It is established fact that we here at BGQ enjoy ourselves a game of Imperial Settlers every now and again. Between the elegance of gameplay, the depth of strategies available, and the great theme, it is a game we find ourselves returning to with pleasure. Since its premiere, Imperial Settlers has seen three faction expansions and a number of small-box “Empire Packs.” Today, we will be delving into We Didn’t Start The Fire, the latest of the Empire Packs, to determine if this expansion expands the borders of the Imperial Settlers empire for better or for worse.
Note: Our discussion below assumes you are familiar with the basics of the Imperial Settlers rules. You can read our review of Imperial Settlers if you want the run down on the base game.
We Didn’t Start The Fire introduces the Conquest action, which allows players to capture opponents’ Faction Locations. By paying raze tokens, players can conquer a faction location and add it to their own layout. The raze cost is determined by the location of the target card: the closer it is to the faction board, the more raze tokens required. Other factors such as defense tokens and samurai increase the required number of raze tokens to conquer a site, per usual. The player whose location was conquered receives a citizen for their trouble.
Fortresses and the Siege action comprise the second addition this expansion provides. Fortresses are Action cards that allow players to build up fortifications to score victory points for the number of fortification markers they have at the end of each turn. With a maximum of 5 fortifications available, these cards can represent a substantial number of points for a limited resource investment. However, players can use the Siege action to spend 2 Raze tokens and remove all fortifications from a target fortress.
The expansion contains 10 cards for each of the base game factions (Roman, Japanese, Egyptian and Barbarian) but not for the expansion factions, as the Atlanteans and Aztecs are considered to be “too peaceful.” The deck also contains 12 common cards available to all players. These cards provide production, action, or deals that produce more raze tokens, which is unsurprising since the core mechanics of this expansion require a far larger number of raze tokens than are provided by the base game.
Game Experience with Expansion:
The most important factor that we tend to look for in an expansion is how the gameplay additions from the expansion are integrated into the core game. In the case of We Didn’t Start the Fire, the addition of the new cards and rules are practically seamless. Anyone who is familiar with Imperial Settlers will have no problems picking up the new Conquest rules and rules for fortifications and sieges.
One of our worries at the outset was that in the base game, raze tokens tend to be limited in their availability, which appears to be at odds with the requirements of the Conquest action. However, many of the expansion cards have the ability to produce raze tokens or can create raze tokens by making a deal. In all of our plays, we did not find a shortage of raze tokens at any point during the game (except of course, at the beginning of the game, per usual).
Our greatest concern was the shift in play from almost-solitaire engine building game that is the base game to a more interactive experience that the expansion creates. While we agreed that the conflict added more strategic depth for order and location of building sites, not all in our group liked the shift towards more player conflict and possible disruption. One of our favorite aspects of Imperial Settlers is the fine-tuning of the engine of your civilization to maximize victory points – having someone come in with a wrench and muck up the works definitely took away from that for some of our group.
The final bonus that We Didn’t Start the Fire brings is a refreshing of Imperial Settlers in terms of replay value. While we find that the Atlanteans and Aztecs each bring something new to the table, this expansion allows players new experiences and strategies for the original group of factions. It gives the base game some new life, for those who felt that it was getting somewhat repetitive.
The We Didn’t Start The Fire Expansion for Imperial Settlers is recommended for any fans of the game, especially those who are looking for a more interactive player experience. While it could be a miss for those players that enjoy the engine-building elegance that is the base game, we found that the benefits of adding this expansion far outweigh the detractors. We recommend that if you own Imperial Settlers, that you add We Didn’t Start The Fire to your box.
• More conflict could turn off some players.
• Adds game time due to more strategy in decision making.