There are more than a few awesome board games out there. And some of them are fantastic enough that fans clamor for more. More content, more cards, more mechanisms. Publishers and designers are often happy to oblige with expansions. But some games get more than a few, and it can be prohibitive for a completionist to try to get everything. That’s where the Big Boxes come in. Typically, they include the base game and a few expansions to give you all of the options from the get go. Here are a few of the best Big Box titles.
Galaxy Trucker is about building spaceships in real time by grabbing tiles from a pile and placing them on your board. You need lasers to fend off pirates, engines for propulsion, crew for the ship, storage for goods you pick up along the way, shields, and batteries to power the really good stuff. The rub is that you simply don’t have room for all of it. And you have to be careful about how you connect things or whole parts of your ship might fall off.
From there, the players launch their hastily built space vessels through a gauntlet of meteors, planets, open space, and hostile war zones. Getting through relatively unscathed means you built a good ship. In fact, that second part is more or less an elongated scoring round for how well you built your ship.
And you can tell the game is awesome because it just keeps getting expansions. New ship designs and some “Even Steven” cards that can provide a handicap to experienced players. But also two big expansions that add a ton of new challenges to the game. You get new types of aliens, lasers that point in two directions, cards for a harder gauntlet. The second expansion even adds new antagonists that can board your ship – and security forces that you can add during building to combat them.
Rather than pick Galaxy Trucker up piecemeal, you can grab the Anniversary Edition which has basically everything. Best of all, a lot of thought went into the design of the big box and the insert. It holds it all nicely and doesn’t feel cramped or crowded.
In Fresco, the players are master artists who are trying to restore a painted ceiling in the Cathedral. They’ll buy and mix paints, and ultimately restore various portions. But it isn’t just about the art, the players also have to keep their apprentices happy and take some menial work to ensure that they have enough cash flow. Frescos get you prestige, but portraits pay the bills.
Looking back at it now, Fresco was a particularly good candidate for the big box treatment. The base game itself came with three “modules” that could be added to increase depth. Without any of them, the game is a relatively light, family friendly title. But as modules are added, it becomes increasingly interesting and appealing to the hobby gamer. Additional expansions added seven more modules. They can all be mixed and matched, but provide some real challenges.
And the Big Box gives you everything. From the very first play, you can indulge in light family goodness with relatives, or a relatively deep euro experience with hobbyists and up to ten modules. The ability to mix and match any of them also means you can customize the experience to taste.
And now we come to the big daddy of Big Box games. Hipster Carcassonne put out big boxes before it was cool. Unlike the other titles on this list, Carcassonne has untold numbers of expansions. It has big ones and little ones. And more than a few that are just a new tile or one new character. Not unsurprisingly, it’s also had several Big Boxes. Five in fact.
Each one combines the base game of tile-laying and city building with three or four expansions plus some number of little guys. And, mostly, they do pretty good. Traders and Builders, arguably the most substantive and interesting expansion, is nearly always included. And it just goes on from there.
The Big Box is actually a great way to jump into Carcassonne. The base game is fine, sure. And it can certainly be enjoyed by families and gamers alike. But, especially as compared to other games, there is relatively little going on. Adding an expansion here or there really livens up the game and makes the choices more interesting. And they tend to add increasing levels of competition and interaction between the players. If you’re interested in acquiring Carcassonne, definitely look into the Big Boxes.
What do you think of Big Boxes? Tell us about it in the comments!
Image Credits: Czech Games Edition, Queen Games, and Rio Grande Games
Featured Image Credit: KOSMOS