Hello all,

The game designer was kind enough to give me a prototype of the game so I could try it. As a way of thanking him, let me give you opinion on the expansion.

First of all, what do you get with the expansion:
6 new tiles
2 tokens
1 sticker sheet
4 cards
4 screens
1 rule book

I had a prototype, so I cannot tell on the quality of the components. My guess is that it will be the same as the original game. Note that the new and old components aren't mixed, so printing differences will not be an issue.

Some have complained that you get few components for its cost (15 euros, 10 at Essen), and that this expansion should be cheaper. Regardless of the component's cost, I believe this expansion introduces many great improvements to the game. The nice part is that they managed to polish several problems of the game with a small budget.

For example, take a look at the sticker sheet. The sheet brings new types of units that you must attach to the original units (in the back of the token). Naturally, the new units have different powers (for example, a unit that protects neighboring units, etc. See full details in here). At the beginning of the game you must secretly choose your army configuration (i.e., for each token decide which side to use), and cannot change again.

I first thought, why not give each player 7 more tokens and use stickers on one side? They are skimming on components. In fact now I realized why their choice: First of all, it allows players to have different armies. Second, it improves original units that we not so strong. For example, the explorer before was not much useful since everyone could go and claim them. Ok, go ahead and ditch your explorer. So will the other players...and then you will cry when you realize I am the only one with explorers! I will have no competition in getting the 4 skulls and winning!

So now the game even starts before rolling the dice. Should I ditch all explorers and go for technology? or aim for somnium? then I need more patrols (defense tokens), etc...you can minmax as you want. Note that the fronts and backs have been smartly chosen so you cna do almost any combination.

There you go, they managed to create specialized armies, give importance to old units, and add more variety to your troops...all with a single sticker sheet.

Similarly, there were some complaints that the game emphasized too much the "bash the leader". Well, the problem is solved with 4 player screens where you can hide your resources!

Another great addition is the new objective cards. A big complaint is that it is hard to recover if you are heavily targetted. In order to solve this problem, they added the pact with the serpent god feature. This feature can only be activated when you are losing (i.e., have fewer tokens that anyone in the board). You instantly get a new wining objective, 2 energy cubes and roll an extra dice that turn. That helps a bit, but more importantly you can continue in the pact in subsequent rounds you can still get the extra cubes/dice. Of course, the pact comes at a cost (you lose other victory conditions depending on how many times you advanced in the pact).

This feature (implemented with 4 cards only) introduces several cool features: catch-up mechanic, and hidden wining condition (hence bluffing becomes more important).

Note that the original wining conditions are unaffected, but indirectly they have become more balanced. Recall that not every player will have two explorers or drills, hence competing for skulls/somnium will be less fierce. Thus, the corresponding winning conditions become easier. Likewise the juggernaut wining condition (hoarding technology cards) also became more difficult: you can upgrade some inventions into locations (thus, there are fewer cards to steal). Also, people who advance in the pact gain a lot of energy cubes (which transforms into technology cards). Those players will soon lose the Juggernaut wining condition...In all, it becomes harder to win through technology cards.

Before the game felt like a speed race in which teh one that deployed faster would win. Now there seems to be a second phase in the game in which you exploit your resources, and expland more slowly. This makes the game deeper and longer (I see it as a good thing, but it may be a bad feature for you if you liked 1-hour games).

The 6 new tiles (and the associated 2 tokens) also are a great addition. Basically they give more breathing space in a 4-player game. The board is now large enough so that all players can spread (if you do not want to bash others . These tiles come with cool powers as well (which in turn means more decisions). The new board size is perfect for 4 players, but it feels too big for 3. The expansion rules suggest you always use all tiles, but personally I like a smaller board with fewer players. We will probably house rule that.

The only complaint I have on the expansion is that I would have wanted more pacts. There are only 4, which could all be used in a 4-player game (and will probably be used in a game). The game designerseems to prefer this (so good players will try to detect who has which objective). I would like there being more objectives. It makes more balancing issues, but I think it can add into replayability. When you make the next expansion also add more technology cards!!

To sum up, we have:

Pros
-Small changes that have great impact in the game.
-Winning conditions seem more balanced.
-Ability to customize armies to one's taste
-Catch up feature, Bash the leader feature diminished
-More breathing space (specially good for 4 players, not so needed for 2-3)
-Hidden objectives/resources increase allow for a lot of bluff

Cons
-Still cannot play with 5 players (waiting time would be too long)
-Bring the doom objective is a bit too difficult (I have never seen it successful).
-More complex rules make the game non-apt for "explain and play in 1 hour"
-Missing additional pact/tech cards
-Still not the type of game good for people who don't like attacking other players

In all, I think it is a great expansion that makes a great game even better. It is even surprising that they managed to do it with so few components. From now on I will not play without the expansion except when introducing the game to someone else...and I doubt you ever will when you get it.
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Henri Kermarrec
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Hey, thanks for the review !

As you said, it does not make the game less agressive; that way, you have to think about your defense wisely, and I didn't want to lose that. But it brings more depth to the game - and more length, too. It polishes some rough details, indeed, the catch-up mechanic is a good thing. For the rest, it's just more elements to have a better experience. As many expansions, it is designed for those who already know and like the base game well. Enjoy !
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Malte Kühle
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Thank you so much! I knew that I am going to buy this expansion in Essen, now I know that I NEED it thumbsup
 
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Vblade wrote:
Thank you so much! I knew that I am going to buy this expansion in Essen, now I know that I NEED it thumbsup


I am glad you liked the review...because I am sure you will love the expansion. Besides 10 euro is a no-brainer for me. Hopefully I can make it to Essen to thank Henry in person
 
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Roger Howell
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Thanks for the review, this expansion looks awesome! I am hoping it will come to the US.

Quote:
-Bring the doom objective is a bit too difficult (I have never seen it successful).

What is the doom objective?

Quote:
-Still not the type of game good for people who don't like attacking other players

I think the game can have less direct conflict depending on how the players play. In our 2 player games there were numerous times when I could have done option B instead of attacking and it still would have been a good move. Granted attacking can't be completely avoided if you want to win.

I don't think it's quite fair to say the attacking mechanic is a con. If players don't like attacking they can try and avoid it but better yet they should just play Carc instead. Personally I would rather play a cut throat game over a dry Euro game any day.

Thanks again for the review. Just played the base game today for the first time and loved it, and I want this expansion!

EDIT: I just found Bring the Doom in the rules, I didn't look at the card graphic close enough the first time.
 
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Roger Howell
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Quote:
-Bring the doom objective is a bit too difficult (I have never seen it successful).

I would have to totally agree, seems very difficult indeed!
 
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Geo
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drstein2004 wrote:
I first thought, why not give each player 7 more tokens and use stickers on one side? They are skimming on components. In fact now I realized why their choice: First of all, it allows players to have different armies.


I do not agree. Using more tokens - applying the new stickers on one side only, and allowing a player to select his 7 starting tokens, gives greater possibilities to build your force than using stickers on both sides...

 
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