Imperial Settlers Board Game Review

If you have been following me posting contents here on this website, you must have noticed that once in a while, I have published several different contents than my regular posts. So, this would be another one.

Getting tired for constantly looking at the screen of my laptop, I was hoping to find another activity or interest that doesn’t can help me take a break. Then, I recently met one of my friends and he introduced me to the world of board game and recommended to try one of his suggestions.

If you are looking for a board game with engine building type of game, played with cards, then you might want to try Imperial Settlers. The game was initially launched for the first time in 2014, and they are about to celebrate their fifth anniversary with more expansions.

So, what is Imperial Settlers? How do we play this board game? How many players required to play Imperial Settlers?

Those are probably just a few questions that came to mind when we heard about Imperial Settlers. Well, in this article, I would share with you what I can find about Imperial Settlers board game from the internet.

Hope this could help. Is Imperial Settlers still the one of the best solo board game as it used to?

Click or tab on any sections from the table of contents to jump right to that part. Use the red arrow button on the bottom right corner of the screen to head back to the top


Board Game Name: Imperial Settlers
Board Game Type: Strategy, Card Game, Engine Building
Designer: Ignacy Trzewiczek
Publisher: Portal Games
Number of Players: 1-4 players
Playing Time: 45-90 Minutes
Age Range: 10+
Official Website: Imperial Settlers (

Contents (Base Game):
1 Score Board
4 Faction Markers
1 Round Markers
4 Faction Boards
220 Cards
32 Wood Tokens
18 Raze Tokens
32 Food Tokens
40 Worker Tokens
32 Stone Tokens
10 Defense Tokens
24 Gold Tokens
6 Multiplier Tokens
1 First Player Marker
4 Egyptian Special Tokens
1 Rule Book

Expansion Pack and Accessories:
Atlanteans Faction $29
Amazon Faction $29
Aztec Faction $29
Why can’t we be Friends $16
3 is the Magic Number $16
We didn’t Start The Fire $16
Playmat $25
Marketplace $8
Panoramic Sets $6
Villages Across The World $6
Wooden Sword and Shields $5
Expedition Tiles $7
Ruin Cards $4
Imperial Settlers Big Box (recently announced)

Release Date: 2014
Initial Price: $50

About Imperial Settlers and Designer

Imperial Settlers is a board game with city and civilization building as its theme, using cards randomly to determine the action. An engine building type of game, where players will need to build resources first to expand their empire, competing to score most point to win the game.

Players will represent different Factions with its own unique traits. At some point, players can’t just focus on building their empire but they also need to take turns attacking other player and protecting themselves. So, interaction will be one thing that make this game interesting.

Imperial Settlers was designed by Ignacy Trzewiczek, published by Portal Games. Neuroshima Hex!, 51st State, Robinson Crusoe were other board games that he designed before Imperial Settlers.

Some people might say that Imperial Settlers is like the 51st State but not as complicated. He use the username trzewik on, making announcement for improvement, new release, and answering some confusing rules about the game, and anything related to Imperial Settlers game.

The game was sold out within 26 minutes the first time it was introduced on Gen Con in 2014. Imperials Settlers were nominated for 2014 Golden Geek for six categories and become the winner for the Best Solo Board Game.

At this time, it has been five years since the initial launched of Imperial Settlers. Recently, to celebrate the five years anniversary, the developer announced that they are going to release Imperial Settlers Big Box.

Just few additional expansion cards and alternate Faction Boards alongside a huge box to organize every components from the base game and every expansion packs.

The developers said that they are going to keep adding more expansion pack alongside other game line that share the same universe with Imperial Settlers. So far, they have Imperial Settlers: Roll and Writes, and Imperial Settlers: Empire of the Norths. Similar mechanics, artwork and theme but they can be considered as different game.

Game Mechanism

The goal for the basic game of Imperial Settlers is to build the empire. Building theempire here means building a location from the cards that can produce resources that could lead to other things.

The basic game is intended to be a multiplayer game, starting with two players up to four. Each game consist of standard 5 rounds and each round will have 4 same phases.

The play time would be around 45 minutes to an hour or more. This depends on how many players and how they play and the interaction between them.

Each player will take turn to perform one of available actions based on resources they have for each round. Having enough resources will lead to repeated actions for the same round.

After all the player run out of resources or decide to pass their turn, then the round concludes. Each action can give players some points and the one who score most points after the end of final round, wins.

Here is how the game play mechanism of Imperial Settlers

Choosing a Faction

To start, each player can choose from available factions. The base game will have 4 factions, Romans, Barbarians, Japanese, and Egyptians.

At this time, there are three more factions that we can buy separately as expansion. Probably more to come.

Each factions will have different abilities or characteristic that players need to understand to win the game. Players will choose from different deck of cards, specifically just for the faction.

Each faction also has some disadvantage. By understanding other factions, players can also take advantage to mess with opponent’s empire building strategy.

Every factions, at least for the base game, are considered as balance. Any faction always has the chance to beat the others.

But, that is assuming every player has the same level of playing. Even the game suggests choosing Romans or Barbarians to start and the Japanese considered as the hardest to play. Egyptian on the other hand has special token, which means additional rules and the same goes for Japanese faction.

This is also why some people consider that the best game play is for two. One player choose and the rest must use the remaining. For any starters, having to play Japanese would be an off putting.

This would be different if somehow we can have two sets of base game and just use 2 Romans and 2 Barbarians. If the game is good enough, then this is a good way to have some communities.

After each player is done choosing, we can start playing.

Set Up, Boards, Decks

To start with, place the SCOREBOARD, provided in the box, and place it where any player can see. The scoreboard is like the snake and ladders game but the dice is how players get the points.

Each player will have their own faction marker, each with its own color. Everytime the player get the point, we move the marker to then next box. If the player somehow reach the highest point, which is 50 points, we can flip the marker and it will show “+50” sign and we can move it back to the starting point.

The score board also shows which round the players are in from the basic five rounds. We can move the ROUND MARKER before starting the next round.

Next one is COMMON CARDS which can be used for every players. The common cards are the one without any faction logo at the back but instead with a house logo and the blue background color.

Shuffle and stack the cards, separately from the faction cards and place it facing down, where every player can reach. There are 84 common cards from the base game.

Then, there are FACTION CARDS, that can be used only for the faction. Thirty cards each with faction colors at the back. Shuffle and stack it face down and place it where the faction player can reach.

Each player will have their own FACTION BOARDS, a vertical board in the size of three cards. Player can place their faction board in front of them.

The faction boards has two sides, just male or female character at the bottom right corner, nothing else is different. Each Faction boards consist of 3 parts, PRODUCTION, FEATURE and ACTION.

The explanation in each part is different between one faction to another. That would be the characteristic for the faction.

To start the game we can select first player randomly and that player will be given the FIRST PLAYER MARKER. On the second round, the next player on clockwise, will hold the marker and goes on.

Now, we can begin the game and the first round.

Card Drafting / Look Out Phase

This is the first phase for each round. Every player will get three cards, one from their own faction cards deck, and two more from the common cards deck.

Player can go straight get their faction cards right away. Each player should keep their cards in hand a secret to other player.

For the common cards, first, draw from the common cards deck with the number of cards equal to total of players plus 1. For example, for 2 players draw 3, 3 players draw 4.

Then from those cards, the player with the first player marker choose one, followed by the next player in clockwise. This is the first interaction between players.

Players might not remember what the other might choose before but sometimes this can change the game later. It is possible that any player can choose not because it is beneficial for that player but just to annoy other players.

If the card is considered as very special, then the player can choose to get it right away even though they would not have the resources ready to build it.

This is also the first random or luck aspect for the game. There is a chance that the last player to pick the card get a very bad card. But, this is just the first part of the first round.

