Board Game Expansions

The newest game from Portal Games, designer Joanna Kijanka and master imperialist Ignacy Trzewiczek is the brilliant Imperial Settlers: Empires of the North. The original Imperial Settlers has long been a staple of a well-rounded board game collection, marrying hand management, resource collection and engine building. But we forget that Imperial Settlers is part of a knotted bizarre lineage of games, getting better with each iteration. The original 51st State (2010) introduced this world of ephemeral resources, which disappear each round, necessitating efficient resource use and collection. 51st State inspired Imperial Settlers (2014), the poster child game for the genre. Imperial Settlers has collected many expansions over the years (Aztecs, Atlanteans, Amazons, and a few things not beginning with ‘A’), but it also inspired a new game, 51st State: Master Set (2016). I know it’s confusing, but the lineage thus far is 51st State begot Imperial Settlers, which begot 51st State.  And now, the newest game in the Iggy T genealogy is of course… Imperial Settlers: Empires of the North.

Empires of the North not only made resources store between rounds, but added some very clever worker placement and action selection mechanisms to the glorious foundation built by Imperial Settlers. The game comes with 6 very different factions/tribes which all play in clever ways. Some tribes are best at sailing the seas, pillaging and conquering the islands. Some are best as homebodies, collecting resources and living off of the interest. Others just beg to work with the other players, living off of trade.

No sooner had this gem of a game been released, than Portal announced the first expansion, Japanese Islands, of which Ignacy himself claims “The Japanese faction connects the world of Empires of the North and the base Imperial Settlers.” Portal promises two new tribes for the base game, along with new islands to explore. Imperial Settlers: Empires of the North is in limited pre-release now, with copies on sale at GenCon, and full release is dated for August 22. The new Japanese Islands expansion is due to be revealed at Essen Spiel 2019 this October.

Designer Glenn Drover (Empires: Age of Discovery) and his company Forbidden Games have started a Campaign on Kickstarter to fund the first expansion for the popular stock market game Raccoon Tycoon. Raccoon Tycoon (2018) has been extremely popular since its release, due to the fantastic artwork and simple but elegant economic mechanisms, earning a Seal of Excellence from The Dice Tower, with Tom Vasel stating “It’s fast-paced high quality fun. This is easily in my top 5 stock market games ever.”

In Raccoon Tycoon, up to 5 players choose from 5 actions to try and earn the most victory points by game end. Central to the game are the Price and Commodity cards, which allow players to gather commodity resources, then increase the price of several goods. As an action, players can sell all of a single resource for the current price, but the price then decreases by the number sold. Money can be used to buy buildings in order to gain special abilities. Railroad cards can be auctioned, and earn increasing points at the game end for completion of sets. Town cards can be bought with resources, and are a necessity in order for the railroad cards to score.

The Fat Cat Expansion adds a number of things to the game, primary among them being a 6th player, and an additional set of Railroad cards, the Jack Rabbit Railroad. To facilitate set collection, Badger Baron Railroad cards can be used as wild cards to complete sets, and new Town cards are thrown into the mix. Additional buildings add variety and new special abilities. New player boards have space to organize resources, buildings, and components. The Fat Cat Expansion also adds new meeple play, with specialized wooden tokens that can be purchased to earn points or bonuses. Housing and Locomotive meeples can be built via specialized buildings, and can be added to Town or Railroad cards respectively for points. Animal and Tycoon meeples can also be acquired during the game, and advance on a point track on the player board. And to add frosting to an already spectacular cake, the Fat Cat Expansion comes with a giant wooden Fat Cat Start Player Marker, matching the impressive Raccoon that came with the original game.

The Kickstarter Campaign for Raccoon Tycoon: The Fat Cat Expansion continues until June 7, and is expected to deliver in November 2019.

First released in 2009, Justin De Witt‘s Castle Panic has been a mainstay of the tower defense genre, spawning successors Dead Panic, Star Trek Panic and My First Castle Panic. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of this classic game, Fireside Games has announced the Castle Panic Big Box, a compilation of the original game with it’s expansions The Wizard’s Tower, The Dark Titan and Engines of War, all in one box. Additionally, the Big Box will come with 12 promo cards, which include all the previously released promos, as well as some new ones just for this edition. Firesidehas also rewritten the rules to make integration of everything more seamless. Look for the Castle Panic Big Box in stores in July 2019, and for more information, check out Fireside Games’ website here.

