Imperial Settlers review

Imperial Settlers

Imperial Settlers was published in 2014 by Portal Games. It was designed by Ignacy Trzewiczek and illustrated by Tomasz Jedruszek.

Imperial Settlers sold out quickly, and the original edition was followed by a reprint.

Game Components

  • 1 Score Board
  • 220 Cards
  • 4 Faction Boards
  • Wooden Bits
  • 32 Stone Tokens
  • 32 Wood Tokens
  • 40 Worker Tokens
  • 32 Food Tokens
  • Cardboard Bits
  • 1 Round Marker
  • 4 Faction Markers
  • 10 Defense Tokens
  • 18 Raze Tokens
  • 24 Gold Tokens
  • 1 First Player Marker
  • 6 Multiplier Tokens
  • 4 Egyptian Special Tokens

Card List

  • 30 Egyptian Cards
  • 30 Japanese Cards
  • 30 Barbarian Cards
  • 30 Roman Cards
  • 16 Attack Cards
  • 84 Common Cards

Watch an unboxing video here:



Egyptians, Romans, Barbarians, and Japanese explore new lands in order to extend their territories. Each player stands for one of the four factions. You construct new buildings, gather resources, train your soldiers, and battle for influence – in one word, have lots of fun.

The game is designed to be played by one to four people.

The principal mechanism of the game is based on the ideas of 51st State, a card game by Ignacy Trzewiczek.

What is interesting about Imperial Settlers, is that different factions have different strengths. For example, Barbarians can build locations without foundations, and Romans produce a lot of stone.

It may feel unbalanced, but try playing for different powers – you will find that you are looking for a new strategy each time, because what works for a Roman, does not do for a Barbarian.

The Japanese have a slightly different set of instructions than other empires. So, you may want to leave the Japanese to more experienced players, as it appears to be harder for them to win.

Imperial settlers - Choosing your civilization


The game is played over five rounds. Your goal is to gain the most points. You get points mostly for your buildings.

You start with two common cards and two faction cards.

A round goes through the following phases:

Lookout Phase

Each player gets two cards from the common deck.

Imperial settlers - 2 players setup

Production Phase

You collect resources from the supply.

Action Phase

Players take turns to perform actions. It goes on until everyone has passed. Actions include:

  • Build a location – pay indicated resources to get a building for your empire
  • Make a deal – deals bring you specific goods during the Production Phase
  • Raze a location – you can either raze the “raze to claim” section or a location built by another player if you pay them
  • Use location actions – exchange something for something else, for instance, spend resources to get points
  • Spend workers – spend your workers to get resources

Imperial settlers - Japan vs Rome

Cleanup Phase

This is when you set up for another round. Each player can store one type of goods between rounds, all the other goods are discarded. Some buildings also can store goods.

After five rounds, you get one point for each common location and two points for each faction location in your empire. The player with the most points wins.

In a solo variant, you are playing against a special Attack Deck. While you are trying to build your empire, it tries to raze your locations.

Ignacy Trzewiczek released a special solo “Campaign Mode” of the game for free. Here are the links to download it:,

Imperial settlers - Solo game

Imperial Settlers plays wonderfully as a two player game and was even nominated as the Golden Geek Best 2 Player Board Game in 2014.

Download the full rules to Imperial Settlers here.

Imperial settlers - 3 players game

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Imperial Settlers vs Five Tribes

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Imperial Settlers vs 51st State

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Imperial Settlers: Atlanteans

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Imperial Settlers: Why Can’t We Be Friends

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This pack has a number of new cards for Imperial Settlers and also introduces a new feature – open production. Now your opponent can visit your location during the producing process in exchange for one of their workers.

Buy on Amazon


Q: Is there an online version of Imperial Settlers or an iOS app?

A: No, there is not.

Q: What is the correct sleeve size for Imperial Settlers size?

A: Card size is 63 x 88 mm. Fantasy Flight Standard Card Sleeves and Mayday card game sleeves fit. You may want to get sleeves if you are worried about a storage for the cards since Imperial Settlers original inserts are not known to be very durable.

Q: Where can I find a tutorial for Imperial Settlers?

A: Here is the official manual video with tips for the game from Portal Games:

Q: Is it true that Imperial Settlers is unbalanced? Is there the best faction to play?

A: Yes, Imperial Settlers does feel unbalanced, but you can use it to your advantage. Winning for the Japanese faction is the hardest job, so, you may give the Japanese to the most experienced player. As for new players, try offering them the Egyptians. With four different factions and different rules for every faction, you can have four quite distinct experiences playing the same game.

Q: What happens to the goods stored in a Japanese shrine if the shrine is discarded?

A: They are lost. So, you should not expose yourself to an opportunity of this happening.

Imperial settlers - Close up


Imperial Settlers gives you a chance to build an entire empire of your own. The colorful illustrations your kids will love are there to make your empire a good-looking one, too!

Imperial Settlers lets you make many choices: at the beginning of the game, you choose which empire you are playing for; during the game, you choose your tactics. Imperial Settlers allows for a very interactive, even aggressive gameplay, but you do not have to rob your friends off everything they own. It is up to you how much you will mind your own business.

It is quite easy to explain how to play. So, you will start enjoying the game straight away during your first playthrough!

You can buy Imperial Settlers on Amazon.

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