Managing provinces in the campaign mode

Rise of the Empire introduces three pillars that add new gameplay elements to the Imperial Settlers. The first one is well known for all fans who played Imperial Settlers solo variant I published as a free expansion back then in 2014. I will discuss this element today as an opening material for this short series of articles.

Playing Imperial Settlers in the solo campaign mode (free PDF can be found on BGG) or with the Rise of the Empire expansion, you’ll have a series of games that conclude with a special phase at the end of the game – Managing your Provinces. In terms of the theme, it’s the time to manage the growing Empire – taxes, investments, new constructions, and others!

When playing Rise of the Empire campaign, each player receives a dedicated sheet that represents their domain. On this sheet, there is a map where you mark lands and provinces you already conquered. After each game, you mark one new territory. Each of these has a different cost – the cost you must pay to support and keep the province in future games. That’s why the first thing you must do after finishing the campaign game is paying the maintenance cost of each Province you already have in your Empire.

It’s the first of many important choices you must take. When playing Rome, will you conquer the Provinces that have a stone in the maintenance cost? It’s easy to pay for you, sure, but if you spend stone on keeping Province, you won’t have a stone to score points during the game.

As the campaign progresses and you must pay a dozen of resources to keep the Empire intact and keep all Provinces under control, you start to feel like these Roman Emperors, who struggled when the Roman Empire reach the point, when the collapse was the only answer.

After you pay the maintenance cost, the much more fun stuff happens – you draw a new Province card. In the Rise of the Empire, you will find 55 new cards that represent different Provinces. All of them are Production cards, so they boost the Empire’s resource engine. When you play the campaign, you start with all your Province cards already on the table, so the more Provinces, the more strong start in the first turn. The cost, in the end, balances it out in a big way, though…

That’s the first pillar. Gain new Provinces after each game. Get them into play right from the start and have a fantastic start. Have Japanese faction start with the production of Gold and Stone. Play Barbarians who produce a ton of Apples. Command Romans that have a few additional Swords in production from the start… It’s time for your Empire to rise. Eager to find out how it ends!

The Interview feature or How Rob Daviau changed Detective

I am with Rob Daviau at Grandcon, and he goes like ‘I have this idea for a new Antares feature, but I am not sure if this is possible…’
‘It’s possible.’ I promptly say. He didn’t even manage to finish the sentence, but let me tell you this – when the industry icon has a new idea for Detective, you say you can do this, period. You just have to keep in mind that long conversation with whining Portal Games Digital team is your first step when you get back to Poland.

Rob wanted to give players the feeling, the sentiment of old school adventure video games, those in which you choose some pre-constructed dialog sentences, and you choose one to move the story forward. Instead of reading the transcript of questioning like in the base game of Detective, you’d actively pick the questions you wanted to ask.

The idea was brilliant, but I was not surprised. I greenlighted it, so obviously it had to be good.

Over the months of designing and development, the system was evolving, and Rob was sending me updates. He prototyped the Interview feature, and we were able to play-test it. It turned out Rob went even further with immersion and putting players in the shoes of Detective – there were no pre-constructed questions anymore. There was a blank space and simple instruction: What do you want to ask about?

I typed: KNIFE.

The system reacted: I have it from my father. It’s a family item. What’s the problem?

I typed: ALIBI

The system reacted: I was with my buddies. We were watching baseball. I have a dozen people who can confirm that.

I typed: TRZEWICZEK

The system reacted: I don’t know anything about that.

Strange. But that was a clue. The guy was not a boardgamer.

***


Dig Deeper¬†expansion is a single case that takes players to Boston. Not only it is a new amazing story to discover, not only a new case to crack, but you must understand – this is a new expansion designed by the industry veteran. And with the small tweaks in the system like the Interview feature, you can appreciate and understand what industry icon means. It’s not a blurb on the book. It’s a sign that you will play good old Detective and yet, you will experience something absolutely unique.

I am happy for you. You are gonna love it.