Saturday, October 3, 2015

Obligatory 2015 Essen Spiel Post Part I: Top 5 Game Expansions

Whoa…that was quick.  This coming week marks one of the largest boardgaming weeks of the year: Essen Spiel in Essen, Germany.  This is one of the world’s largest boardgaming conventions and huge fodder for bloggers, vloggers, and gaming geeks alike!  This year’s Essen Spiel looks like it is going to be just as amazing as the previous year’s.  This series of posts will be five long and take place over the next week.  This post will focus solely on my top 5 boardgame expansion interests.  There are tons to choose from but I ended up narrowing them down to 5 along with an honorable mention.  As always, if you’re interested in a HUGE, comprehensive list check out Eric Martin’s geeklist I highly recommend this list but be warned, it is 30 pages long with 25 entries on each page at the time of this post!  It is a huge and awesome list to be sure!  Well, I think that is enough preamble, on to my top 5 (with 1 honorable mention) expansion of Essen Spiel list!

Honorable Mention – Orléans: Invasion (dlp games)

Orléans: Invasion is an expansion to last year’s hit (and this year’s Kennerspiel des Jahres Nominee), Orléans by designer Reiner Stockhausen.  Invasion is designed by Stockhausen with help from Markus Brand and Inka Brand.  Orléans is a bag-building and a worker placement game where you assemble a group of farmers, knights, merchants, and others in order to gain a foothold in medieval France.  This expansion adds a few modules that include more buildings, new workers, and new scenarios as well as a co-operative one.  I don’t have the base game yet but it is high on my watch list.  This expansion just looks to add more fun to the game and I must say that the co-operative scenario really interests me!

Castles of Mad King Ludwig: Secrets is an expansion to last year’s Bezier Games, Inc. hit, Castles of Mad King Ludwig by designer Ted Alspach.  Secrets is also designed by Alspach and is on the slate for an Essen release (and probably hit) for Bezier Games.  Castles of Mad King Ludwig is a tile-placement game where you are placing down different rooms in a castle and connecting them in odd ways in order to score the most points that you are able to.  This expansion adds in a couple of different modules that you can put in the game to make this more interesting.  It adds moats, secret passages, and geese to the mix.  Moats will close in the board to give you a change to add more points to each room that you keep enclosed within the walls/moats of the castle.  The secret passages give you an opportunity to connect rooms that don’t usually work together in order to take away their negatives.  Lastly, the geese are a set collection mechanic to score you more points and also give you a chance for more money.  This expansion looks great.  I don’t have this game (you’ll find it is a common theme) but this would be a must buy when/if I do buy it!

Legacy: The Testament of Duke de Crecy: Five Families is an expansion to the 2013 Portal Games release, Legacy: The Testament of Duke de Crecy by designer Michiel Hendriks.  Five Familes is actually designed in house Portal by Ignacy Trzewiczek and Michal Walczak with development help by Hendriks.  Legacy: The Testament of Duke de Crecy in a tableau building, worker placement, card drafting, and set collection game where you are trying to create your family tree with clever card play.  This expansion adds in new cards, abilities, and a new resource as well.  It appears to be a good expansion to what appears to be a good game.  Yes, I also don’t have this one in my collection but I hope to get it soon and Five Families would be an insta-buy for me as I am an unabashed and unapologetic Portal Games fanboy!

#3 – Russian Railroads: German Railroads (Hans im Glück)

Russian Railroads: German Railroads is an expansion to the 2013 Hans im Glück/Z-Man Games release, Russian Railroads by designers Helmut Ohley and Leonhard Orgler.  German Railroads is also designed by Ohley and Orgler.  Russian Railroads is a worker placement, train game where you are placing your workers in order to create the largest and most advanced network of trains in Russia.  You are able create more efficient machines, create newer/better locomotives, and get engineers who will improve the output of the trains.  At the end of 7 rounds the player with the most VP wins!  This expansion consists of three new modules that can be added independently.  The first is a new game board.  This is a German board that will create all new opportunities for the players and is where the expansion gets its title.  It also adds a coal age module that allows a new resource in coal which allows for a differing play style.  Lastly there is a single ticket module that allows for a single player experience.  This last module is the one that really interests me as I always love a good solo experience for when I don’t have a game night coming up or my wife isn’t interested in playing something.  Again, I don’t have this base game but it is high on my list and this would be bought with it right away.

Ticket to Ride: Map Collection Volume 5: United Kingdom & Pennsylvania is a map expansion for the 2004 Spiel des Jarhes winner and Days of Wonder release, Ticket to Ride by designer Alan Moon.  Ticket to Ride: Map Collection Volume 5: United Kingdom & Pennsylvania is also designed by Alan Moon.  Ticket to Ride is a well known set collection, route building, hand management game where you use your cards to create routes with your train cars along the board.  Ticket to Ride has been hugely popular and a great gateway game for over a decade now.  This expansion contains a new board that is double sided.  On one side is the United Kingdom which also includes a new concept of technology and not being able to continue your route until you’ve upgraded your technology track.  The other side is really the reason that I’m excited for this map.  It is a Pennsylvania side.  This is what I consider my home states even though I haven’t lived there in a while.  The Pennsylvania side of the board includes stocks with the normal route building.  I love that this has two different sides and that they each add a new mechanic to the game.  Again, I don’t have this base game but I hope to soon and this expansion would be the first I’d buy for it.

#1 – Roll for the Galaxy: Ambition (Rio Grande Games)

Roll for the Galaxy: Ambition is an expansion for the 2014 (or 2015 depending on who you ask) hit, Roll for the Galaxy by designers Tom Lehmann and Wei-Hwa Huang.  Roll for the Galaxy: Ambition is also designed by the Lehmann/Huang pair.  Roll for the Galaxy is a reimplementation of the popular Race for the Galaxy.  In Roll for the Galaxy you use dice rolling, dice building, variable powers, and simultaneous action selection in order to build an empire that generates the most victory points and gets you the win.  This expansion includes two new types of dice, new factions, and new tiles for the base game which will add in even more replayability to an already highly variable game!  This is the one expansion I do have the base game to and it is an insta-buy and therefore is number one on my list.

There you have it.  These are my top 5 Essen Spiel expansion releases.  Ambition is an insta-buy and the rest of them will most likely be insta-buys as long as I get the base games for them.  Come back tomorrow for my top 5 Essen Spiel reprints/reimplementations.  This is an interesting list as there are some really good ones coming out this year.  Until next time, game on!

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