GCL Eclipse 107: Expansions: Expanding your gaming or just your wallet?
Jennifer Schlickbernd
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Santa Clarita
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(Note: I am preparing my house to sell so I'm going to be a little distracted.)

Nearly every game nowadays seems to come with expansions, in fact some games even anticipate expansions by making sure the base game has enough room for them. Are you interested in expansions in general or not? The concept of board/card game expansions is pretty wide as well. You have the 'let's fix this game' expansions like Pillars of the Earth, and you have the 'let's see how many expansions we can fob off on people' like Munchkin. I'm a big fan of the former and dislike the latter, however I know people do want more of something they enjoy so I can see why expansions like Munchkin or Fluxx exist. I'm not counting Magic the Gathering expansions by the way, as they really aren't expansions because they can be played without any other cards. I want to focus this discussion on expansions that require another purchase to play (and not promos). Please list expansions that have interested you in some way, either as an example of what you are looking for in an expansion or what you aren't.

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If you're a lurker or have otherwise discovered GCL Eclipse, feel free to read along with us. And if you have a constructive comment or something else you think would add to the discussion, consider posting it—if it's helpful, respectful, and polite to the discussion group as a whole, as well as to its individual members. However, if you'd like to join in regular discussion, first post to the current discussion list inquiring about the possibility of becoming a member, with full discussion privileges.

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1. Board Game: The Pillars of the Earth [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:254]
Jennifer Schlickbernd
United States
Santa Clarita
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Because of the crazy way the master builders came out, this game was way too random when released. With the expansion, the game became far more playable and fun.
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2. Board Game: Hansa Teutonica [Average Rating:7.63 Overall Rank:120]
Jennifer Schlickbernd
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Santa Clarita
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MUCH better game with the expansion, became actually playable with three and with the board opening up, there were a lot more options for strategic play. I would never play this game without the expansion.
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3. Board Game: Le Havre [Average Rating:7.89 Overall Rank:40]
Jennifer Schlickbernd
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Santa Clarita
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The expansion to this was disappointing to say the least. We hadn't even finished with the regular special buildings and certainly didn't want more of them. More base cards would have been welcomed; a missed opportunity.
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4. Board Game: Carcassonne [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:151] [Average Rating:7.43 Unranked]
Jennifer Schlickbernd
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Santa Clarita
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Way too many expansions for me to figure out which I wanted and which I didn't. Just kept the base game for sanity's sake.
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5. Board Game: Dominion [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:76] [Average Rating:7.65 Unranked]
Jennifer Schlickbernd
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Santa Clarita
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I suppose this one is on the cusp as you can technically play with just the base game accessory plus any of the expansions, but I wanted to note it because unlike Magic and other 'expandable' card games, it's done expanding. There won't be any more expansions, making the game a gigantic single card game if you own all of it.
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6. Board Game: Android: Netrunner [Average Rating:7.90 Overall Rank:44]
Jennifer Schlickbernd
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Dave and Guido, what can you tell us about the expansion concept as applied to Netrunner? Does a player need all of the little and big expansions to play? Or is it a pick and choose? Or can you have a lot of fun/game with just the base expansion?
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7. Board Game: Zooloretto [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:659] [Average Rating:6.85 Unranked]
EGG Head
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I like Coloretto much better as a game but I just can't stop myself from collecting those extra animal tiles...they are so cute and the fit in the original box!
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8. Board Game: Age of Steam [Average Rating:7.70 Overall Rank:127]
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AoS, like Brass and Age of Industry, I actually collect the expansion maps to play. Most add new twists to the base game which keep the game fresher and more interesting. Sometimes they allow the games to be 2 player rather than multiplayer.
My favorite AoS maps are Korea and the Moon.
Brass, I love the Catalonia map. It makes you change your strategy.
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9. Board Game: Isfahan [Average Rating:6.95 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.95 Unranked]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
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Perhaps the only truly good expansion in my book, as it positively changes my rating for the base game (from a 7/8 to a 9).
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10. Board Game: Catan [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:323] [Average Rating:7.19 Unranked]
EGG Head
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We can't leave this off the list! I have a lot of the older exp. I never use the 5-6 or Cities and Knights anymore. They only ones I still like to play are the historical ones Troy and The Great Wall.
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11. Board Game: GIPF [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:812] [Average Rating:7.11 Unranked]
EGG Head
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The GIPF project 1,2,3 expansions I have yet to play. I like the base games and don't get to play them enough but Im curious as to how these work. I have acquired them but have yet to play them. Maybe I'll have time now that moving is mostly done.
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12. Board Game: Power Grid [Average Rating:7.89 Overall Rank:36]
Froggy McFrogface
United States
FORT COLLINS
CO
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I've nearly sworn-off expansions: we play the same games so infrequently, that often we have to 're-learn' the base game, without adding the extra hassle of integrating an expansion.

