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Empires: Builder Expansion» Forums » General

Subject: Oh what a disappointment! Hopefully, only for now. rss

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Jonathan Bruton
United Kingdom
Bordon
Hampshire
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To start, I love Age of Empires III. It is one of my favourite games, one of the best worker placement games and rewards adaptable strategy. Games have been won using mercantile with little effort to colonise, with colonisation and little trade, and with a mixture of both. An extra set of White colonists was an early acquisition for six player games. I have been desperate to get my hands on the expansion - a white whale of gaming.

Now it is here - oh dear. First impressions are it is pricy for what extra you get. In my case, 20 new capital building tiles (plus reprints of the originals), 6 national advantage tiles, 6 sets of builders (but not in white), an extra set of colonists (I do not need), rules (which are vague and incomplete. All this for a suggetsed retail price of £25.99. You can pick up the base game for £34 (I have seen it new for £31).

Anyway, cost is not an issue if the product is good. This is where the rot really sets in. The builders are a nice idea, but the rules do not explain how to get them. There are two Capital Buildings which grant builders. The description originally posted for this is that you can take a builder for free from the extra specialist slot, but this is not in the rules. On Eagle Games web page, the builders functions are still listed as +2/+1 points and half the cost of Capital Buildings. This has changed in the published rules. The new National Advantages allow for an asymmetric start but are clearly not equal and not clear. One of Britain's possible advantages is to take $1 from each player. This is not explained whether it is per turn or a one off. I would assume each turn, but this is clearly marked for the other advantaged. Portugal has been notorious for either a Captain per turn, or reducing natives in discoveries by one. The second option is clearly weaker.

One of the things which allows varied strategy in the base game is that most Capital Buildings will come out and can be planned for. The expansion by adding extra buildings will mean that this is no longer the case. But are the new ones good? The free one which gives a merchant ship once is clearly excellent ( although does mean I need another marker for turns or to mark off the colonist spaces for less than six players). But smuggler needs clarifying, is it a trade or can you take a discovery tile and give one of your choice in return. Papal Edict, Age II building, would be excellent if each turn, but pretty expensive if a one off - the rules do not say which. It's ability is to give you and another player two colonists to place in a region they already have a presence. There are other queries on Capital Buildings, but my first arrival is here for games tonight so I will have to cut this short!

As a commercial release the expansion is poor, once it has an FAQ it could be excellent.

To date there is still no official FAQ, and Eagle Games still has the game describing the builders differently on its product web page. Come on guys, get a grip!
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David F
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Emeryville
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Luck in games, in measured doses, is the catalyst which enables shocking game-changers that you'll remember and talk about forever.
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jonathan bruton wrote:
One of the things which allows varied strategy in the base game is that most Capital Buildings will come out and can be planned for. The expansion by adding extra buildings will mean that this is no longer the case.


Am as eager as you to see others respond to your points. But I disagree with this one. To me, the strategy is more interesting when you sorta know the Capital Buildings out there, but not all of them will show up. If all of them show up, the strategy tends to be scripted, and experienced players crush new players with that knowledge, or experienced vs. experienced players plan perfectly and it all depends on who gets lucky (e.g. going early in turn order when the capital building shows up).

It was the same with The Pillars of the Earth: strategy in the base game was degenerate, especially for 2-player, because of the fixed craftsmen, then improved greatly once the expansion added more craftsmen without adding more slots for them to come up.
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Jonathan Bruton
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I agree in terms of not getting an exact knowledge of the Capital Buildings. But knowing that there is a good chance of buildings appear helps plan strategy. We always play with new players with a display of all the buildings by age and remind them at the start of each age.My worry is that the game will change into a much more opportunist tactical game without the variety of diverse strategies. This is not necessarily a bad thing, just not an improvement for my taste.

My biggest gripe is how poor a finished product this is. A very rules light expansion has so many vague and unclear issues. At our session tonight I asked the first two players to arrive how to obtain a builder and gave them the rules. They both said via capital Buildings or at $5 a time from the extra specialist space. They also could see no point in Portugal's second advantage and thought Britain's was too weak as a one off gain $1 per player, but could be very strong with multiple players at gain $1 per turn.
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jood shine
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i agree with you this is so dissapointing - ( and see my comments on the thread after yours)
i wonder if the publisher will clarify but its outrageous that these things havent been addressed
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Thierry Camprubi
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As english is not my Mother's tongue, it would be difficult for me to argue with the publisher in order to officialy clarify thoses points, but aren't there some native American that would handle the job and do it for us ?
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rick nichols
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Thanks for the review. I love the original and was wondering if there was anything to the expansion.




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Brian Jones
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You know, when I first read your post I thought there may be a bit of hyperbole going on - but then I actually purchased the expansion yesterday.

Good God! what is this mess? It's almost laughable how bad the rules are, but since they are charging $40 for it I couldn't laugh and cried instead. cry
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