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Subject: Should You Buy the Expansion Kit? rss

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David Kennedy
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If you like Soviet Dawn, absolutely. What the expansion kit gives you, aside from more cool event cards, are additional rules which give you more decisions and options. But, even better, the new rules create more uncertainty in the Kremlin.

The Last Battalion -- This rule allows you to use your reserve offensive chits as reinforcements. If you roll the strength of a front (i.e. tie it), you can use one of your reserve offensive chits to break the tie and win the battle. Given you have only five reserve offensives, you will have to weigh the decision carefully. If the enemy is adjacent to Moscow, the temptation will be very high. But, say you have three action points and you roll a tie on the first roll. Do you take a chance that you'll do better on subsequent rolls and not expend it? If you have plenty of reserves, why not? But, if your reserves are low, you may not be so eager to commit the precious resource to the battle. Sure, victory is yours. But, if there is a lot of time left 'on the clock', you have to ask yourself if you want to risk exhausting your reserves so early in the game? Then again, what if your subsequent rolls are worse than this initial tie roll?

White Front Perserverance -- In the basic game, enemy fronts are automatically removed from the game when the relevant event card is played. With this new rule, the chances of removing an enemy front depend upon their position. If they are on their initial space, you get a -1 DRM. Otherwise, you have to roll less than the number on their present space. (A total crapshoot by the way.) The effect is greater unpredictability and more choices. How much effort should I expend to try and remove this enemy front? Also, as you become more familiar with the Event cards, you'll begin to anticipate these opportunities. Some of them you have to anticipate and drive the front back sufficiently beforehand to take advantage. For example, the event card "Fredrich Karl Abdicates Throne!" has only a single Action Point. So if the Finns are closer to Petrograd than Helsinki, you're going to have to burn some precious Reserve Offensives. So when the Darkess cards come into play, that is another detail you have to think about when allocating your action points. This principle applies to the other fronts, but to a lesser extent.

Extra Event Cards -- There are twelve new event cards. They make the game longer and, hence, tougher. To me, just more fun. The most dangerous new event card is the "Soviet Economics: 'War Communism'!" The Soviet player always has to be anticipating this shoe dropping, as it advances the Southern and Eastern fronts and has zero actions associated with it.

Decisive Military Outcomes -- This is the most significant change to the game. The combat system has been revamped to allow more unpredictable results. As the Soviets when you roll a six -- "Pow!" -- the enemy front is disorganized or routed in addition to being driven back. The end result is to make combat more 'punchy'. You can put a real hurt on the enemy and allow yourself a chance to shift your attention to another front. It also creates a definite "Yes!" factor when your boys come through for you.

However, this sword has two edges. Soviet troops can be decisively defeated by the enemy. This means if you roll a one, the enemy front advances. Even worse, they get a special die roll. If they roll equal to the space they are in, they advance again!!! It is a nightmare for the Soviet player and means you can't be attacking the enemy recklessly. You need to be very mindful that the enemy could take Moscow with a few bad rolls. I find I attack much more cautiously and rarely expend my final action point for combat. It is usually too risky. So I end up rolling on the Political Track or the Reorg Table with my final action point.

This rule also has the effect of making the enemy fronts dangerous to the bitter end. In the standard game, if the Soviets get over the hump and start shutting down enemy fronts, they can really take control of the game. No longer. With Decisive Military Outcomes, those enemy fronts are always a threat. The result is game tension is prolonged, which is a good thing.

Political Recovery -- This is a sensible and simple rule. When either Petrograd or Kiev are retaken, the Soviet player gets a chance to roll either on the Political Track to recoup their political losses. Or he can take a chance on Reorg Table. Either way, it is reasonable and necessary, particularly with the changes to the combat system.

Cheka This Out -- In my opinion, this rule is a must. The Soviet player sets up with the Cheka marker in the Available Resources box with the Reserve Offensive and Political Decree markers. Given the enemy fronts are now more dangerous, this additional resource is needed by the Soviets to have a fighting chance of surviving. This is one of your "In case of emergency" resources. Believe me, you will need it. And when you do expend it (as you invariably will), you can always reacquire it through the Reorg Table.

The net effect of these rules changes is a deeper, more tense and challenging game. Moreover, it does this with a minmum of additional complexity. Even better, time length is not impacted. You can still set-up the game over lunch and get back to your desk within 30 minutes. So if it isn't clear by this point -- buy this expansion kit. You'll love it.
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Marc Puig
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I will buy the expansion kit but it worries me that too many changes mess a bit my game play.

I enjoy so much with the basic game that wouldn t want anything broken
such a fantastic game play.