Anachrony (2017) is an immensely popular (BGG #52), unique heavy worker placement game taking place in the short days before the inevitable end of the world. An asteroid impact is going to destroy the Earth, and players must collect resources preparing to evacuate. Worker placement is done with multiple types of workers with different abilities, plus workers can (and must) wear powered Exosuits to explore certain regions of the board. The most powerful tool at a players disposal, though, is… time travel. Players can give themselves resources from the future, but beware, not following through with the actual loan can cause temporal anomalies, and invoke stiff penalties.

Now the much anticipated expansion to Anachrony, Fractures of Time, is on Kickstarter from Mindclash Games and designers Richard AmannViktor Peter, and Dávid Turczi. Fractures adds a new area for worker placement, the Amythenia Valley, an area where humanity has learned to survive and collect the powerful Flux resource. Flux can be used to allow Exosuited workers to “blink” – essentially existing in two worker spaces at once. However the Fracture Devices used to create Flux are far from perfect, and must be maintained by the new Operator worker type, or else temporal glitches ensue. Fractures of Time also adds a 5th faction to the game, the Path of Unity, consisting of dissidents from the other 4 factions, residing in a capitol city sent back from the future. Also in the expansion are a new Exosuit type – the Paladin, and a new Solo mode, as well as a giant Infinity Box to hold everything together. The Kickstarter for Anachrony: Fractures of Time continues through May 7, and the expansion is due to ship in March 2020.

Space Base is a critically acclaimed engine building, dice-economics game from designer John D. Clair and publisher AEG, which took the clever “roll dice – earn money – buy cards” pattern from Machi Koro (2012), and others, and brought it to the next level. The first expansion for Space Base, The Emergence of Shy Pluto, was only released last week, and already a second expansion and storage kit has been announced. Space Base: Command Station, coming later this year, will expand the maximum player count from it original 5 up to 7. The expansion, which comes in a box to hold everything, will include 2 more boards, all necessary starting cards and cubes. Command Station will also include 14 “pre-deployed” ship cards to help balance the larger player counts. Look for Space Base: Command Station at your FLGS this August.

Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG) has announced they will be starting a Kickstarter Campaign soon for a premium reprint of the popular deck building game Valley of the Kings (2014) by designer Tom Cleaver. This Premium Edition will include not only the original game, but also the subsequent Valley of the Kings: Afterlife and Valley of the Kings: Last Rites. Although Valley of the Kings was an early deck builder, using tried and true mechanics of buying new cards from a marketplace, using the buy power of other cards in hand, it introduced some novel ideas into the genre. The only cards to score points in Valley are those purposely culled from one’s deck into a special “entomb” pile, removing the card from play. The timing of when to use a card for its action, or when to use it for cash value to buy new cards, or when to give up the card for points, kept the game fresh and interesting. This new collection not only contains all 3 games, but also includes new graphics, new Pharaoh cards with unique abilities, and enough tarot sized sleeves to protect all the cards (over 300). The Kickstarter for the Valley of the Kings Premium Edition is scheduled to begin on April 2, 2019, and continue for 2 weeks.

Here is the second and final part of interviews and sneak peeks of what I was able to see at the GAMA Trade Show. Hopefully I’ve saved the best for last.

Frank West, designer of City of Kings, and one heck of a guy, discussed City of Games’ upcoming title Rising Blades, a competitive worker placement / tile placement game with RPG elements. In Rising Blades, players add tiles to a growing map each round, in which they can move, fight monsters and develop their unique asymmetric characters. Expect Rising Blades to hit Kickstarter at the end of the year.

Czech Games Edition (CGE) showed the unique cooperative deduction word game Letter Jam from designer Ondra Skoupý. In Letter Jam, players receive a set of facedown letters delivered from an app, and the goal is to deduce these letters. Each player places one of these cards facing the other players in a style akin to Hanabi, so that you can see everyone’s secret letter except your own. Players then make words with the letters, giving clues as to what other players’ hidden letters may be.