The last remaining card will be discarded to the common discard pool.Then players need to redo the process with the common cards to get their second common card. Draw with the same number as before but the first one to choose for this time is the last person before.

So, this is a way to even the odds. Although there is still a luck factor here.

Getting three additional cards ends the first phase.

Getting Resources / Production phase

Resources and goods are essentials to take any action on the next phase. For the first round only, players will get them only from their FACTION BOARDS.

What each player can get is written on the PRODUCTION part of the faction boards. So, this can be different between one faction to another.

What the game called as resources are STONE (grey) and WOOD (brown), both essential to build a location, and FOOD (red), essential to make a deal. Other things are GOLD (yellow) token, which we can trade into the resources, not the other way around.

Players can also get WORKERS, which players can use to activate some action or trade into resources. There is also RAZE (sword shape) token, which can be used to raze opponents location or from the card in their hand.

The last piece players can get is DEFENSE (shield shape) token. Players can use it to protect their location from being razed. Any location protected by the token requires 1 extra raze token.

All of these resources and goods will be taken from the general supply. After being used or at the end of every round will be retuned to the general supply as well. Make sure these supplies are placed within every players reach.

Every resources that the player has must be placed visible to other players. This way, other players can plan ahead and be prepared of what is coming.

On the next round, after players have built their cards or location, they could have more production source, not just the faction boards. Read more about MAKING DEALS and PRODUCTION LOCATION on the later sections.

After players collect their goods and resources, they can proceed for the main part of each round. TAKING ACTIONS.

Taking Actions

There are several actions that a player can do in Imperial Settlers. They can build a location, make a deal, raze, activate any action location, or spend 2 workers in exchange for 1 resources or 1 card from either Common deck or Faction deck.

Each player can take as many number of actions as they want, as long as they have the resources and do it one per turn. Starting with the player who has the first player marker going clockwise.

If the player can no longer perform any action or refuse to do so, they can declare to pass. But, they can no longer do anything until the end of round.

They have to wait while the other players can continue to perform any actions until the others decide to pass as well. The good thing is the passed player can’t be targeted by other player like getting their building razed.

One of the consideration is to build an engine that could generate more resources as soon as possible which is necessary for taking actions further. There is no point on having too many resources at the end of the game.

Once every players has passed, the game moves to the cleanup phase for that round.

Building a Location / Play a Card

In Imperial Settlers, building a location means, placing the card we have, not from the deck, near our empire or the FACTION BOARD. Each card will have it’s own category out of three following the categories in faction boards, PRODUCTION, FEATURE and ACTION category.

Cards or location from the common deck will be placed on the right side of the faction boards. The left side of the faction boards is for cards from faction deck.

Cards or locations from the Production category usually will generate more resources. Players will get the benefit from production location right after building it. If any player decide to build production location, they will place that card on the top row of their empire, next to the faction boards.

Cards from the FEATURE category goes to the second row. This category can also produce some resources but only after they are being activated.

The last category, ACTION LOCATION, goes to the lowest row of the empire. We also need to activate this by placing workers on it. But, we can only do it on different turn, after we build it.

Each player is allowed to start building from anything, as long as they have the cards and the resources to pay. We can see from each card, the cost to build that card is at the top left corner of the card.

Pay and the resources will go to the general supply. In general idea is to build the faction location as other player can’t raze or destroy that unlike the common location which will determine the victory points at the end.

But, most faction location require another resources to build, a foundation, indicated by a house logo.  In order to get foundation, players must sacrifice one of their built location within their empire.

This can be either faction or common location. The trick would be to build common location and let other player raze it. The razed location will not be discarded right away but we can still use it as foundation to build Faction location.

In order to fasten the building process, we might want to focus on building production location first, then towards the end, other types of location.

Several Locations can also have a Building Bonus which is only an additional one-time ability with no influence on the Location placement.

Making a Deal

Every Faction card has a deal that can become permanent producer for specific resources as indicated by the icon at the lower part of the faction card. After we make a deal, we will get an additional resources right away and the next production phase for the later rounds.

In order to do that, we need to trade 1 food token with one of faction cards in our hands. Then, we will get the resource right away and we need to slip the traded card under the faction boards at the top, leaving only the deal marker.

We can have as many deals as we want. But, the catch is, we still need those cards to build the location, to have more points at the end.

On the other hand, this is also a way to even the odds. If somehow we are not very lucky with the card we get, making a deal is a way to do it.

Don’t forget that we also has a chance to get another card after taking an action. We might want to wait for that, maybe the next card is worse.

Only Japanese Faction can keep the food tokens while every faction can keep the cards to the next round. Another thing to consider.

So, if we really want to use the deal, make sure we trade the right card or we could end up using valuable faction cards. Assuming we have the right card, do it on earlier rounds but at the latter turns before cleanup.

Razer and Defense, Players Interaction

With this action, player can raze a common card in his hand or opponents common location in order to get some goods or resources, or, victory points. To do that, player needs to have RAZER tokens.

What we can get from razing a card or location is indicated at the top right corner of the common card. Except for Japanese Faction cards, as one of their unique characteristic, the player can raze their faction card as well and other players can raze Japanese Faction location.

While other faction can stay safe building their faction location, Japanese Faction players might need more defense tokens or deploy their worker as Samurai to guard them. The worst part is that the razed Japanese faction location will not become any foundation.

This is why using Japanese Faction will have its own challenge and not recommended for new players.

To raze player’s own common card, they just need 1 Razer token. If we want to raze opponents location, we need 2 Razer tokens.

Players can also use the Defense Token to protect their location by placing the token on the card they want to protect. This will add 1 extra razer token required to raze the said Location. So the two standard razer token needed becomes three with the defense token.

Placing a Defense token can be done in any player’s turn, not counted as a single turn. This way, the said player can perform other action with the same turn.

Players will have to flip the razed common location facing down. If then the players build a faction location that requires a foundation, the foundation card will be discarded to the general pool.

Players who get their location razed will get a WOOD token as consolation prize from the general supply. So, getting razed might not be that bad but we need to set some strategy.

I think the main purpose for razing opponent’s location is to lower the victory points. Each Common Location is worth 1 VP and Faction Location is worth 2 VP each which is another disadvantage for playing Japanese Faction.

Another problem with razing, specifically for razing opponents Location, as we grow the empire, it will become harder to see what other player might have in their empire. While it is not necessary to do so, more like become meaningless.

On the other hand, the Romans has the characteristic to hoard the razer tokens.

Considering that players take turn in clockwise order starting from the one with First Player Marker, there is a chance that the last player for that round has a chance to get their Location razed by three players before. It is very unlikely to happen, at least, for earlier rounds.

Still, this change everything for the last round. If the last player has the potential to become the winner, then it is very reasonable that every other players will want to raze that one together.

Activate an Action Location

Building a Location is just to put the cards in the empire. Some cards will grant players the goods or benefit immediately but other cards like Action Location might require additional turn to activate.

Action Location, the lowest row of the empire can grant players some resources or victory points. To do that, players need to exchange some workers and/or other resources.

The action row from the Faction Board, not the card from common or faction, can work as another Action Location as well. Without building any Location, players already have something to activate.

Assuming the player has the resources to activate the action, they need to place the resources on the said Location or cards or boards within the empire, not to the general supply. This is to remind players that the location has been activated and the player can no longer do it again until the next round.

Each card or Location has two parts, upper parts with the image and the lower part, the description. To activate these Action Location players need to place the resources on the lower part while the top part is to place defense token or faction special token.

It is possible that some Action Locations might be activated multiple times within the same round. The player then has a choice to either activate separately in two different turns or at once by paying double.

If the reward for activation is victory points, players will use the marker on scoreboard. Move the marker to indicate getting the score.

The later rounds, after each players has built large enough empire, having several Action Locations, they have the chance to create a chain of reaction to get more resources and activate another location on their next turn.

