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Empires of the North GDJ - Boost and Underwater Cities

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.

#4 - Boost and Underwater cities

Underwater Cities is the best game released at Essen 2018. I haven't - obviously - played all the games released in Essen. I cannot compare party games with trick-taking games; I cannot compare dexterity games with heavy euro. I know all of that. Still, I freakin' love Underwater Cities.

I was lucky to discover the game when working on Empires of the North. I was building the action wheel; I was playing with all different variants. Empires of the North was like a building site — every day different rules and variants.

Underwater Cities couldn't have better timing.


In Underwater Cities you will find all the same type of cards as Imperial Settlers. It has Production cards that activate in each of 3 production rounds in the game. It has Permanent effect cards that work precisely like Feature cards in the Imperial Settlers. It has Action cards that work like... Yeah, I know, you get it.

Underwater Cities also has two more types of cards. Instant and End-Scoring cards. 5 minutes into the game and I fell in love with Instant cards.

'I salute you,'Mr. Suchy, I said and sat to design something similar in Empires of the North. We called them Boost cards. How do they work?

When you use your action pawn (we call them Clan tokens), and take a particular action, you may additionally play from your hand for free a Boost card if it matches the type of the action.

You take Sail action, you may play Quick raid card, and your ship is immediately back with all the loot. Boost cards influence the action you take and add some additional effect. They are another tempting choice you are making when playing. It's another great choice - do you go for Harvest action, because you need more resources, or go for Sailing because you have in hand this great Boost card?

We decided to use Boost cards for one more thing - differentiate faction decks. Each deck has a different distribution of Boost cards; Wandering Inuits have a ton of Boost cards for Explore action while Pillaging Vikings have boosts for Sail action. While designing decks, we were able to strengthen the theme of the deck just by giving a different number of boost cards dedicated to particular actions.

Boost cards fit the game as they always were there. They match the game perfectly, and I guess there will be some players who will praise Joanna and me for this smart concept.

We introduced and executed this idea pretty well; that's a fact. But the idea belongs to Mr. Suchy. So let me once again salute the genius and once again recommend you Underwater cities.

Learn more about Empires of the North here.
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