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Charterstone (Review)

By: Illusion
Congratulations! You have found favor in the sight of the Forever King and are being sent to the King’s newest civilization, Greengully! You have proven yourself to have the skills necessary to represent the Forever King and settle in this new land. You will be given your own Charter and the tools necessary to build buildings, interact with the neighboring people, and harvest all of the resources you need to spread the glory of the Forever King into this new land.
Charterstone is a 1 to 6 player Legacy-style resource management and village building game by Stonemaier Games, designed by Jamey Stegmaier. Legacy-style means that players will complete the game over many different sessions, while unlocking new content throughout the course of the campaign. Let’s dive in!
How To Play
A lot of the fun of this game is unlocking new material, so I will err on the side of brevity while explaining how the game is played. 
Charterstone has the starting instructions built in to the game itself, so all players need to do is open the box and they can start playing! By using a numbered, card driven system, players are led through how to set up the game, and since each card also doubles as a sticker, once rules are read, the stickers can be placed into the “Chronicle” booklet to be referenced later as needed.
Set up consists of each player choosing a starting charter. They then take their charter box, which gives them two starting meeples, a player card, and sit next to their assigned charter. Over the course of each game session, players will take turns sending a meeple to a building on the board, to give them a resource or a certain action, or choosing to withdraw both of their meeples to start placing them again on the next turn.
The strategy comes into play based on where players decide to place their meeples. Different buildings can given you different resources, like wood, brick, pumpkins, and coal. The different resources are needed to perform different actions that give you victory points, like building new structures and opening new crates. Since the winner of each session will be whoever has the most victory points, this is really important.
Points are gained by building new buildings in your charter. Also, each building card also has a crate number assigned to it, and when that crate is opened, the player gets victory points as well as new cards from the Index. The index is a box absolutely packed full of cards that are unlocked as the game progresses. I don’t want to spoil any of the fun of the game, but some of the cards are new buildings, or even people who can help you as you build your charter.
After each session, players learn a little more about the story, and are given guideposts to help them make decisions about how to proceed in future sessions.
My thoughts
The quality of the art and materials of Charterstone are breathtaking. Being a fan of Scythe, another game by Stonmaier games that is definitely a high quality production, I was still stunned by the obvious time and care that was taken into the production of this game. Opening this box was the first time I have almost not wanted to play a game for fear of messing it up! Charterstone is now the equivalent of fine dinner ware in my gaming collection.
All of the boxes in the game are thick and of high quality. The art on the cards is beautiful, and the fact that they are also all stickers are really neat. The board is thick, and the stark white of the color scheme gives the game a really clean look that looks great on the table and on the shelf. The pieces are also all high quality. The metal coins are so chunky, I have thought of using them in some of my other games instead of the standard cardboard coins. Kuddos to Stonemaier games for their outstanding production.
I have been playing the game with the full 6 players, but am thankful that the game goes down to even 1 player with the “Automa” system. I love that variability.
The best way that I can think to describe the Charterstone experience is to compare it to lounging down a lazy river at a water park without a care in the world, while enjoying your favorite drink and basking in the sun. Is there anybody that doesn’t like the lazy river?
Charterstone is a very easy going, light-hearted strategy game that is a fun table top experience. Gameplay is fast, turns are easy, and everybody has a great time opening up new content, and seeing how the story unfolds. Like the lazy river comparison, sessions have been laid back, and I have really enjoyed being able to play a game where I am not competing too hard against my friends, or needing to use a headache provoking amount of strategy to stay involved in the game. Charterstone really is a blissful experience at the table.
Like the lazy river comparison, Charterstone is not a tall, winding, exhilarating water slide with ups and downs and loops. The experience is consistently easy going, and low stress. The mechanics of gameplay are pretty straight forward. You place a meeple on a building, and receive a certain resource. I definitely am not blown away by this, and have seen it before.
This is where my feelings start to become mixed. After a few sessions, gameplay did start to feel very repetitive. I don’t mean to say there is no excitement during the game. The thrill comes from all of the unlockable material! All chatter at the table silences when someone announces they are going to open up a new crate, as we all want to see what the new material is going to be. Opening up crates is like Christmas for the entire group!
There are also some fun story elements that unfold throughout the sessions. Unfortunately, I still don’t have that high level of excitement about the gameplay itself. My excitement for each new session came more from wanting to unlock new stuff than it did from wanting to dive into the actual mechanics of the game. I really wish the gameplay added more to the beautiful production and exciting unlockable material. The gameplay isn’t bad, it’s just not amazing.
The board contains three tracks, the reputation, quota, and progress track that I did find to be really unique. The quota track gives players an alternative to simply placing meeples on the buildings, and allow players to gain points immediately. While the reputation and progress tracks give players a different avenue to score points during and at the end of the game.
Conclusion
Charterstone is a beautifully stunning legacy game that I highly recommend for families and friends who want a table top experience that is easy going and light hearted with a fun legacy style.
If you tend to become bored or impatient by easy worker placement actions, then you may find the gameplay dry, and repetitive. If you are looking for more of a full gameplay experience and are willing to have the patience to see how the game and story evolve over time, while enjoying a good time with family or friends, then you will definitely enjoy this game.
Either way, the game looks stunning on my shelf, and I will definitely keep it. I look forward to more sessions in the future.
Play on boys and girls.

Charterstone

Charterstone
7.9

Art/Quality

10.0 /10

Theme

8.0 /10

Replayability

6.0 /10

Fun

7.0 /10

Ease To Learn

8.5 /10

What Works

  • Beautiful production including art and component quality
  • Tons of gameplay sessions
  • A stress-free good time

What Hurts

  • Repetitive player actions
  • Need to have same players to each session

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