Brass Empire is a steampunk deckbuilder that I first saw at PAX East last year and then again at the first Connecticut Festival of Indie games. It had a very successful Kickstarter, was available for purchase, and is now sold out.
I had a few chances to play the game at the conventions before being lucky enough to get my own copy to play at home.
Brass Empire plays very similarly to other deckbuilders that have a central market. Players will play cards from their hands to provide resources to gather employees, more resources, units, and buildings. This is where Brass Empire starts to set itself apart a bit.
There are 5 different factions in the game, each with a different starting deck and play style. Employees you hire more employees, buy buildings, or units. They’re your standard deckbuilder resource and are discarded after use. Buildings are permanent and provide bonuses in play. They can also be destroyed. Units are permanent and can attack other units or buildings. They provide the most interaction between players.
Brass Empire ends when the Brass pool has been emptied, after which the player with the most Brass is the winner.
To get a better feel for the game, check out the video below. It’s from when the game was still called Steamcraft, but covers everything you need to play the final product.
Brass Empire’s cardstock is in line with any other mass-produced deck builder out there. The plastic cubes have a wonderful feel and a “jelly” look. Really all that’s important there is that they’re easy to handle and differentiate between the two colors.
Where Brass Empire really shines is the artwork. It’s has a steampunk feel while remaining colorful and extremely dynamic. In a game that could have been all brass, steam, and grit, there’s plenty of colors, diversity, and culture that shines through without losing the steampunk feel.
Brass Empire is currently one of my favorite deckbuilding games. The combination of theme, artwork, and mechanics really strikes the right chord. The player interaction achieved through the use of units and buildings brings out many different strategies during play and provides the game a great deal of replayability as you try each company and various tactics for each.
Solo play is another great feature in Brass Empire. A Boss card can be setup that acts as an AI player with different victory conditions. Sometimes it’s playing the game as usual. Sometimes it’s defeating the Boss Card in battle. The Steam Knight, a promo card from PAX East, is one such card and provides a difficult, yet rewarding solo experience.
Like I stated earlier, Brass Empire is currently out of print. I haven’t heard word of a new printing, but I hope it gets one. It’s a great deckbuilder, and a great game overall.
A copy of Brass Empire was provided free for review by Rock Manor Games.
Media personality Rob Kalajian has been a staple in the board game world for many years. As a former writer for Purple Pawn and the owner of A Pawn’s Perspective, Rob focuses on board game reviews, events, and news. A self-proclaimed geek, Rob loves all things toys and games and even helps raise his four kids in his spare time.