A Spoiler-free Review
Recently, our Of Dice & Meeples crew finished their year-long legacy play-through of Charterstone, from Stonemaier Games. It has been a long journey that we are proud to have accomplished. Being our group’s first legacy game, we learned a great deal of how these types of story-driven games work. In Charterstone, you start with a nearly empty board and apply the starting resource buildings to their respective charter. We played a 4-player game and followed the rules for inactive charters for the remaining two areas. There are rules for an automated player, known as an Automa, but we chose not to use those rules during this play-through.
Charterstone is your typical worker placement style game where you place a worker and perform the corresponding action, ranging from gaining resources, to scoring victory points, to constructing new buildings. The biggest difference is that you are constantly unlocking new buildings or even adding new rules to the rulebook, all while telling the story of your village.
The opening game gives you the setup of your group’s story. The Forever King has commissioned you to start a new village and make it prosper. The story is then told through 12 total games that has you unlocking different guideposts (goals for each game) and developing your villages own identity. In our collective group’s opinion, the first few games felt slow, story-wise. It wasn’t until the fourth or fifth game that we really felt vested in the story. From that point forward, we eagerly awaited the reveal of each story segment and found our decisions and games affecting our end results. It is a very unique experience for each group, and I am looking forward to my solo play against five automas in the near future!
I love worker placement games. There is a certain satisfaction that I get from the simplicity of placing a worker and doing an action, and in Charterstone, that is the crux of the game. The resource generation, the use of those resources, and even the numerous places to gain points really make it feel like any strategy you have is a good one. The added ability to fundamentally change the board on any given turn is also a very uniquely satisfying experience. I could take away options at nearly any moment, and they can be taken away from me as well. Beyond the basic point gathering of constructing buildings, opening crates, and scoring objectives; there is also a reputation track where you gain points based on placement, or the quota track that allows you to turn in extra resources for points as well! The only down-side to such a vast number of options is the eventual Analysis Paralysis, but that is expected as there are over 40 different locations once the board is full. Unlike some games where only one worker can visit a building, you are able to bump workers to use a building you need to use, so nothing is ever truly blocked from use. The only question becomes, “what is the best way to get points this turn?” The beauty of Charterstone is that the answer is completely based on your group’s play-through. No two experiences will be the exact same. When it’s all said and done, you then have a fully customized worker placement game built on the bones of your play-through for even more replay-ability.
Charterstone is beautifully produced. Nearly every component in the game is premium quality. The wooden meeples, tokens, and resources are colored well, and are easy to distinguish. The few pieces of cardboard are thick and durable. The double-sided game board and cardboard tokens are perfectly printed. The cards and stickers feel thick and sturdy. Finally, the metallic coins are weighty and beautiful. I love that you can purchase a recharge pack, turn the board over, and begin again without having to buy the full game if you want to revisit the campaign mode! My only component complaint is the wooden Charterstone die. It felt too light to get a proper roll for many in our group. Additionally, wooden dice tend to feel less balanced due to possible hidden imperfections. However, for an MSRP of $70 US, there is a lot in the box and feels well worth the price; though, you can usually find it cheaper from resellers.
I thoroughly enjoyed our play-through. The story grew into a compelling adventure for our little group of players. My only complaint is with the final scoring to determine the campaign winner, it felt unsatisfying and imbalanced, but you’ll have to play for yourself to see if you feel the same way. Overall, I recommend the game to anyone who wants to commit to the legacy play-through with their gaming group. If you like worker placement mechanics, this one will fill a good spot on your shelf. I have yet to try out the solo mode, but look forward to doing so in the near future. If you’ve completed your play-through, let us know in the comments what you thought of the game!
- Gameplay – 5 Meeples
- Quality – 5 Meeples
- Price – 4 Meeples
- Value – 5 Meeples
- Overall – 4.75 Meeples!