Essen 2019

The newest game from Portal Games, designer Joanna Kijanka and master imperialist Ignacy Trzewiczek is the brilliant Imperial Settlers: Empires of the North. The original Imperial Settlers has long been a staple of a well-rounded board game collection, marrying hand management, resource collection and engine building. But we forget that Imperial Settlers is part of a knotted bizarre lineage of games, getting better with each iteration. The original 51st State (2010) introduced this world of ephemeral resources, which disappear each round, necessitating efficient resource use and collection. 51st State inspired Imperial Settlers (2014), the poster child game for the genre. Imperial Settlers has collected many expansions over the years (Aztecs, Atlanteans, Amazons, and a few things not beginning with ‘A’), but it also inspired a new game, 51st State: Master Set (2016). I know it’s confusing, but the lineage thus far is 51st State begot Imperial Settlers, which begot 51st State.  And now, the newest game in the Iggy T genealogy is of course… Imperial Settlers: Empires of the North.

Empires of the North not only made resources store between rounds, but added some very clever worker placement and action selection mechanisms to the glorious foundation built by Imperial Settlers. The game comes with 6 very different factions/tribes which all play in clever ways. Some tribes are best at sailing the seas, pillaging and conquering the islands. Some are best as homebodies, collecting resources and living off of the interest. Others just beg to work with the other players, living off of trade.

No sooner had this gem of a game been released, than Portal announced the first expansion, Japanese Islands, of which Ignacy himself claims “The Japanese faction connects the world of Empires of the North and the base Imperial Settlers.” Portal promises two new tribes for the base game, along with new islands to explore. Imperial Settlers: Empires of the North is in limited pre-release now, with copies on sale at GenCon, and full release is dated for August 22. The new Japanese Islands expansion is due to be revealed at Essen Spiel 2019 this October.

Silver is the first in a series of card games by Ted Alspach (Castles of Mad King Ludwig, Suburbia, and One Night Ultimate Werewolf) that can be played as a stand along game or combined with other games in the Silver series.  Silver will debut at 2019 Gen Con and hit stores in September.  Silver Bullet will follow in time for Essen Spiel.

Silver is a werewolf themed card game where each player manages a village made up of five villagers beset by werewolves.  Each card shows a resident, their unique ability, and a number – which is how many werewolves that resident attracts.  However, villager cards are dealt to each player face down and the players do not know how bad the werewolf threat is to their village.   The game begins with everyone peeking at two of their five cards. On each turn a player chooses a villager to replace or activates a villager’s ability. There are fourteen special abilities which allow players to view more face down cards, trade with neighboring villages, protect cards, and more.  Once a player is convinced his or her village is the safest from werewolves (has the lowest sum of villager cards), that player can call for a vote. If correct, the winning player scores zero for the round.  If not, the player receives points equal to the sum of the villager cards plus ten!  All other players will receive the sum of their village points, and the player with the lowest score earns a silver medallion which grants the village some protection in the next round. After four rounds, the player with the lowest score wins.

Silver Bullet is similar to Silver and features fourteen brand new residents and special abilities. It can be played as a stand-alone game, or it can be combined with Silver by swapping villagers with the same card value from one deck to another, creating a whole new experience with the game.  Silver Bullet also comes with a silver bullet which allows a player to take aim at any villager after nightfall.

Future games in the Silver series will offer more residents, more special abilities, additional silver tokens to grant the winner a unique power during a round, and endless combinations for the series.