There is a fond place in my heart for game expansions. Many people find themselves concerned about the longevity of their favorite board games and how many times it may hit the table over the years. Expansions are usually a great way to relieve that worry! There’s a lot of expansions out there on the market for many different games, so there’s always going to be a mixed review of whether or not expansions enhance the experience or takes away from it. My take? Expansions have been kind to me!
It took a little bit of thinking to actually distinguish these expansions because of my fondness. So, after careful consideration, here are my top 3 expansions you should definitely check out for your collection!
Lords of Waterdeep: Scoundrels of Skullport
This is one game that I am completely in love with. Lords of Waterdeep was one of the first board games that got me into the hobby. I owe it all to Wizard, honestly! This worker placement is an easy game for newcomers and with an expansion, a challenging form of competitive play for veterans. Wizard of the Coast added some excellent elements with Scoundrels of Skullport that made early gameplay more risky and the payoff bigger.
New mini game boards are a feature that enhances the game with more options for placement. They also introduce a new element: the Corruption track. When playing on the placement area with a Corruption skull, players earn one skull that denotes a negative number for their player at the risk of increasing the overall amount. More skulls out means the higher each skull will take from your total victory points. Some Lord and Intrigue cards benefit specifically from this mechanic – gaining victory points instead, so be careful! The new Lord, intrigue, building and quest cards keep the deck refreshing and changing, something base game lacked.
These all work together with great success, allowing up to 6 players to have a rich and impressive worker placement game within an hour or so. I both love the expansion and hate it because it leaves more up to chance near the end – ah, but that’s the excitement! One of the lowest scoring players can usurp a victory with the use of skulls in a strategic way…
If you’re looking for a way to get Waterdeep back on your table, this is a great start and worth the investment!
Pandemic: On the Brink
Z-Man Games have become a staple in the board game community. Pandemic remains one of the biggest mainstream games, but if you’re looking for some excitement to the base game, this is your expansion.
Pandemic: On the Brink offers the ability for a 5th player to join your ranks. This is one of the biggest features that attracted me to the game. It’s interesting to think that a 5th player can drastically change the game, but it’s real. It’s the real damn deal.
The 5th player option will allow new combinations of roles which can save the world or bring it to ashes. To help make this even more difficult, 6 new roles have been added. You’re able to choose from Containment Specialist, Archivist, Troubleshooter, Epidemiologist, Field Operative and Generalist. These roles work with the base 5 to create one big cluster of options for you and your friends to take advantage of. I won’t spoil and say which one is the best – that’s for you to find out! Trial and error is one of my favorite aspects of role selection, even if it can end up horribly.
New events, new components, challenges, and even petri dishes bundle with this great expansion! We highly recommend trying out some of the challenges – you’ll find adding a new mutant strain ups the difficulty but the bio-terrorist twists a definitive cooperative experience into slightly competitive as the bio-terrorist works against the team. Great fun!
Overall, this expansion helps revive a game on the brink (ahahahaha) of being overlooked for newer titles. This freshness is perfect for fans of the series and personally a “must have” for users buying the base game for the first time.
7 Wonders: Cities
7 Wonders is one of the most played games in my collection. Between 7 Wonders and 7 Wonders: Duel, I’ve grown to appreciate the series as a whole. 7 Wonders has a pretty solid line of expansions that make the base experience much more enjoyable, but Cities sticks out for me. It’s cost effective and usually very cheap to find! In addition, you’ll find that it adds just the right amount to the game without overshadowing it completely.
Debt and Diplomacy are two new features added to your card deck. As the meat and potatoes of the expansion, you’ll find these two components help influence the game in a new direction.
Debt adds a major risk to gameplay – losing money. Just like real life, it’s a scary thought but strategists shouldn’t worry. It’s intimidating to have a debt, but it acts as negative victory points – something similar to how the military aspects of the game plays.
Ultimately, this makes choices much more concise and thoughtful. Our table usually has a lot of great minds that suffer from “analysis paralysis”. They calculate moves and want to make it perfect without it biting them in the ass. Ultimately, it may add time to the game. Watch out.
Diplomacy works in ways that we certainly wished the base game had – working with allegiances. This is a nice counter to military (one I appreciate because I get consistently boned on military) as it essentially protects you from the assault. It works pretty well for those who just want to raise their little nation in peace.
Overall, the addition of new cards and guilds help balance out these two major changes to the gameplay. It is amazing to see that there is such versatility being offered to 7 Wonders. One reason this game always impresses is because of the variety of tactics used towards winning. It fits a lot of different play styles and Cities only adds to that!
There’s such an assortment of options out there. Many games consistently give out great products but these are some of the board games expansions I’ve found most enjoyable. Use our hashtag #boredgames to tell us your favorite expansions on Instagram!