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Subject: The Insidious Lure of Expansions rss

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GeekInsight
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Expansions. In my opinion, expansions are awesome. I’ve written before about buying expansions even when I really don’t play the base game enough to justify the purchase. I was commiserating with a friend who also seems to share the near-OCD level desire to have all the expansions to favorite games. And as we discussed, I think I found the root of my compulsion.

So, ideally, the purpose of an expansion is generally to bring more. If you like Settlers of Catan, Seafarers brings you more. If you like Carcassonne, then Inns and Cathedrals brings you more. In those cases, they bring more tiles to the game and expand the available options for play. Some expansions go further and bring in new mechanics like Cities and Knights or 7 Wonders: Leaders. In any case, the goal of an expansion is to add that holy grail in gaming – replayability.

One of the great things that boardgaming has over most other entertainment is that it is very replayable. How many times can you really watch the same movie? I’ve seen the best movies, my absolute favorites, probably a half dozen times or so. My wife has seen her favorites a few dozen. But that’s over several years. I’ve owned The Resistance for only a year and I’ve already racked up three dozen plays. So expansions add additional replayability to give your games continued longevity.

But, for me, that’s not really why I buy it most of the time. With a few exceptions (exceptions are usually when I’m completely played out of a game and don’t want any more plays), I always want an expansion. I don’t always buy them right away, and I don’t always end up getting them. But for the most part, I put it in the back of my mind and start looking to get it at the earliest opportunity. This is even true for mini-expansions sold through the Geek Store like the Troyes Bonus Cards. Four cards. That’s it. And I still want it.

So why is it? Well, after some discussion, I think I figured it out. When an expansion is released, I don’t really consider it an add-on to the base game. Instead, somehow my brain interprets it as the base plus all the expansions are one game. And now, with just the base, what I really own is part of a great game. My collection went from having a complete game in it, to now having part of a complete game.

So, somehow, scumbag brain makes me feel like, just because new content for a game came out, my copy of the game goes from complete to incomplete through no fault of my own. And, rather than have my favorite games ravaged in this way, I leap to their defense and acquire the rest of the game so that I once again have a complete copy.

Crazy? Maybe. Anyone else share in this delusion? Or am I a loon on my own?

Originally posted on the Giant Fire Breathing Robot
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This is probably very similar to what my mind does too. I don't always even really want an expansion, but knowing it exists makes it feel like I only have a fraction of what the game is meant to be.
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Jonathan Ham
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For me, it really depends on the game. Like for Carcassonne, I quit buying expansions after it catapulted the meeple. Even though what I have is no longer a "complete" game following the obsessive collector mindset, I don't need all the pieces because I don't want to play with them. On the other hand, I have every Settlers of Catan expansion to date because I like all of them. Of course, I can't play with all of them at once, but with this much variety I can mix and match and play a different game every time. I don't need everything for Carcassonne because some of them I wouldn't want to mix in ever.
 
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John Enoch
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You're not alone, I feel the same way. I'm getting Eclipse in the mail soon, and I've only played it once, but my mind is already saying "ooohhh, Supernova, some tile or something, is in the BGG store...my game won't be complete without it".

It's a terrible affliction to have, honestly, as some expansions make some games rulebook looking chores, or frankly seem too intimidating when teaching others (but of course you don't want to play WITHOUT them as it's not the same game you personally love).
 
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Greg
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Looks like you need this:
 Expansions: Addicted to Expansions
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Scott Hill
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I have the exact same 'problem' (I put that in inverted commas 'cos I reckon it's a blessing not a curse (but that could just be me trying to kid myself into not feeling bad about it)).

Now imagine my horror when I realised that I only own 3 of the 4 expansions for the original RoboRally!

crysobluecry
 
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Vincent Streuner
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Spot on. Indeed, sometimes, when a new expansion comes out, I refuse the play the base game with the expansions that I already have because, "it just doesn't feel quite right."
 
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Kirk Thomas
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To the contrary, expansions seem to be the one place where objectivity and common sense come into play on my purchases. My experience with full expansions has been that they often take a nice compact game and turn it into an okay, much-longer game. Certainly there are many counter examples to this, but I actually try to get a sense of what the expansion really offers me before jumping.

