Disclaimer: I am mostly a solo player. So this is from that perspective.
I bought this when I bought the game some months ago. Knowing there were more expansions looming, I thought I really should get it to the table and just see if I like the base game, then see what the expansion does for me.
Base game: Check. It works. Quick to set up, plays pretty quick as well. Not the best solo system, but I'm OK with a "beat your own score" type of system. The rules say a win is over 50. A recent play netted 73.
Now for the expansion.
There are 12 gold brick tokens. Nice. They look almost exactly like the wood tokens in the original game. For us slightly colorblind folks, that's not so good. But the gold is a "commodity" not a resource. And it is limited in supply, so keep it clearly separate from the three resources and all should be fine. Pay attention to how many gold you set out- it is a limited resource. Checking the forums led to the discovery of 6 gold when playing solo. So that's what I set out.
There are 12 new locations, each with 3 cards. Some are slightly different versions of what's in the base game, some focus on the gold. Oh, and yes. There is a gold mine set of cards that are placed with the other mine/resource cards. Getting one of those on your board is the only way to get the gold.
When playing solo, you can go through the deck 4 or 5 per row. I find the normal mode (4 cards) makes for a long enough game and give me a nice score to record. So I then worked on what to do with the new location cards. Hmmmm... 4 locations would be 12 cards, 8 would be 24, all 12 new locations would be 36. That works out nicely. I chose 4 locations that focused on the gold. That would essentially add 3 turns to the length of a normal game. And I got started.
It took a while for the gold to come out. I didn't roll all that well, and kept collecting pass tokens mainly so I wouldn't waste resources. I was able to put some of the other cards to good use and managed to collect a number of points using the trade ships. When the gold mines did start producing (I ended with 2 on my board) I used the gold as quickly as possible. Mostly with the Palace and 4 VP right away. Just as a note, the other locations I used were the Hospital (I never got any into play), the Governor's House (never got into play) and the Goldsmith.
It was the Goldsmith that provided the thinking part. With a few Market Place and Storehouse in play, I did face a choice of what to do with a gold token: use at the Goldsmith, or use at the Palace? Doing a few moves and using some pass tokens, I was able to get enough resources for the 5 VP trade ship- which is greater than the 4 VP of the Palace. I also put the Goldsmith to use to get Town Halls and Cathedrals.
When the last line of locations rode off into the sunset, I started counting.
32 VP on the board. The only mine/resource card I bought were the two gold mines. And they count for nothing.
65 VP in tokens collected. Almost all that is in the game.
97 total. I'd call that a win.
What I'll do next time: Play with 5 on a line. Probably play without the expansion, then again with. I keep a list of the expansion locations so I can add/remove them as needed. It would have been nice if they had used a different boarder color (like, GOLD, maybe?) so the cards could be sorted easier.
Other things I may try: Use 1 or 2 of each location instead of the included 3. I would just think that 1 of each location and 5 on a line would be quite a challenging solo game.
This expansion does bring in some nice changes. I just thought of another change that I'll post separately. If you do the solo version, it does give you a few more things to think about.
Thanks for reading!