Hi! It's professor Ryan from NightsAround a Table.
What is an expansion? Today on (singing) Board Games 101!! They say in business it's way easier to getan existing customer to buy something elsefrom you than it is to get a new customer to buy something completelyfresh, and that's what a board game expansion is.
It's a way for board gamepublishers to take their existing customer base that has already purchasedsomething from them, and say “Well you like that? Heeere's more!” Board gameexpansions might add to the number of ways that you can score in the game, theymight add extra pieces to the game, extra boards, extra cards – it really all dependson the way that the publisher and the game designers have swung it.
Now why isthis important? Well, as somebody who'srelatively new to the board game world, you don't want to make the same mistakethat i did when i was relatively new to the board game world, and walk into astore, pick something off the shelf, buy it, get it home, and then realize – whoops! It's an expansion! Because usuallyexpansions require you to have the base game in order to play with them.
Now, thegame that i went home with was called Hex Hex Next, and surprisingly – andluckily – it was one of the rare cases where you could actually play theexpansion without the base game.
Nowwe're pretty lucky these days, because with very few exceptions, whenever youpick up a board game expansion in the store these days, there's usually aproviso on it that says “This is an expansion! It requires the base game to play.
” sothat you don't get it home and get disappointed or feel ripped off.
So imentioned there are different flavours of expansions.
i've identified about fivedifferent types that you'll see most commonly.
Rhe first is maybe moreaccurately called an “extension.
” What itdoes is it takes your base game, and it just adds player account to it.
So ifyou were only able to play up to four players before, now you can play maybefive and six players.
So the classicexample there is the Settlers of Catan, now called Catan.
correctly pronounced”Catahn, ” but i'm a redhead.
where the game plays two to four players, but then ifyou buy an extension, you can actually play with five or six players.
And backwhen i was playing this game, i thought that was a grand idea! i could play withmore people.
But what didn't dawn on mewhen i bought those extensions for that game and the expansion The Cities &Knights of Catan, is that certain games just don't playwell at certain player counts, and i think maybe Catan is one of them.
Fiveor six players, it's gonna take a whole lot longer, the game's kind of gonna bog down.
it wasn't really designed for that many players.
So you CAN do it, if you've gotmaybe three couples who like to play together, you can extend it up to sixplayers, but it doesn't always mean that just because you can, you should.
Now, atrend that you'll see a lot now is that this play with one extra player, playwith two extra players, is rolled into an expansion that's more, sort of, like agrab bag of modules, and the idea here is you have the base game, you buy thisexpansion, and it's just pieces that you, by your own prerogative, can mix in withthe game.
And often the rulebook will say”Well, pick one or two that you like.
play the base game, and playit with module number one, and then next time youplay it, play with just module number two.
Don't add them all in at once, now!” Andthe cynical side of me suspects that that's just a way for publishers totrain their customers to try to play their games more than other people'sgames, right? Sort of like this trainingwheels approach, where it's like “Nah, don't.
don't do the whole thing at once! Do little bits and pieces, and thenmake sure that every single game night it's my game that's on your table!” i amNOT a huge fan of this approach.
Someexamples of grab bag expansions can be found with the Seas of Glory expansionfor Merchants & Marauders, the Cities of Splendor expansion for Splendor, andthe Scoundrels of Skullport expansion for the Lords of Waterdeep.
But! i willsay that's a fantastic expansion, and forget the fact that it's modular.
Justtake Scoundrels of Skullport and the Undermountain stuff, mix them together, andplay them all together.
i would actually never play Lords ofWaterdeep without the expansions.
That'show good they are.
The third type ofexpansion that i've identified is the kind of expansion where you don'tactually have to have the base game in order to play it.
And this is soexceedingly rare that i almost can't think of very many examples at all.
HexHex Next off the top of the video is the one that i knew about.
In 99% ofcases, you're gonna require the base game to play the expansion.
