Expanding Worlds

There’s a zillion games out there and many of them, if they gain any kind of traction in the market, release expansions that give the game more options, or flavour, or variation, or skew the game in some new direction. Farming game Agricola has too many to count, space adventure Eclipse has several, battling games such as Dice Masters or X-Wing encourage continued purchases to build an army or fleet for yourself.

If you get into a particular game in a big way, you might want to try them out. But we don’t cover them on GNG, for the following reasons.

Objectively, GNG is an entry-level website hoping to encourage new players to discover great games. If we started down the path of detailing game expansions as well then the site begins to feel less newbie-friendly and more about game mechanisms, strategy, how the expansion changes the basic game and so on. Your go-to site for that level of detail is BoardGameGeek.

Subjectively, neither Joe nor I are big fans of expansions. Partly that’s because if we like a game, we just like it and don’t tend to seek out every associated product. Here’s a game I enjoy – why would I want to change it, and change it by adding more rules, more length to play, more financial outlay?

And partly when we have played expansions, our experience of them has often felt like extra stuff tacked onto a game that doesn’t necessarily need them – I need to re-emphasis the word subjective here: we found the 7 Wonders expansions turned an elegant game into a stodgy, over-long head-scratcher, whereas a friend insists the base game is a comparative bore and won’t play it without them.

Obviously there are exceptions, even to us; and indeed, there are few games that are regarded as improved (or even fixed) by having the expansion. We couldn’t possibly say which ones though, because a. it’s entirely down to opinion and b. we haven’t played many anyway.

However, as ever, we only represent our own opinions and there are swathes of gamers who swear that x or y expansion is the definitive version of a game, so – if you’re curious – ignore the luddites here and give them a try…


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On the left – the relatively simple (admittedly it doesn’t look it) Lords of Waterdeep, where you gather adventurers to complete quests. On the right, the expansion boards, where you can choose to use the black market for short term gains, but take penalty points at the end for doing so.

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