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Empires of the North GDJ - Harvesting

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.

#2 Harvesting

It all started with us looking for pillaging villages and stealing sheep. The first prototype had all production cards with wooden pieces put on them. We called them fields, and they represented our lands. Another player was able to raid our fields and steal those resources.

Viking theme, you know. Raiding the coast. Taking stuff. Making noise. Fun stuff.

It had a great theme. And it put the whole resource management off balance. One moment you had 4 sheep, next, you had none.


We came back to the basic Imperial Settlers rules with the Production phase, but I was not happy, and after a few games, I got rid of the whole Production phase. I said, 'Want stuff? Send your people to harvest.'

It was new - the player doesn't get free stuff at the beginning of each round. No Production phase. That changes a lot in a game. Now you value your resources. Now you care about every single wood piece you have. Now you pay attention to details.

It's just one rule change, but the whole dynamics and economy of resources flipped. The safe haven - Production phase at the beginning of each round - was gone. You were entering dangerous seas. You were on your own. When playing Empires of the North, you better manage resources wisely because nobody will back you up with free stuff.

It worked well. It was challenging. It was fresh. And although overall there was no pillaging other players fields, there was something new here.

And I did like this something.
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