Forbidden Games confirmed an expansion for the popular auction stock market game Raccoon Tycoon by designer Glenn Drover is in the works. The expansion should include a 6th player, more buildings and a new railroad type.

Stephen Buonocore, the evil genius behind Stronghold Games was kind enough to reveal some further details about the 5th and final big expansion to their evergreen hit Terraforming Mars, Terraforming Mars; Turmoil. Turmoil, the only expansion to be released in 2019, will be labeled as an “expert” expansion, meant for more experienced players. In short, this expansion involves politics. Mars has established a Martian Senate, composed of several parties, each with its own agenda. The Red party is interested in keeping Mars pristine and untouched, the Green party wants full terraforming, the Kelvinists want more heat, etc. Players can place delegates, trying to gain control of parties, or even the entire senate. A face-up line of Event Cards show what influences each party will have over the next several turns. Expect Terraforming Mars:Turmoil to hit Kickstarter in April/May.

Root, the critically claimed asymmetric forest critter game from Leder Games and designer Cole Wehrle has a new expansion on Kickstarter. The Underworld Expansion, by designer Patrick Leder, introduces two new critters to the wood, the Crows and the Moles. The Corvid Conspiracy of Crows slowly takes over other players’ decks of cards by adding agents to their hands. As each agent comes to fruition and advances the Corvid agenda, the Conspiracy must move to a new secret hideout in the wood. The Great Duchy of Moles travels underground, building tunnels and taking over clearings in the wood. The Underworld Expansion also includes new Mountain and Lake Maps, and a new Exiles & Partisans deck of cards to replace the original deck with special powers. Also available are resin clearing markers, new meeples in the vagabond pack, and all of the previous expansions and extra. The Kickstarter for the Underground Expansion continues through April 2, and is expected to ship in December 2019.

Railroad Rivals by Forbidden Games and uber-designer Glenn Drover (Empires: Age of Discovery, Raccoon Tycoon, Railways of the World) completed a successful Kickstarter campaign last March, and now the company has announced a new Kickstarter for the anticipated expansion, Robber Barons. In Railroad Rivals, 1-5 players bid for turn order, collect stocks and place city tiles, matching railroad stock symbols on tile edges to create a rail network. Goods are then delivered along those networks, either your own or an opponent’s (for a fee), to increase the value of the stocks. The player with the most valuable portfolio of stocks wins the game. The new Robber Baron expansion adds a 6th player to the game, a new goods type – mail, 1 new railroad stock, 5 new city tiles, new versions of the Boston and New York City tiles, as well as several game enhancements. New Stock Shenanigans tiles can be bid for, and directly manipulate stocks and stock values, and the new specialty city tiles include 2 locomotive upgrades, a new Industry tile and a Railroad Headquarters tile. The Kickstarter Campaign for Railroad Rivals: Robber Barons continues through March 19, and the expansion is expected to deliver in August 2019.

The original Shadows of Brimstone dungeon crawler by Flying Frog Productions and Jason C. Hill (Last Night on Earth, Fortune and Glory) was a Kickstarter phenom in 2013, earning $1.3M and delivering a robust unique dungeon crawler. In Shadows, 1-4 players took on roles in the old west, and adventured into an old mine that housed portals to other realms. The game had great monsters, a fantastic exploration system that required no GM, and powerful role playing and leveling options, including a town expansion in which to rest and work on your characters.

Flying Frog added numerous other expansions to the 2 starting boxes for Shadows, then followed it up with Forbidden Fortress in 2016, a stand-alone feudal japan version of Shadows. Now Flying Frog has started a Kickstarter Campaign for 2 new Shadows of Brimstone Adventures, Gates of Valhalla and Valley of the Serpent King.

Valhalla has multiple viking character types for players, who travel back to the Targa Plateau from the City of the Ancients Core set to battle new creatures and search of elusive dark stone. The Valley of the Serpent King features Spanish Conquistador characters, and has portals to the Swamps of Jargono from the Swamps of Death Core set. Both games feature numerous high quality miniatures, including oversized elite monsters, dungeon tiles, cards, tokens and all you would expect from a Shadows of Brimstone game. The new Shadows Adventures are fully compatible with all previous versions, but can be played on their own.

The Kickstarter Campaign continues through March 9, and the games are expected to deliver in September of 2020.