Players can activate the Action Location in any order, regardless of the order of how they build them. We can move the location to make the activation planning easier but it’s like telling other players to raze and cut the chain.

This is also why on earlier rounds, the games might feels like a fast game while on later rounds, it will take longer time to play. The downside for this engine building mechanism is if other players failed to do so on earlier rounds, they might not have any chance to win at all and it seems there is no exit plan to forfeit the game.

Trade Workers for Resources or Cards

The last action that player can take is to trade their workers for resources or cards. They need 2 workers for 1 Wood, Stone or Food or cards from either decks.

Players can also do multiple trades in one turn for the same resources or all different resources. Like 8 workers to get 4 cards or one of each resources.

On one hand, players can do it all trades in one turn to make it efficient. But, on the other hand, they could also build up the tense between players by getting little by little.

Another consideration is we might need to have a plan B if somehow other players manage to screw us our plan. If we already trade all the workers, we might not be able to do it on the next turn, after we get screwed.

So, the options to trade workers is another interaction aspect for the game.

Remember that workers are also essential for activating Action Location. So, trading for resources is more for earlier rounds, another way to even the odds for getting bad cards.

Barbarian is a faction that can hoard Workers. This action might be essential for that faction players.

Pass and Cleanup Phase

As mentioned before, every turn on every round, a player can decide to take action or pass their turn. By taking any action, a player will have a chance to take another one next turn for the same round.

If they pass their turn, the player will have to wait until other players pass as well and move to the Cleanup phase. Players are not allowed to pass and get back again before the next round.

On CLEANUP PHASE, the player will return any resources used on Location or in their hand back to the general supply. Unless, the faction board stated otherwise on FEATURE part of the board.

Each faction has different goods that they can keep and use again on the next round, while for the other goods a player will have to start over based on their production location. This is the reason why players might need to use certain resources or goods instead of just wasting them.

Again, this is a strategy game. Players can keep their cards from previous rounds so consider that and the resources a faction can keep to plan for the next and later round.

With each faction unique FEATURE or storage characteristic, it is possible that one player might hoard more tokens for one goods than the game provide.

If something like that happen, they need to use the MULTIPLIER TOKEN or marker and return the rest. Place the multiplier token below the goods to indicate that the goods is worth 5 items.

After players are done returning and keeping their goods, the next thing to do is move the FIRST PLAYER MARKER to the next player in clockwise order. From the scoreboard, move the ROUND MARKER to the next round.

Then, players can start the next round repeating the LOOKOUT PHASE again.

Final Round, Score, Wins and Ties

For the final round or fifth round for basic game, players will skip the CLEANUP PHASE because the remaining goods and resources in their hand will be a deciding factor in case of a tie. Players will now calculate their earnings for VICTORY POINTS using the scoreboard.

Each player can get victory points permanently from some LOCATION. They can get from either building the location or they can activate some ACTION LOCATIONS. As they get the points, they move their faction marker on the scoreboard.

At the end of the game, there are additional victory points that players can get based on the existing Location they have built and still standing. Every Common Location is worth 1 VP and for each Faction Location is worth 2 VPs.

This is the more reason why player should focus on building Faction location instead of Common Location. Even for Japanese the faction locations are still worth more.

Another additional points come from certain Faction Feature. For example, the Japanese Shrine and Gate which will give extra Victory Points as stated on the cards.

Well, at least those playing the Japanese will have something at the end. But it is still a risk, considering even their Faction Location can be razed.

Also, as mentioned before, if a player has reached 50 points, they can flip their Faction marker for the scoreboard to use the “50+” sign and start again from zero.

In the event of a tie, the player with more WORKERS and RESOURCES in their hand wins. If they are still tied, the one with more cards in their hand is the winner. The players will share the victory if they are still tied.

Obviously, it is not a good idea to rely on this tie breaking mechanism to win. How they build their empire will be the main determining factor.

That’s it for the game mechanism for the basic game. The designer has more ways to play the game with some little modification to the rule, add more features and components using several expansion packs.

Gameplay Variants

Aside from standard rules to play normal game mode, the developer also suggests alternate variants that we can see from the rulebook. One of them is called PEACEFUL VARIANT, for those who don’t like negative interaction.

To play this variant, players are not allowed to use the Razer token to raze opponent’s Location, only use it to raze card in their hand. Razing action from activating Action Location is still allowed.

Another additional rule for this variant would be to get 1 Common Card from Lookout phase for every round each player. With this variant, players can focus more on their empire, less bullying, or targeting just one player.

The rulebook also suggests two more variants, both of them just modified version for the Lookout Phase. If we look at the forum, some people might even set their own additional rule. Like, excluding Japanese Faction when randomly choosing for 2 player game.

The expansion packs and additional factions can introduce new feature that we can use to play with the base game. If they are features from common, we can exchange some cards, play it without even using the new faction.

Solo Game Mode

Imperial Settlers can be played with just single player, playing against virtual player that the player also plays following the rule and another set of cards. There are two goals here, first is to create more Faction Locations, not Common, more than the virtual players has in their Collection. Not counting the VP but the number of built Locations.

There is also a second goal that can be counted separately or altogether. The second goal is to count the score like in multiplayer mode and try to beat our own previous score or achievement.

In general we would play like the normal multiplayer mode with just some slight modification to the lookout phase. Then we play the other three phase by ourselves and before we move to the next round we would have to play the Virtual Player Phase.

We play 5 rounds each with 5 phases in solo mode. The base game includes the ATTACK CARDS specifically just for this game mode.

If the goal is the score achievement, we can use the scoreboard to track the victory points we get while playing. Otherwise, the scoring is by counting the Location we have built compared to the opponent’s Collection.


First, we can choose the faction we want to use. As we know that each Faction will have their own characteristic, abilities, traits, so with the base game alone we can play 4 different Solo Game Modes. With the expansion packs that introduce new factions, even more game play we can experience.

Second, we get to the Lookout Phase or card drafting phase. This is slightly different from the normal mode.

We pick one card from the Faction deck, just like the normal mode. Then we draw 4 cards from the common decks and reveal the cards.

Choose one of them to become our first common card for that round. Shuffle the rest to pick another card for the Virtual Player.

Reveal the remaining two cards and we choose one more for our hand and the last one for Virtual Player. We immediately place the opponent’s common card as they are Common Locations built in their area.

Just like the normal game but without the Faction board. We put them in three row, PRODUCTION, FEATURE and ACTION LOCATIONS just like how we play normal mode.

These Location are intended as target for Razing by the players or for other Faction Action the player might activate.

Defense token and Samurai are basically useless to protect the Location against Virtual Players. But the Samurai is worth VP with Daimyo’s Castle Cards and Defense Token is still required to raze a location.

Next, we can move to the next phases. We play PRODUCTION, ACTION and CLEANUP PHASE like normal mode but only 1 player. There is no need for Virtual Player to get and collect resources.

Not even after we raze their cards, they don’t get the WOOD token as consolation prize either. Or, the foundation as they don’t build anything. The razed card just go straight to common discard pile.

What they do will happen only in the Virtual Player phase or 5th phase every round and mostly just razing player’s Location based on their ATTACK Cards. And the virtual player doesn’t even get the resources for razing.

Virtual Player Phase

From the ATTACK CARD deck facing down, we reveal the first card, two cards for the first round. We need to put those cards on top of each other only revealing the target field like we do for making a deal action cards.

Every Attack Cards only has two components, the image and the target field at the top end of the card, similar to Deal Field on Faction cards but placed at the top.

This Target Field will display one of the goods or resources that will determine which Common Location will be razed. If the player has a built location with the same goods or resources on the raze field as indicated by the combination of two attack cards, then it will be razed.