The one exception over the past few years has been to continue to collect the Power Grid maps, thanks in large part to some lovely BGG secret Santas.
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13. Board Game: Formula Dé Circuits 3 & 4: Zandvoort 2 & SPA-Francorchamps [Average Rating:7.60 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.60 Unranked]
Kevin Whitmore
United States
Albuquerque
New Mexico
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I enjoy seeing the variety of different race courses for Formula De. I didn't collect them all, but I did get about 20 different circuits.

Similarly, I got both expansions for TurfMaster.

My other weakness has been for the various expansions for Memoir '44.


I've collected several others. I'll have to think when ese I seek out expansions...
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14. Board Game: Saint Petersburg: New Society & Banquet Expansion [Average Rating:7.45 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.45 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.45 Unranked]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
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OK, this is a fine example of why I don't like expansions.

Well, OK, this is actually two expansions in one, but The Banquet is a throw-away expansion, which doesn't really matter - mostly because no one I know uses it.

But New Society?

* It tries to fix things that I don't think are broken. The Mistress of Ceremonies is clearly a strong card - but I don't see it as breaking the game. Tom does, so he "fixed" it. So now if you have players who prefer the original, and others who prefer the changed version, an agreement to play Saint Petersburg is no longer sufficient - you have to agree as to which version you're playing. And the odds that everyone would prefer the same version aren't high.

* It's difficult to sort out and play the original game, once the expansion is mixed in. Possible, certainly, but it's a pain.

* It lengthens the game. This is a common failing of expansions.

* It shoehorns in an additional player - who doesn't really fit.

It's not really an awful expansion, and (having, among other things, playtested it) I understand what Tom was trying to do, and why. But - for me, it reduces my rating from the game from a 10 to a 5 or 6, and makes it harder to get the game I want to play played.

And that last bit is what I find evil about expansions. I'm happy to enjoy or not enjoy a game on its own merits. But if I enjoy it, I don't want it messed with - and if I don't, an expansion isn't going to help. I don't really care how much the Hamster Teutonica expansion improves the game; I don't want to sit through the game again in any form.
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15. Board Game: Twilight Imperium (Third Edition) [Average Rating:7.87 Overall Rank:53]
 
Dave Kudzma
United States
Millsboro
Delaware
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Speaking of expansions that fix the game, Twilight Imperium (Third Edition): Shattered Empire not only adds more roles, but most of them improved. There's a pile of new content that expands the play in every direction imaginable, including some stellar new races.

Twilight Imperium (Third Edition): Shards of the Throne has some interesting ideas but feels less like the 1.5 that came before and bumps it up to a 1.51

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16. Board Game: Alhambra: Big Box [Average Rating:7.53 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.53 Unranked]
Kenny VenOsdel
United States
Saint Paul
Minnesota
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Alhambra is okay, but it's not a game I would like to play all the time. The expansions for it are designed as modules so you can include some when you want and mix and match any for variety. Most of them are small and require only a few extra rules to implement which is good. However, most of them don't interest me and we really only use 2 or 3 of them (change and diamond suits are always used).

The thing that really annoys me about them is the way they are released. Originally they came 5 modules at a time and you would have to spend a crazy amount to get them all. If you only wanted one module you had to pay for 5, which is something I would have never done.

I got the Big Box which still forced me to pay for a lot of content I'm not interested in, hence still annoyed. I'm not sure there is a better way to do it though, but I still don't like it.

Fortunately it was a Christmas gift so I didn't pay for it myself. I don't think I ever would have gotten it otherwise.
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17. Board Game: Edo [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:1149]
EGG Head
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So finally took a break from moving to have a game day. The game room is mostly set up.



Games played:
Bruges I am enjoying this card game from Feld.

Spyrium x 2 The grid reminds of the market in Hermagor. So far it's been interesting but not sure about it's staying power. There may not be enough variety in the game for me.

Dia de los Muertos Finally played this partnership game. Love the original theme and artwork and it played pretty well.

Arabana-Opodopo Multiplayer Kahuna. It [the other players] was mean...to me.

Pelican Cove Logic game. Don't play it when you have had insomnia...

TurfMaster Hadn't played this in ages, Had trouble remembering how the lane changes worked. I still love a good race game.

Edo With one of the new expansion modules. I like this programing game quite a bit. The expansion we used with the Pagodas actually sped the game up a bit.

Lost Cities Dragged this old filler out.

Games played previously I may not have mentioned before
Advanced Civilization
Cartagena

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18. Board Game: Takenoko [Average Rating:7.30 Overall Rank:235]
skippen
United States
Greeley
Colorado
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The Week that Was...


Games continue to trickle in from the Math Trade. A bit slower and a bit more beat-up than even I would have expected. I tend rate the condition of my games lower than they probably are.

Games Played:

Takenoko -- this was a pleasant surprise. I thought I would like it just due to the cuteness of the game, but it is a fun, light game. My wife really enjoyed it. We are going to make a few house-rules to tighten up the luck of the draw a bit, but we both enjoyed it.

Roma -- slowly, and occasionally, getting some games played at work. I brought this, and we played a couple of time. I really like this one. The iconography leaves a lot to be desired, but after a few plays, you start to remember. I have played Arena: Roma II, and I kind of want it, but it is hard to justify buying the game again when I haven't played this one that much.

