Imperial Miners Board Game – First Thoughts

Polyhedron Collider Imperial Miners Board Game Review

During the UK Games Expo, Steve and I were lucky enough to get the chance to sit down and play Imperial Miners, the upcoming release from Portal Games.

Imperial Miners is a lightweight, quick tableau/engine builder, more than that though it is a brain-tingling and rewarding game. Over the course of ten rounds, in which you’ll play a card each round, you will gradually build a mine/engine of greater complexity for greater and greater rewards.

The clever thing in this game is the pyramid-style way you’ll lay your cards out, each subsequent card will be placed aligned to the left of the right (like a pyramid-ish) of the card above it.  When placed the card’s ability is activated and so does every card above it in the chain upwards to the surface, allowing for some massive combos.

These cards will allow you to collect coins, victory gems, and cogs, or will allow you to move up on one of the three technology tracks, all worthwhile things – however, I learned, some are more worthwhile than others.

Polyhedron Collider Imperial Miners Board GAme Review - In Play at UKGE2023 - Cascade Close Up

There are a few things I really enjoyed about our game.  The tableau/engine-building aspect of the game is just straightforward fun.  At the start of the game when you can only afford level one cards, your decisions are simple, but each previously placed card, and each level you dig down to, increases the complexity of this decision, but never to the point where you are overwhelmed, it’s just at that sweet-spot where it becomes a tasty problem to try and solve.  As all the cards have positive effects, this choice is always about optimisation.

Also, the game only consists of one action: play a card, which means all players are doing this all at the same time, making this game pretty darn quick with little downtime.  It is true that some players may take a little longer in choosing their card within a round, but every player’s mine grows in complexity at roughly the same rate, so everyone’s thinking time increases at roughly the same rate too.

Polyhedron Collider Imperial Miners Board GAme Review - In Play at UKGE2023 - Victory Gems

The mine cards all have different suits, Egyptian, Scottish, Dwarven, Barbarian, etc. and you‘ll use these suits to build some synergy in your mine. This is great for casual play of the game, player’s don’t need to know what all the cards are, or all the card’s abilities, just that Barbarian cards will work nicely with other Barbarian cards, but you will need to have a bit of diversity in you mine by the end of the game.

The technology tracks are also well thought out, as you move up these ladders you’ll trigger different rewards; including the much-coveted level four card (great cards that allow you to trigger an entire chain of combos again).  One of the nice things about the tech tracks is that there are three double-sided boards, giving you a total of six different technologies to play across multiple plays of the game. 

Polyhedron Collider Imperial Miners Board GAme Review - In Play at UKGE2023 - End of game Mine

Imperial Miners is a light game, up to five people could easily play this, including the teach, in about an hour.  There’s no player interaction, except the obligatory name-calling when someone hauls in a load of victory gems or coins from a particularly well-designed mine.  However, Imperial Miners is well thought out, a tightly designed game that gets the grey matter ticking.  The cascading card activation is wonderful and I’d love to see it in more games.  This game is designed and pitched to be played quickly, enjoyed thoroughly, and played again, and that is exactly what I think will happen for a lot of gamers.    

This review is based on a full retail copy of the game played during the UK Games Expo 2023. 

Next PostNewer Post Previous PostOlder Post Home


Post a Comment