After playing New Bedford the other day and compiling my list of upcoming expansions from Gen Con, I got to thinking about the expansions that I really enjoy when I play the base game. I left New Bedford off the list since I so recently talked about it, but it probably would have made this list, so I encourage you to check out Rising Tide if you own the base game.
Yes, I know 11 is a weird number, but I just could not narrow it down to 10! By the way, if you missed part 1 of this list, you can find it here.
Number 6 – Lords of Waterdeep: Scoundrels of Skullport
Lords of Waterdeep was published by Wizards of the Coast in 2012. The game was designed by Peter Lee and Rodney Thompson. The artistic team for the game was headed by Eric Belisle. The expansion was published around a year after the base game came out.
In Lords of Waterdeep, the players are seeking to satisfy the demands of one of the lords who secretly rules the city of Waterdeep. The agents of each of the players are deployed to locations on the board, each of which gives the players the ability to hire adventurers, gain new quests, earn money, and build special buildings.
Why I like this expansion: I like the fact that the expansion adds a little bit of complexity to the game without making the game overly complex. The Scoundrels of Skullport adds two expansions to the base game, not just one. We prefer just playing with the Undermountain expansion, which essentially adds new lords, buildings, intrigue and quest cards.
Number 5 – Bruges: The City on the Zwin
Bruges was published in 2013 Hans im Gluck and later in the United States by Z-Man Games. The game was designed by Stefan Feld, another of my all-time favorite designers. The artwork was provided by Michael Menzel. The expansion came out about a year after the base game.
Bruges is one of the Feld games that has been described as a “point salad” game – a game in which the players will score points for doing just about anything. The players are merchants of the city who are trying to gain influence at city hall, fight threats such as fire, flood, and riots that threaten the city, and hire craftsmen, nobleman, and people from the church to gain their abilities.
Why I like this expansion: In the expansion Bruges: The City on the Zwin, the canals become more important. As the canals were one of Beth’s favorite things to do even in the base game, we always play with the expansion now. There are several modules in the expansion and we play with them all simultaneously without any issues, but they can be cherry picked according to the players’ preferences.
Number 4 – Terraforming Mars: Prelude
Terraforming Mars was published in 2016 by Stronghold Games here in the United States. Terraforming Mars was designed by Jacob Fryxelius, with artwork by Isaac Fryxelius. The game has numerous expansions, but the Prelude expansion is my favorite.
I love the game play mechanics of Terraforming Mars – the cards that you are using to build your strategy, trying to figure out how to make the cards that you choose every turn work together so that you can both terraform the planet and beat your opponent. Now, Beth and I are care bear players, so we do not use the mechanic of stealing plants (or other resources) from each other, but we love the game anyway. Supposedly the balance of the game is affected if you do not use the stealing mechanic, but we have never found it to be so. Maybe that is just us and our play style!
Why I like this expansion: As I said above, I like the cards that you use to build your strategy. The Prelude expansion helps to jump start that strategy by defining your corporation and then allowing you to tailor your strategy even more than you could previously.
Number 3 – Mice and Mystics: Heart of Glorm
Mice and Mystics was published in 2012 by Plaid Hat Games. The game was designed by Jerry Hawthorne with artwork provided by JJ Ariosa, Chad Hoverter and David Richards. Heart of Glorm was published in 2013.
Mice and Mystics is a dungeon crawl game in which the players are trying to overcome the evil queen Vanestra but the catch is – the characters have been changed into mice! The players play the game cooperatively. There is a storybook that goes along with the game and helps keep the players engaged with the story.
Why I like this expansion: The Heart of Glorm expansion introduces one of my favorite characters, Nere, a mystic. Even more, I like the story in this one better than I like the original story. I think Glorm is more of a realized character in the expansion than Vanestra is in the base game.
Number 2 – Pandemic: In the Lab
Pandemic was published in 2008 (wow, that is hard to believe!) by Z-Man Games. The game was designed by Matt Leacock. The artwork was done over a couple of times, so there are quite a few artists credited including Josh Cappel, Christian Hanisch, Regis Moulun, Chris Qwilliams, and Tom Thiel.
Pandemic is a game in which the players work together to try to get rid of four viruses that are threatening to overtake countries around the world. Each player has a special role, which helps them in the goal of conquering the viruses.
Why I like this expansion: The In the Lab expansion adds more roles to the base game, but the primary reason that I like this expansion is that it adds another way for the players to win the game: by sequencing the diseases, taking samples and testing cures, the players can beat the diseases.
Number 1 – Arkham Horror: Curse of the Dark Pharaoh
Arkham Horror (Second Edition) was published in 2005 by Fantasy Flight Games. It was designed by Kevin Wilson and Richard Launius and illustrated by a myriad of artists. This game is in no way a euro game – it is pure Ameritrash.
Arkham Horror is probably not a game that you would think I would love, but I do. It is one of the first games that I bought when I was introducing my girls into modern board gaming. Beth is not a fan, but my daughter C is. The theme of the game is based on the horror novels and short stories of H.P. Lovecraft. Horror is typically a genre of both games and books that I shy away from, but Arkham Horror is the one notable exception.
Why I like this expansion: One of the draws for me with this expansion is the theme – I love ancient Egypt. This is one of the small box expansions for the game, so it does not introduce over much, but I like what it does add.
Expanding is always good, right?
Paring down this list to 11 was a hard thing to do. After all, more is better, right? We already like the base game so expansions are more of a good thing. I wish I could say that every expansion worked for us, but that is not the case. Luckily, the disappointing expansions are the exception rather than the rule!
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