Forbidden Island -- in "honor" of the flooding here, I decided top pull out this game that my wife gave me a year or so ago. She had never played. She has played Pandemic and she does not like it (theme I think). She seemed to like this one once we got going and she got the flow and goals in mind. This was my second play, and I must say, I liked it much better this time. Before I disliked it because I thought it was just "kiddie" version of Pandemic, but now I think it is a solid variant on its own. I really liked the one play I had of Forbidden Desert. I will need to obtain that someday.

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19. Board Game: Arkham Horror: Innsmouth Horror Expansion [Average Rating:7.91 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.91 Unranked]
Jason Lott
United States
Cheverly
Maryland
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This list wouldn't be complete without a discussion on what you think of the FFG-style expansions - particularly I'm thinking of Battlestar Galactica and Arkham Horror.

In general I think the reason to get these is to ratchet up the level of difficulty if you're bored with the base game or your group has just gotten too good at it. In retrospect I don't think any of the expansions I own for these games are really necessary, as we don't play the base games often enough to justify them.

But it's tough to resist that siren's call when you're so into a game, and you just WANT MORE.
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20. Board Game: Silverton [Average Rating:7.10 Overall Rank:1536]
Chester
United States
Temple
Texas
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Games Played (9/8 - 9/14)

Silverton x4
I hadn't played this before...and I thought maybe a solo play (it has solitaire rules) would be helpful for possibly getting this on the table for a regular group.

Well, I really enjoyed it and played a few more of the different solitaire scenarios. I haven't incorporated the alternate/advanced rules with snowplows and trains yet, but I think I may do that over this weekend.

Turns out, this is a pretty fun game. There is some speculation, managing resources, logistical planning and market manipulation. Lots of stuff up my alley. The game components are a bit fiddly, and the game is probably far too long for the pay-out in game terms, but I found myself wanting to play it again and again. I think part of the draw is that most of the map is parts of New Mexico, little towns that I've been to. It makes it more fun for me to imagine a gold mine or a copper mine popping up in some remote part of New Mexico and then building a route to get it.

I hope to play it multiplayer at least once, since there are certainly elements of the game you miss in the solitaire scenarios. It may not be that easy to get on the table, but I'll give it a shot.

Combat Commander: Europe x1
We played Scenario 9 for the second time (swapping sides). This one has a relatively high unit count. It was exciting. As the American paratroopers, I felt like everything that could go wrong did go wrong. And true to form for Combat Commander, luck started to swing my way at the end to create a really exciting finish. Such a great narrative developed over the course of the game.
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21. Board Game: King of Tokyo: Power Up! [Average Rating:7.65 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.65 Unranked]
Chester
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Temple
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Here's an expansion that seemed great at first blush. But after some repeat playings it turns out there are some fatal flaws.

The incentive to collect hearts (rather than attack or something else) causes the game to last longer and sometimes drag on.

In the end, I just prefer to play the base game. It was better without the extra stuff (at least implemented in the way it is).
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22. Board Game: Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 1 – Team Asia & Legendary Asia [Average Rating:7.71 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.71 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.71 Unranked]
Chester
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Temple
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I've enjoyed most of the Ticket to Ride expansions....but Team Asia in particular deserves some notice. It really makes a much different game with the partnership element. I liked it...but its been surprisingly tricky to get on the table.
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23. Board Game: Combat Commander: Mediterranean [Average Rating:8.51 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.51 Unranked]
Chester
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Frankly, this is simply the 2nd half of the Combat Commander: Europe game. It fleshes out the factions and gives you the full range of options for creating your own scenarios.

But I'm an auto-purchase for all things Combat Commander. Unfortunately, I'm playing through the scenarios at about the same speed they're coming out, and I'm only like 6 years behind the pace. But its all savory gaming, lots of fun. I look forward to playing it all, but it may never happen.
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24. Board Game: Mansions of Madness [Average Rating:7.33 Overall Rank:298] [Average Rating:7.33 Unranked]
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I've only played this once. There are 5 or 6 missions on the base game, and each one can be played a number of different ways.....so there really is a lot of longevity if you want. But the expansions are only like $10, and each one provides a novel story. For a night of gaming, I don't mind plunking down $10 to give us a new experience with the group. Its still a lot cheaper than a movie (and retains some value).

So, they're not necessary, but I feel like its a small extravagance I plan to indulge.
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25. Board Game: The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:111] [Average Rating:7.64 Unranked]
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I've steered clear of collectible gaming for my whole life up until this game. And I'm fully aware that I'm spending more on this game than it probably warrants...but since I at least know exactly what I'm purchasing (as opposed to the CCG model) I tolerate it.

Why to I tolerate it? Because this turns out to be a fantastic partnership game that I enjoy playing with my wife. I've been auto-buying each expansion as it comes. We're a little behind on our plays, but the game is out on my table as I speak. In a month or two we'll cycle back to it and see if we can defeat all the scenarios.

Having said that, I'm loathe to embrace ANOTHER LCG until I'm no longer playing this one. There isn't room for more than one.
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