing surface. So they actually sell recharge packs for the game, so less than the base game and replaces all the cards that you’ve used, and then you can play through it again. Since the story isn’t really one like Pandemic or even SeaFall where there are supposed to be big, shocking moments, it would be easy to play through again with the same group or a different group and have a different experience. Between that and having a game you can still play, those are the two really unique things that set it apart from other legacy games. I’ll be curious with Betrayal Legacy to see with that one, since it’s supposed to be playable after the fact, is similar to Charterstone, or closer to Risk Legacy where you technically could, but you could have a broken game.
Overall it’s a fun game and one that I’d definitely consider getting the recharge pack for and playing again legacy wise. And if my wife likes it, because I think she would and I think it would be a good legacy game to play with her, then I think we’d keep it on the shelf. Otherwise, I’d probably let one of the other players take it, because it is fun, but not the most unique.
Gamer Grade: B-
Casual Grade: A-
Overall Grade: B+
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