I have played the first couple of games of the Charterstone campaign twice now, and I still had trouble keeping track of things. A visual guide of the things to look out for seemed like it might be a useful thing for other first time players. So this is the first in a series of blog posts, designed to be read before you play each game of the campaign, to highlight what elements were in the game, and what you should be working towards. They will show components of the game, things that get revealed, and how they affect game play. Spoilers in other words. But I’m going to make separate posts for each game, and make good use of Headers to give you fair warning about each topic. Hopefully this will make this series useful to people playing, without giving too much away before you have discovered it yourself during play. This first post will be a lot about initial discovery in the set up of the game, but my future ones will focus more on reminders, of what has been revealed already.
As a Legacy game, there is plenty of stuff inside the box that is secret. All of it really. Legacy games aren’t designed to be poured over as soon as you’ve broken the seal. So we won’t be touching on any of the components in this section. The only important thing to start with, is the Charterstone Chronicle. It has an instruction in bold red type on the front page, that instructs you to read it before doing anything else. Take it at its word.
The only prep work required of the game before you play is to take the decks of cards in the Index, remove their shrink wrap, and put them back in numerical order, according to the number at the bottom right hand corner of each card. The decks themselves already come this way, so it should be a fairly simple matter to do it, without seeing too much of the game. Do not look through the cards or open any of the other boxes. You will be told when to get into everything else as you play through the game.
Game requirements not included
Pens – You will be writing on cards, the game board, and other components, so you will definitely need some kind of permanent ink pen. You’ll need something that uses a uniform amount of ink, and dries really quickly. I have found that Sharpies work very well, using a fine tip to write on the cards, and something a little thicker when writing on the board. Grab a pen for each player, and if you are so inclined, the colours of the 6 Charters in the game are Red, Purple, Blue, Green, Yellow & Black.
Containers for resources, coins, and other things -There are 6 main resources in the game; one initially generated by each charter; as well as coins. These components all come in individual bags, but they can be a pain to deal with during game play. I bought a modular type of container from the Big W haberdashery department, which I think was designed to hold buttons. It comes in a pack of 5, and having 10 of them is going to come in handy down the track. The coins were too big to fit in the small containers, so I use a small bowl for those.
Before Game 1
Number of players
The game can be played from 1 to 6, but I highly recommend a game has at least 4 players. Legacy games are an experience, and the joy of discovery is markedly increased with a larger number of people. There is also an element that awards points to the top 3 players, and a little friendly competition is what a board game is about.
They recommend at least one of the players has read through the Chronicle to familiarise themselves with the starting rules before the first game, or has watched the Watch it Played walk through at https://stonemaiergames.com/games/charterstone/videos/ These are both good options, and I’m not going to repeat everything you learn there. I’m just going to highlight things to look out for in the rest of this post.
Card 1 …
… is extracted from the Index at the beginning of your first game. It is titled “Arrival” and has the Story 1 information on it. The blue italicised text is read aloud, and the instructions below it are performed. The board is opened up, and the Objective and Advancement mat are placed next to it. The sticker is affixed to the Story 1 space on page 6 in the Chronicle (not the Rule 1 space on Page 2), and the bottom of that card tells you to extract Card 2. What remains of Card 1 goes into the Archive box, Card 2 is pulled from the Index, and so the process is continued. At the end of this process, you’ve grabbed a dozen cards from the Index, the resources are set up, the players have chosen a Charter, received their starting cards, and their Charter Chest, which includes 2 workers, a Victory Point tracker, and 12 influence tokens.
The influence tokens for each player are the most limited resource in a game of Charterstone, because you cannot gain more of them during the game. Players need to spend them to do most of the actions that earn Victory Points, and while there is a slight possibility you could get some back during Game 1, mostly they are each just used one time, so they need to be used wisely.
First Permanent Changes
The Legacy part of the game starts now, with players using pens to name their Persona Cards, and by choosing one of their 6 plots to affix their starting building in their Charters. Each player keeps the card of their constructed building because it has a numbered Crate in the top right corner. If you are playing with less than 6, then the Inactive Charters will have their starting buildings affixed to the board as well, and the cards with those Crates will be placed on the Advancement mat.
Assistants and Objectives
The first group of Advancement cards are added to the game, and these are called Assistants. Underneath the blank spot for their name (filled in by the first player that recruits them) there is an * and a hand shake symbol, the word “assistant” and their job title. The top right hand corner of the card shows the benefit you gain when the Assistant is activated, and the instructions at the bottom of the card tells you exactly how you gain that benefit. For example, if you have the Innovator Assistant, you gain 2 Victory Points every time you use the Charterstone building to open a Crate. This bonus is on top of the 5 Victory Points you normally get for opening a Crate at the Charterstone building.
