Welcome to the 51st State

August 24, 2016

51stStateBoxThe world as you know it is gone. The United States has crumbled and those that survived its fall are starting to rebuild in what is left. Four factions are struggling to carve out their own little place in the wasteland. As the leader of one the factions, how will you shape the future? Will you build a vast network of production to give you the goods you need to thrive? Or, will you prey upon the factions that are weaker than you and take whatever you want?

51st State: Master Set, is a reprint, of sorts, of the 2010 game 51st State. It includes the original base game, along with two expansions, Winter and New Era. Each player will lead one of four factions vying for the most victory points. Cards in the game represent different locations in the new world. On your turn you can use these cards in several different ways.

You can pay to Build the location, adding it to your own settlement. Each card will be one of three types, Production, Feature, or Action. Production cards in your settlement will give you goods at the start of each new round. Features generally give you a reward when you build them, and Actions allow you to perform special functions each round if you pay the proper cost. Every building will also add to your final victory point total at the end of the game.

If you don’t want to build a location, or you can’t afford to, you can instead Raze the location from your hand. That means you destroy the card and claim whatever spoils are listed on it. You can also Raze cards in other faction settlements. Don’t have any oil? Well, the Merchants have a refinery, and if you destroy it, you can claim some nice oil for yourself, and deprive the Merchants of using their refinery ever again. Did I mention that destroying things is fun?

The final option is to Make a Deal. This represents other locations out in the wasteland that you can negotiate with to claim additional resources each turn. Often, deals don’t give you as many resources as a Production location, but it has the benefit that it can’t be Razed by your opponents.

Each round, players will take a single action on their turn. Aside from playing cards, each faction has specific actions they can do. Players may also perform any actions off of Action locations they have already built in their settlements. Play continues, each player performing an action and then moving on to the next player. When a player can no longer perform any actions, or choses to end their involvement in the round, they may pass. Once a player passes, they can no longer take actions, but they are also immune from actions by other players, like Raze. Once every player has passed, the next round begins.

Once a player hits 25 victory points, the game ends, once the current round is finished. Players then score a point for every building in their settlement and the player with the most points wins.

51st State has a lot of different ways you can win the game. You can go heavy with resources and try to buy you way into points. You can attack other players with Raze, scoring you both resources, as well as denying them points at the end of the game. A lot depends on the cards you get and making sure you get the resources you need to do what you want. If you want to Raze a lot, you need Guns. If you want to make lots of deals, Oil is pretty valuable.

This game really scratches both my gamer itch, as well as my love of post apocalyptic themes. It has enough meat on its bones to offer lots of strategy, but isn’t so heavy that more casual gamers can’t enjoy it. Truthfully, the only thing it’s missing is giant car chases in the desert, but that’s more an Australian thing any way.

Glenn B.

Glenn B. is the Mayfair store manager and the King of Awesome. Outside of the Board Game Barrister, Glenn is an amateur film maker and game designer. He has three short films under his belt and one game as well. He's currently working on a new card game, Apocalypse How. Glenn has been to Ireland 8 times and speaks a little Irish Gaelic. His favorite games are Malifaux, Eldritch Horror, Scoville, and Colt Express.

Enjoy the article so far? Recommend it to your friends and peers.