Brass Empire: New Canton – Rock Manor Games – Review

Brass Empire: New Canton - Rock Manor Games - Review 1

Brass Empire: New Canton takes a strong core mechanic and continually molds the experience with new features being introduced through thematic story moments.  

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Theme and What is it?

An accident while digging a bank vault has unveiled a substantial pocket of brass.  This source of brass lies at the heart of the world of Cobalt in the fledgling town of New Canton.

The 5 most greedy corporations have chosen representatives to travel to New Canton and oversee mining operations.  Each representative has different reasons for being sent; but, all of these representatives will be forced into a series of tough decisions.  

How will they interact with the local populace?  The government? Each other? Anyone else that would try to monopolize the brass for themselves?  Players will answer these questions through a series of 12 legacy campaign missions in Brass Empire: New Canton. 

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Gameplay Mechanics

New Canton is a deck building game.  Players start with the same starting deck.  Each corporation has a different hero representing their faction and a different set of reserved cards that only they can buy from.  

During the game, these factions will spur players into different buying priorities.  Like the original Brass Empire, the game can often turn extremely aggressive as players use units to destroy other players resources while collecting victory points (brass) in the process.

Players are not forced into just beating up each others stuff as they are often incentivized to use combat units on direct mining operations.

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Initial Impressions

There are two main center decks separating employee cards from the buildings and combat unit cards.  This dual-center row is appealing to keep poor luck from leaving players without cards that fit their strategic goals.  

Each corporation has their own legacy deck in addition to the campaign legacy deck both with giant STOP signs warning players that really exciting things are coming but patience will be required.

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Game Build Quality

As an avid game player, I found very standard components in the box: decks of cards, a few punch board tokens for brass and health, and a score pad. These are in addition to the small dice from the base game for tracking hit points. 

Each legacy deck comes sealed in its own package.  This makes giving players their new materials easy and convenient while making sure nothing is spoiled during initial setup/sort.  

The game doesn’t include any board for putting cards on but the experience doesn’t feel lacking without it.  I wish I had the kickstarter playmat!

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Artistic Direction

Cobalt is a very steam punk world.  The art found in all Brass Empire games feature lots of airships, electricity, industrial structures, and clockwork mechanisms.  A nice touch is how each corporation has its own distinct artistic features in addition to the style of effects the cards have when played.  

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Fun Factor

I intended to play one game per session.  The first game I was able to pack it up and move to a different game.  But the second time I pulled New Canton out, I found myself starting game 5 before I realized what had happened.  

Getting the hang of balancing early aggression with long term deck building power took a bit to figure out especially with how much it depends on the other players.  Once it started to click together, games were flowing with very little downtime between moves which gave an enjoyable play experience.

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Age Range & Weight

10+ might be a little low actually.  Players need to keep their legacy deck in order and have the patience to wait until instructed to look further.  Players also have around 8 different groupings of cards to keep track of and rules for which cards start where in progressive campaign missions.  

It is not much harder than a mainstream deck building game but I can see a younger audience struggling with the legacy elements and the options available to them to customize their starting decks and reserve between games.

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Conclusions

Do you like deck building games?  How about legacy/campaign games where things are constantly changing in surprising new ways?  This is worth checking out if you answered yes to those criteria.  

Brass Empire: New Canton takes a strong core mechanic and continually molds the experience with new features being introduced through thematic story moments.  A possible drawback about a game like this is when you have confusion about how a rule is supposed to work.  Designer Mike Gnade actively answers questions about rules and is very timely in doing so to anyone posting on BoardGameGeek.