The Nyarlathotep expansion—we play with the Big N and the Dark Pharaoh herald.
Played this once, and incorrectly. The experience was... diluted. Looking forward to playing this for reals.
UPDATE: The problem with the first play was running the Permanent Exhibit with all the cards shuffled into the base game. This made the Dark Pharaoh cards very rare and the game near-indistinguishable from a base scenario. For our second play we used only the DP cards (replacing the Mythos, Gate and Arkham Encounter decks) and it made for a sweet bit of ugly: things looked utterly bleak by turn two, and when Nyarlathotep arrived (something that never happens to us anymore in the base game) we had only shut a single gate. Two players got scrubbed and it literally came down to the wire before we beat him back and shut him out of our world.
The Yog-Sothoth expansion—we play with the Big Y and Dunwich Horror herald.
Better than the base game alone, if by "better" I mean more uncontrollable wailing with less courageous investigators begging the brave for sweet release.
The new Injury & Madness cards are great—now when you go to zero Stamina or Sanity you can choose to dump half your stuff (Items & Clues) or end up with a crippled something-or-other or a mental illness instead. Ha-ha! That'll learn ya!
We play with one expansion at a time, so, Dunwich Horror alone, with Yog-Sothoth as the Great Old One...
The Dreamlands expansion—it's not the actual actual Dreamlands (dare we hope for such a thing?) and more like the threshold, the Gate of the Silver Key. Will probably play with Hypnos as guardian.
Don't much like Nodens or Bast—Nodens especially always felt like an anomalous tack-on in the Mythos. Unless you can think of his anthropomorphism as an unconscious overlay, i.e., he's just as horrible as everything else Out There but for whatever reason we see him as Poseidon/Neptune. But I'm really overthinking this, aren't I?
The Hastur expansion—we play with He Who Shall Not Be Named and the King in Yellow herald. (Yeah, I know the link is tenuous... but there you have it.)
I don't understand why we can't handle this one the Old Fashioned Way, you know, with a truck full of dynamite or simply setting that accursed theatre on fire and shooting everyone who comes running out. Should only take a turn or two, tops...
Played our first seven-player (!) game of this with the "large group" cards mixed into the deck—fantastic experience. The extra cards were necessary as I think the deck would have been too thin without them. Even with the extras we very nearly had the entire thing dealt out at one point. So, big plus for the extra cards.
We will be ignoring the team rules... they just don't look very interesting.
(Even though we've thrown all the new aliens into the mix, I will only be counting this expansion as played when we use the "large group" cards for 7-8 player games.)
Oof, I think I may be full. Or at least the original Cosmic box is. With all expansions including this one packed in there I think we're pretty much set for more possible games than could ever be played, even in a transhuman/post-singularity "lifetime" where the thing that thinks it's me is like three viruses infecting an immortal pack of robochimps—forever.
Pretty sure this game doesn't "need" anything else!
(Even though we've thrown all the new aliens into the mix, I will only be counting this expansion as played when we use the Reward deck or Special Ships options.)
Space stations add to the fun & I love what the Swindler does to the metagame!*
(Even though we've thrown all the new aliens into the mix, I will only be counting this expansion as played when we use space stations.)
*I suppose I should admit that I have no experience with Cosmic beyond the FFG edition and all of the gut-bustingly hilarious sessions I've had with various groups... So you should probably assume I don't know what I'm talking about.**
**I'm the guy who glued actual googly eyes on the Squee card, for Pete's sake!
After bending your head far enough around the flagpole to be able to grok the base game, this one comes along and ties it in a knot. And I mean that in the good way.
Nothing short of amazing, though the initial experience replaced the frustration of lack of funds with the frustration of a lack of tech that all worked nicely together. Adding in supports—and the supports of the supports, as well as the need to radiate the increasing heat-load of those support-supports—was akin to buying pants by winning a pie-eating contest; eat enough pies and you win the pants... That now don't fit. So you eat more pies to get some new pants and you see where this is going.
Once you do manage to cobble together a rocket that works you just go with it—the only thing I ever optimized on my Frankenship was the robonaut. I was afraid to monkey with anything else lest the whole thing bloat out and bust the seams in an undulating cascade of stuff needing more stuff.
