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Empires of the North GDJ - The wheel

In this series of very short articles, I discuss rule differences and design choices we made when working on Imperial Settlers. There is so many of you sending us questions about how Imperial Settlers compares to Empires of the North. I hope this series of articles will answer this question.

The wheel

It took us some time to discover the wheel. It all began with production cards. I put them on the table, I put sheep, wood, and fish pieces on them, and it just looked good. Let's change how the production works I decided. Let me keep these pieces on cards. Let players harvest them. Let's shake things compared to Imperial Settlers.

So harvesting became a thing.

There was also this 'seas and oceans' thing. The game is called Empires of the North so there must be ships and ports, and raids and Islands and sailing.

So sailing became a thing.

And there was this Architects of the West Kingdom board game and its unique workers economy, with one closed pool of dudes you must carefully manage. I really liked it and decided to play with this concept. A player starts with 5 people in their Empire. It's their pool of workers. Want a bigger pool? Populate.

So populating became a thing.


I had these actions listed on big tiles. I gave each player 2 action pawns, and it worked. I added two more actions, Explore and Construct, and that's how we played for some time - besides playing cards and activating their powers, each player was able to do two actions from the five tiles.

We really liked this part of the game, and I felt like it could use more prime time in the gameplay, it could play a more important role. After a few days of playtesting, I allowed players to spend an apple to flip the action pawn, put it on adjacent tile, and activate it again. Suddenly placing the action pawn became an essential part of the strategy - you could move it to adjacent spaces, you had to think ahead, and decide what action to do now, and what you gonna do next, on adjacent tiles. The five available actions became a vital part of the game.


And then Asia came to my office, she cut tiles into a new shape, placed them in a circle. 'It makes more sense now,' she said, smiling.

And that's how we discovered the wheel.
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