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Subject: How soon do you want an expansion for your brand new game? rss

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Andy Durston
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Don't get me wrong, I love expansions (done well), but when a new game gets announced and an expansion is announced alongside, either available immediately or very soon after the base game hits, it dampens my enthusiasm for the base game. Either the company thinks it's not strong enough to garner repeated plays without the need for an immediate content boost or i feel they've made an awesome game and piecemealed it out to make more money. I feel the same with LCGs. The core game drops and everyone loves it. Immediately a content boost is offered. Fair enough - it's a game system that is built around an ever increasing card pool. The problem for me is they are released at such an alarming rate that you just can't keep up with either the constant money sink or the way the meta will change with every pack. Would you rather a bigger box came out every few months with a large amount of cards? Even if it cost the same it would give the communities more of a chance to play and develop new strategies before an immediate change. what do you think? Do you like the board gaming equivalent of day 1 DLC?
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Andy
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Call me a cynic but I don't think expansions are created just to improve a game...
Likewise, I feel no compulsion to buy them. I'm happy to wait until a) they've been released a while and plenty of reviews exist and b) I've had plenty of play from the original and feel the need for one.

Maybe I'm just a grumpy old man though...
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D. R.
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If it's a euro game, I probably will never want an expansion for it, because it heavily revolves around its core mechanics. E.g. Madeira, Agricola, Food Chain Magnate...

If it's an ameritrash game with storytelling and theme that runs out of interesting concepts - pretty soon. E.g. Descent 2nd Ed, Mansions of Madness, Neuroshima Hex, pretty much every miniatures wargame...
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Ron
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It depends on the game. If it's an 'add an extra faction' kind of expansion that doesn't change the game much, I'm often tempted to grab it. I also have 9 expansion maps for Age of Steam, a game I played only 7 times so far. One was included with the game, and the rest were available at a good price
Usually, I'll want to play a game until it starts going stale before buying an expansion, though. For some games, that might never happen
 
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Ian Williams
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I quite like the idea of chopping off part of a game and selling it as a Day 1 expansion, if it lowers the price of that base experience. Certain elements are fine being optional. 5 players? Lots of people won't be playing with that many. Take that elements in a euro-game? Some people don't like that much confrontation in their euros. More playable character options? Some people won't like the look of those characters.

Personally, I look at my copy of Caverna: The Cave Farmers, with enough components for 7 players, and wish I could have spent less money to get just enough components for 4. I think my copy of Trickerion: Legends of Illusion is just fine for me in terms of complexity without the expansion. Zombicide: Black Plague having extra heroes available in a separate box is fine by me, because none of them float my boat. Glad they're in a different box and my base game costs less.

So I like the idea of certain things being Day One, even if the implementation sometimes looks a little cash-grabby. Most of the time, when later-on expansions are released, I'm already done with a game. Which is a personal thing that's bumming me out a little.
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Mike Jones
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Sometimes I like expansions sometimes I don't, so I am rarely Jonesing for one.

In your scenario, I'd probably skip the game all together.
 
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Jae
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if an expansion is ready on Day 1, why didn't you include it with the base game to begin with?
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celdom wrote:
I quite like the idea of chopping off part of a game and selling it as a Day 1 expansion, if it lowers the price of that base experience. Certain elements are fine being optional. 5 players? Lots of people won't be playing with that many. Take that elements in a euro-game? Some people don't like that much confrontation in their euros. More playable character options? Some people won't like the look of those characters.


Ah, but if the expansion plus base set costs more than if the contents of both were packaged together?

But, yeah, price. What if you could only buy Dominion as the base game plus all the expansions? It would be cheaper than buying each individually, but I'm sure quite a few gamers would balk at paying $300+ for a game!

Anyway, sometimes a game designer will submit a game that a publisher will break up into a base game and expansion. Settlers of Catan is an example, as is the Lord of the Rings boardgame. Some reasons why a game gets separated into a base game and expansion:
* Price Point: It's easier on the cash flow to sell the base game and expansion separately.
* Component production: Some components have standard and less expensive sizes, so publishers fit the game design to these price points. For example, tuckbox card decks have 110 cards, so the game designer takes out cards from his game down to 110 cards. Printers have standard box size, so a game of two decks and a die comes in a box several times the minimum space needed for the components. RPG supplements are layed out for 64 and 128 pages.
* Complexity: Some rules and their content were taken out from the original game design so that the game was easier to play.
* Patch: After customer feedback to the base game, an expansion is released to improve the game.
* Game design: Some game designs, such as CCGs and miniature wargames, are designed for infinite expansions (new factions, additional mechanics).
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John
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Bagherra wrote:
if an expansion is ready on Day 1, why didn't you include it with the base game to begin with?