The Virtual Player will draw again another Attack Card, creating new combination of target field, and attack another player’s Location. Two attacks every round.

The combination always using the latest revealed Attack Card first. If there is no Location that match with combination of the first and second Attack Card, then find the Location with that match with the first and third card Attack Card.

If there are a few Locations that match the target, choose Action Location first, then Feature Location and Production. Each virtual player attack will raze just one Location.

If there are still more than 1 Location that match, choose first the one with highest building cost and if there are still more, choose those with more Stones. Stone is considered as more valuable than Wood.

If there are still Locations of the same value, then it’s your choice which card will be razed. Additional rule for playing as Japanese Faction, if the combination of target are both Victory Points, then the Faction Location will be razed.

If there are more than one possible Faction Location to be razed, the virtual player will first raze the Locations providing a card in the Deal field or, in descending order: Raze token, Gold, VP, Stone, Worker, Food, Wood. Use the same order of  Location type as described for Common Location if there are still more than one target.

Do this for 5 rounds and the game ends.

Game ends, Scoring, Achievement

Player win if they have more built Location than Virtual Player’s Collection Pile. Alternatively or altogether, player can also determine their achievement by how many point they get using the scoreboard to track like the normal game mode.

The rule book also suggests some achievement based on how many points players can get.

<30 points: Commoner
30+ points: Servant
40+ points: Squire
50+ points: Knight
60+ points: Castellan
70+ points: King
80+ points: Emperor

Since there are several Factions each with its own characteristic, player can have different experience for playing Solo game, not to mention with the additional and upcoming expansion. Other than this Solo game mode, the developer also introduced another CAMPAIGN mode.

This is like a survival mode where we can play the game and the result can determine or affect the next gameplay. Replaying to keep expanding the empire. The instruction can be downloaded from Portal Games.

The developer also encourage communities and fans to submit suggestion to keep expanding the game, especially this campaign mode.

Campaign Mode (Instruction) (Table)

In Campaign Mode, we play the Solo game, create more Faction Locations than Virtual Player’s Collection Pile to win. Then, the Victory Points we get from that game can be used to purchase a PROVINCE. which will give players permanent additional production of resources on the next campaign mode game. So, we keep replaying the game to expand the empire and have more Province.

There are several problems though, these Province has some kind of maintenance fee which player will have to pay at the end of every game. The more Province we have for game after game, the higher fee we have to pay.

We pay the fee with resources. Failing to do so will lead to penalty. Back to the original rule for solo game, we lose the game if we can’t build more Faction Location than the Virtual Player. So, these Province could become a burden.

Not only that, every time we start a new game, there is going to be an event to these Province. Some could be a discovery event which has the potential to add more Production but again, with another cost, or it could be some kind of disaster event or war, that we need to pay with resources just to protect it.

Failing to pay, some event could be carried on to the next gameplay which makes the later game even harder. There are several possible events that could happen and province that we can have which are determined by a roll of a dice.

So, to play this game mode, we need at least 1 d10 dice. We could also buy some ACHIEVEMENT at the end of every game using the remaining Victory Points as well.

ACHIEVEMENT will add another Production feature for every game but without any maintenance fee like Province. We need to substract the VP we get for paying the Province first, and only after then we can choose which ACHIEVEMENT to purchase.

The developer on Portal Game website has provided a digital rule book and tables for possible event and achievements for this campaign mode. The rule book also includes some tracking form that we can print and write the result from the game like what Province we have for the next game, since they will be carried on.

The record is more like a save point. If we lose the next game or have a very bad result, we can just go back to that point and replay the game.

A different rule would be the number of rounds each game. We only play 4 rounds each game for this mode, although we are free to make some modification.

The rules only stated that we can only use the same faction as BORDER FACTION throughout the campaign. The purpose for border faction is only to give a DEAL when activating an action from the played Faction.

Comment and Suggestion

Some review might say that the base game solo mode is not very interesting and yet that is what makes them win the award. Perhaps the option to choose a faction and having different experience what makes them beat the other game.

At least, if we buy this game and somehow we have no one else to play with, we can still play solo. Try different factions and even more factions from the expansion packs.

With the campaign mode, the solo game becomes a lot more interesting. It gives some reason for player to collect Victory Points more so they can purchase something for the next game instead of just beating Virtual Player.

Make sure we have tried the solo mode from the base game before moving on to the campaign mode.

The problem with any solitaire game is sometimes it’s hard to follow the rules since there is no one else to remind us. It could be about forgetting to pay some resources in the middle of the game.

For some people like me, this could ruin the entire game. If we have at least a partner, we could at least find another agreed solution.

This would be different if we play a digital game as the AI won’t allow to pass that. The Solo base game might not be too complicated but not very entertaining.

On the other hand, the campaign mode makes the game very interesting but very complicated. These complication might lead player to skip some rules, action or steps without even realizing it.

Some alternative would be to play the Solo mode, even the campaign but still with a partner. Play two Solo games side by side, like having two missions.

It may sounds weird since it will diminish the point for playing alone but it is still possible. I mean even in multiplayer game mode, maybe it would be better to have some kind of a dealer or referee of the game.

We actually need to have two dice for the campaign mode, 1 d10 and 1 d20. But we can use just one d10 and roll twice for the d20 part.

The game doesn’t need or even release some cards for the event or achievement officially. Not sure if they would change their mind but some people on create and we can use it. Print out if we want, so we don’t have to use dice, just randomly draft the card.

No need to check iPad or tablet or phones to check the table if we choose not to print them out.


This section is about every components that we get from the base game. They are all included within the box. The size of the box is 11.5 x 11.5 x 2.7 inches (or around 30 x 30 x 7 cm) and the weight is around 2.7 pounds (over 1 kg).

I think some people on modify box, add some inserter to help them keep components or sort every cards. But it seems they need to cut the base, the one with secret ninja and the box will have enough rooms for cards from expansion packs.

For non DIY people, but willing to collect every expansion packs, consider buying the Big Box edition. It is an official organizer from Portal Games for Imperial Settlers.


Use this link below to get the digital copy of rulebook from Portal Game.

The book is considered easy to read and understand with some examples of what can happen in the game. There is also summary on the back or the last page. At the front, there is a link and QR code that will lead to instructions from Portal Games video on YouTube channel.

I think the size is too big, almost as big as the box itself. There is no complete data about every card, only several clarifications about certain special cards that could lead to misinterpretation.

The developers or official already acknowledged and made further clarification about some mistakes about the explanation in the rulebook since 2014. The printout book that came with the game, probably still contains the old version and the official suggest to get digital copy from Portal Game for revised edition.

For example, the Rabble cards from Barbarian stated on the old version about “Razing” but doesn’t count as Razing Action. This could lead to some confusion and misinterpretation.

I think the game has been published in multiple languages. From the forum, they had found some translation mistakes in some parts. From what I can tell, the developers, especially the one responsible for translation, was very active within the community.

Resources and Goods

The resources of goods components play significant purpose for the game. Each components are shaped and has distinguish color so it is very easy to tell the difference from one and another, not just a block with a color.

We have Stone with grey colour, Workers with pink and shape like person icon, Wood with dark brown, and Food in the shape like apple but some people think more like tomato with red color. All of these components are made from layered plywood.

From the, there is one person who complained about the components have a bad quality. We can see the layer from the plywood and the end and corner is very rough.

He said that he contacted Portal Games and they promised him to send replacements. Not really sure if he got it already. Another owner said that some components even has a hole, not intentional.

There are a few other components like Gold token, Razer token and Defense token which are produced in different way than previous components. These 3 are made of cardboard, just one layer while the previously mentioned components can even stand.

If we ask why they are using two different materials, I think it is more about lowering production cost, not really sure though. But the good thing is the chosen material is more appropriate for the theme. So, they are not just choosing randomly but the right components has the right materials.

