Fantasy Flight is KILLING ME!

by Firestone BlackRidersCoverSo...we all know the dangers of CCGs, right? It's not called cardboard crack for nothing, after all...

Then along come LCGs: Living Card Games that release noncollectible, predictable packs every few months. "Oh, this I can handle," I think to myself.

Myself was very, very wrong.

Fantasy Flight Games just announced YET ANOTHER bigger expansion for The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game: The Black Riders.

"A fantastic adventure awaits you! With The Black Riders, you and your friends will accompany Frodo Baggins as he begins his epic journey to destroy the One Ring. Three new scenarios carry you out of the Shire and along the road to Rivendell, but you must be wary. The Nine are abroad, the lure of the Ring is difficult to resist, and your every action has a meaningful consequence…

The Black Riders recreates a selection of dramatic event as told in the first half of J.R.R Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring. It is the first of a series of Saga expansions that eventually will allow players to replay Frodo's epic journey from the Shire to Mount Doom, as well the dramatic events experienced by other members of the Fellowship."

BlackRiderCardsI thought I was doing an okay job of keeping up with this game. But I blink and suddenly I'm three Saga Expansions behind—The Hobbit: Over Hill and Under Hill, The Hobbit: On the Doorstep, and The Heirs of Numenor. And now this new one. Plus a new adventure pack—The Steward's Fear—just came out.

How long is this model tenable? I'm a fan and I'm falling behind. I can't have every single gaming dollar go toward this game. What about Netrunner?! And what about the other cool games out there?! If these start going out of print, and I fall behind with no financially feasible hope of catching up, I'll just stop buying altogether.

This has already happened with the Game of Thrones LCG. I'm interested, but so much of it is out of print that there's no way I'm going to bother trying to jump in now. What must it look like to someone coming to LotR: The Card Game brand new? "There's how much stuff for this? Nevermind..."

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?

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What You Missed...

gimliAnother week come and gone. Thanks for joining us for it... We started off with a preview of the new Presidential Meeples for Pixel Lincoln.

Then we got news of a Princess Bride game coming from the folks at Game Salute.

We gave a last-minute plea for the elephant racing game Formula E—and it successfully funded, by the hair on its trunky-trunk-trunk...

Then we reviewed one of our favorite games: The Lord of the Rings The Card Game. We also used the word funnest.

Then we interviewed Darrell Louder about his new game Compounded—and that was also our Kickstarter Weekly feature...


And finally, we told you about the next couple of months in Rio Grande Games' schedule. Lets hope it holds!

Monday we reveal our favorite games of 2012, so make sure you come back! Here's a clue for one of the games. ------->

Thanks so much for reading, and don’t forget to like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter!