Board Game Expansions

“You have Died”

Dark Souls (2017) is a cooperative fantasy board game based on the popular computer and console game of the same name. In Dark Souls, players take on character roles, fight minions for souls, level up and collect new equipment, trying to get powerful enough to defeat a giant boss. The game was noteworthy for having beautifully large, detailed miniatures, a detailed and programmed boss A.I., and, like its namesake, for being hard. Characters will die, and if too many succumb, the players will lose.

Steamforged Games has announced 3 new expansions for Dark Souls, each expanding a specific area of the game. The Characters Expansion introduces 6 new character types to the game, each with new equipment, actions and stat progressions. The Characters Expansion comes with 16 new miniatures, cards and boards to support the new characters. Vordt of the Boreal Valley is a new boss, originally tasked with standing sentinel over the gates that lead from the Undead Settlement to the Castle of Lothric. Now a savage and mindless beast, the boss Vordt comes with two behavior decks, one for movement and one for battle. The Vordt expansion also comes with a new boss board, and new level 4 encounters, making it a difficult challenge for experienced players. Finally, The Darkroot Basin and Iron Keep expansions come with 9 new double sided tiles for use in any game.

All three new expansions to Dark Souls are expected to deliver to retail on November 22, 2019. For more details on Dark Souls the Board Game, and its previous expansions, check out the Steamforged website here.

The Big Book of Madness (2015) is a cooperative board game by designer Maxime Rambourg, which pits 2-5 student magicians against the monsters escaping from the eponymous Big Book. Each player takes on the role of a student, each with unique powers and abilities. Players must turn the pages of the book, defeat the curses within, and eventually shut the tome for all time, all before succumbing to madness. Players use deck building to create a deck of elemental cards, spending these elements to buy new, more powerful spells, or to support their fellow students. For without cooperation between the players, all is lost.

Iello has announced the first expansion for this well received game, The Big Book of Madness: The Vth Element. This expansion includes 2 new modules, Dark Matter and Phobias. Dark Matter adds Dark Curses, the Dark Book, Dark Monsters and new characters to the game. Phobias adds new Phobia Cards, which are madness cards with permanent effects.

The Big Book of Madness: The Vth Element should be available in stores in February of 2020.

Abyss was an instant board game hit on its release in 2014. Combining unbelievable art from Xavier Collette with the sublime gameplay from master designers Bruno Cathala and Charles Chevallier, Abyss managed to transport players into a fantastical and political underwater world. The gameplay in Abyss is a wonderful collection of push-your-luck card collection, resource management of stunning pearls, and card set creation, all simple in their own right but interwoven into a magnificent strategic board game still loved to this day (currently #338 on BGG). The first expansion to Abyss, Kraken, was released in 2015 to critical acclaim, adding the two edged sword of dark pearls. Now, Studio Bombyx has given Abyss fans two new toys to drool over – the second expansion Abyss:Leviathan, and the new card game Conspiracy: Abyss Universe, both coming to western shores this November.

Leviathan replaces the accumulating threat track from the original card game with a border board filled with tremendous monsters. While pulling cards during exploration, if a monster is drawn, the player now has an opportunity to fight a Leviathan on the board. Certain Lords and Allies can give benefit to killing these monsters, and the player with the most kills will earn an extra 5 points at the end of the game.

Conspiracy: Abyss Universe is a card game in the Abyss Universe, sharing similar gameplay and more of that delicious Xavier Collette art. 2-4 Players use Abyss-like cards to create a reverse pyramid, starting with a row of five cards and working down to one. Two matching keys or 3 total keys on cards allow the player to take Location Cards, which add abilities and points. Pearls have their role in this game as well, and the player with the majority of pearls on cards immediately takes the Pearl Majority Card. The game ends when a player has completed their pyramid; groups of connected cards of the same color score points equal to the highest scoring card in the group. The Pearl Majority Card adds 5 points, and the player with the largest colored group scores an additional 3. Highest score claims rightful rule of the depths. For more details, check out Bombyx’s webpage here.

Star Realms is arguably the golden child of the 2 player head-to-head deck-builder world. Ever since the game’s debut from White Wizard Games in 2013, people have been extolling the virtues of this classic “buy cards”, “play cards”, “damage opponent” card game. Designers Robert Dougherty and Darwin Kastle created an elegant, competitive deck builder which still has a solid following to this day, and has inspired numerous expansions, such as Colony Wars, Gambit and the latest, Frontiers.

The digital version of Star Realms has likewise gained traction, and this latest expansion has just been added to the popular app. Frontiers adds 45 new ships and bases to the game, as well as 2 new campaign chapters with 12 new missions. Frontiers is available now on all platforms; for more information on this popular add-on, check out the game page here.

Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game (2012) by designer Devin Low is one of the great granddaddies of the deck building world. In this (semi)cooperative card game, players collect recruitment power to add new superheroes to their deck, then use the fighting abilities of these well-known heroes to defeat the villains marching on the city. But beware, there is a Mastermind Villain behind all this evil, unraveling a diabolical Scheme. Players need to defeat the Mastermind before the Scheme plays out to fruition in order to win at Legendary.

Publisher Upper Deck Entertainment has supported the game well over the years, amassing almost 20 expansions with innumerable Marvel characters, and the latest (for the completionists among us) is[CT1]  Legendary: Revelations. Revelations is a “deluxe” small box expansion, containing 200 cards instead of the standard 100, and it includes the popular heroes Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, War machine, and many more. New Location Cards represent infamous places in the MCU, and every villain group will come out with a Location. New card keyword mechanics include Hyperspeed, Last Stand, and Dark Memories. Scheme cards in Revelations also reflect the changing nature of this set, and are double sided, flipping over at key points in the adventure.

Revelations includes 9 new heroes with 14 cards each, 4 new villain groups of 8 cards each, 2 new henchmen groups of 10 cards, 3 new Masterminds and 4 new Schemes (each double sided), and 3 new Bystander types. This new expansion is due to hit stores at the end of August 2019. For more information, check out the official webpage here.


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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.