After playing the original 51st State and thoroughly enjoying it, I felt it was appropriate to track down a copy of 51st State: The New Era to play.
Since The New Era is an expansion to 51st State, I am going to assume that you are familiar with the original game (and if not, please click on the previous link and check out my review of it). Therefore, I'm going to focus this review on the differences between New Era and the base game - though you should know that New Era is a standalone expansion that can be played without a copy of 51st State.
The next topic is directly related to my biggest complaint with the base game. The base game was incredibly hard to learn and teach. Whereas the New Era isn't entirely clear (I read the rules, played with someone else who had read the rules, and still had a few things I was unclear about), the instructions have added an "Abbreviated Game Guide" on the back. This really helps when teaching the game. There are simply so many different actions available that it is hard to remember them all when explaining. This very small addition makes it much easier to make sure you don't leave them out.
Ultimately, there are two big changes in the gameplay. First, the leaders from the base game have been eliminated. If you combine the sets, then the leaders are still legal, but they did not include any new leaders in the expansion. I'm fine with this change, as I thought the leaders may have been a bit too powerful and helped favor whoever had the good fortune of drawing one.
|Note the blue/red arrow|
The only other real change that I noticed was in the components. Instead of having seemingly hundreds of very small round cardboard chips (that were hard to pickup), resources have been replaced with wooden tokens. I think that this helps the game feel higher quality, but actually may be a touch more confusing during gameplay - instead of very easily knowing that a cardboard chip with a gear on it represents a gear, you now have to mentally convert a wooden gray disc into a gear (which is trickier with the brick and gun since the orange and red discs are somewhat similar in color). They have also replaced the faction cards indicating what the faction's permanent actions are with a single sheet showing all four of those actions (including the redevelopment).
|Old and New Faction components|
If you like New Era, you might also like Race for the Galaxy, Eminent Domain, and Summoner Wars.
I would like to thank Portal Games for providing me with a review copy of 51st State: The New Era.