The fourth type ofexpansion you're gonna run into is the “more of the same” expansion.
Your game has50 cards? Well here's 100 cards! You got acouple o' dice? Here's a bunch more dice! Personally, thisis the style of expansion that i really prefer.
It takes whatever you enjoyedabout the main game, and it puts more of that stuff in there.
Very oftenexpansions can extend gameplay length, where the game might have been already agood length.
They can over complicategameplay, when game playing might have been already complicated enough.
Soexpansions that add new mechanics into the game may be a good idea, may be a badidea.
it's really hard to say definitively.
My experiences with thatkind of thing, and i've bought a ton of expansions, have been really hit or miss.
Fifth type of expansion i've identifiedis the component upgrade.
So this isn'treally technically an expansion, because the game doesn't do anything new whenyou buy this expansion, but what it does is it beautifies the components.
So i'mthinking of things like the ship packs for Eclipse, or those cool domed citiesfor Alien Frontiers, before they became standard with the game.
Some of thesecomponent upgrades are even aftermarket – they're third-party – they're made by acompletely different company.
So, like, these cool DnDeeples for Lords of Waterdeep, or component upgrades forgames like Scythe.
There are a fewcompanies out there that will make metal coins to replace the cardboard coinsthat you have in your games.
Now maybe ifyou haven't played a board game where you haven't improve the components, youthink “Well.
that's kind of silly.
Whywould i do that? It doesn't add anythingto the game.
There's no new stuff, ” butbelieve me: i'm a.
i'm a big fan of this this kind of thing! If you've neverupgraded a board game from cardboard coins to metal coins, i can highlyrecommend it! It should go without saying, but it just feels better playing with better stuff! Now there are a fewimportant things that i think you need to know or consider about expansions forboard games.
Generally – and this is themost important thing – unless your gaming group – the people you play with regularly- are very familiar with the game, you'regonna have a hard time getting that expansion to the table.
i own a ton ofgames where i bought the expansion, and i'm constantly bringing new people in toplay games with me, and so i'll bust out a game that i havean expansion for, but i think “Oh, shoot – that's kind of too complicated.
Rhey needto learn the base game first, ” and then the next time we go to play, it's eithera different game, or a different group of people, and ican't bring out that expansion, because that group of people doesn't know that.
that game! So i have a lot of expansionsin my collection that are either unopened, or they've.
i've just opened themand organized them, i've played them maybeonce, or they're on my big list of things that i desperately want to play, and it'sall because the people i play with don't know the base game.
So that is an issuethat you are certainly going to run into if you go hog-wild on an expansions like iusually do.
Another thing to knowis that not all expansions are compatible with each other, and thisdrives me nuts.
i really don't like this.
So the first three expansions for Racefor the Galaxy are all compatible – you can fold them all in – and play them withthe base game.
But the fourth expansionfor Race for the Galaxy, and the fifth expansion – so we're talking Xeno Invasionand Alien Artifacts – those are two separate forks.
So you can't play XenoInvasion with the first three expansions.
And you can't play Xeno Invasion with AlienArtifacts, and you can't play Alien Artifacts and Xeno Invasion together -it's either base game and these three, base game and this one, base game andthis one, and they.
never the twain shall meet.
So that's really important to know goingin, hoping – you know – hoping that you can mix everything together, and then findingout that you can't.
So a little bit ofresearch may be required.
Some thingsthat may look like expansions are actually just gigantic empty boxes forcollectors to throw all their base game and expansion stuff into because – there'sanother thing you'll run into if you buy expansions – there's not always room inthe base game box to stick all the stuff.
So certain games have these big emptyboxes.
So the Scythe Legendary box, theStar Realms Universal Storage Box, or the Cards Against Humanity Bigger BlackerBox.
These are all just big empty boxeswhere you put things into.
And i knowi'd be pretty bummed if i paid money for something and i got it home, and i openedit, and there was nothing inside.
So, again, alittle bit of research is required, but i think you'd probably suss out, hopefully, that the thing you've bought, if you picked it up physically in the store, doesn't have anything in it.
If you wereonline, maybe not so much.
If you buy agame and there's a little starburst call-out in the corner that says itincludes a mini expansion, no it doesn't! That's just a base game component andwhat you're reading is marketing to get you to buy the game.
It's like theboardgame equivalent of a cereal box saying “30% extra.
” So it wasn't always thecase, but now i don't think there's a board game in existence that goesthrough the development without the designer thinking about what couldhappen if it were to be expanded, if it were to do well enough that expansionwas warranted.
And a lot of board gamecompanies are selling their games on Kickstarter, which is a popularcrowdfunding platform.
So what they'll dois they'll come out with this campaign with all these bells and whistles in theboard game.
People will pay big bucks andbig money on shipping to try to get that thing, and then when it goes to retail, ifit ever does go to retail, they'll carve that game up into a bunch of separatesmaller products, each with a different SKU.
So it really depends on the campaign, but you might end up paying more at retail for each little box and diddlybit and doo-dad, or you might be paying more through the Kickstarter – it depends.
But it's possible that you can, if youare ok to wait the year or whatever it takes for that project to be fulfilled, you might be able to save a little bit of money by catching it on Kickstarterand buying it there, than waiting until it's all carved out in separate SKUs atretail.
Another thing that we see a lotis where a publisher has a game, and they release an expansion and expansionexpansion – it did well enough that they've got.
i don't know.
seven expansions going- and then they take it after – you know – adecade and they tie it all together in one product called a Big Box, which isthe base game with all the expansions and in a box big enough to fit all thestuff.
And i gather those have sold fairlywell, because certain board game publishers.
that's their whole aim, is toget a big box product out.
So the wholething is they'll run Kickstarter campaigns, or they'll put out product andproduct and product, maybe even if the game didn't even sell that well, but wellenough, hoping that they can then take all those products and tie them togetherin a big box product, and that'll be their big seller.
So if you're interestedin a game, and you notice that it has a bunch of expansions out for it already, maybe do a little bit of research and find out if either there's a big boxversion available, or if there are rumours, or the company has announced thatthey're headed toward a big box product, because it might be a big money savingsfor you to wait for that big box product to come out on the shelf.
And thenfinally, about price and picking: so usuallyexpansions are less expensive than the base game, maybe by about half.
You buybase game.
in Canuck-buck prices for 60bucks, expansion maybe 20-30 bucks.
Butit's not always the case.
So if you takean expansion like the Food Chain Magnate Ketchup Mechanism and Other Ideas, wellthat expansion is the same cost as the already pretty expensive base game.
Andthen if you look at something like Roll for the Galaxy Rivalry, that's half again the cost of the base game! So what you really have to try tofigure out, and it's difficult i realize, is: will paying that extra money be worththat amount of enjoyment that i will get out of extending the lifespan of thegame? Have i even played the game enoughto warrant extending or expanding the gameplay? Or will that 30 bucks or 60bucks or a hundred bucks be better spent towards buying a new game? Or two? Considerwhat i've said about who you play with, and how well your gaming group knows thegames that you already know before diving into an expansion.
But if you're acompletist, and you're rich, and you've got a very big amount of shelf space.
BUY!!! BUY!!! BUY!!! So a couple questions for myTA's in the room: what's your favorite expansion? Are there any games that haveexpansions where you wouldn't play the base game without them? Are there anyexpansion that you're really impressed with? Are there any expansions that fellreally flat, and really disappointed you? Let me know in the comments sectionbelow, or hit me up during my office hours on Discord.
That's it for thislecture on (singing) Board Games 101!! Nights Around aTable is the only place you can earn your pHB in board games! (disclaimer voice)Nights Around a Table is not an accredited educationalinstitution.
(Ryan) They get it.
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Who even told you that?.