All the tech that is magical and game-breaking in the base game (Zubrin, anyone?) is brutally balanced in the full game. That thing burns hot and even after dumping fuel through it as coolant you're gonna have to come up with four more therms of cooling. Also, the Metastable Helium thruster has a rad-hardness of zero, as in "nope". Suck it!
Fantastic, recommended, head-spinning—though only after the base game becomes too easy. You really oughta play that five or so times before diving into this.
[After one play without Politics, Combat or Events (though we did keep Solar Flares/CMEs because watching the angry Sun decommission someone's thruster is hilarious).]
Play time still hovered around two hours, even with all the extra doohickeys. Nice.
UPDATE: Gets better and better with each play. We bust Luna as a matter of course and don't use Politics, Combat or Events (we do, however, execute Solar Flares/CMEs). At some point I think I'll push for a "full game" with all options... and the Chinese.
UP-UPDATE: Playing the full game now, with all rules on—Politics, Combat & Events. On paper it looks like it would make the game longer (losing cards from Glitch, Space Debris and Budget Cuts... as if Solar Flares weren't bad enough) but in actual play these things only happen a couple of times per game. The rules overhead for all the extras is minimal and really pretty simple, with the end result being a tasty slathering of narrative. (When a spanner going 30,000 kph scrubs someone's crew module out of LEO, well, what's not to like?)
I am glad we stair-stepped it, though:
- Base game to - Expansion without Politics, Combat, or Events to - Full game with all rules,
waiting until we were all comfortable (and eager for a little something extra) before adding the next bit. For the life of me I can't imagine trying to learn Everything At Once as a n00b in a starter game. HF is truly a "deep experience" that requires familiarity and comfort with all the various details to realize its potential.
Rush it & play once... have patience & play for life!
Ship's Log, Scientific Cruiser Skłodowska-Curie, on-site at Alien Orb
Day 1: It's a goddamn circus out here. Ships from every upstart empire, commonwealth, federation, confederation and solar sway are buzzing around the thing, each declaring sovereign volumes and eager to plant the first flag. There are also a disconcerting number of derelicts in eccentric orbits. Initial scans show some of the crews appear to have committed mass suicide...
Day 3: After being violently rebuffed by what we thought were docking tubes, we decided to breach with a volley of science torpedoes. There is now a good-sized science hole in the structure through which we can begin our survey.
Day 7: We have begun packing up everything that isn't bolted down or running away. Not really sure what any of this junk is—at our scale cleaning protocols and warbots are pretty much the same thing. It all looks expensive, though.
Day 421: The damn thing shifts and shifts and shifts—losses stand at just under a thousand souls. The jumpdrive techs keep using the term "tesseract". Also, it turns out the "feeding tubes" dispense pellets that eat. I could go on but suffice it to say that Hell would be more hospitable—at least that place was made for people.
An epic sci-fi smash-n-grab. I really enjoy the unique flavor of the orb game, so much so it's the only way I'll play AA from now on. After all, it's the whole point of this arc! If I have the urge to go small-deck/simple I'll just play the base game or base + Gathering Storm.
"We dropped out of jumpspace and started the orbital bombardment before they lit us up. The asteroid we piggybacked from outsystem fell away as the fleet braked in high orbit. We traded fire for four hours until their cap city ate the rock. At mission time four hours, one minute, we opened the comms."
With the addition of the prestige axis the game executes a quantum upshift into the heady and intricate. The experience is best with experienced players, so you're either playing this with the people you've always played with or you're gradually indoctrinating newbs... Don't be in a hurry. So much of this is about knowing the massive deck, the strengths and weaknesses of the various strategies, the probability of ending up with a certain card. (Not to mention being able to intuit which actions will be played to maximize your parasitic benefit while minimizing how much you help your foes.) Jumping straight into the deep end is bewildering and much of what makes the game great will be lost on the drowning man.
The final result is a triumph in every possible way—gorgeous, evocative, vexing and just plain fun.
To paraphrase my friend Jas: Now it feels like a complete game, on par with the heavier Euros.
And I could play it forever.
PS. Keldon's brilliant AI implementation is my go-to digital time-waster—two AI opponents, all expansions, takeovers on. Though it lacks the delicious human element of outguessing, the rest of the experience is deep enough that it doesn't matter. And it's a great way to learn the deck and noodle with crazy strategies.
