I have played two games so far, one with the Fresh Meat scenario and one all-in game with random everything from all of the expansions.
Stuff that expands the main game:
13 new main deck cards. These are nice and very helpful. There are some powerful cards that are great to get into your hand.
7 new events. They add more variety to the existing events.
12 new relics. They add more variety to the existing relics.
23 new encounters. These are awesome. They add more variety, but there are some really cool and clever encounters that are really fun to play.
To sum up the expansion stuff - Besides just adding more events, relics, and encounters, which is always a good thing because it adds variety and keeps the game feeling fresh and unique with each playing, the new stuff is very creative, more so than any other expansion. I think it shows that the designers used feedback from the fans and players. There are some really wild and fun ideas here, especially with the encounters.
Unique characters. I was worried here because this was the main element that influenced me to buy the game, and I was underwhelmed with the one-time use abilities from Deeper & Darker. Thankfully, the unique characters are great. There are 12 of them with two or three unique abilities and starting life levels. The abilities function for the entire game and really help to form a personality for your character.
Character creation: There are 34 Reputation cards with abilities that allow a simple custom character creation process that we used for our all-in game. The system is fast and easy and it was a great decision to include it, as I am sure most players will eventually want to design characters using a combination of their favorite abilities.
One thing obvious after even just a couple of playings is that there is a HUGE difference in ability usefulness. This is by design and the better abilities are offset by a higher cost. However, regardless of the cost, some abilities seem next to worthless, where others are incredibly powerful (start with two relics!). But I have only played a couple of games so I admit there could be other factors I am not considering.
Great. Thank you. It claims to hold everything from the base game and all expansions with room to grow. It does, for the most parts. All of the cards and character sheets fit nicely with room to spare. I keep the hundreds of counters separated in small plastic baggies and they take up enough room so that the rules and quest books don't sit flat. Clearly that’s a minor complaint.
The overall value of this expansion is very high. It adds variety with a great deal of cleverness and creativity. The characters are tremendously improved, both pre-generated and the custom creation process. The box is very nice and does the job of combining all the previous games. This is a no-brainer for fans of the game, and I would recommend it as the first expansion after the base game, and even suggest to new players to start with this and the base game together.
Thanks Dane, for the kind words.
And yes, this was most certainly an expansion of the fans, for the fans. We poured into it all kinds of very rich content and it was a long time in development. Glad to hear you are enjoying it.
Though, as I said on the back of the box, I would encourage people to at least start with base game and Relics and Ruin to get the most out of the set. The event deck in Fresh Meat is not playable on it's own. It needs to be shuffled with the other events to function well.