Lots of reasons:

1. Some people might not want the expansion.
2. It may be more difficult to learn the game with the expansion.
3. You may be committed to making the content in that expansion compatible with all future expansions.
4. Including an expansion might make the game cost more than some people would want to spend on a single game. Buying a game then an expansion spreads the cost, reduces the risk if you don't like it and expansions for games are good things for me to put on Christmas/birthday lists.
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Robbert Vervuurt
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TechnoGoat wrote:
Don't get me wrong, I love expansions (done well), but when a new game gets announced and an expansion is announced alongside, either available immediately or very soon after the base game hits, it dampens my enthusiasm for the base game. Either the company thinks it's not strong enough to garner repeated plays without the need for an immediate content boost or i feel they've made an awesome game and piecemealed it out to make more money. I feel the same with LCGs. The core game drops and everyone loves it. Immediately a content boost is offered. Fair enough - it's a game system that is built around an ever increasing card pool. The problem for me is they are released at such an alarming rate that you just can't keep up with either the constant money sink or the way the meta will change with every pack. Would you rather a bigger box came out every few months with a large amount of cards? Even if it cost the same it would give the communities more of a chance to play and develop new strategies before an immediate change. what do you think? Do you like the board gaming equivalent of day 1 DLC?


I have tried this same discussion a while ago, but apparently the board game market isn't as poisoned with "Day One DLC" as the console/PC game market is yet. I guess the difference is that people might feel they get a full experience if they buy the board game, where the thing shifted with computer games to selling half games and then needing to buy DLC/season passes to get the full experience.

However, as easy as people seem to buy into the day one expansions, I'm pretty sure companies soon see this is a way to earn more money on their games, making the market flood with day one expansions that are needed to experience the game fully.

In the end, both markets are there to make money, it's simple as that. Maybe the makers are still a bit closer to the end user than game developers, but this will change when board gaming becomes more and more mainstream.
 
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Ken Lewis
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If the game is designed as an expandable game, like a lot of miniatures games are, I expect there to be at least 1 expansion available when the game is released or shortly thereafter.

For standard board games like Catan, Pandemic, Ticket to Ride, etc.. I prefer those types of games to not have expansions. Expansions for those games just seem like expensive ways to keep the game from getting stale. If I feel one of those games needs an expansion to keep me interested in playing it, I will likely sell the game instead of adding an expansion.
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Robbert Vervuurt
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celdom wrote:
I quite like the idea of chopping off part of a game and selling it as a Day 1 expansion, if it lowers the price of that base experience. Certain elements are fine being optional. 5 players? Lots of people won't be playing with that many. Take that elements in a euro-game? Some people don't like that much confrontation in their euros. More playable character options? Some people won't like the look of those characters.

Personally, I look at my copy of Caverna: The Cave Farmers, with enough components for 7 players, and wish I could have spent less money to get just enough components for 4. I think my copy of Trickerion: Legends of Illusion is just fine for me in terms of complexity without the expansion. Zombicide: Black Plague having extra heroes available in a separate box is fine by me, because none of them float my boat. Glad they're in a different box and my base game costs less.

So I like the idea of certain things being Day One, even if the implementation sometimes looks a little cash-grabby. Most of the time, when later-on expansions are released, I'm already done with a game. Which is a personal thing that's bumming me out a little.


I can almost promise you that Caverna would've been as expensive as it is now, if it only had parts for 4 players. Same with Zombicide. This is how they do it with computer games and this is how they will be doing it more and more often with board games.

It's not like Star Wars: Battlefront was suddenly only €35, because it was missing a lot. No no, it was still the standard €60 and the Day One DLC just had its own price.

If developers (both of computer and board games) can start prommising lower prices for less components and they actually start doing that, that's when I'll agree with you. However, both markets are aimed at earning money and I think they couldn't care less if they put in elements for 4 or 7 players or if they add or leave heroes.

I think it's really sweet and naive how a lot of people here think they remove parts of games to make the game cheaper and easier to understand for the player. Trust me: they don't. It's a business and if they can earn extra money by removing a small part of a game (5th player, extra scenario), they'll do that.
 
