One of my favorite features of Risk Legacy (and, later, Pandemic Legacy) was that it was really easy to play the first game. It helped that I had played Risk a lot as a kid, but there were also these big gaps in the rules where stickers would later be placed. Rob Daviau could have introduced a dozen new rules from game 1, but instead he slowly unraveled them, easing players into new systems through the joy of discovery. It was brilliant.
Risk and Pandemic have the benefit of a lot of people understanding the core rules. Charterstone does not have that benefit. There is no existing foundation. So I decided it was incredibly important to ease players into the rules organically over time, even giving players control over when new content is unlocked so you won’t be overwhelmed.
There was a certain point in Charterstone’s design when the rulebook started off completely blank. When you opened the box, there was just a little note saying, “read card #1.” Card #1 had some rules on it for you to learn, and after you understood them, you’d peel a sticker off the card, affix it to the rulebook, and continue to card #2.
We tested this for a while, but I realized that when rules are introduced that way, there’s a much higher chance of players missing something important than when there’s some foundation for them to start with. So I moved certain rules to the rulebook—now called the Chronicle—while certain other cards are unlocked via the system I described above. As indicated on page 1 (which I revealed in this group last week), the game encourages at least one player to read through the Chronicle before Game 1.
So that’s what you’ll see at this link, the foundational rules of the game (PDF format). There are holes in these rules that are filled at various times throughout the campaign, and sometimes you’ll even have new rules replace older ones, all through the system of peeling a rule sticker off a card and placing it in its assigned spot in the Chronicle. That’s why the rulebook looks like an assortment of cards.
This is the Automa rulebook, which is primarily used for solo play, but it can also be used in multi-player games with fewer than 6 players.
Rodney at Watch It Played also has a detailed How to Play video that you can watch in advance or play and pause during your first game of Charterstone: