Mar 8, 2018

[Games] Imperial Settlers: Atlanteans Review

Imperial Settlers remains to be one of my favorite games given its rather clever game mechanics, its subtle humor woven into both the game text and art and just how great a play experience it is. I think my only frustration about the game has been how it is limited to 4 players, which is the case for many good games out there.

Imperial Settlers: Atlanteans was the first big box expansion for the game that introduced a whole new faction to the experience. And the Atlanteans as a race represent some very clever game design that incorporated the narrative elements of this perhaps mythical people and making it fit into the game exerience as a whole.

There are still other smaller expansions to review as well and I'll need to figure out how to tackle them in time. Not sure if I'd feel comfortable reviewing more than one such expansion at a time in a single review post.

Imperial Settlers: Atlanteans is the first big box expansion for Imperial Settlers, but it isn't necessarily the first expansion for the game either. It was designed by Ignacy Trzewiczek and it adds 110 new cards to your game experience.

This is the first expansion for Imperial Settlers that added a new playable faction to the game. The game includes the 30 base cards for the Atlaneans, 10 cards for the Atlanteans to use with the Why Can't We Be Friends small box expansion and 10 cards per faction so they can utilize the new technology resource that is available to the Atlanteans. The objective remains the same - to earn the most victory points while trying to leverage the unique abilities of your faction.

The new technology resource helps factions unlock powerful new abilities using what I can only suppose to be Atlantean artifacts. But for the Atlanteans themselves it presents new ways to score points mid-game whenever a card ability is utilized, which is critical given how the faction cards of the Atlanteans do not score points at the end of the game, representing how their race is doomed to fall back into the sea at the end of the game.

What I Liked: The Atlanteans make for a fascinating faction given the whole bit about their faction cards not being worth victory points at the end of the game. More often than not your card spread at the end of a game favors your faction cards heavily with few common cards left in your Empire as they score fewer points. So there's a lot of pressure to score as much as you can during the game to make up for the 10-20+ point advantage every player has over you.

But it's still a great challenge as the technology upgrades can give you access to more potential points but it also tends to favor replying on common cards that score points and doing your best to protect those vulnerable common cards from enemy attaacks. It's a nice twist on the game and one that forces you to embrace new strategies and approaches. And despite the lack of points you'll stil find yourself needing to create Atlantean faction cards to unlock more awesome abilties.

What Could Have Been Better: It is often argued that the Atlanteans as a race can feel alittle too powerful versus other factions. The addtion of ten technology cards to the other factions doesn't quite even things out as the benefits of technology are rather limited for others versus what they can do for the Atlanteans. Those are the kicks I suppose.

But hey, when the game goes badly for an Atlantean player, all bets are off, really. The engine can be quite powerful but it's also rather delicately balanced and so it's easy to tip over the deep end. The Egyptians continue to be crazy powerful  in this expansion and they're remain to be the other faction thats a litttle too powerful for their own good.

TL;DR: Imperial Settlers: Atlanteans is a solid expansion for the franchise and one that introduces some truly interesting new game mechanics. Balance issues aside, this expansion has a lot of great genre flavor to it and it's a heck of a lot of fun. Thus the set gets a good 4.5 clever Atlantean technologies out of a possible 5.


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