The gold token has round shape like coin, razer token with the shape of a sword and the defense token with shield shape.  Even if they make them with the same materials, it would be weird to see them stand.

On the other hand, they are not just using a color to represent the icon for these thin components. For example, razer token with a sword shape and drawing with blade and handle part instead of just grey like the stone.

Since all of these components will be used in general, not specific to faction, so the drawing also represent something general as well. Making this game easier to understand, instead of having too many icons.

There are other token specific to faction like Egyptian token and later for newly added factions. These tokens use the same design as other two dimension components but with more general shape.

All of these components are rather small in size. Which might be the reason that the game is intended for over 10 years old kid.

For Razer and Defense token, I think Portal Game sell a set with better production quality and design that we can purchase separately.

Tokens, Markers and Faction Boards

The Faction Boards are also made of cardboards. It is possible that the faction boards already get punched out from the sheet. They are probably too big and heavy for the sheet to remain intact.

Other token from the base game is the Egyptian tokens which is also made of cardboard. It has elliptical shape, with Egyptians pictures on each token.

There are 4 Egyptians tokens included with the base game. The last token is the MULTIPLIER TOKEN, there are 6 of them.

The game also uses several markers to play the game, also made of cardboards that we just need to punch out of the sheets, no need for cutting. The available markers are for FIRST PLAYER MARKER, FACTION MARKER, and ROUND MARKER.

The base game includes five empty zip lock plastic bags and one more that already contains the thick or plywood tokens. We can use the empty ones to keep the cardboard tokens, one for each, gold, defense and razer, then another for markers, multiplier and egyptian tokens combined as they are only several items each.

So, we can have 1 more empty to divide the plywood tokens into two bags. This could be different from one publisher to another.

Some people might consider replacing the bags with plastic boxes as it can protects the components better within the game box. Consider using something like the boxes for medication pills or the one for carpentry parts.

The only board that comes not in punch out sheets is the scoreboard. It’s like half the size of the box. As mentioned before, it is like the snake and ladders mechanism but the dice is the victory points that players get from the game.


The card for Imperial Settlers is just regular size cards. But since we can use them in multiple ways for the game, they have a lot of information on each card.

Some people even consider that the information, especially the fonts are too small and they are very hard to see. Not to mention, from across the table, if any player wants to raze their opponent Location.

The font size is not smaller than other card games but consider how important and how often we have to see and read those description, crowded with too many other information, some people could find it rather too small.

There are about 220 cards which is very hard to tell the differences from one to another, aside from their position in the empire, between faction or common and between production, feature or action location.

First, there are PICTURES at the upper half of the card. Aside from the building as the focus image at the center of the space, we can see the path to indicate the type of cards.

The image on Production Location card only has three ways, to the left, right, and below, as oppose with the Action location which only has a way up and sides. Every feature location has drawing of 4 paths connecting to both Production Location and Action location.

These already limited space for image are then being reduced with two more fields. Building Cost field at the top left corner and Raze Field at the top right corner.

The building cost field uses green background color which is almost similar to the green field depicting grass for several faction. This might not be a problem for Egyptians since most of their background image are using desert as the settings.

While the raze field uses red background. I think they should have use at least use thicker line to separate between the image and the field, making them more contrast.

Next, for the lower part of the cards there are three more parts. Building color at the left side, which is very easy to see from afar.

Then the description box, showing the name, Victory Points, type of Location and abilities like bonus building, how to activate, etc. Some cards need more information than the others which on one card the description field can be full while the others might be very empty.

Eventually the space are not enough for more complicated cards. This leads to clarification that players have to read from the rule book.

The last part from the card is DEAL FIELD at the lower end of the card for faction cards. It uses blue color as the background which is already contrast to the description field which use the same and bright color, white or rather ivory for all cards.

The back of the card shows the same picture for every card, just a building and foundation logo or for faction cards, the faction logo. I guess that there are no more info that can be displayed further on the back of the card since the game requires some random aspect from card drafting.

Some people suggest using plastic card sleeve to protect each card. This might be important if we play the game often, with many different people and for a long term. Like if we open a board game café and lend the game to customers so we don’t have to worry about serving oily foods and drinks for them.

The card size is  6.2 cm x 8.5 cm. So, if we want to use sleeve we need to use the one with the size 6.35 cm x 8.8 cm (2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″).

From the base game, the cards are wrapped in a plastic sheet into several decks. We might want to use another boxes for these cards, probably one for each faction cards and we can keep common and attack cards in the same deck. Try to avoid using rubber bands because they can ruin the cards.

Another problem, at least, for me is that the cards are also another rule added by building a Location. When I play solo, it is very easy to even forget about some rules that has been added but without immediate affect.

For example, the rule about getting points or resource after building certain location based on color. At one time, I build a Location not with the said color but the next time I do build one I forget about that rule. Not to mention, with a lot of cards within the empire, it is very easy to even notice.

This might not be a problem if we actually take time to check one by one. But the gameplay itself already take too much time, especially for later rounds.

The player is the only one who can really check or remind themselves about their own empire.

Another problem regarding this added rules by cards, sometimes we can get confused with the words “with”, “and”, “or”. Like use this or/and that resources, to get this or/and that resources.

This will be minimized for serious players only but not for casual ones.

To recognize any card easier, those colors are actually related to the resources of the game. But this only works for the common cards as the faction cards will mean something else.

Red for Food, Black for Raze token, Yellow for Gold, Brown for Wood, Grey for Stone, Blue for Cards, and Purple for VP.

Some common cards also has no color, empty or green as feature cards. For Production cards, those colors will mean producing that related resources but for action cards, they can mean the resources required or the result to get.

That is just some general idea. There will be exceptions.

The raze field will have at least one resource related to the color except for Black. Black cards will give VP instead of getting raze token. This way, it will be easier to target opponent’s common location to raze.


These are just photos of the unboxing process for Imperial Settlers. I bought this online from the local marketplace. The store already included an extra bubble wrap for shipment.

When we want to play the game we can lift the top cover and put it under the box. As we can see from the top of the content is the RULEBOOK, almost as big as the box.

The next part has two pieces of cardboards which we can punch out the components there. As mentioned before, the components are Faction boards, Gold tokens, Raze Tokens, Shield Tokens, Multiplier tokens, Egyptian Special Token, and some markers for First player marker, Faction Marker.

It seems that the faction boards is too heavy to remain intact with the whole cardboard. The same thing happened on other review or unboxing video as well.

Then we get four sets of cards, wrapped separately, a big platic bag of all of the other components like Workers, Stones, Food, and Woods. They also include some empty plastic bags with zip lock.

The last part is the score board at the bottom. As we can see, we can take out the green base of the box. Some people suggest removing this part to make room for the future additional expansions.

Maybe not the first expansion, I mean after a couple of that. The base has two higher sides and like a valley in the middle. We can put the faction boards after we take it off from the cardboards on the higher sides, two for each.

As mentioned on the Rulebook, for the base game, we will get 16 Attack cards, 30 cards for each faction and 84 common cards. From the next images is from the left to right.

For the components, I think those from the cardboard will have the same number of each for any box but I’m not sure about the others. The amount of each components that I get is different from the rulebook.

I got 33 for Food, Wood and Stone, instead of 32 but I only got 39 for Workers instead of 40. Maybe it is not going to make any different to the gameplay but just want to give a heads up that this could happen.

Tips for Playing Imperial Settlers

As described on previous sections above, the game can be played for solo game, or multiple players from two up to 4 players.

A 2 player game is for shorter game time. Razing the opponents would be less mean because there is no one else. Some would find it harder for playing Japanese Faction in 2 player game mode.

Two player mode is best if played side by side to know what to raze from the other empire.

