If you follow the TCBG Instagram (yes, we have an Instagram!), then you will have seen that A Place at the Table recently went on a spring break trip. Number One and I loaded up all the kids and drove them down to visit my parents, Nana and Popsi. While on vacation, we checked out a game store down in Austin Texas. While there, I found an expansion for Terraforming Mars titled Prelude. This is not the first expansion for Terraforming Mars which brings me to the topic for this week’s blog post: Expansions. Are they really needed? What’s the point of them? At what point do we say enough is enough? Keep scrolling through to see my thoughts on expansions.
Expansions are something that is usually added on after a game has been on the market for a while. In some cases, the expansion allows you to add more players. I really enjoy these type of expansions because it allows more friends to play the game with you. Take Villainous, for example, this is a fairly new game, but Ravensburger (the publisher) just came out with an expansion called Wicked to the Core that allows you to add 3 more players to the game. Wicked to the Core can also be played as a stand-alone game, but that is beside the point for this post.
Sometimes an expansion will add new dynamics to a game. If you were to come play Catan at my house, we’d be playing it with the Cities and Knights expansion pack. I learned the base game a few years ago, and after playing a couple of games, Number One taught me the Cities and Knights expansion. It changes some of the dynamics because it adds things in and you have to make sure you have activated knights in your city to protect it against the Barbarians. (Number One would like me to add that it gets rid of the largest army from the base game but adds more layers to how you use or don’t use your knights.)
You’ll find that some games have more than one expansion. Just because a game has a lot of expansions doesn’t make all of the expansions good. Terraforming Mars has several expansions out. Their Venus expansion doesn’t seem to be as popular or as liked as the expansion board.
Game creators may come up with expansions because they find that the players need or want more. Expansions can increase the difficulty of a game. They can also help fix a game that has aspects that are broken. That begs the question of “why didn’t they find this when they were play testing the game?” Since I’m not a game creator or play tester, I can’t answer that. I can imagine that some things aren’t discovered until a game has a lot of plays or someone finds a combo that boosts one player (I’m looking at you Rusviet/Industrial board combo in Scythe) and so an expansion may be created to help combat that problem.
But at what point is enough enough? I love Terraforming Mars. It’s one of my favorite games, but they just keep coming out with expansion after expansion. Like most gamers, I’ve got a FOMO when it comes to all of the stuff for TM. But, I don’t necessarily need all the expansions. I probably could have done without the Venus expansion. I find that it doesn’t add much to the game, and I often find myself explaining what floaters do over and over and over again during the game. Because Prelude appears to give you a one-time benefit at the beginning of the game, I’m hoping that it helps enhance the game play rather than taking over the entire game but we shall see. At what point do the expansions take over and detract from the base game? Do we draw the line at 3 expansions or 5 expansions? Do we really need all of the different Cards Against Humanity packs? Honestly, I have no idea. Okay, maybe we do need all the Cards Against Humanity expansion packs. The decision on when to stop buying expansions is a personal one that only you, dear gamers, can decide. So, tell me. How do you feel about expansions? Are there any expansions that you loved? Any that you hated?