We have all been there, your table top bestie shows up with the latest expansion for your go to board game and bam! massive deck. It looks glorious, magnificent, it towers higher than any deck you’ve seen, think of all the option, think about all the new card which will show up, all the new mechanics.. lovely.
For this post I’m going to look into two board games, Arkham and Munchkin. Two completely different games, to try and explain why I’m not a huge fan of cluster fucking up games with a fuck tone of expansion packs.
I’m not against expansion packs, like DLC they can bring some much needed refreshment into a much loved time waster but board game companies can get a bit carried away. I’m not going to list all the available expansions for Arkham and Munchkin. I will simply say that – its.. allot.
Munchkin can be a relatively quick game to smash your way through, depending on the amount of players and how the cards get dealt you can be looking at a game time of about 45-60 mins (that’s quick for me). Card expansions add very little to this time and that’s one thing I like about munchkin, the ability to just fire off a game in about an hour with out having to get knee deep in the rules.
The basic Deck gives you allot of variation with some exceptions, mainly the ‘go up a level’ cards are all the same but worded slightly differently. The problem I found when introducing an expansion is that it introduces a large amount of cards into the game which are very niche. For example the mount cards in munchkin are mean’t to add another level of gear into the game along with all the side affects that come with it, but with the introduction of another expansion this element becomes so watered down that you barely see anything to do with a mount, and instead of being useful just become another set of cards you sell. Every expansion also brings in another set of ‘go up a level’ or different variation of this rule. I have found that one player can literally lay down about 5 go up a level cards in one go – where as before this was a relatively rare occasion.
This idea of being swamped with choice is something we can look at in the context of Arkham. Arkham in my opinion has a very high level of entry, for new players its hard to get to grips with everything you need to do, or the understanding that we need to go around the bored 3 times before one turn is over. Its complex enough.
Adding an expansion to Arkham can be as simple as adding a new set of cards or adding a whole new board to the set up, the problem I have with adding a whole new board to the game is it adds another layer of complexity for players to get there head around. Not so much the additional places but the mechanics which get added in, mainly around different types of monsters or different sets of cards or additional tokens. These things all add up to take an already complex game and adding another layer of OMFG.
I’m a big fan of keeping things simple, not over complicating things. My solution to adding additional game packs and add-ons would simply be that by adding another layer to the game you take something away or swap out a mechanic. Allow the players to cherry-pick what they want and don’t want in the game they are about to play. The reason we can’t do this now is simply because allot of the expansions (mainly in munchkin) get added tot he original set, therefore polluting the original mechanics.
‘keep it simple, keep it safe’
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