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John
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To partly answer the original question: 6-12 month after buying a game I'd consider getting an expansion (if I think I'll enjoy the expansion), and probably a similar length of time until getting another expansion. I want to explore a game for a while before adding something. If it doesn't stand up to repeat plays then I doubt expansions will help. For example for Race for the Galaxy we bought expansions after - 8 months (TGS), 3 months (AA), 18 months (RvI)*, 13+ months (BoW)** (dates from previous purchase).

* Until first play - we had it for a month or two before this.
** Only just ordered BoW, it hasn't arrived yet and we don't intend to play it straight away when it does. We'll probably wait a couple of months at least.

When the expansions come out - I'm not so bothered as long as they are available for a while. I play games with family & friends and so it doesn't matter much whether an expansion is brand new when we get it or has been out for years.
 
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T. Ips
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Only after I've exhausted the core game but still want to play it even more. Usually around 30-200 plays but even then I might never get it unless it's a very good expansion. I would never ever buy an expansion straight away
 
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I really like Eldritch Horror and if you really like it too then buy every expansion available and throw it all in you won't regret it. Each expansion adds variability and therefore replayability.
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Ole Richard Tuft
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TechnoGoat wrote:
Do you like the board gaming equivalent of day 1 DLC?


No. To me they are sign saying "We are catering to the customers who want less content in their game, by overcharging customers who want more content, for content that could have been included in the base game". I look at the sign, shake my head, and move on.
 
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Milki Kaplanski
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rvervuurt wrote:

I have tried this same discussion a while ago, but apparently the board game market isn't as poisoned with "Day One DLC" as the console/PC game market is yet. I guess the difference is that people might feel they get a full experience if they buy the board game, where the thing shifted with computer games to selling half games and then needing to buy DLC/season passes to get the full experience.

However, as easy as people seem to buy into the day one expansions, I'm pretty sure companies soon see this is a way to earn more money on their games, making the market flood with day one expansions that are needed to experience the game fully.

In the end, both markets are there to make money, it's simple as that. Maybe the makers are still a bit closer to the end user than game developers, but this will change when board gaming becomes more and more mainstream.


I don't really see the "Day One DLC" thing happening that extremely for board games. Not now, not in the future. I've spent quite some time wondering about why the phenomenon didn't take off in board gaming as much. The thing is, an expansion for a board game requires much more money to produce compared to a digital DLC for a video game. That DLC does not need to get printed (unless it's something SUPER hyped like Witcher 3's DLC, which had a rather large print run for console versions as well as a PC print, but they KNEW they'd sell those, so no risks there), 3D models and textures can be reused, besides voice acting (which probably had been recorded along with the main dialogue to save costs), writing and level design you don't need much for a DLC.

Another point would be that board gamers tend to be a lot less willing to shelf out more money for the same game, unless it's something they really like. You don't see such a restrained mentality very often for video games. "Just wait for the next Steam sale and buy them all!" is usually the common thought. But prices don't drop as hard for board games, so getting an expansion 2 or 3 years later can be cheaper, but it can also be much, much more pricey if by then the game/expansion is OOP.

I'm guessing most board game publishers opt for a day one expansion because it makes production cheaper. Having to make one order at the printing factory instead of two on different dates should make things a little cheaper. But on the other hand, at that point you don't even know how many people are gonna buy your game and who will get the expansion along with it. If anything I think the trend of day one expansions will go down more in the future or at least stay the same.

I'm personally willing to buy an expansion along the main game if I know beforehand that I'll love the game - Mystic Vale is an example for that. I know I will love the game and play it LOTS, but since almost all reviewers mentioned that without more cards the game will get boring quick I'll try to get both the main game and the expansion on Friday in Essen at the board game fair. This is the first time I'm buying an expansion along the main game right from the beginning. So 35€ for the base game and 25€ for the expansion, so 60€ for both. Which is usually what I spend on one game anyway. But for others it can mean "35 I'm gonnna spend this month, and another 25 I will spend next month" I know of quite a few people who wouldn't even look at a game with a 60€ price tag, but 35€? That's much easier to swallow!


So, while I heavily criticise the day one DLC practice done in video gaming, I don't feel the same thing is happening for board games. It feels less like an easy cash-grab and more like publishers had actually put some thought into it - of course their goal is to make more profit, but BG publishers seem a lot nicer about it compared to VG publishers.



Giant_Monster wrote:
For standard board games like Catan, Pandemic, Ticket to Ride, etc.. I prefer those types of games to not have expansions.

