When Expansions Go Bad...

MontrealBy Firestone I love expansions. LOVE THEM. Sometimes they can "fix" some of the problems that emerged in a game when it first came out. Sometimes they can just breathe some new life into a game that has grown a little stale. Sometimes they allow more players to play the game (although this is rarely a good thing, IMHO).

Age of Steam is a good example of a game ripe for expansions. Awesome base game, and the expansions are just maps. Maps of new areas—real and imagined—with new and interesting rules and mechanics. Does it always work? No! (cough*Golden Spike*cough). But when it does (Montréal Métro, for instance), it makes me love the base game even more... (Power Grid also benefits from more maps.)

Card games are a natural fit for expansions. Thunderstone, Nightfall, Netrunner, and Lord of the Rings all benefit from just more awesome stuff to add!

Pandemic's On The Brink added some significant gameplay changes—including someone playing as the baddie! Those are the most risky expansions, because they have the potential to be awesome or terrible.

PrincesBut sometimes expansions are just...awful. The first one that springs to mind is the expansion for The Princes of Florence. Now understand: For years and years and years Princes Of Florence was my very favorite game. It was only recently eclipsed by The Resistance, due to the sheer amount of fun I've had with it. So I was excited to play with the expansion that came in the Treasure Chest (one box that had 10 expansions for six games). It. Was. Horrible. Our one and only game using the expansion took 4 hours. 4 HOURS!! Toward the end of that game, the expansion made me hate Princes Of Florence. Any expansion that makes me hate my favorite game is bad, bad, bad.

Another bad one was the Necromancer Island expansion for Small World. This was a freebie giveaway promotion, so I think they felt they could experiment a little. It's lame. It forces the players to cooperate against the Necromancer player—which doesn't really work well in the framework of the game. But beyond that, those who do work to fight the Necromancer are in a worse position that those who don't. Blech. It's going for ~$30 on the secondary market, thanks to completists who didn't get it when it was free and want a copy now. I'll happily part with my copy for that price...

So what are some of your favorite expansions? And what are some that fell flat for you?

Thanks for reading! And make sure you check us out on Twitter, Facebook, and now Instagram!

Awesome Level 9000: The First Expansion for Smash Up!

SU2-BoxAlderac Enterainment group has just announced through social media that they're releasing their first expansion to Smash Up: Awesome Level 9000. Looks like players will have 4 more factions to choose from in this shuffle builder. The new factions will be Killer Plants, Ghosts, Steampunks and the Bear Cavalry. Aside from the 80 faction cards, there will be 8 new bases, and a rule book in the expansion, although from first glance it doesn't look like there will be much more added to the game rules themselves, just more combos, and maybe the ability to add another player?

You can see AEG's official info about the release right here, and you can read our review of the base set of the game right here.

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

Dominion gets a 7th expansion...

Rio Grande has released info about a 7th addition to the Dominion franchise: Dark Ages. The expansion will include 500 cards, including 35 new Kingdom cards and a few replacements for estates and such. They're touting a couple new baddies to give to your opponents and a few cards that are only acquired by specific other cards. You can see the official Rio Grande description here. And for some nifty card previews from the game designer himself, click here. It looks like Rio Grande and designer Donald X. Vaccarino are doing their best to keep the Dominion franchise alive and relevant—and quite honestly, that's okay with us.

Are you looking forward to another installment of Dominion? What are your favorite expansions? Leave it here! And thanks for reading!

A Resistance Expansion Is On Its Way!

This one's from the rumor mill--but it comes from a reliable source. The Resistance is getting an expansion! The owner of Indie Boards and Cards has swooped into a couple of threads on boardgamegeek.com, and hinted that an expansion will be going up on Kickstarter soon. He also said it won't just be more plot cards, but some new ways to play the game. We can't stop crowing about this awesome game, so more ways to play has us super excited. We'll keep you updated, and post a link to the Kickstarter project once it officially goes live. In the meantime, make sure you sign up to win your own copy of The Resistance. The contest ends tonight, and right now your chances are REALLY GOOD. Thanks for reading!

Expanding Kingdom Builder - A Review of Nomads

Well, we figured since we're on the subject, why not talk a little more about the 2012  Spiel des Jahres award winner, Kingdom Builder.

Nomads, the first expansion of the game, adds a few new layers to the game, but mostly just adds more variance to the title, which in turn adds to the replayability. Here's a quick rundown of some of the new features Nomads brings to the table—and yes, I'll insert my opinions as well.

4 New Sector Boards—Which brings the total for the set up to 12! The randomness in which you pull them, as well as how you place them, consistently shakes things up. There's even less chance for the board to look and play the same twice!

5th Player Settlements—Now that 5th wheel can join in the fun! I personally LOVE the addition of a 5th player; keep in mind you're still setting up only four sectors to create the game board, so territory becomes more and more valuable as the game progresses—as do ability tokens! The competition is fierce, and cut-throat; I love it when a plan comes together.

Nomads—The title element of this expansion consists of 15 unique Nomad tokens; they look a lot like the special ability tokens but behave slightly differently. Each of the four new sector boards have a Nomad hex (or two) on them; if any of the new boards are selected for the game, one Nomad token is selected randomly and placed on the Nomad hex. The player who claims that token can only use it on their next turn, and then it's removed from the game (whether it's been used or not). The abilities are generally a little more beefed up than your run-of-the-mill extra actions, but only being able to use them once, (and on your next turn) definitely requires a little forethought before just grabbing them up—at least, if you want to get the most out of them.

Stone Walls—One of the new abilities you can claim from one of the four new boards is the Quarry token. This will allow you to place up to two gray circular disks on the board each turn. These disks represent stone walls; they cannot be built on top of, and they break continuity between settlements. They come in handy if you want to cut off your opponents, or build somewhere else on the board but your settlements are adjacent to EVERYTHING.

3 New Kingdom Builder Cards—There are three new ways to score gold in Nomads, but now there's a possibility of scoring gold during the game instead of tallying up only at the end. I would have found this annoying, but I really enjoy the new scoring scenarios, so I don't mind so much keeping score during the game.

All in All, the expansion doesn't completely overhaul the game, or add so much to it that the overall feel and flow of the game is completely thrown out of whack. But it does help the title grow, adds variability,  and let's you bring in a 5th player, which becomes a lot of fun!

Capitol—It's also worth mentioning that there was a promo released last year called Capitol. This consists of 2 Capitol tokens that covered one of the two Castle hexes on the Oracle and Harbor boards. The capitol scores players one gold for each settlement built within two hexes of the Capitol. Personally, I'm not a fan of this small expansion; the Castles seem to do the job, and this pumps up their abilities, while diminishing from the other scoring options.

Thanks for reading; we hope you're enjoying yourself here at Theology of Games. We'd love to hear your thoughts about the blog and the games we talk about! Leave 'em in the comments below!

Nomads and Capitol are both on Amazon!