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Subject: Advance mode or Expansion? rss

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nat tact
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There are some games, Quadropolis and Flash point, that have an advanced version of the game in the box that use just a few more pieces but change the game a lot.


My question is when is it appropriate to include an advance version and hold off for an expansion?

Also when are small expansions appropriate, such as Munchkin and Smallworld?
 
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Nathaniel Grisham

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I haven't tried either of those games, but Seasons does something similar.

I think that the idea for having an "advanced" mode, is that this is the way that the designers intended the game to be played. Ultimately, this is the version that they think everyone needs to be playing. The game isn't "complete" without it. But when a game is really complex, it can really turn people off of the game to make them just dive into it.

Instead, they can start players with a simpler version of the game, and they can jump into the full version once they are used to the mechanics. Some players might feel comfortable after one play, some might need a dozen or more.

Another factor might be the cost of having the advanced mode. If the advanced mode is mostly just an addition or change to the rules, but add few (or no) extra components, then it would make sense to include it with everything else. If a lot of extra components are required, then it makes sense to refactor this mode into its own expansion.

That's my 2 cents, anyway. I'll note that I'm thinking primarily as a potential designer. I'm sure that from a publishing perspective, there are more factors to consider, such as the intended MSRP of the game.
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Phil Vestal
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I agree that cost and complexity will help answer the question, but I don't think the "advanced" way is always the "complete way." I think of it more as an alternative way that often is more challenging, but sometimes it can be a completely different way of playing as well. For example, some games that have advanced versions can focus more on pvp or accomplishing completely different goals in the advanced version. It's not more complete, just different.

I think an expansion must be more than just an advanced version. I think of expansions as growing not just the rules, but the entire game. Maybe making the board bigger, adding new characters and or cards, adding in more components that make the game more complex. If the advanced way doesn't do all those things, it might be better of as an advanced version in the box.

All of it does depend on price, however. If the base game is really expensive, then I would expect expansions that cost less but still a pretty penny to include a lot of stuff. If the base game is relatively inexpensive, you could make the advanced version an expansion if it doesn't cost much. Don't know if that all makes sense but just my thoughts!
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Alex
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All has been said, I guess. I'm currently devoloping a thematic Trick-Taking-Game, and I'm using a similar approach for wrting the rules; it's not a heavy game overall, not at all, still I think that I can make people "get" the game faster by 1st introducing them to a stripped down, basic version of the game, which still works fine (and which was, in fact, the 1st iteration to hit the table, but then I got feedback that the game was "okay", but in need of something more, something "special" to really shine). The thing, which makes the game special, is being introduced in the Advanced Section, and it doesn't at a lot more material, just 1 extra die and 2 Tokens. This way the players already know their way around, and will find it easy to implement the special rules, which provide the game with more options, suspense and theme.

In other words: only make it an Expansion when there's all new material, and an entirely new twist to the game. Make an Advanced Version, if that's the way you really want the players to play the game, but don't want to hit them over the head with a lot of rules; let them experience the game in a basic version, then add some spice (like special abilities, or some extra options to provide more choice and variety).
 
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