Board game reviews, strategy tips & session reports
No. of players: 1-4
Amount of time to play: 60-90 min
Age requirements: 14+
Set-up time: 5 min
51st State Master Set is the latest version of the game. It streamlines some rules and makes the game easier to teach.
If you have never played 51st State, read my overview and review of the original here. This will give you a basic idea of how to play. The rest of this post is going to focus on the new Master Set version.
Much of the iconography from the original game is gone. It has been replaced by text that details what action or feature each location has. The rule of three is also gone. Now if a location has a limit, it is how often per round it can be used. Not a hard and fast three times per game. You can even make as many deals as you want. And Leaders are not represented in the game at all.
One mechanical change is that when you Raze a card for Spoils you immediately gain those resources instead of having to wait to get them in the next round.
If you played The New Era (the first stand-alone expansion for 51st State), the cooperation tokens and making deals with other players’ cards are gone.
Some people know that the 51st State system was re-implemented by Imperial Settlers. The main difference between these two games is that in 51st State Master Set you do not have your own unique faction deck. 51st State Master Set also includes the distance mechanic from the original game that Imperial Settlers removed. Resources are more scarce in 51st State and razing is more rare and costly.
51st State Master Set is another fun rendition of this game system. It does a good job removing some of the complexity and streamlines the rules. This makes the game easier to teach and get to the table.
The components for this edition are fantastic. The art looks awesome as usual and the wooden pieces and cardboard chits are great too. The rulebook is much better than previous ones and the only major questions center around the solo variant.
So the question is should you pick this up. And the answer will depend on you. Do you own the previous version of 51st State (like the New Era)? In that case you might want it if you have trouble getting it to the table because of the learning curve.
If you own Imperial Settlers, you might want this if the theme and distance mechanic are more appealing to you.
If you don’t own any of these games then 51st State Master is a nice addition to your group’s board game collection. It has a cool theme and is a fun, interactive, tableau-building game.
Score and synopsis: (Click here for an explanation of these review categories.)
Strategy 4 out of 6
Luck 5 out of 6
Player Interaction 5 out of 6
Replay Value 4 out of 6
Complexity 4 out of 6
Fun 5 out of 6
Overall 5 out of 6