The pedigree of the new 51st State: Master Set is a little odd, what with it being a dirtied-down version of Imperial Settlers, which was itself a prettied-up version of the original 51st State. Out with the brain-slamming hieroglyphics, out with the gamiest rules, and in with what just might be the cleanest presentation of post-apocalyptic living out there. Like many other fans of 51st State, I was skeptical that this new edition would be able to hold an acetylene candle to the original. So what’s the verdict?
I love post-apocalyptic stuff. Mostly because I’d be a pro at surviving the wasteland. Sure, sure, everybody says that. But I really would. Why? Because I’ve planned it all out, see. I’ve got my— well, more on that some other time. A man’s gotta have some mystery to him, you know?
For now, let’s talk about 51st State, a trio of games by one of my favorite designers, Ignacy Trzewiczek of Portal Games, set in the same blasted North American landscape as Neuroshima Hex and The Convoy (which was one of the best two-player games of 2013). This trilogy carries all the staples of the genre: scarce resources, harsh conditions, frumpy mutants… but even so, they manage to create their own vision of the world after the fall. Let’s take a look at all three!