Reasons Why Expansions Stink
Robert Martin
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Atlanta
Georgia
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These are the things that really annoy me about expansions. Don't get me wrong, I have a lot of expansions and I like many of the ones on this list. But I think overall there are usually better ways to spend gaming dollars.
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1. Board Game: Nuclear Escalation [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:2183] [Average Rating:6.60 Unranked]
Robert Martin
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They Confuse the Rules

Some expansions require that players memorize certain interactions between expansion components and non expansion components. For instance, Anti-Missile cards in Nuclear War list all the weapons they are effective against. Unfortunately, they are also effective against weapons in Nuclear Escalation and Proliferation, but since those weapons didn't exist when Nuclear War came out, players have to memorize the newer cards that the older cards are effective against.
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2. Board Game: Zombies!!! 2: Zombie Corps(e) [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
Robert Martin
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They Make Cleanup a Pain

Many expansions mix pieces with the original game, but provide no good way to separate the pieces back out. Case in point is Zombies!!! 2, which provides a whole new set of cards to be shuffled with the originals. Problem is, there is no way to know which card comes from which set when you need to clean the game up.
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3. Board Game: Catan: Seafarers – 5-6 Player Extension [Average Rating:6.97 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.97 Unranked]
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They are a Poor Value

Many expansions are relatively expensive considering what you get in the box. The Seafarers 5-6 player expansion is a great example of this. It sells for more than many top quality games, and yet there are only a few inexpensive pieces in the box.
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4. Board Game: Catan: Cities & Knights [Average Rating:7.47 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.47 Unranked]
Robert Martin
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They Add Complexity

Often times the original form of the game is the best because it is simple and streamlined. Expansions often throw a bunch of extra rules on top of what used to be a clean system, making it unweildy.
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5. Board Game: Lord of the Rings: Sauron [Average Rating:6.88 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.88 Unranked]
Robert Martin
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They Upset Game Balance

Some expansions throw off the original game balance, giving advantages to one or more groups of players. The Sauron expansion is a good example of this. It makes the game almost impossible for the Fellowship to win.
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6. Board Game: Catan: Seafarers [Average Rating:7.17 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.17 Unranked]
Robert Martin
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They Make the Game Longer

Expansions often make the game last longer than the original. Oftentimes this becomes "too much of a good thing". Settlers was fun at 60 minutes. Seafarers is a bit long at 90+ minutes.
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7. Board Game: A Game of Thrones: A Clash of Kings Expansion [Average Rating:7.84 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.84 Unranked]
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They are a Waste of Space

In order to fit nicely on the shelf next to their base game, most expansions come in a similarly sized box. The Game of Thrones expansion comes in the same large box that its original came in, although it has far fewer components. This is a large waste of shelf space.
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8. Board Game: La Isla Bohnitâ [Average Rating:5.84 Unranked] [Average Rating:5.84 Unranked]
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They Make the Original Game Worse

Sometimes, expansions actually ruin the gameplay of the original. Does anyone actually play Bohnanza with La Isla Bohnita? Didn't think so.
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9. Board Game: Talisman Timescape [Average Rating:5.86 Unranked] [Average Rating:5.86 Unranked]
Robert Martin
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They Distract from the Theme

Expansions like Talisman Timescape introduce new elements to the theme which alter its original intent. Talisman was always a Fantasy themed adventure game, but Timescape introduces all this weird sci fi time travel stuff.
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10. Board Game: Kremlin: Revolution [Average Rating:6.84 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.84 Unranked]
Robert Martin
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They Add Nothing of Substance

Kremlin: Revolution and its kind simply ride on the coattails of their base game, adding virtually nothing to the experience. You get some new artwork or a bit of extra theme, but the game remains essentially unchanged.
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11. Board Game: Die Siedler von Catan: Das Buch zum Spielen [Average Rating:7.29 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.29 Unranked]
Robert Martin
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They Make You Re-Learn the Rules

I've owned the Settlers Book for quite a while but I've never used it. Why? Because I have to re-learn how to play a game I already know how to play. If I'm going to have to learn an entirely new set of rules, I want to play a new game!
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12. Board Game: Life & Death & An American Chainsaw [Average Rating:6.36 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.36 Unranked]
Robert Martin
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The Components Don't Match

Life, Death, and an American Chainsaw is a set of cards that can be shuffled in with the originals. Problem is, they are printed on an entirely different cardstock, which means they are easy to visually distinguish from the originals. Which makes the expansion relatively useless... This is a problem in particular with card games, where often the cardstock or the printing on the backs will not match exactly with the originals.
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13. Board Game: Carcassonne: Expansion 1 – Inns & Cathedrals [Average Rating:7.61 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.61 Unranked]
Robert Martin
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They Cause Arguments About Which Version to Play

Let's play Carcassonne.

OK. But I only like the Hunters & Gatherers version.

But I only like the original with the River.

Not the River, it ruins the farm scoring.

I think it's best with Traders & Builders and the big meeple variant from Inns & Cathedrals. Oh, and with that free expansion they gave away in Essen.

...Let's just play something else.
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