Charterstone makes its distinctive mark on legacy boardgaming

The Charterstone box is a nearly perfect expression of the experience of playing. It’s mostly blank. An empty sky. There’s nothing there. It’s unpainted. A canvas. Or rather, it doesn’t even exist yet. Not a void that has swallowed stuff, but an immaculate space waiting for your contribution. Oh, look, there’s a little patch of artwork on one side. A tiny zeppelin hovers over some crates. There are two quaint and assuming buildings behind it. This is how your game of Charterstone will begin. Twelve games later… Well, I’ll get to that in a sec.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Great review that captures pretty well how it feels to play. I’m about 4 games into a campaign with my kids (7 and 10) and we love it. I will comment that this game is perfect for kids because each play only takes about an hour. (More game developers should shoot for a 60 minute or less playtime), and each turn is very snappy.

I want to say a bit more about the “unblocking” mechanic. It turns out to be strategically similar to blocking. I deliberately choose spots that I know my opponents will want to play so that I can get those extra turns. Instead of preventing them from doing something, I’m enabling myself. This means that it might be in their best interest to do something else so as not to help me. It does soften the typical blocking mechanic into something less aggressive, but it’s no less strategic.

I think you capture just fine what makes legacy mechanics special. You are absolutely right that you don’t need them to do cool and enjoyable things with persistence (and indeed, I wish Gloomhaven had avoided being pitched as a legacy style game when really it mainly relies on persistence in its giant, sprawling campaign). But what they do bring to the table is the delight of surprises and customizing the game to your table. That’s not automatically enough to carry a game, but it’s delightful when it works.

My kids are a few years too young for this thus far, but doing a family game night with a legacy game sounds like a great idea! A little bit of continuity, but not so involved as a full on RPG session. Plus, they’re a captive audience, no worrying about scheduling like with a group of adults! Muahahahahaha.

Every time I hear the name Charterstone I think it’s a Mary Worth board game. It would make such a good social game! Use your meddling skills to give terrible advice, but not so bad that your so-called friends abandon you forever! Manipulate them into praising you while you destroy their lives!

A game you can only play twelve times! I’ve never really understood this complaint about legacy games. How many games do you play more than twelve times? For me it’s a very small number. The real problem with legacy games is that to get the most out of the experience you need to get the exact same group together for so many sessions. Which basically means I’ll never play a legacy game.

My group has a somewhat malleable group for Gloomhaven. I’ve played every game (my copy). Another guy has played most of them. Another two come and go. Now that we’ve completed the first major story arc, another three want to join, which is good, because a couple characters are getting ready to retire (me and one of the guys who comes and goes- he had a really short personal quest).

That said, as noted earlier, Gloomhaven is only vaguely a Legacy game. ‘Persistent between sessions’ and ‘campaign’ are also good descriptors, but they’re missing something, too.

Pretty much every game I like.

I don’t doubt you, but every game group I know seems obsessed with either playing new games or maybe one or two specific games. I can’t imagine having to think of every boardgame through the lens of what is it like after a dozen plays. I don’t think many would hold up under such a constraint.

I have a really hard time balancing trying new cool games with playing favorites repeatedly, especially at only one game session a week (if that). And I know I am lucky to be able to play that often. So yeah, things that aren’t some form of campaign game are lucky to get to table five times. 12-24 games, like Pandemic Legacy offers, is already a stretch and I am just as happy to leave it at that.

Gloomhaven has been a giant fuck you to any sort of regular game rotation.

I hear what you’re saying. I just grew up when the hobby had a “few games, played well” ethos, and I ended up playing a lot of games in the 80s and 90s over and over (like Africa Korps, Stalingrad, Bulge) as a competitive endeavor. In the 2000s we played El Grande, Age of Steam, and similar games dozens and dozens of times. Not that I was very good at any of them, but I really enjoy learning a good game and playing it repeatedly to see play evolve. I’ve played Churchill well over a dozen times now and still look forward to a dozen more plays. Same with Fire in the Lake. Etc.

I’m in the same boat. I used to have a bunch of friends willing to play board games most weeks and now most of them have moved away. There’s still a few around, but we only meet maybe once a month so legacy games don’t really work. I was hoping Charterstone could work as a 2 player game (I could probably trick my wife into playing it), but sounds like that would not be a good experience. Bummer.

So long as you split the costs of the legacy game between everyone who plays, I think it’s great value. 15 plays of a $60 game? Not so much. 15 plays of a $20 game (especially one that offers the experience of the PanLeg seasons)? I’m not seeing the downside :)

Yeah, we’ve done Pandemic: Legacy, played through two complete Mice & Mystics campaigns, many games of Mansions of Madness. It’s our default evening activity during the week. My game buying criterion are typically that the game must be either: soloable or playable with my kids.

I think I might have to start doing this too. Have you tried any of the escape room style games with your kids? I picked up one but haven’t tried it yet.

I haven’t. If you try it, post here how it goes.

“Charterstone['s] presentation”
“You can spend these as a resources [sic]”
“passing each each [sic] other no [sic] the street”

I like you!


Digital version now on Steam for early 2020 release