Imperial Settlers

This page is an ongoing project for me. I have only played the game a dozen or so times, but it is clear that this is the sort of game that you enjoy more once you know what cards there are, and you have at least a vague idea of what combos and strategies are available.

Let’s start with the basics then; what cards are in the common deck?

Common deck:

  • 16 Brown cards – these produce/spend wood
  • 13 Grey cards – these produce/spend stone
  • 12 Red cards – these produce/spend food
  • 12 Pink cards – these produce/spend meeples
  • 10 Gold cards – these produce/spend gold and points
  • 8 Blue cards – these produce/spend cards
  • 6 Ruins – these are effectively a resource for building faction buildings
  • 6 Black cards – these produce/spend swords (mostly)
  • 1 Purple Monument – gives you points

And what of the different factions? As a rule of thumb:

  • The Romans should play combos that earn them points for building lots (especially Roman buildings). Their primary colour is grey (i.e. they use a lot of stone)
  • The Barbarians should build combos around razing.
  • The Egyptians get points for converting gold.
  • The Japanese should build combos around making deals or discarding resources.

General Tips

  • Freebies (e.g. Ruins) and cards that produce resources equal to their cost are useful at the beginning
  • Don’t focus exclusively on Production cards at the beginning of the game, there are lots of other good cards out there.
  • Create an engine, preferably using as many of your faction cards as you can.
  • Don’t use up all your Common buildings playing faction locations (until possibly the last turn)
  • It is important to draw extra cards. Ideally you should aim to draw between 55 and 60 cards over the course of the game (4+5×3=19 of which are “free”) including your entire faction deck (30 cards) which means about 8 extra cards per turn. Ways to achieve this include:
    • Making a Deal for cards with various Faction locations
    • Watchtowers
    • Razing enemy Watchtowers and Castles
    • Exchanging workers for cards. Create an engine to obtain lots of workers to help you achieve this. Village and Castle are both useful and great as a combo.
  • Razing an opponent’s building is more efficient than razing your own cards.
  • Look out for opponents’ best cards, and raze them.
  • For the last couple of turns, your top priority is running your engine to convert resources to points.

Roman Faction

The faction deck consists of:

  • 9 Grey
  • 7 Blue
  • 4 Black
  • 3 Red/Brown/Grey
  • 2 Red (Warehouse)
  • 2 Gold
  • 2 Brown (Administrations, Legions, Architects)
  • 1 Pink (Barracks)

The difference in distribution between the faction deck and the common deck is striking. If you are draw mainly faction cards, you might struggle to get brown cards, and will probably need to get them from the common deck.

Best cards

Cards that give you rewards for building or for having buildings of one colour are worth a lot of points to the Romans, who will be building a lot.


Legion is a very important card, because later in the game, the Romans should be able to string a lot of cards together. That is, the resource they get can playing one card can be used to play another. For that reason, it is important to have access to a lot of cards, and Legion is the best way of achieving this.
Play it as soon as you can and start collecting cards.


Cards that produce extra workers or cards are very useful.
Play Barracks as soon as you can and use it to get more faction cards.


If you can get warehouse out early, it is nice to be able to stockpile resources and keep hold of your cards until you can build as efficiently as possible.


Save the Trading Colonies (the card with 3 colours) for late in the game and hopefully you can score points from 2 or even 3 of the colours.


Early in the game you want to be building some basic production buildings that will give you a good engine and enable you to buy better buildings later. Also, try to get as many cards (especially faction cards) as possible.

In round three or four, build as many buildings as you can that give you points for building other buildings.

Then, in, say, round five, build as many faction buildings as you can. Try to use the resources from completing one building in the building of the next. Use the basic production buildings as foundations, as by round five or six they have served their purpose already.

Barbarian Faction

Barbarians can, like the Romans, build faction buildings that will score points when future actions are carried out.

However, instead of getting future points for building buildings, the Barbarians score points for using swords and razing: 


So, the Barbarians are going to need lots of swords. This is where this card comes in:


Swords are not retained between rounds. Therefore, it might be best to hoard the meeples until there are a number of Fighting Rings, Expeditions and/or Raids in play, and the razing can score maximum points.

Egyptian Faction

The faction deck consists of:

  • 13 Grey
  • 1 Blue
  • 4 Black
  • 0 Red
  • 7 Gold
  • 0 Brown
  • 5 Pink

You want to be creating lots of gold then converting that gold into points..

Best cards

This is a great combo:

Also, this is a good one to get out early:

Note that Egypt is often considered the most forgiving for beginners mistakes, so a lot of beginners think it is the most powerful faction, but this is really just part of the learning curve.

Japanese Faction

The faction deck consists of:

  • 2 Grey
  • 3 Blue
  • 5 Black
  • 15 Red
  • 2 Gold
  • 0 Brown
  • 3 Pink

Because the Japanese have so many red cards means you should be looking out for the cards that give points for red cards, as well as the “when you build a red building, get 1 gold and 1 point”. Also be on the lookout for any cards that turn apples into points since you’ll often have a surplus by the end.

Other factions may well target your best buildings. Fortunately, unlike other factions, it’s often far more rewarding to make deals than building locations. The key locations you do build should be well defended and efficient at turning your trades into points.

Best cards