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Subject: Expansion Races and Map Objectives rss

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Nicholas P.
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Like most people I'm controlled by a desire to have everything, but looking at the expansions, I can't really shake the feeling that they might dilute the races and powers.

So this might be a bit confusing, but when I look at the base set, a large portion of the races have specific map objectives they go for. These objectives have a lot of overlap and the such, and that creates a fun kind of dynamic where you can hurt someone, but not feel bad because you were also targeting a certain region attribute.

The expansions all seem to be more or less objectiveness. They have fun little quirks and strategies to them, but many of them would still just be trying to find empty and or safe regions of any kind to conquer.

I'd love to hear peoples' experiences with the expansions and if they noticed any sizable changes to how the game flows.
 
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Jeffrey Drozek-Fitzwater
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The expansions mean more options, more variables. I think they lead to more interesting and challenging choices when it comes to picking races. It's true the expansions' races and powers are less tied into the map, but I do not consider that a bad thing. Some of the powers, like Ransacking and Mercenary, encourage you to bust up other players. I like them.
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David Mills
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I think I know what you mean, but I don't think the game becomes 'diluted' much.

On the map specific region types are less important with the expansion races and powers, although mountains might be more useful for races with decline powers such as the priestesses or more spread out races (such as the pixies). Mountains are less desirable for the gypsies.

The biggest difference with how the races and powers interact with the map is that there are more that can spread out quickly, such as maurading, were-, goblins, pixies...

I suggest adding one of the packs and see if you like it or not. I've got all the packs because i think the variety really adds to the game.
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Danny Mack
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I can appreciate this question. (I also very much appreciate that this thread has not devolved into another "Which expansion should I buy first?" thread.)

It's true that the races/powers in the base set seem to fall into 1 of 3 categories:
[1] Get bonus coins (mostly for having specific regions)
[2] Get new regions at a discounted troop cost.
[3] Variations from the standard rules.
Category #3 initially includes the powers: Flying, Diplomat, Underworld, Bivouacking, Heroic, Spirit, and Stout. Category #3 Races include: Elves, Ghouls, Halflings, Skeletons, Sorcerers, and Trolls. (Bivouacking & Trolls are the natural foil for Category #2 races/powers.)

With what remains in Category #3, you can see a new sub-category beginning to emerge, building on one of the game's core/trademark aspects: [4] Variations on Declining. Ghouls, Spirit, Stout, and to a lesser degree Dwarves, Fortified & Seafaring all fall into place here.

If you can appreciate these mechanics and accept them, then you will enjoy this game. So we all do, and then the expansions challenge us with further variations, but if you look closely (which admittedly is hard to do when you've not played with them yet) you will see that they mostly fall into these already established categories. As an added bonus, because all of the race/power expansions avoid dependency on specific terrain types, you can use them all in the Underground base set too! From your perspective, a lack of terrain dependency may change the flavor of the game, but for those who enter Small World through the Underground door, they have expansions instantly at their fingertips.

> The expansion elements that fall into Category #1 (bonus coins) are:
Ransacking, Historian, Peace-Loving, Barricade, Corrupt, Imperial, and Leprechauns. (6 of 12 powers & 1 of 10 races)

> The expansion elements that fall into Category #2 (discounted conquest) are:
Were-, Hordes of-, Marauding, Catapult, Mercenary, and Goblins. (5 of 12 powers & 1 of 10 races)

> The expansion elements that fall into Category #3 (rule-breakers) are:
Cursed, Kobolds, Gypsies, Barbarians, Homunculi, Pixies & Pygmies. (1 of 12 powers & 6 of 10 races) With Kobolds, Barbarians & Pygmies joining the Bivouacking-Troll federation. We also see the emergence of a new sub-category built around the second unique element of the game: [5] Variation on Column Selection (which is where Cursed & Homunculi really fall into place.)

> The expansion elements that fall into Category #4 (Decline centered) are:
Priestesses & White Ladies. (2 of 10 races)

If you look at Underground as an expansion to the original Smallworld, Underground really fills out Category #4 with lots of powers and races flip-flopping to be either decline-centric or decline-only. Underground even adds 1 good idea to Category #5 (in the form of the Shadow Mimes). I won't get into everything that Underworld adds, but suffice it to say that most of it is what you've already seen here. (Outside of Category #6: Places & Relics.) As you can see, most of the expansion elements still end up in Categories #1 or #2, so the feel of the central game is NOT "diluted". Players are just being presented with more choices, and more tactical options. Only 8 of the 22 new elements do something other than give you coins or a "move-in special", and even 3 of these are just foils for Category #2 elements.

I hope this completely subjective, unscientific analysis is helpful to you as you try to wrap your head around the issue of whether or not to change your game experience. I respect where you are coming from; it's a bit like tasting your coffee before deciding whether/how much cream or sugar to add to it (a novel concept!)
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Jeffrey Drozek-Fitzwater
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That's a very good post, Danny.
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