Lucas here, guest hosting this week in Game Time Decision, and today we’ll time travel to a future earth where everything has changed, and not for the better. Something about eternal damnation and a handbasket, but I digress. In 2016 Ignacy Trzewiczek & Portal games released the new and improved 51st State, Master Set. The original version of this title gave birth to the very similar Imperial Settlers, where they tightened the gears on game play a bit which lead to this new version of 51st State with the more streamlined ruleset. If your group is looking for an interesting theme wrapped around a brain burning euro game you might find this one to your liking.
From the Publisher (Portal Games): The world you know no longer exists. There is no government. No army. No civilization. The United States has collapsed, and now thirty years after the war started, new powers finally try to take control over the ruined country, try to establish a new order, try to control others and create a new country, a new state: the 51st State.
51st State is a card game in which players control one of four powers trying to build a new country. Players put new locations into play, hire leaders, and send people to work in buildings to gain resources and new skills. To do this, every card in 51st State can be used in three different ways:
- Raze a location to gain many resources once.
- Deal with this location to gain one resource every turn.
- Build the location so that you can use its skill each turn.
From RTHG Staff (Lucas): Simply put, this is engine building at its finest. Each player represents a faction trying to build up their powerbase by collecting resources in order to build locations which will enable them to use those resources to expand their powerbase. I know that sounded like a bit of a circle but that’s the entire point. The more resources you can generate, the more you can put the engine you have built to work in order collect victory points. This is a mad race to 25 victory points which thematically represents you gaining enough power to establish the new controlling faction in this new, 51st state. Each faction works in a slightly unique and interesting way which enables a different style of play each time you sit down for a session.
In addition to any resources you manage to collect or generate each player also has a limited number of workers each turn, which can be used to gain connections or work locations, even those in competing players areas. This is particularly interesting, because you might desperately need the gears you’ll gain working an opponent’s location, but doing so will give that worker to your opponent, which makes this decision all the more critical. A big selling point for me is that this one eliminates downtime. Actions are taken 1 at a time in player order which keeps you engaged every second of the game. YAY! No taking my turn and waiting half an hour before I matter again.
The theme of 51st State is wrapped around every card, action or component. Rather than the standard wooden blocks, the pieces are shaped to represent their given goods and the art is out of this world. This master set includes both the Winter and New Era expansions from the previous version, and a new expansion has been announced for 2017.
51st State, Master set plays 1-4 and checks in with a playtime of 60-90 minutes. If this sounds like a title you might find interesting I strongly recommend you check it out, and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.