Charterstone is a legacy board game created by Stonemaier games, makers of Scythe, Euphoria, and Viticulture. A legacy game is one where players continue playing, week on week, and each time they play the game changes. These changes can be character development, additions to the board, new pieces and even new rules!
The prosperous Kingdom of Greengully, ruled for centuries by the Forever King, has issued a decree to its citizens to colonize the vast lands beyond its borders. In an effort to start a new village, the Forever King has selected 6 citizens for the task, each of whom has a unique set of skills they use to build their charter. – Stonemaier Games
Regular board game enthusiasts will be familiar with the basic ruleset of Charterstone. It is a worker placement, resource management game in which a variety of strategies will let players reach victory against their opponents.
The tone of Charterstone is not heavily competitive. The players’ goal is to score more points than their opponents, however, the setting is one of collaboration. Together players must build a village. Each player controls their own ‘Charter’ (one-sixth of the village) in which they can place buildings. Players can place their workers in other player’s charters and use their buildings’ actions.
Charterstone can be played by 1-6 players. Each Charter represents a different kind of resource: grain, wood, clay, coal, iron, and pumpkins. There are rules in places for ‘inactive Charters’ if you don’t have 5 people to play with. This allows all the features of each charter to be made available to all players. Every Charter has a character assigned for which you can unlock additional ‘personas’ which provide new abilities and bonuses.
Players take turns placing workers on buildings and perform the action listed. These can be a variety of things such as collecting resources, buildings on hexes in their Charter, and scoring victory points. The options increase as the game progresses. Once a player has placed all their workers they must spend a turn removing their workers from the board, this is unless another player uses the same hex and bumps the previous worker off the board. This can be employed tactically if you time when you use specific hexes, (if you are some sort of mind-reading wizard) you can predict what move another player will make next. This way you can save yourself a turn removing your workers form the board and maybe get that advantage to need! I have also tried (unsuccessfully) negotiating with my fellow players for favours (I’ll bump you off if you bump me off). I am marking down my lack of success to the fact that my gaming group is full of ungrateful meanies.
My favourite aspect of Charterstone is the index of secret cards which you unlock as the game progresses (no peeking at these!). Players can take an action to unlock a crate if they have one. The player looks up the crate number on a sheet which tells them which cards can be extracted from the index. These cards represent something new to be added to the game. It can be something simple like a new building. Or, it can be a whole new concept to be added to the rulebook which can completely overhaul how the players play the game.
The legacy experience lasts for 12 games of Charterstone, but the game board can still be used for future games once the board has been completed if you haven’t had enough. Stonemaier Games have also had the forethought (they know us so well) to provide a double-sided board so that you can play a second time from scratch. To do this you would need to purchase a recharge pack which replaces all the stickers and cards you used up the first time around.
This game may sound simple, but it is disarmingly charming. The artwork of the buildings and character personas is beautifully drawn, and of course being a legacy game, you get to name your characters and your Charter by writing on the board itself. For the strategist, there are unending ways to earn victory points and build the engine you need to get that highest score.
Charterstone does not suit the overly competitive player who doesn’t enjoy exploring the effectiveness of their strategies, in my opinion. The fact that you and your group are likely to keep playing this game over and over again lends itself to the kind of player who enjoys challenging themselves rather than other people. Personally, I am taking a very casual approach to enjoying this game and I am enjoying it thoroughly! I tend to prefer collaborative games anyway.
I would recommend this game to an experienced board game group who are committed to playing the same game for a few weeks. The sheer volume of rules and the fact that they change might be confusing to new players or easy to forget if there is a long time between games.
I have not yet completed my campaign of Charterstone, and I am very excited to see where it leads. There have been hints and suggestions that the choices we are making along the way will change what happens to our humble village. All I know for now is, I don’t want to piss off the Forever King off. Who knows what he might do…