A 4 player game, the game time can go up to 2 hours game. Maybe even more for playing competitively.  But the best way to play casually because it is hard to even think other player’s engine.

If every single player are playing competitively, the 4 player game could take even 4 hours. Anybody could get stuck in analysis paralysis mode in this game.

A 3 player game is more likely to work together with another to beat the one with the highest score but this could change midways. Another idea would be to play less number of rounds like 4 instead of 5 but, just as house rules.

Unless we have a very big square table, we will more likely to play with long table, two sides with two players each side by side. Maybe about 15 cards long for each player.


As mentioned before that one of the unique characteristic from this game is that player can choose different factions with each has its own gameplay experience. Understanding how each of those factions work will help player to win the game or take advantage to their opponents.

For starters, try to use Romans and Barbarians. If we want our friend to like the game, do not let them play Japanese factions for their first time and probably try to use the peaceful variant.

The Japanese might be the most vulnerable but some players even consider Japanese as the strongest as well in terms of generating VP. But we really need to know how they work.

Even by playing different number of players, some factions can become harder or easier to play.

Romans Faction

Romans, with the red color, are known for storing razer tokens for later rounds. They start every round with almost every resources except Gold and Food.

For Production, Romans has all cards to produce everything except the Food, so we may have to rely on Common Location. Only 3 foods to create 3 locations, but maybe we need 4 for deals.

Four Production locations and 5 Feature Locations can produce Gold. Only 4 locations can produce workers and probably 1 possible deal. BARRACKS requires 1 food to be built and the Trade Colonies are rather expensive. Maybe we should deal with one of the Trade Colony.

We need 8 woods to built every possible Roman’s locations but only 2 production cards. No deal for woods but the Spies can be handy.

About 36 stones required to build every Roman locations and only two production cards available. Don’t deal the Stone Cutters Locations but maybe the Headquarters for the stone.

ROMANS BANK can only produce 1 Gold while we can have TRADE COLONY to produce 1 Worker and 1 Gold. Maybe make a deal with the bank location?

Obviously we will rely on Gold to trade mostly for woods and stone. If we are lucky enough, we should use the raze tokens more for workers or stones. Of course, that will really depend on the situation, just more likely to those resources.

To get sword token maybe we can deal with one of the LEGION (Production) cards. We can actually deal with ENGINEER (Action) card but that will be useful to take down enemy Location and gain points.

If we have enough workers, we can trade 1 worker for 1 sword token by activating GLADIATOR SCHOOL.

WAREHOUSE Feature Card is probably one of their best Location that allows player to store woods, stones and foods. ADMINISTRATION is also the feature card we should prioritize as we can get 1 Gold and 1 VP for each faction location.

Other Roman’s Feature Locations require Color to get either 2 VP or 1 VP and 1 Gold. Romans have 12 Grey Locations, which HEADQUARTERS Location will grant 1 VP and 1 Gold each.

There are 5 Red Locations, which GARDENS Location will grant 2 VP each. While the ROMAN FORTRESS will give 2 VP for each Black Locations which there are only 4 of them.

Of course, we should consider the common location as well.

As for Roman’s Action, we will need at least workers to activate and probably some stones which will grant VP aside from getting raze token. SPIES Location will take over enemy’s deal which will be useful for earlier rounds and a threat for Japanese.

ENGINEERS Location is a must have as it will be a threat for every opponents by getting rid of their Location in the last round. Both of those Location require Workers.

If we want to make a deal by sacrificing location with more copies, Romans can have workers from 2 Locations, stones from 4 locations, raze from Location, Gold from 1, cards from 1.

Barbarians Faction

Barbarians, with the green color, tend to store workers which can help activate a lot of action location. They can also get victory points by razing opponents building. Stealing resources from other player is one of their characteristics.

Barbarians also starts with a lot more workers (5) than other factions but without stone or wood to build anything. We will have to trade them first but on later rounds we can store them and unleash on any Action Locations we have built.

Most of their Locations require mainly woods, about 25 to build every single faction locations. But, there are only 3 Production Locations to produce, another 4 from stealing or need workers and possibly 1 deal from RAID card

Another resource to build is stone, which we need about 11 of them to build every faction Locations. There is only 1 production location and not likely 1 deal to produce.

Barbarians tend to rely heavily on workers and razing from their Action Locations. Only 4 production locations to produce workers with 1 possible deal from one of the RABBLE. We could also deal with TEMPLE but maybe not ROBBERS.

Three production locations can produce raze tokens. We could also deal with one of PACK and DARK CHAPEL. With FIGTHING RING we can trade 2 workers for 2 razer tokens.

I have to say maybe we should build every Barbarian’s Production Locations instead of dealing with them.

For Barbarian’s Feature Locations, Fortress should be built in the last round and use it as foundation if we need. That is after we build at least 6 Black Locations.

TEMPLE is also one that we can build and use it as foundation. Both of them has no further purpose, just for the building bonus.

BORDER Location, on the other hand, should be built immediately as it will grant Gold and VP for any Black Location. Barbarians have 14 Black Locations in their faction.

Aside for getting VP, Barbarian’s Action Locations also serve as another production for several resources by trading Workers. Instead of spending 2 workers on Faction Board Action we can spend on SABOTEURS and PACK for cheaper options.

We can rely on PACK usually on earlier rounds since player will tend to use Common Location for foundation. Except if we face against Japanese, we can still use the PACK for their faction location as well.

For getting more cards we should build MISSION immediately. We can trade just 1 worker instead of 2 from the faction board. Somehow I would rather deal with it if we do have the food.

If we have build ROBBERS, we can spend the same amount of 2 workers but get 1 card and additional VP instead. Also, it can help messing opponent’s deal, which should be a warning for Japanese. Not really for the last round, we should build it immediately.

RAID Location should be built before we raze anything in order to get additional VP.

EXPEDITION action location is more for the Gold. Trade them into food and make a deal with them. Instead of razing from our hands or opponent’s location, we can spend the token on this location.

BARTER should be built immediately, at least right after we have other resources that we can’t keep to get extra VP. We can only activate it twice per round.

We have 3 CHAPEL locations, maybe we can deal with one of them to get Gold. They are useful once we don’t have other things to do with workers.

We have the chance to build 2 DARK CHAPEL locations but they are rather expensive. Both locations will offer different deal, one for worker and the other for raze.

As mentioned before, I suggest make a deal to get the raze and build the other. This way, we can get raze and the location benefit. Every raze will give us 2 VP per goods.

RABBLE is an alternative to get resources by razing our built Common location. Instead of trading 2 workers for 1 good from the faction board, we can get 2 goods. But of course we should make sure we need the goods. Maybe to get food, then make a deal with the other RABBLE card.

Egyptians Faction

Egyptians, with black color, can store gold. Players from this faction will not worry about having not enough resources, just buy them with gold. They might not store Razer tokens or get VP from that action but Egyptians can lower the cost to raze opponents.

Egyptians also starts with more workers (3) so at least if we can have one more worker producer, we can trade for goods as well.

They will need a lot of stones (30) to build every faction locations, some foods (5), and several woods (2). Six of the productions can produce stone, but we can only deal for stone with 1 location, the SLAVES.

Only two of the same locations can produce food with no deal. There no production that can produce any wood or to make a deal from. So, for wood we have to rely on common location or with Gold.

We need a lot of workers as Egyptians have a lot of Action locations that needs them to activate. But there is only two of the same location to produce.

I would say we need to build both CARAVAN locations for both food and workers. Even we can spend the food to get Gold and VP by activating GOLDEN BAZAAR.

The problem is to produce the card. The deal can only come from the CARAVAN with the copy or BAST’S ALTAR. The alternative would be spend workers on faction boards or look for common location.

There are several deals we can make from locations for workers but only two with the copy, SPHINX ALLEY and ROYAL SWIMMING POOL.

