Theme and What is it?
Brass Empire features 5 faction corporations are competing for the best employees, constructing key buildings, and utilizing their best units to mine for brass. The steampunk world of Cobalt values brass very highly as all their technology runs on it. Players will have to use their unique corporate assets to collect more brass than the other players.
At its core, Brass Empire is a competitive deck building game where players use their decks to peacefully mine or aggressively sabotage the other players directly. Players earn brass by destroying enemy buildings and units or using their own mining platform. Buildings come into play face down and flip up on future turns.
The steampunk setting is an immediate draw for many players. Deck building is a draw for many more. And directly attacking other players will appeal to more players. Together they make for what promises to be a good game.
Game Build Quality
The game comes with dice for tracking unit health, two main decks, and unique reserve cards so each player can select a corporation with different strengths. Everything you expect a deck builder to have for quality is in the box. There are no surprise elements though.
The art in Brass empire features airships, electricity, steam, grease, and clockwork gears. Everything a good steam punk game should have. Each of the factions has a few common elements to their art making them seem part of a whole group more than just the colored border and name. I appreciate when the art helps distinguish the factions and several players were naturally pulled in a given direction by the artwork style they found most appealing. It is nice that their decks were viable with that style of decision because they shared a faction synergy. I enjoyed the art and hope you do too.
The most enjoyable part of Brass Empire is wondering when is the best time to go for the powerful units. If you buy them too early, you become the target for the other players and will struggle to keep them in play. But if you wait too long, others can have an uncontested run on the brass supply. The pacing of each game has been different and the player interaction is high.
Age Range & Weight
10+ is what the box says. That is pretty close. The deck building mechanics are not very difficult to learn but maturity is a good feature in players when they can directly attack each other in game. You don’t want people to get upset when other players gang up to stop their lead but you also need this feature to keep the game self-balanced by players. Overall this game is slightly more difficult in strategy than mainstream deck builders but has the advantage in lower play time once the game is understood.
Mike Gnade has designed a wonderful steampunk world where players have many tools they can utilize to get ahead of the competition. The winner depends both on the value of all purchased cards and what those cards accomplished during the game. Like many deck builders, this offers players passive building or aggressive attacking options to find the best balance in end game scoring.