Brass Empire is a strategic deck-building card game for one-to-four players (ages 10 and up) and plays in about 30 – 60 minutes. It takes place in a steampunk universe where each player takes on the role of a different corporation hiring the best employees, constructing buildings, and manufacturing steam-powered machines. Players battle and sabotage each other to amass economic wealth and influence to win the game.
It is the theme here that drew me in.
“For centuries, Cobalt has been ruled by corporations seeking to enhance their wealth and influence through Brass. Brass doesn’t fuel the economy but literally fuels the technology and transportation of the world through its unique thermodynamic properties. Every day these companies compete and battle to expand their territory and authority. Companies work to optimize their labour force and resources to mine the most Brass in each territory using corporate espionage, technology, security and even sabotage. You work for such a company and have been tasked with expanding into a new region by constructing new corporate buildings, hiring employees and battling other companies in the region. The player who earns the most Brass will lead his company to victory in the region,” relates the introduction to the rulebook.
“Each turn, you will play employee cards from your hand to gain resources. These resources will allow you to acquire new employees, buildings, and units for your deck. Along the way, you will acquire buildings to enhance your hold on the region and command units to attack other companies or mine for brass. At the end of the game, the player with the most brass is the winner.”
So there are three types of cards important to play.
“Employees represent your company’s workforce. Their hard work helps you hire new employees or acquire new buildings and units, among other actions and effects. When you play an employee from your hand, you immediately apply the effect listed on the card. At the end of your turn, it goes into your discard pile.
“The Mining Platform is considered a building. If it is destroyed, flip it over; it is not automatically rebuilt at the beginning of your next turn. Instead, the Mining Platform can be rebuilt at any time for one construction.
“Units represent the security forces, soldiers, weapons, vehicles and more that you will acquire throughout the game. When you play a Unit from your hand, you gain any effects listed on the card if they apply. The Units are considered in play and dispatched, but cannot attack or mine on their first turn. On subsequent turns, Units can sabotage and attack other units and buildings, or spend their time mining and acquiring brass.
“Buildings are permanent structures that give your company an advantage in the region. When you play a building from your hand, place it facedown to signify that it is under construction. On your next turn, you construct your buildings by flipping over the cards. You will gain the effects on the card as long as it remains in play face up.”
Beyond the core mechanics, Brass Empire is a game rich in flavour.
For example, the different ‘companies’ are given unique ‘feels’.
“Windcraft Enterprises was originally founded by the royal Tarleton family during the Brass revolution. While the company started off catering to the upper class with luxurious sailcars, it quickly became apparent that the real money would be in catering to the masses, and that more efficient manufacturing techniques would be required for doing so. The Tarleton’s were the first to introduce methods for large-scale manufacturing of vehicles with moving assembly lines. While their factories are known for their deplorable working conditions, Windcraft Enterprises is also praised for their quality craftsmanship and superior design. Orville Threepwood deserves much of the credit for a current public sentiment of the Windcraft brand. His zeppelin and airship designs are both elegant and deadly,” details the rules.
By contrast, “The McGlynn clan has long served the aristocracy and royalty of Cobalt and continue to serve as policeman today. When Brass was discovered, the family was recognized for its long service and given an earldom. Despite their new patent of nobility, the clan used this windfall to provide an alternative by creating the Colbat’s first union at a newly created watch manufacturer. That humble watch company has since grown into one of the largest research and staffing firms in the world. McGlynn Clockwerks may be known for its ornate watches and timepieces, but its strength is its people and insight.”
This is a game that is a definite ‘must-look’ for steampunk fans, and it will be a nice fit for those who like the deck-building mechanic, so check it out.