Egyptians has a lot to produce Gold but from deal. We can deal from one of the copy of PYRAMID, GOLDSMITH, and SANCTUARY.

BAST’S ALTAR maybe should be built immediately as it will give stone for every grey locations within the empire. But the amount of stones per round is limited to just 3, so maybe the alternative would be to deal for cards instead.

PHARAOH’S GUARD can give either 1 raze token OR 2 VP. For final round maybe we should get VP, or if we already have SPHINX.

For their Feature, SPHINX is for getting more VP. Once we have a location to get 2 VP, we can get additional 1 VP. PHARAOH’S GUARD and SLAVER are some that can give us 2 VP. Deal with one of the SPHINX to get Gold to activate SLAVER.

SLAVER is also a location that we should build immediately. But, they are only useful if we have Gold or Stone for every faction location we build.

OASIS is a location to take advantage from opponent’s action. Everytime they spend 2 workers for any good or card, we can get 1 worker. We should build this immediately and more players will be easier.

To understand Egyptian’s Action Locations, I can put them into three different groups. One is to get other resources which mostly VP, another one is related to cards and the last group are those that interact with other players.

GOLDEN BAZAAR, as mentioned before, we can spend 1 food to get 1 Gold and 1 VP. So every round, if we have some unused food, we can spend on this and we can keep the Gold.

With SLAVES location, we can spend just 1 worker to get 2 stones and 1 VP. So, this offer a better trade than the faction board action, assuming we need stone. Build it right away as we need the stones to build other location.

GOLDSMITH is another way to get VP. Trade 1 worker and 1 Gold to earn 3 VP. I would suggest making a deal with one of them to get Gold.

SPHINX ALLEY is the last way to get VP. Trade 2 Gold for 2 VP and can be activated twice per round. I suggest making a deal with one of them for the worker which we can use for GOLDSMITH or SLAVES.

SANCTUARY is from the second group, which we can spend worker to get Foundation by sacrificing another card in our hand. We will also get a stone and another VP.

The problem is that Egyptian has no card producer, very limited option to spend the card as well. I would suggest making a deal with maybe both of the same locations for Gold.

DESERT location requires nothing to build and we can get 2 cards a bonus to build. The action is to spend 1 card from our hand to choose another player and that player has to discard 1 card as well.

As mentioned before, as the Egyptians, we already have limited card supply, let alone just to waste it. This action would be useful if we actually know what card the other player actually has in their hand. We will mostly target the common location.

I suggest building it for the card or make a deal for workers.The next are Action Locations that will interact with other players.

SCORPION BREEDER will let Egyptians block one of opponent’s action location for activating until the next round. We just need to spend 1 worker. This would be a problem for other players if we know what is their essential Action Location.

CHARIOT BUILDER will reduce the amount of raze token needed to raze opponent’s location. If we have this, we can immediately raze other players except if they use Defense token or Samurai for Japanese.

TEMPLE OF RA will need the Egyptian special token to activate. With this, we can take over enemy’s location until the next round. But this will be useless if the action location has been activated. We have 4 tokens which would be enough for each round.

ROYAL SWIMMING POOL will let the player reactivate one of the Action Locations by spending 1 Gold. But reactivating will spend the resources as described from the card as well.

Probably the best use for this one is to spend the left over resources at the end of each round. Either for VP or disturbing other players.

Japanese Faction

Japanese, with purple can store food. This could be helpful to make a deal, so the player don’t need to rely on the Faction Location as they can be razed by opponents.

There are even an action locations to turn those deals into Location with NEGOTIATOR or into VP with DIPLOMACY SCHOOL. But we can probably only activate NEGOTIATOR up to five times, one per round.

They started with 4 workers, which we can get 2 resources from the faction board action. Japanese also will get at least one wood each round. We will need about 20 woods to build every faction locations.

The problem is that there is no faction production to produce wood and no deal from the faction. Maybe we should rely on common location.

We can use TRADE ROUTE but even other factions has limited deal to produce wood. It will require foods as well to activate.

Food is essential for Japanese. Not only we can store, but we need for making a lot of deals. We also need 2 foods to build 2 locations.

We should build both FARM and RICE FIELDS all 5 of locations or maybe deal with one of the copy from each. No need to worry about wasting foods as long as we can build STALLS and SHRINE to get VP with foods later.

FARM will also produce workers which are essential for deploying a Samurai to protect faction locations for getting razed and for activating action locations.

Assuming we build everything, we need like 27 workers to protect each faction locations. Build the location only if we have workers to deploy as Samurai.

GEISHA can also produce workers, 1 for each pink location up to 3. Japanese faction only have 3 pink locations. Build SAKE DISTILLERY first before build the GEISHA locations for additional gold and VP.

BUDDHA’S TEMPLE can produce faction cards but I would rather just make a deal with it. We will get 1 card as well, no matter what, and we can get common card from deal.

DAIMYO’S CASTLE can give us more VP per Samurai we deployed up to 3. Make sure we deploy first before building them. Maybe let one of them as a deal to get stone or gold. We need 12 stones to build at least all the faction locations.

For Japanese Feature Locations, there are two locations, one with additional copy that can’t be razed like other faction locations, SHRINE and GATE. Both of them probably are the strongest locations which can suddenly turn the game upside down, giving more VP at the end of the game.

SHRINE can keep unused goods for VP later, but we can’t use the goods later. If we store 3/7/12 goods of any combinations, we will get 2/5/10 VP respectively, at the end of the game.

We have to build it right away. Alternatively, we build it last, and use the hoarded Foods. Just remember the correct amount required to get the VP.

GATE has similar function but instead of goods, we can keep unused cards to get 1 VP per card. At the end of the game we will get 2 VP if we keep at least 3 cards. Try to use common cards as each of them will give 1 VP as well.

GATE has copy, we can let one of them as deal or build it one by one. We should be aware of Roman’s ENGINEER action, as it can remove any location including GATE and SHRINE.

Other feature location is SAKE DISTILLERY. If we get this card later or after the GEISHA, maybe we should just raze it instead to get VP. Building it is not expensive and we can still get an extra Gold.

As mentioned before, DIPLOMACY SCHOOL, another feature location can turn any goods from deal, during production into VP. Build it at least before the final round.

The last Japanese feature location is DOJO. The location will give extra VP for every deal we make. We need to build this right away as well.

Unlike other factions, there is only one Japanese Action Location to generate VP. Each of 3 STALLS can give 1 VP per 1 food twice per round. We can make a deal with one of them for 1 Food and spend on it, then use the remaining on SHRINE.

As mentioned before, NEGOTIATOR, another Japanese Action Location, can turn any deal into Locations by spending workers. Make sure we have enough workers to deploy as Samurai as well before activating this action.

TRADE ROUTE, another action location to make a deal from any opponent’s Faction Location. We could focus on deals to produce what Japanese are lacked of like cards, or wood or Gold.

Alternatively, we can also focus on how to hold opponent’s progression. It’s either we play against other 3 factions or just one on one, which we need to understand other faction characteristics.

Each copy of 3 locations produce different deals, food, worker and VP. I suggest making a deal with the one offering food.

NINJA is another action location to mess with other player’s deal and steal the goods. Like the previous location, we can either use this for our progression or hold the opponent’s.

Just make sure when we build NINJA, we already have two other faction locations without any Samurai.

GARRISON is another action location to remove opponent’s location by spending 2 raze tokens. So, we can either raze their common location directly with the same amount of tokens or activate this to target the faction location.

The last part of Japanese Action Locations are those that can produce resources. With SUMO SCHOOL, we can trade 1 worker and 1 food to get 1 raze token. So the FARM will produce the worker and food and we can get raze token.

KATANA MAKER can trade 1 stone for 1 raze token and VP. Just make sure we don’t need stone to build anything else as we have to rely on common locations or deal.

