Brass Empire: New Canton | Board Game Review

Game: Brass Empire: New Canton
Designed by: Mike Gnade

Art by: Declan Hart
Published by: Rock Manor Games

Ages: 10+
Time: 30 minutes
Players: 1-2 (with the 3-faction version we have)

Brass Empire: New Canton

Game setup.  

Game setup.  

 Description /Game Play

Set in a steam punk world of corporate obsession, Brass Empire is a deck building game that is strongly based on Dominion, the grandfather of all deckbuilding games. In fact, the similarities are so strong, that I find it impossible to review Brass Empire without comparing it to Dominion. Do not, however, consider that statement to be a criticism. As a huge fan of Dominion, I was thrilled to get the chance to review this game by Mike Gnade.

First, let's discuss the base game: Brass Empire. Each player represents a corporate faction which is trying to obtain brass, the most valuable of all resources. The different factions have their own set of cards that includes employees, buildings, and units (used to attack opposing faction's buildings and units). Most of the cards will be combined into the community deck, with five of each deck of faction cards being reserved as the reserve decks only for the player from that faction.

All players will start with the same ten cards, consisting of faction neutral employees. These starting cards will give players the ability to buy more advanced cards from the community deck, which will then allow them to gain Brass. At the end of the game, the player with the most Brass (from tokens and from cards) wins the game. This part of the game is nearly identical to Dominion

These cards are only available for purchase for the Frontier Rail faction.  

These cards are only available for purchase for the Frontier Rail faction.  

Here's where it's different. The Building and Unit cards, once built, remain in play until they are destroyed (usually by an opposing player). This allows a player to beef up their guaranteed turn options instead of relying on the next five random cards in their deck. It also creates more player interaction than Dominion because you can (and should) attack other players. Not only does it weaken their corporation, but you obtain brass from destroying their Building or Unit. 

As mentioned above, each player represents a different corporate faction. Each faction has a different set of strengths and weaknesses, with some allowing for brutal attacks, ruthless efficiency, or sneakier monetary gains. Players can buy any of the cards from the community deck, regardless of the faction's representation.

Now for the New Canton expansion.

New Canton is less "Steampunk" and more "Arabian Nights". 

New Canton is less "Steampunk" and more "Arabian Nights". 

Brass Empires: New Canton takes place in a town that still values hard work and farm life instead of corporate greed. Life is about to change for the New Canton community when the valuable Brass is found to exist in abundance underground. Money hungry factions pounce on the opportunity for Brass in this deck-building campaign game. Added to the base deck, players will find Event and Gadget cards. Both of these will allow for instant effects in the game.

The Campaign and Legacy Decks are arranged in a specific order which give the New Canton story as factions bear down on their world. The Legacy Deck also gives you a Hero with his/her own story and abilities to go along with your chosen faction. As the campaign progresses, these abilities will increase, the deck will permanently change, and players score will accumulate to a grand finale.

Devastating Automation: Pricey to buy, but powerful and worth 4 Brass (points) at the end. I'd love to add this Unit to my hand.

Devastating Automation: Pricey to buy, but powerful and worth 4 Brass (points) at the end. I'd love to add this Unit to my hand.

 

Verdict

For anyone who is a fan of deck-building games, Brass Empire is an obvious addition to any collection. With it's clever steampunk art, unique player abilities, and fast-paced gameplay, Brass Empire is a blast to play. With all the hype for other games, like Clank!, I'm surprised I haven't heard more about Brass Empire. While ultimately, I did feel like I was playing an expansion to Dominion, this didn't bother me in the least. I love Dominion (especially Prosperity), and savor any opportunity to try similar styles of games. 

Pros

  • More player interaction than Dominion due to the attacking factions.
  • The Unit and Building cards allow for actions that last indefinitely (from one turn to the next), assuming they are not destroyed by a competing faction.
  • Solo option. My husband and I love Dominion. But, we sometimes find its gameplay to feel like solitaire game, only without the solitaire option. Brass Empire is more interactive, and it has Solo Play.
  • Small, portable game box. We have the smaller two-player version, and find it to be just right to fit into a purse or small bag for trips.
  • Fun! Our whole family loved this game. From the 8-year-old to the 36-year-old. If you like deck builders, you'll like Brass Empire.

Cons

  • A lot of card sorting and separating prior to start of game.
  • We did not receive the Legacy or Campaign games, only the new faction that will be available with the expansion. Therefore, we do not know the depth or quality of the New Canton story. Given the quality of the existing art and theme, we are excited to try it when it becomes available!
This review of Brass Empire was written by May Begamer, who would love to throw down in a battle for Brass.