Five Expansions that Make Great Games Even Better

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There are some great games out there, but even the best games can sometimes be improved with the addition of an expansion. Here are five fabulous games that become fabulous-er with added content.

Battlestar Galactica: Pegasus

Battlestar Galactica is an amazing game based on an awesome show. Players are randomly divided into Cylon and human factions, but no one knows who is who. There is constant paranoia and suspicion as players try to save themselves from the fleet while not knowing who to trust. And in true Battlestar style, players might “switch on” and convert to the Cylon team halfway through the game.

But if you add the Battlestar Galactica: Pegasus expansion, the whole experience is dramatically enhanced. The expansion adds the eponymous Pegasus which provides powerful new abilities for the human team, including the airlock. Rather than simply jailing a suspected cylon, you can shoot them into space instead. More satisfying. The expansion also adds Treachery cards which can be used by Cylons to power special abilities and are always negative when resolving crises.

You also get the option of playing as a revealed Cylon. A revealed Cylon has their own special mission. Typically they either want a hobbled human team to win, or a strong human team to lose. Reading the motives of a revealed Cylon is tricky and intriguing. Pegasus also comes with an alternate ending where, instead of flying to Kobol, the humans must escape from New Caprica. It’s great if you’re a fan of the show, but it does feel a little tacked on from a gaming perspective. That aside, though, this is an amazing addition to an already great game.

Catan: Cities & Knights

Settlers of Catan was among the first German games to make its way to the United States and spark the board game revolution. There have been several expansions, but the most awesome-infused is Cities & Knights.

Cities & Knights adds a set of refined goods–cloth, paper, and coin–that cities produce in addition to the usual resources. Those can be turned in for special abilities and increased progress. In turn, that progress allows you to draw special cards that provide in-game abilities including things like changing the productivity of land. Sorry, you’re 5-wheat now produces on a 3 while my 3-brick now produces on 5.

And it’s not just new resources. There are barbarian hordes coming to tear down the cities of Catan. To combat them, the players must train knights. Contribute the least when the Barbarians attack, and you might lose a city. Contribute the most and repel the invaders, and you may get a point as the savior of Catan.

Eldritch Horror: Forsaken Lore

Arkham Horror is a brooding game that wonderfully sets the atmosphere of Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos. Eldritch Horror took the same idea and streamlined it into something both terrifying and thrilling to play. Eldritch Horror is a fantastic experience for any Lovecraft fan, but it did have one problem: too few cards. Each Ancient One had only 4 mystery cards and the locations had barely enough cards to sustain even a single play.

And that’s where Forsaken Lore comes in. The small box expansion adds new encounters for every space of the board. Suddenly, those repeats are far, far less frequent. And the Ancient Ones are each given new mysteries. So when you fight against an them, your experience is bound to be different. Forsaken Lore takes a brilliant concept that lacked variety into a fully fledged vehicle of awesome gameness.

Last Will: Getting Sacked

Last Will is a fantastic game where the players race to exhaust their fortunes. The first player to go bankrupt wins the game. You’ll invite over friends who steal from you, take your horse to dinner, or throw lavish parties that deplete your net worth. Mechanically, the game is all about building an engine. Hire a coachmen and then take a ton of coach rides that now cost more. Get a waiter on retainer and then eat out as much as possible.

Getting Sacked is the brilliant expansion to an already marvelous game. Now, the players start with a steady stream of income. And they can’t just quit. Instead, they have to cause enough problems that they get fired from their employment. Not only does the positive income create a new challenge, but it forces you to spread out your actions rather than specializing. In order to get fired, you have to do particular things indicated on your job card. And those might require you to deviate a bit from a strict game engine. It’s a great addition that invigorates Last Will and causes you to explore untested strategies.

Village Inn

Village is all about making your mark on a small hamlet. You can train your family to be among the first craftsmen, travelers, or priests. Whether you sell your wares at the market or invest your time in the town council, your pursuit is as a founding family of the village. An enjoyable and quaint game, the addition of Village Inn turns it into something fabulous.

In Village Inn, the players can also have a drunkard in their family. Although his tale will never be recorded in the village chronicle, he is very good at making friends. Over a pint or two, he allows you to recruit new abilities and scoring opportunities. They might let you sell to the futures market, give end game bonuses for cities visited, or even enhance your standing in the church. This opens the strategic space dramatically and allows players to focus in on particular endeavors, or spread themselves more equally among many. Acquiring the right friends can be the key to victory.

Did we miss any amazing expansions?

Featured Image Credit: Czech Games Edition

Image Credit: Fantasy Flight Games, Catan GmbH, Stronghold Games 

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