Expansions like new maps are much closer to an automatic buy for me - they tend to be cheaper, don't tend to lengthen the game, and provide more variety.

4 bonus cards for Troyes, or some of the promo add-ons for Power Grid - automatic buys!
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Eðvarð Hilmarsson
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I know what you mean with this "brain" issue.

StarCraft: The Board Game is a game that I managed to avoid expanding and I feel pretty proud of that fact.

Its not becouse the game itself is bad, but I managed to realize that the odds of it being played where pretty slim.

Now that its out of print, I do feel that my copy is "incomplete", but I claim it as a small victory in the war on expansion obsession.



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Bruce Gazdecki
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I don't play the base games enough most of the time to warrant buying expansions, but I do anyways. The main reason being I'm afraid it will go OOP and then I'll never be able to get it, or it'll cost an arm and a leg, if it ends up bringing significant value to the gameplay.

A second reason, which may or may not be a good reason, is that I figure after the base game comes out and many plays are made, people will find "bugs" and sometimes and expansion attempts to "fix" them.
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RJD
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Bruiser419 wrote:
I don't play the base games enough most of the time to warrant buying expansions, but I do anyways. The main reason being I'm afraid it will go OOP and then I'll never be able to get it, or it'll cost an arm and a leg, if it ends up bringing significant value to the gameplay.


That's one of my big reasons too. A good expansion can do an awful lot to add to and breathe new life into a game. I generally only add them into a game slowly over time, but I've been gaming long enough to have learned that, if you want a game or expansion bad enough or even just think you might eventually, you'd better snap up a copy pretty darn quickly. If you're not careful, you'll blink and it's gone.
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reaching out from the in-between spaces...
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I had this mindset right up until a couple weeks ago. I was putting a game order together that was stra trek starfleet captains and the newest lord of the rings six pack cycle. The cycle was sixty bucks. I started to realize that i had everything for the lcg so far, base game, origins expansion, small box expansion and the first six pack cycle...and I had only played the game once. So I realized that I had alot of game to play before I would even need that newest cycle, and for sixty bucks I could get two games for that price...two new experiences compared to the same one I already had that still had a lot of game to get through.

Picked up dungeonquest and talisman instead...ok, so I went a little over budget on that. But at least I broke the habit.

Jorune
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Ayumi Hakase
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Never could climb into the card game money pit. Just bought Mage Wars as a cgc/lcg gaming alternative, only to learn that there's already an expansion pack out for this game, ostensibly to boost it to four players.

I'll buy it. And will hope for official proxy cards in future. Spills and tears happen. But that's it.

A sixty dollar outlay seemed hefty, but I guess it's not bad in relation to the buckets of ducats my nephews spent on their MtG habit with its endless quest for the Infinite Card Hoard.

Common sense must rule.

Happy gaming!

 
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Daniel VandenBurg
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it's worse when you fall behind the printing drive too. My arkham horror set only has base +dunwich. I need to spend about £250ish to get current
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Vinnie Terranova
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I am feeling this thread. When I look at my copy of Cosmic Encounter with the two expansions, a voice from the shelf keeps asking 'Where is Cosmic Alliance?' It then starts telling me to give up the delusion of first trying out my two expansions before buying a third.




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RJD
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DanV wrote:
it's worse when you fall behind the printing drive too. My arkham horror set only has base +dunwich. I need to spend about £250ish to get current


I can relate. I love Formula De and bought the base game, but I never picked up any of the extra tracks because a friend already had them all. Whoops. Now each separate board seems to go for small fortunes on ebay. I've been picking up the new racetrack packs for the more recent edition, Formula D, since they're mostly compatible with the older rules, but I still really, really wish I'd picked up a lot of those original tracks back when they were on the store shelves. cry
 
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Jimmy Smith
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Thankfully I've avoided the expansion itch. In fact I tend to avoid games altogether if I anticipate a ton of expansions coming out. I'm just not willing to pour all my money into one game. I'd rather have more games. I usually only get an expansion if it allows for more players, as the base game is almost always deep enough on it's own.
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Garry Clarke
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I tend to take the view that the game as is should be OK, and 99% of the time that is the case. Very few of the exansions I've bought actually add anything to the game. I should really stop buying them but I can't help myself.

That would be an interesting geeklist, 'Expansions that really improve the base game'. Bet it would be a short list.
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