I can no longer play Catan without any expansion, I've been playing it on and off since 20 years and basic Catan is just such a snore fest by now. I think Catan really needs the Seafarers expansion after 20+ plays. But to each their own. :)
 
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Gary Selkirk
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This is a very good question.
Being a game designer, I focus on the actual battle / Campaign, units involved, terrain, time and space, troop numbers, etc. I look at what was available historically, add in probabilities and some 'what ifs', but it's impossible to think of everything and what an individual player of that certain game is looking for. Therefore, expansions are invented to possibly add more realism, additional 'what ifs' and possible situations that could have developed.
I've noticed that in a large number of games, expansions have been put forth, even if it involves the addition of a battle board or markers.
Bottom line, it takes a few plays, in my opinion, to think of adding an expansion.
One simple case, in my designs, was the fact that once LEE TAKES COMMAND was published, it would be easy enough to add an expansion to cover GRANT TAKES COMMAND. Using the same maps, all that was necessary was to develop 1864 rules and units. Turned out very well.
 
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Ken Lewis
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miruki wrote:
Giant_Monster wrote:
For standard board games like Catan, Pandemic, Ticket to Ride, etc.. I prefer those types of games to not have expansions.

I can no longer play Catan without any expansion, I've been playing it on and off since 20 years and basic Catan is just such a snore fest by now. I think Catan really needs the Seafarers expansion after 20+ plays. But to each their own.


Exactly. It is a question of value to me. In order to make game X fun again do I spend more money on an expansion (that may potentially have the same issue of staleness over time that the base game had) or sell it and buy a new game. This decision is of course weighed against several other factors, but more often than not, I will choose a new game. I don't always sell the old game because sometimes all you need is some time away from it.
 
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Bryan Thunkd
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There is no general rule for this because every game is different. If the game starts feeling rote or samey after some number of plays, then I might want an expansion, if that expansion makes the game feel new and fresh, but how quickly that happens depends on the game. And not every expansion makes a game better. I think you're better off taking each instance on a case by case basis.
 
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Giant_Monster wrote:
Exactly. It is a question of value to me. In order to make game X fun again do I spend more money on an expansion (that may potentially have the same issue of staleness over time that the base game had) or sell it and buy a new game. This decision is of course weighed against several other factors, but more often than not, I will choose a new game. I don't always sell the old game because sometimes all you need is some time away from it.

In a case like Catan getting the expansion is usually a much cheaper option than getting a new game tho. I think I paid less than 5€ for my first (used) Seafarer expansion? I also gave my game away a few years ago, but when my favourite café closed down the owner gave me their copy with all expansions... so, it seems there is no way to escape Catan. XD
 
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Morten K
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The more games I play the fewer expansions I buy. A good game shouldn't need an expansion.
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Dave Lartigue
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This weekend I played my new copy of Terraforming Mars. We played the base game and thoroughly enjoyed it, but there's also an advanced game. As eager as I am to see those cards, I feel like I want to keep playing just the basic game for a while, so that when I do finally add those cards, it will be more interesting and meaningful.

I've done the same thing with the 51st State: Master Set, leaving the included "New Era" and "Winter" decks out so far and only playing with the base cards.

So when it comes to expansions, I can definitely hold off. I do enjoy buying things like new maps or Neuroshima Hex armies and such, but in general I'm pretty okay with not just adding things in whole hog.
 
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Ken Lewis
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miruki wrote:
Giant_Monster wrote:
Exactly. It is a question of value to me. In order to make game X fun again do I spend more money on an expansion (that may potentially have the same issue of staleness over time that the base game had) or sell it and buy a new game. This decision is of course weighed against several other factors, but more often than not, I will choose a new game. I don't always sell the old game because sometimes all you need is some time away from it.

In a case like Catan getting the expansion is usually a much cheaper option than getting a new game tho. I think I paid less than 5€ for my first (used) Seafarer expansion? I also gave my game away a few years ago, but when my favourite café closed down the owner gave me their copy with all expansions... so, it seems there is no way to escape Catan. XD


True, if you like buying used games (but, that is true for buying a used copy of a game that will be "new to you" as well).

If you really want to save money, you can just join a game group and not have to buy Catan at all since every game group I've been a part of has at least one person, usually more, who own Catan and its expansions (or wait until someone else is getting rid of a copy).

 
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Geoffrey Burrell
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I would like them as fast as possible because I usually would have high regard of the base game. The expansion usually means more players and a good time playing.
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