CASINO can trade 1 worker for Gold and can be activated twice. We can use the Gold for stone or wood. If we need cards, we should rather trade 2 workers from the faction board.

Expansion Packs and Deck Building

So, expansion packs can be either introducing a new factions to the base game like Aztecs, Amazon and Atlanteans and/or just a new cards for the existing factions from the previous packs. They will most likely to add something to the 4 original factions.

Other expansion packs that didn’t introduce new factions so far were, Why can’t we be Friends?, 3 is the Magic Number and We didn’t Start the Fire. In general, the official rule is that we can only play 30 cards for each factions.

That means, if we buy the expansion cards, we have to remove some of the old faction cards and we need to replace with the new one. The problem is that not every faction cards are the same or totally different.

There are some with copies and we need to include every copy for the game. The basic rule is each faction deck consists of 30 fixed cards: 3 copies of 3 cards, 2 copies of  6 cards, and 9 singles.

We can replace single cards with single cards. If we want to add cards with several copies, we have to include them all and replace the cards with the same number of copies.

For expansion packs without new factions, it is recommended to use just one selected expansion to build every faction decks. This is just the recommended way for the deck building which is considered as balance play.

Every expansion packs can also introduce new action like Conquest, Siege or unique location like Fortress, which specifically intended to incorporate those new actions.

Usually these new rules, actions or mechanism also includes a way to be played in solo mode. Another added long term value for the game.

Some people suggest that we should not use any expansion to introduce the game to new player. Even the base game has already so many info to learn about.

House Rules Idea

Just like any other game, we can always set our own rules for playing Imperial Settlers. It’s not like breaking the law, as long as we and other players can have fun with the game.

Imperial Settlers might not be a perfect game for everyone. Some rules could be confusing and restricting. Even the designer himself said that the game was based on breaking some restriction issue with his previous game, 51st State.

People can add, modify or ignore some rules and it would probably better if they share their experience altering them. If they can be in fact make the game more interesting, there is no reason not to try them.

So, here are some ideas that player can try.

Play with more players using every new factions from expansion packs and another copy of the base game. Someone said that they did try with 6 players, using 2 more new factions.

Add or reduce the number of rounds. Maybe we don’t have time that long to play 5, so we can try 4. Or if we play just with 2 players, maybe we want to play a bit longer, probably with husband or wife, boy/girlfriend.

Play two solo modes with friends, either the basic solo or campaign mode. This could help each other to strictly follow the rules.

How about a mix between two player mode combined with virtual player phase? Maybe the virtual player can randomly select one target each round, one attack for each player.

Use every cards from the expansion packs and instead of using limited number from the rules, we can use every cards and choose the card we like. This can even the odds from the bad luck factor of card drafting.

We can actually divide the deck between Production, Feature, and Action Cards for both faction deck and common deck, keep them shuffled so the random factor remains. This will help first time player to get the right cards.

I tried putting the production cards at the top of the deck as one deck, and barely get into the Action cards part at the end of the game. Too many production with nothing to do.

I haven’t tried this one but maybe we can include the virtual player into the multiplayer mode. The virtual player will attack every player at the end of every round.

The problem that could happen is that it will affect the outcome of common cards we can get. Maybe the result will be much clearer when the game is played with 4 people.


Imperial Settlers can be a great board game for those who like engine building kind of game where player will try to generate resources and use it further to expand their board. Since they use civilization as the theme of the game, players will have to build their empire.

The artwork is great but might be childish or rather cute that some people might not like it or think the game is for kids. It might be easy to teach the game but need more serious player to master the game.

The goal is to build more buildings than the opponents, collecting points and those who score the most points over 5 rounds with 4 phases each will win the game. Each round, players will take turns multiple times to make some decision with their cards until every player has passed.

The game uses cards to determine which part of the engine or building to build, from either Production, Feature or Action Location.

Players will have to draw the faced down cards so there is going to be some random factor or luck. Just like similar engine building game, making just one mistake in earlier round will almost guarantee to lose the game at all.

To even the odds after getting bad luck with drawing a card, there are multiple ways a player can do with so many type of resources like food, wood, stone, and several more tokens to get other cards. Trading workers into 1 card would be one of them.

The cards can be used in multiple ways. Players can either build them, use it to make a deal or raze them and in return will immediately get resources needed to build the location.

The bad thing is, with so many information on the cards, the font size is considered as too small. Players can enjoy the great artwork on each of their card but not the opponents, diminishing the idea to build interaction between players.

Players will most likely to focus on building their own empire. The only interaction between players would be when one player trying to raze other player’s building or location which could change the victory points those players will get at the end of the game.

There are some special cards or building that could also generate interaction. Some action allows players to steal, take over or reactivate but very limited.

Towards the end of the game, players would have built enough building for them to create chain of actions that could drag the game longer. Playing with 4 people competitively, the game could take like 4 hours to play.

Some people say that the game is best played with two but we can even play Solo mode with just the Imperial Settlers base game. With the additional Campaign Mode instruction online, the solo game becomes very interesting.

Probably the best thing about the game is that we can play different Factions, 4 options from the base game and each has different set of cards and characteristics, even tokens. Some would be make the game harder without understanding how they work. This features will add some varieties to the gameplay even for solo mode each time.

Probably endless possible new factions and expansions cards can be introduced to the base game. Making Imperial Settlers some kind of investment for long term board game. It has been 5 years with several expansion releases and the developers stated that the game is not done yet.

Just like any game, people can have their own house rule implemented. Some would say they could play over 30 times with different gameplay with the base game only.

If longer play time is not an issue, with expansion packs, we can even play more than 4 players. Having friends with also the base game is also possible so we can actually have a match using the same factions.

With so many potential, I think it is worth to have Imperial Settlers board game and start from the base game, assuming we like every aspect from the game, the art, theme, and mechanism.

More Games

If this is not  game for you or you might be looking for more great games, you can try checking this article. It is my review for Rahdo Runs Through YouTube channel about board games.

I haven’t played a lot of these tabletop games whether card games or board games. Here is the list for games that I have written a review for previously.

The Big Book of Madness (Cooperative, Deck Building, Wizarding Theme)
The Castles of Burgundy: The Card Game (Competitive, Civilization Building, Set Collection)
Hero Realms
 (Competitive, Card Game, Fantasy Theme, Deck Building)
Fleet (Competitive, Card Game, Auction, Fishing Theme)
Goblins vs Zombies (Tower Defense, Card Game, Fantasy Theme, Card Game)
One Deck Dungeon: Forest of Shadows (Dice Rolling, Fantasy Theme, Cooperative)
Peloponnes the Card Game (Auction, Competitive, Civilization)
Tybor the Builder (Civilization, Card Drafting, Competitive)
Villages of Valeria (Civilization, Fantasy Theme, Action Following)

Keep checking this website or the complete list here. I might have added review for more games.

Final Word

That’s all I can share with you about Imperial Settlers, the board game. Again, I’m not any expert, just recently learn about the world of board game other than playin Monopoly.

I thought it would be a great idea to have other things to learn about or spend some time that is not from or on the screen of our gadget. It could be board games or other things like books or sports or food, anything.

Why this game? It’s because a friend of mine, who is into this board game world, recommended it. There are more games and this is just one of his wish list. I might check out and write something about each of them.

This review is just my notes from what I can find on the internet. Hopefully this can help me to figure out whether it is worth to buy the game. So, clearly I don’t know everything and I could have missed something.

If you have ever played Imperial Settlers, what do you think about it? Is it good enough? Or is there any better game but similar to Imperial Settlers that I should try it out first?

Please share your thoughts, experience or story about Imperial Settlers using the comment section below. I would really appreciate it.

Hope this writing could help those who are planning to buy the game. Thanks for reading.


Mark M.

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