Expansions – What are they good for?

Another article that I wrote for Board Game Crate. This is for #blogmas2020

If you’ve ever been to a games expo or one of the better games stores, you may have encountered countless expansions of one of your favourite games. As you peruse this dazzling display you see that each one promises extra bits, more cards, alternative boards and Cthulhu.

Although many of these expansions won’t exactly break the bank, the sheer number of expansions accompanying some games can hit the bank account pretty hard.

Expansions are content add-ons (DLC, if you like) for a game that either couldn’t be released with the original game due to costs or time or are subsequent ideas that have been made available later. The base game will work fine without them, but if you are thinking about getting an expansion, consider the following:

If you already love the game as it is and enjoy the particular nuisances of it, then expanding it may well change that, and not necessarily to your liking. Try it first.

If you’ve played a game so much that it no longer has any surprises for you, then an expansion can reinvigorate your interest in it by giving you new goals to aim for or extra things to do. Dixit can benefit with more cards to talk about, King of Tokyo/New York gets monster variety with the Power Cards, Catan can be reimagined with new gameplay, and everyone needs more Cthulhu (apparently).

Don’t feel like you have to get every single expansion to a game to make it work. Pick the expansions that work for you. You don’t like Cthulhu – then don’t get that expansion. Some expansions may also be doubled up (Smash Up) for increased variety.

If other players in your gaming group also have the game, it might be worth syncing your expansion lists so that you don’t double-up unnecessarily. When they come to you, you can play your expansion, and vice versa, thereby increasing your gaming experience further.

If player limits are a problem, some change the game to support a greater number of players (Small World, Cosmic Encounter, Catan).

If you encounter an expansion of a game you particularly enjoy, it might be worth picking it up on the off-chance, you may be surprised and you may regret turning it down. I am constantly lamenting not picking up the long out of print expansion StarCraft: Brood War when I had the chance.

Once you’ve got an expansion you may wish to keep it in its own box allowing you to play the original (vanilla) untainted game – particularly if introducing to new players. Or you can fully integrate it all into the base game box (if it fits) and play the complete experience. Cards from expansions are usually marked so they can be identified and separated out again if need be.

At the end, no one is forcing you to buy an expansion but their relatively low price tags can make them idea gift ideas or even the answer to that difficult question: So what do you want for your birthday?

My Favourite Gaming Themes

Another #BlogMas 2019 blog, another list of stuff.
This time it’s my favourite themes in games
Here goes:

5. Zombies

This might be higher if I get to play more zombie games, but they’re a hit with me so far.

4. Fantasy

If nothing else, fantasy games are usually really quite stunning to look at. Good thing they’re great to play too.

3. Cthulhu

The great old ones must be appeased or they’ll come and take all our meeples away.

2. Dinosaurs

Slap a dinosaur on it, I’m game for a game.
1 Space
Cosmic Encounter
This is the clear winner. Actually, it’s almost impossible for me to resist a space game.

Games Night 27th March 2018

Having failed to do a write-up for this nearer the time, this is going to be an even briefer overview than usual.
3 players: KV, PH and MC
The games:

by Days Of Wonder
I had made note of whom was what and what did where, but I lost em.

The important thing to note was that MC won.

We also played MC’s newly acquired

by Cryptozoic Entertainment
We managed to play an entire game with all 3 of us attaining the Last Wizard Standing token. MC, however, was able to get his second one.

Games Night 24th November 2016

This week we played the most voted for game with all of 1 vote which was

A new one for EM and PH, and the first time we played it as a 5-player game. Two plays of this tonight.
SC in the other room helpfully chose 2 random numbers 4 and 7 meaning we played the Volta and Morgenland maps.
With 5 players being an odd number, the aliens were in the majority (an odd rule there).
The alien formerly known as MC tore into PH then raced on to dispatch AL. Not sure what the other 2 aliens were doing…
The game lasted all of 6 rounds.
Aliens for the Win (at this point everyone who is not AL).
Fot the *** board, we switched the rule so the humans were in the majority.
Alien & Human cards dealt out…
The alien formerly known as AL pounced on a sector next to Escape Pod 2 where 2 individuals were believed to be (the alien formerly known as MC and the very lucky SF), they even flat out said they were both there. Nope.
However SF’s luck quickly changed as MC’s alien killed him.

The now super-fast MC alien charged off to dispatch EM who was lingering about between Escape pods 1 and 2.
PH, who was hiding below pod 2 all this time quietly hopped in and made his merry way off the ship.
Despite the smaller layout, the game lasted a couple of rounds longer.
Everyone wins (as long as they weren’t EM).
PH wins the Signing-Off award for being the only human to actually achieve what the game title is and being the last survivor.
MC wins the Xenomorph award for being a starting alien in both rounds, being the only alien to score a kill and killing 4 humans.

With a bit-o-time left,

was dug up.

AL started out as Vampire Gnomes and concluded as Immortal Drows
EM began as Wise Kraken and ended up as Muddy Shrooms.
MC burned through Tomb Lizardmen and Frightened Flames before finishing up as Martyr Mudmen.
PH kicked off with Shield Ogres and left the pitch as Magic Mummies
SF played as those Flocking Liches until he moved on to the Stone Cultists.

Noteworthy mentions:
PH’s Magic Mummies possession of Stone Hedge saw them flailing at their foes with 3 Stinky Trolls Socks.
MC’s Frightened Flames’ devastating debut, closely followed by the hammering they received from the endless swarms of Magic Mummies and a Balrog.
AL’s disdain for Froggy’s Ring.
The winning loot sat on the Immortal Drows as claimed by AL.
End result:
AL won with 84
EM came in second with 81
MC got the bronze with 75
SF missed out on a medal with 71
PH was in the top 5 with 68

Games Night 9th August 2016

Decided to break the mould and have a game on a Tuesday. Crazy! PM is introduced to Denis
This week we revisited an old favourite:
Small World
Not really a blow-by-blow type game to recount so here’s who and what:
MC: Started as Seafaring Sorcerers, became Soul-Touch Elves, reverted to Seafaring Sorcers and finished with Underworld Goblins. Final score: 81
PH: Started as Spirit Skeletons, became Peaceloving Trolls and finished with Behemoth Leprechauns. Final score: 85
PM: Started with Imperial Amazons, became Lava Halflings and finished with Mercenary Barbarians. Final score 112
Well done PM.
Small World

Next up was:

Denis was able to fit the mood for each season very nicely.

The End
Final scores: MC: 190, PH: 138, PM: 143