Thanks for your advice Hitch.
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David Kennedy
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Marc, your concerns are completely unfounded. The new rules integrate easily and effortlessly. And as I said, the net effect is a more unpredictable game, more wiley and determined enemies for the Soviets, and more options for dealing with them. What's not to like? The enhancements elevate the game. Just buy it and you'll never look back. I can't imagine playing the basic game at this point.
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Lang Jones
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You absolutely should. The game is enhanced tremendously. This is one of my favorite titles and I could not imagine playing without the expansion. There's an added level of depth.
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Thomas Fuhs
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HitchKennedy wrote:
The net effect of these rules changes is a deeper, more tense and challenging game. Moreover, it does this with a minmum of additional complexity. Even better, time length is not impacted. You can still set-up the game over lunch and get back to your desk within 30 minutes. So if it isn't clear by this point -- buy this expansion kit. You'll love it.


We seem to be in consensus. So, WHY is the expansion rated substantially lower than the main game?
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David Kennedy
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2amp wrote:
We seem to be in consensus. So, WHY is the expansion rated substantially lower than the main game?

My hunch would be the raters don't play enough with the expansion kit rules to appreciate the implications of the changes. That tends to be the way most people play now. Take a game for a spin a few times. Declare mastery. Shelve the game and move on.

With the SoS game engine, repetition leads to insight. Insight leads to a deeper game experience. Most don't do the leg work. Each onto their own.
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Mark Stevens
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This is the first time I’ve posted on boardgamegeek. Not sure why, but in this case I felt compelled. I acquired the GMT copy of Soviet Dawn simply because I’d tracked the C3i issue down which contained it (interested in other content). The inclusion of Soviet Dawn proved to be more than just a bonus. I sincerely love this game and play it routinely for all the reasons others have described.

But I felt left out, not being able to enjoy the content from the expansion. So, I bit the bullet and bought a copy from VPG so that I could get the expansion. It’s totally worth it. In effect, I’ve combined the two, using GMT’s excellent parts (counters, maps, and rulebook) and replaced the cards. VPG’s cards are superior. Larger for one (easier on older eyes) and more easily sleeved. So, if cash isn’t holding you back, get both sets and combine. It’s a winning combination.

One point of errata that is mostly harmless; GMT’s rules (like VPG’s) refer to an “available resources” box (e.g. rule 3.4). On GMT’s map, there is no such box. It’s been renamed “Political Decrees” and “Reserve Offensives”. While useful for chit management, it was a point of confusion for me initially. Fortunately, the pics on the site cleared up my search for the missing box on the map.

I realize this is an old post and my remarks could go virtually unnoticed but I hope they help some owner of the GMT version. Spend the extra dough if you like this game. It’s worth it.
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Konstantin Lubsky
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In my opinion, the original "Soviet Dawn" is already a good game as it is which doesn't need any changes. The expansion makes the game even more luck-dependent, especially due to the "decisive" victories and defeats. So if you roll "1s" or "6s", the game becomes either far too easy or simply unwinnable.

In addition, I think that the "War Communism"-card (which advances 2 enemy fronts but gives you no actions to react) really kills the game: in most cases it turns up it means "game over".
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Mark Stevens
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Appreciate the thoughts. I certainly agree the game didn’t “need” an expansion. I’ve only had a few plays with the expansion thus far but have found that it adds nuance. None of it necessary really but I like the variation. One can certainly use some or all of the options too to create varied experiences to see what feels/plays best. Some of this is the completionist in me - wanted to see what I was missing and as a GMT version owner, I had no choice but to buy a second copy. I was pleased with it. The beauty of gaming is the choices it presents us to create experiences that reward us. I’m back at it after years of being away but in my past I wrote a lot of home rules and supplemental manuals for my games to correct what I believed to be problems or just to create the experience I was looking for. Again, appreciate the response. I agree, no need to change the base experience. For me though, the expansion was worth it.
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David Kennedy
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Konstantin wrote:
In my opinion, the original "Soviet Dawn" is already a good game as it is which doesn't need any changes. The expansion makes the game even more luck-dependent, especially due to the "decisive" victories and defeats. So if you roll "1s" or "6s", the game becomes either far too easy or simply unwinnable.

I think this is a fair-minded criticism. This led me to tinker with the rules. Without a way to mitigate these kinds of outcomes, yes, Decisive Military Outcomes the game devolves into what you describe.

Take a look at my Bolshevik rules.

https://boardgamegeek.com/filepage/76168/soviet-dawn-20-bols...
 
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silent e
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Baetis wrote:

I realize this is an old post and my remarks could go virtually unnoticed but I hope they help some owner of the GMT version. Spend the extra dough if you like this game. It’s worth it.


Mark, I've been researching this title and trying to decide which version to buy, and your comments here have been quite helpful. Thanks.
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Mark Stevens
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Indeed. Happy to have been of some help. I have really come to appreciate how helpful, insightful, and fun this site is.
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