Imperial Settlers: Empires of the North First Solo Play
Set sail for mysterious islands and maintain a growing settlement with Imperial Settlers: Empires of the North.
There was absolutely no way I was going to pick up Imperial Settlers: Empires of the North. Not with so many other games, including almost everything for Imperial Settlers itself! But then a friend introduced the virtual version about a week ago. I picked up on my strategy right away and won by just a point. Naturally, I needed this game for solo. Ha ha!
What a lively group of clan leaders on the cover! From the small sample size I’ve seen, each clan plays differently in major ways. The fun is in figuring out the strengths and creating an engine from the available cards. Solo presents new challenges in set scenarios, along with a limited time frame of just 4 rounds. Get those tiny feet moving along!
A Reasonable Play Area
This was a pleasant surprise! Not only did the box include a useful insert, which can be a rarity nowadays, but the resource tray popped out to join the play area easily.
All of the components pictured make up the majority of the play area. The empire can expand with many cards, yet that’s managed without too much effort. Very nice!
My custom card holder worked out nicely, too! Drawing was easy, as was keeping the discard pile organized.
I still love certain games that are absolutely enormous, yet I also appreciate designs that can fit in compact spaces.
To experience all I could, I decided to start with the least difficult clan, the Glenn Clan! It was the right choice, mostly for this simple card of the old forest.
Maybe its highlight was the wood it could generate with a harvest. But more importantly? Those squirrels!
They apparently had some uses for giant acorns. No humans allowed in this domain. Ha ha! Might there be animal clans at some point? I doubt it, but I do approve.
All of the cards feature little scenes like this. I always love these details, since I discover something with each play!
Ignoring Gems for Fish
Take this basic field. Its sole purpose was to generate fish, but I enjoyed the lovely scene more. So much treasure!
Yet the most valuable resource is the fish, rather than all of those gems and guarded treasures. Very wise thinking on the part of leader Glenn! Priorities and all.
I could go on and on looking at these cards! The artwork is excellent and blends together each clan’s deck.
Although raiding, conquering, and pillaging have their places in gameplay, the overall setting is rather relaxing and cheerful. As usual, that works for me most days!
Winter is Coming
Inside the solo scenarios booklet, I decided to start with the very first page. It looks like there isn’t a set place to start, so this seemed as good a place as any!
The extra food would certainly help, yet I saw how I needed to focus on stockpiling food. For… Winter. Ha!
This seemed like a pretty straightforward scenario, though not boring in the least. Planning ahead to feed every worker was going to be a challenge.
In my multiplayer game, I constantly spent fish to sail left and right. The Glenn Clan likely needed a new strategy.
Besides the nice storage solution with enough space for a handful of expansion clans, there was something else.
A giant piece of art depicting the world was hardly expected, but I loved it! I ignored the rulebook when I first opened the box simply to look at all of the little details.
What do you see in this small sample? I particularly like the alpaca that may be getting abducted by an alien. Yikes!
This follows the way the different islands are presented. The majority aren’t the typical fare… There are ones with dinosaurs, lizards, and even Cthulhu. Quite a selection!
To the Little Farm
With just 4 rounds to earn at least 30 victory points and feed most or all of my workers, I had little time for photos.
The funny thing is that I failed to use a lot of location actions. For instance, William’s Farm was actually going to give me another worker… And the need for more food.
But that’s the nice thing about the cards: Each is worth 1 victory point in the end! So it typically pays to build most locations near the last round, except in certain cases.
The Glenn Clan looked to be in pretty good shape at this point. But that food requirement… Winter would be tough.
The solo variant uses all of the same components, including the set of actions. Placement matters since moving to an adjacent action usually costs 1 food.
This random setup worked out well for me, although it wasn’t the best. Still, I made the most of what I had!
Action tokens matter in that they flip action tiles over, thereby making those actions more expensive during the next round. Here, sailing cost me an extra fish.
This is a subtle mechanic, yet it’s integral to gameplay. Plan poorly, and the next round might be suboptimal.
Hurray for randomness! Each solo scenario features its own set of events. Only 4 will happen over the course of play, yet the same one might pop up a few times.
I got rather lucky! Everything except event 3 happened, but it all worked out as I needed it to. Lucky, indeed!
Is there a major disadvantage to exhausting a single field? With a trio to choose from, even if I had a heavy harvest strategy, this didn’t seem like it would affect me a lot.
Then again, the other clans play much differently! This might be a major problem for others. I’ll have to see!
Play Number: 1
Solo Mode: Included in the Base Game
Play Details: Winter is Coming Scenario
Required Play Space: 26″ x 24″
Setup Time: 5 Minutes
Play Time: 25 Minutes
Outcome: 39 Points (Win)
Go, Glenn Clan! I only had food for 5 of 6 workers, yet the lost victory points weren’t too terrible. I passed the victory threshold by a pretty large margin… At least for my initial play. What a fantastic game, and all under 30 minutes!
Price & Value
Challenges & Mechanics
Design & Theme
Components & Rules
Achievement & Enjoyment
Distinctness & Randomness
+ Pros (Positives)
- The game includes a very useful insert with extra storage space for cards and a resource tray that can be removed.
- Each of the 6 included clans plays very differently so that there are many strategies and synergies to discover.
- Artwork is a very subjective concept, yet everything is presented in a cheerful manner with hidden details.
- The rules are straightforward and simple to memorize, and the rulebook also covers several common questions.
- Even with a full empire of cards laid out, the amount of required table space is quite minimal for the experience.
- There is a great deal of variety in terms of managing the action spaces, and choosing the clan and solo scenario.
– Cons (Negatives)
- Some luck is involved with the order of the cards and which islands come out early on for varying benefits.
- There are a number of spelling and grammar errors throughout the rulebook and solo scenarios.
- It’s very easy to forget to roll for the random event or use the special location for the current scenario.
- The cards might simply need to adjust after being opened, yet the quality seems a little low with warping.
Continue the Conversation
Have you played Imperial Settlers: Empires of the North? Which is your favorite clan to play as? I have a lot more content to explore… And I may have picked up an expansion while I was at it. There’s just no slowing down this hobby! It’s still very early after a single play, yet I can see a lot of fun and challenges ahead with the different solo scenarios!