You’ve seen it in the shop, that big white box with a fairly hefty price tag, cute rural chibis on the cover, and very little information on the back, except that it’s a Legacy village building game. The game is Charterstone, so pretty and cryptic. Well, I’ve been playing it a lot in the past few weeks, 6 games of it to be exact, and I’m now here to tell you as little about it as possible to get you excited without ruining the Legacy experience.
Charterstone is a true Legacy style game, meaning that as you play, the game evolves in such a way that components are permanently altered. Because of this, you can’t really play the same game twice. Build a new building and you’ll be forced to place a sticker on your game board. Find a new buddy and name them, by writing on your card! If you’ve never played a Legacy game, this all feels so wrong at first, then it becomes downright exciting.
During and between each game, more and more new content is revealed, and you get the kind of high that a Magic player gets when opening a booster pack. But what I find even more exciting is the permanence of your decisions. In a typical board game, if I make a bad decision, I don’t need to suffer the consequences the next time I play. Not so in Charterstone, my chibis are still shaking their fists at me for a few unfortunate decisions I made 2 games ago, but I think they also appreciate the long-lasting benefits from some great decisions?
Charterstone is the first Legacy game I’ve wanted to play through to the end. Other Legacy games have received more praise, and Charterstone is getting mixed reviews. Why? I think because it’s a eurogame at its core, and while other Legacy games can shock with random stuff blowing up, Charterstone sticks to it’s euro roots and tries to maintain a balanced game of resource collection and manipulation with tight competition and indirect player interaction. I’ve lost some close games possibly by deciding to set up for future games rather than try to win the current one. And sure, Charterstone has it’s share of cool surprises, but no one is suddenly going to turn into a zombie, are they?
Ultimately, beyond the rush of opening packets, I really do enjoy playing the game. You need influence tokens to get big points, you only have so many, and spending them advances the game timer. So you could jut go for the win with a fairly low score. But if you can keep the game going, and carefully manage your influence supply, you’ll have more time to improve your little slice of the village and go for a bigger score, both of which can pay-off nicely in future plays. It’s a pleasantly agonizing puzzle (for freaks like me) that took a few plays to truly appreciate but now keeps me coming back to the game.
Charterstone has been a delightful investment. The components are incredible for the price, and the experience has been exceptional. Can’t wait for the next night off!