Charterstone is a legacy worker placement board game for 1 to 6 players. Players take on the roles of settlers from the Kingdom of Greengully, sent by the king to colonize a new village on the outskirts of the kingdom. The players compete in gathering the most points during a campaign of 12 games, each of which introduces new concepts and rules. The player that has gathered the most points after the campaign is over wins.
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Mechanically Charterstone is extremely simple, which makes it greatly accessible to people of all ages. The advanced rules are introduced to the players as the game progresses, but the basics are straightforward. On your turn you can place a worker on a tile or retrieve all your workers.
You can go to any tile on any charter, each building has a different resource cost to use and a different purpose. There are five initial spots called the “Commons” that you can go to in order to gain money, score objective cards, construct buildings, or open crates. Opening crates lets players draw cards from the “Index” which adds new rules to the game.
Pro Drop-in / drop-out system
Thanks to the Automa system that lets an NPC character take over one of the player spots, you can fill in for a player that, for example, couldn’t make it to a gaming session or doesn’t want to continue the campaign.
Pro Replayable after finishing the campaign
Charterstone is a legacy game, but you can keep playing it as a regular worker placement game after you’re done with the campaign on the map you’ve created over the 12-game campaign.
Moreover, if you want to play through the campaign again and experience what you missed in your initial playthrough, you can buy the official recharge pack for about $30 to get back all the components you used and use the other side of the double-sided gameboard that has the same map.
Pro Huge variability
Every game of Charterstone will be completely different due to card draw, personas, and strategies. Many campaigns end with situations where half of the deck is still undiscovered.
Pro Adjustable to player count
Charterstone is a balanced game when played with any number of players thanks to special rules that vary depending on the player count. Furthermore, the Automa system lets you introduce NPC players to the game that can fill in other players’ spots if you want to add more action to, say, a 2-player game.
Pro Amazing components
The parts that make up Charterstone are both aesthetically pleasing and well-made.
When first opening the box, you are already greeted by an organized view of the components– everything’s stored in labeled white boxes. When looking at the components themselves, there is no mistaking what they represent or what they’re supposed to be – a pumpkin looks like a pumpkin, etc.
The quality is top-notch, and the components should hold up to plenty of plays. The white boxes that store most of the components are made of thick cardboard, the player tokens and the resource tokens are wooden, the cards are made of thick cardstock, and the coins are metal, which feel exceptionally nice and valuable due to the heftiness.
Pro Satisfying progression
The game reveals itself as you progress, be it storylines, rules, buildings, etc. It feels nice to see your village grow and bits of the story unfold over the ~12 hours of gameplay. You get attached to characters, socialize with others, and create your own stories in the process, which creates another adventure on top.
Con Potential information overload at the start
If the players choose to open a lot of crates in their first games, then they might suffer from information overload because of the number of new rules thrown in the game. Some users have reported that the rules are sometimes easy to misinterpret, so this can add to the frustration.
Con Quite long
There are 12 games in the campaign, so you must dedicate approximately 12 hours to finish the whole thing because a single game takes an hour or so. This might also be too long if you’re playing with kids because they could get bored or distracted.
Con Aesthetic won’t suit everyone
Though the art of Charterstone is quite detailed and colorful, it’s also very cartoony and the characters are happy-looking bobble heads, so while the aesthetic might be great for children and families, it might seem childish to others.
Con A bit pricey
Charterstone retails for around $45 depending on the site, which can be expensive for some. If you add in the recharge pack for new campaigns, then that’s an extra $30, but after your second campaign there’s no more room on the gameboard, so you’ll have to buy a new one for that if you want to start over yet again.
Con Requires a dedicated group
Charterstone suffers from a popular legacy board game issue - it might be difficult to gather the same people for a session to try and finish the 12-game campaign. Though the Automa system lets NPC’s fill in for other players, if it’s used in the middle of the campaign, then it renders the score tallying at the end of the campaign pointless.