The Game: Charterstone by Stonemaier Games
How Many Players: 1-6
Age Range: 10+
What Type of Game: Village-building legacy campaign
Average Length: 60 minutes per game
You should try it if you like: Campaign games where you have to play several games to get the full effect and legacy games where you are changing the game as you go.
What's The Story
You come from the land of Greengully where the Forever King rules over the people. The Forever King is encouraging new growth and development by sending six citizens out to create a new village. You play as one of these leaders and oversee a charter of this village. Each charter has its own unique specialty, such as lumber, ore, wheat, etc. In your section of the village, you raise buildings and work together with the other charters. Improve your growing town whilst also competing against them to be the best of the best.
Throughout the journey of 12 games in the campaign, your village grows with new buildings and abilities. Each game is unique and special, with new goals, focus, and strengths. Perhaps even some secrets will be uncovered.
What the Gameplay Feels Like
Charterstone is a legacy campaign game…meaning that this game is meant to change, grow, and evolve over the course of the campaign. When first opening the rulebook you see there are several rules that are missing. This is because they will be revealed throughout the campaign as applicable. Some rules change. Some get archived away into obscurity. The entire game is fluid in its evolution as you play. This is done perfectly.
Even the board changes
Just as though you were actually starting a new village from scratch, you begin the game with a relatively empty board. You choose your charter and are locked into that section for the rest of the game. Eventually, as you draw cards, earn and spend resources, and grow your part of the little city, the board itself changes.
I don't want to show too far into the game, so this image is just after about 4 games (of a 12 game campaign). As the game progresses and things change and evolve, the most enjoyable part is slowly having things unravel before you. Learning the secrets of the game little by little. Therefore I don't want to spoil too much! Believe me, there are some wonderful surprises.
There are a lot of different strategies and ways to approach Charterstone. Different areas to focus on, or opportunities to take the game in different directions. Ultimately, you are competing against each other as you try to earn the most victory points. Victory points are earned by completing objectives, building, spending your resources, or a variety of other means. The various ways to approach this game are incredible. No two people are going to be playing exactly alike. No two campaigns will be exactly alike.
What I liked
I love this game. The quality of the components is incredibly high, the customization is enjoyable and clever, and the entire idea of it unfolding before you each game is so perfect. I love that you can name all the people. This includes naming your charter and the village itself. You truly make the game your own as you play.
The secrets this game holds are nothing short of ingenious. I am flabbergasted at how well they can have so many ideas work together and yet be fluid enough to work in so many different ways.
This game is incredible.
What I didn't like
At first, I feared that I would not like the permanent changes you make Charterstone. I was under the false impression that these changes meant the game could not be played more than one time. Thankfully, I was wrong. Not only can you continue to play the game in its unique finished form after the campaign has ended, but you could also start an entirely new campaign by purchasing a Recharge Pack. What originally scared me from starting the game, now seems like a trivial matter. Especially as this game is literally the most enjoyable board game we have played, probably in our entire marriage.