Designing new games is complicated. They have all the chances to be lame. They may fail to get the interest of board gamers drowning under the avalanche of boxes that got released weekly. So, to have a more reliable income, publishers and designers can always rely on the good old more of the same, and bet that, in the traditional exploration-exploitation dilemma, gamers will revel in some exploitation behavior when they get tired of their ceaseless and fruitless exploration of a growing jungle of desperate new titles.
I’ve grouped today's games in a number of categories, from small expansions to big boxes to adaptations – and we shall begin with big expansions. Let’s start with a title that instantly made it to the hotness: Dune Imperium – Immortality. How can you expand a game set in a universe whose confines are defined by source material that won’t receive new additions anymore? Easy answer: you pick up an obscure detail and inflate it to the best of your capabilities. As a result, all Dune games sooner or later introduce the Tleilaxu, a faction that gets a few mentions in the book but doesn’t play any major role in the plot. Alongside this exotic faction comes a new mechanism, card “grafting”, because there is a need for innovation, I guess.
Wingspan Asia already got mentioned in the Lounge. We have exactly three pieces of info as of now: there will be a Peacock card, it features birds from Asia, and they will release a Big Box (the Nesting box) to hold all actual and future contents.
The next one is Merchants Cove: Master Craft. Some of you may remember this Kickstarter whose most noticeable feature was that it featured heavily asymmetric factions, all relying on its own set of game mechanics, merging together into a euro game focused on devising optimized economies. In this expansion, there are four new factions and plenty of additional stuff as well to make the whole thing even more convoluted.
Furnace: Interbellum pushes the setting of Furnace further into the twentieth century, covering the twenties and the thirties. Now you can be a successful capitalist for an even longer period of time! There seem to be a lot of new cards to expand upon the already existing contents, as well as a bunch of new mechanics that you can introduce gradually or all at once.
Next we get to small expansions and I’ll be brief. You can get Pirates in Neuroshima Hex 3.0, a new faction to wage war in different ways. An expansion for Carnegie grants you four little modules to add variety to your games. In The LOOP, the Furry Brigade expansion introduces two new characters, Arsene Lupus and Catruman the Black, to take down the crazy evil Dr. Foo. The Awards Season expansion for AchRavels is devoted to the introduction of a solo mode, which makes it quite relevant in this list. The Bugs & Slugs expansion for Ducks in Tow, the game about collecting colored ducks in a row following you, features bugs that you can pick up to feed the ducks, granting you special abilities. Paupers’ Ladder isn’t tired of new content: the new Moon Towers expansion is barely out and the next one is already announced, This Cobbled Isle. Finally, the designed-by-a-little-girl-and-her-dad dungeon crawler CoraQuest adds campaign rules thanks to the Keep on Questing expansion.
Stand-alone sequels are the exact example of more of the same in an iterated mode. You take a game and you make it anew, with some changes. MicroMacro is now at its third iteration, weirdly named All-In. No, it doesn’t include any content from the past two titles. With a different name, I guess they could have saved themselves answering this question a thousand times. Caldera Park, from the famous Kiesling & Kramer duo, looks exactly like Savannah Park which got released last year. I didn’t bother searching for the differences, apart from the setting. Finally, Scholars of the South Tigris is, well, another game in the X of the North/South/West/East Something series from Shem Phillips. I know nothing about this series but they all seem fairly different from one another.
Now, big boxes! Big boxes can be very different things. They can be empty to store every expansion and the core game in a single case. They can be filled with all formerly released content. But in both cases, they will probably add a little extra thing so that, if you already got everything, well, you feel compelled to get it no matter what.
I have two big boxes for you today, starting with Village, which holds all the contents previously released, including various promos, plus a new “Marriage” expansion. Next, Paper Tales is also getting an All-In edition with the core game, the expansion that introduces the solo mode, and a new expansion, What Forges Legends, which will be available separately so that you are not forced to get the big box. So far it’s only for the French market but the publishers seem desperate to bring it to a worldwide audience, as they did with the core game and its expansion.
Finally, we arrive at reimplementations. Ancient Terrible Things: Reawakened is the third edition of Ancient Terrible Things. It’s actually a potpourri of all the contents released for the first and second editions and their expansions and it's compatible with none of them. Contrarily to the former editions, solo now comes straight out of the box.
Spirit Island is getting a “simplified” version with Horizons of Spirit Island to target [I see what you did there - JW] a wider audience, but it should remain highly complex. The spirits featured in this stand-alone game are compatible with regular play of the game. If you don’t care for feeble streamlined versions, you can go for the fully-fledged expansion Nature Incarnate, that will get crowdfunded on BackerKit.
And finally, we get to the last trick publishers have in store to offer more content: Roll and Write adaptations! Orléans is getting its own with Joan of Arc: Orléans Draw & Write – you “draw” cards by drafting them, instead of drawing dead Englishmen your way to victory. And The Artemis Project also gets its own with First Contact (which on second thoughts may only have a “roll” part and no “write” one, but dice versions of games are just another variant of derivative titles, so there).
#DuneImperium #Immortality #Wingspan #Asia #MerchantsCove #MasterCraft #Furnace #Interbellum #NeuroshimaHex3 #Pirates #Carnegie #TheLOOP #FurryBrigade #ArchRavels #AwardsSeason #DucksInTow #BugsAndSlugs #PaupersLadder #ThisCobbledIsle #CoraQueast #KeepOnQuesting #MicroMacro3 #CalderaPark #ScholarsOfTheSouthTigris #Village #PaperTales #PaperTales #WhatForgesLegends #AncientTerribleThings #Reawakened #SpiritIsland #NatureIncarnate #HorizonsOfSpiritIsland #JoanOfArcOrléans #TheArtemisProject #FirstContact
All images are taken from the games' pages on BGG.