At the beginning of Game 1, Assistants, and other cards on the Advancement Mat, are gained from the Market, by spending 1 coin, and 1 of any resource. The cost to use any building is listed on the left hand side, and what you gain from using that building is listed on the right. If you scroll back up to the image of the Field building, you will see that it is free to use, and you get one bag of grain when you move a worker there.
The first group of Objectives are added to the Objective Mat, and these allow you to visit the Grandstand and exchange an influence token for 5 Victory Points, when you have completed the requirement shown. For example, you can complete the Helping Hands Objective when you have two Assistant cards.
Start of Game 1
Every player begins game 1 with 4 coins, which coincidentally (it is not a coincidence) is exactly the amount you need to open a Crate. A flurry of first turns to the Charterstone building is not uncommon. Each player will gain cards that were in their Crate, and several new rule cards will be extracted from the Index, and affixed into the Rule book. These rules explain how to construct buildings (now that there are some new ones to build) and how Personas work (which is not important until Game 2). New Personas are immediately put into your Charter Chest when you gain them.
Importantly, after these rules have been stuck into the Rule Book, you will have card 16, which explains some important rules about how the game progresses, and what to do when Game 1 has completed. Or at least it tells you to extract card 17 from the Index, which will start the process of scoring. Place Card 16 in the space for the Guide Post cards, at the bottom right of the game board, until you have completed Game 1.
Object of Game 1
Game 1 is very much about learning the mechanics of the game. You move your workers, gather your resources, open your Crates and construct your buildings. Earning Victory Points to compete against each other will happen as you do these things, and so not a lot of thought has to go into the VP part of the game at this point. But it is something to be aware of, as there are benefits to earning more points, beyond just the usual motivator of “winning”. So I am going to highlight the ways to earn Victory points now.
The reputation Track has a limited number of spots (the actual number differs depending on the total number of players) and these spots are used to hold those precious Influence tokens from each player. At the end of each game, 10, 7 & 4 Victory Points are awarded to the player(s) with the top three largest number of Influence tokens on the track.
Any tie means multiple players will earn the number of VP appropriate for that tier, and it is therefore possible that more than 3 people will earn points via Reputation. As an example, in a 5 player game, there are 15 spaces. If 2 players have 5 Influence tokens, 1 player has 3 Influence tokens, and 2 players have 1 Influence token on the Reputation Track, they will earn, in order, 10 points, 10 points, 7 points, 4 points and 4 points.
There are various ways to get the option to place Influence tokens on the Reputation Track in Game 1, and these are all signified by the Sailboat Icon. There are two Assistants that give you the opportunity when you complete a task, so buying one of these from the Market is the first way. The next is tied to the Progress Track.
The Progress Track moves each game of Charterstone towards its conclusion. The Progress token starts on the space that matches the number of players in the game, and it gets moved forward one space each time a player completes an Objective, constructs a Building or opens a Crate.
These things can often get forgotten amongst making sure you get your VP and the cards from your Crate, so I’m just going to repeat that each time a player completes an Objective, constructs a Building, or opens a Crate, you move the Progress token forward 1 space on the Progress Track.
Several of the spaces have the Reputation Icon on them. If you are the active player that moves the token on to a space with the Reputation icon, you may choose to spend an Influence Token, and place it on the Reputation Track.
The Cloud Port
Reputation can be gained, and Victory Points can be earned by going to The Cloud Port, placing an Influence Token on the Quota Track, and returning to the general supply, the number of coins, Resources (they do not have to be the same Resource) or Advancement cards, that was indicated by the space you choose. You will gain at least 3 VP for each space on the Quota Track, but extra VP or the option to spend an another Influence Token on the Reputation Track, is also available. Only 1 Influence Token is allowed on each space.
It has been mentioned above, but it does bear repeating that you earn 5 Victory Points for completing an Objective. A lot of them are pretty simple in Game 1, so they are an easy way to earn VP.
The End of Game 1
Once the Progress Token has moved to the end, the round is finished, and you can pick up Card 16 from the bottom right of the Game Board, which will be on its way to becoming the unique playing area you are creating during the campaign. The final scoring rules will be revealed and added to the Rule book and the Guide Post card will be revealed for Game 2.
You have probably also revealed new cards and components during this first game that I didn’t touch on here, depending on how eager you were to be opening Crates, and I will touch on some of this in my next post. I hope people find this helpful, and I’m keen to hear any feed back on things I have left out, or that weren’t clear. I’ll be back with more in my next Post, which will focus on things to look out for as you start Game 2 of Charterstone.
Continued in Charterstone Hints & Tips – Game 2