W. Eric Martin
For the most part, legacy games have presented players with extreme situations — global warfare, global pandemics, the dawning of civilization, a shortage of furry costumes — but designer Jamey Stegmaier of Stonemaier Games is taking a different approach with a legacy design of his own, one that isn't so doomy and gloomy.
In Charterstone — which carries a 20-60 minute playing time for 1-6 players — players compete to populate a village, a village that starts off with almost nothing, but which becomes larger, with more options available, in subsequent games. Here's an overview of the setting and gameplay:
The prosperous Kingdom of Greengully, ruled for centuries by the Forever King in the increasingly overpopulated capital city, has issued a decree to its citizens to colonize the vast lands beyond its borders. For those who heed the call, the king has sent thousands of scouts into the wilderness to pick the best areas and claim each one with an iconic Charterstone. It is to one such new village that you arrive with your friends and competitors, each of you hoping to create the greatest legacy for your guild.
In Charterstone, a competitive legacy village-building game, you construct buildings and populate a village shared by all players and their workers. Buildings are permanently added to the game board and become action spaces for any player to use both in the current game and during subsequent playings. Thus, you start off with simple choices and few workers in the first couple of games, but soon you have a bustling village with dozens of possible actions.
Before each game, one advancement will be revealed, unlocking a new rule, card type, or component for all subsequent games. These advancements are grouped into chronological eras but are randomized within each era, creating a unique storyline for your copy of Charterstone. Random events within each era require players to make group decisions that will later haunt or help the village.
A game of Charterstone ends when players have placed all of their workers, at which point end-game victory points (VP) are scored. The player with the most VPs wins.
A copy of Charterstone will net players a total of 24 games within a campaign, though the village you create remains functional for subsequent plays.
Stegmaier notes that Charterstone is still under development (so perhaps that gloom will show up after all), but the game will likely have a preorder or Kickstarter campaign before the end of 2016 for release in 2017.