Imperial Miners is the latest game in the Imperial Settlers family. It is designed by Tim Armstrong (Arcana Rising, Orbis), and the illustrations are done by Hanna Kuik (Batman: Everybody Lies, Dune: House Secrets). Imperial Miners, like the other games in the series, is a card-based engine-builder, where players construct their small engines, create synergies between cards and combos, all with the aim of ultimately gaining as many Victory Points as possible.
Tim Armstrong designed the game as an engine-builder and crafted it much like how the best games are created nowadays – maximizing decisions and player choices while minimizing rules. Imperial Miners is a great example of modern design in board games.
In Imperial Miners, we play exactly 10 rounds. In each round, we reveal precisely 1 event card. In each round, we play exactly 1 card to our mine. In each round, we always activate one of the three basic abilities of our mine. It’s all dead simple.
Furthermore, in Imperial Miners, we play simultaneously, whether 2 or 5 players are at the table; the game proceeds at an even pace. We play a card, score it, trigger the mine’s ability, and bam, onto the next round. My friend, Stephen Bounacore, said after a game, “Slick. That is the word to describe it. It’s a slick game.”
A Shot of Adrenaline
Every card we play into our mine grants us a bonus. Sometimes it’s Gold, sometimes Victory Points, and more often than not, a really cool Ability or Special Action. Each time, in each round, something positive occurs. There’s no downtime, no turns where we’re just building and waiting for an effect that will come to fruition in 40 minutes. Here, positive effects happen immediately in each of the 10 game rounds.
And since this is an engine-building game, positive effects aren’t limited to just the card we played but also extend to the entire engine we’ve constructed so far!
In Imperial Miners, we take on the roles of miners working in a mine in search of precious gems and resources. The cards we play represent underground tunnels. We play cards to create deep underground corridors on four levels. Each card we play triggers its effect and then the effects of the cards above it!
Imperial Miners is a haven for geeks who love synergies, combos, and Victory Points pouring in from every corner of our engine.
The Wealth of Settlers
Unlike Imperial Settlers and Empires of the North, here in Imperial Miners, instead of leading a chosen faction, players use a shared deck that has miners from six different factions!
In the game, you’ll find classic factions from Imperial Settlers, such as Romans, Japanese, Egyptians, and Barbarians, and then also Atlanteans and Scots. Each faction has its uniqueness, and by hiring miners from a specific faction, we build specific synergies. Scots cooperate excellently; the more Scottish cards in your mine, the cheaper you’ll pay for their effects. Atlanteans build their mysterious machines, add gear tokens to cards, and upgrade them. Barbarians are – traditionally – extremely irresponsible and cause explosions and upheavals, while the Japanese focus on diplomacy and having representatives from all nations working in the mine!
Card games with engine-building mechanics are among our favorite game genres. The Portal Games catalog includes classic titles such as 51st State, Alien Artifacts, and, as mentioned earlier, Imperial Settlers. We think of ourselves as an engine-building company!
This year’s premiere, Imperial Miners, is a simpler, faster game that runs smoothly even with five players, but most importantly, it has that something, that joy of finding synergies between our cards, chaining cards together, and building crazy combos.
After all, there’s nothing more satisfying than scoring 19 Victory Points in one brilliant move, right?