More of the good stuff. The best kind of expansion in that it doesn't so much alter the game as make it more of what it already is, makes it better by amplifying the best parts of the original.
Adding VP objectives to "fight" over (most planets, etc.) is probably the closest we'll get to direct confrontation in this system*... but then, it's an optimization race, not a brawl.
If you didn't like the game before, this won't do anything to change your mind—but if you do like it, this is a must.
UPDATE: Sure, the "robot" is just a couple dice and a flowchart—but I hate him so much. Doesn't he understand that I can chuck his dice into the ocean and burn his smarmy card? DON'T THINK I WON'T
UP-UPDATE: I consider the base game the "training wheels" version and this the default. I've started new players here with good results as the additional overhead does not make the game opaque to the uninitiated.
*At least until Race for the Galaxy: Rebel vs Imperium added takeovers. Now if you're gonna put on your galactic big-boy pants and stick a gun in the waistband you should expect to get teeth slapped out of your head by the civ next door that raises babies on steriods, orthodoxy and murder.
Lots of cool stuff: new characters, PvP, and, of course, the eponymous nemeses.
As for 5-6p games... new stuff and play modes notwithstanding, I just don't see it working in a reasonable time frame. Like Talisman this is a storytelling game, and sitting idly by while spectating on the herky-jerky chapters of four or five other stories makes for oppressive downtime. In my experience 4p is the absolute maximum, with 3p being the sweet spot. Naturally, YMMV.
Yeah, now we can play the game as intended—as true men.
While I was initially worried at how it would fit in, the Time Card is actually pretty nifty (day/night sides that flip whenever an Event is drawn; creatures get -1 in combat during the day and +1 at night).
But the star of the show is the Werewolf, especially when combined with the Reaper—now you have two forces of nature stalking the board for victims. It's especially good when using one or more corner boards... if everyone clusters up in the City, for example, you can expect the Werewolf & Reaper to converge there, creating a hideous oubliette where a simple shopping trip can end in horror.
Fantastic! Very different feel from the main game and other corner boards; tons of ways to make money and tons of stuff to spend it on. Pretty much solves the problem of being filthy rich and having nothing but crap to buy, akin to an old school episode of "Wheel of Fortune": "Yeah, I guess I'll take another water bottle." It's the standard destination for loin-girding if you're not getting any love grinding for levels in the wider world.
Also, the Wharf space is terrific: Pay one gold to warp to any space in the outer or middle regions (!). This goes a long way to minimize the amount of dicking around required to get to the Warlock's Cave or Portal of Power.
BUT BEST OF ALL ~ There are several cards (Corrupt Sheriff, Drunken Revelry, Taxation) that can yank clowns off the Crown of Command and send them straight to jail.
The 10 is just a randomly-generated placeholder rating until I actually play it this weekend. With beer. And children.
UPDATE: This is probably the easiest 10 I've ever given a game or expansion. The extra characters and spells are almost worth the price alone, with the entire dungeon region and massive stack of dungeon cards acting merely as sweetener...
So much to love in here, like when the Summoning Circle gets clogged with an entire zoo of awfulness that no mortal can conquer, or the fact that it ups the burn rate on characters (we went through four character deaths—before the purple-lightning-leaping-from-my-mouth-when-I-scream-your-name ending—in a three-player game).
Makes the game longer, almost twice as long for us, but I don't know how much of that was due to the fact that we all crammed in and oscillated in and out of the dungeon instead of ramping cleanly toward the Crown of Command.
UP-UPDATE: Played it as a stand-alone with the kids. Talisman in 30 minutes!
Pretty sure this will be a 10, but I'm waiting to play the Leprechaun before I commit.
So the Leprechaun pops into existence ♪ Hidilly-Hodilly-Hee ♬ and skips across the rainbow to his pot o' gold; after filling his pockets he heads off to the raucous stink of the City where he is savaged by a werewolf, robbed of his funds, turned into a toad and evaporated by the Holy Host.
Four new characters, a ton of new adventure cards, a huge number of new spells... not to mention the brand new Warlock Quest deck and, of course, the Grim Reaper Hisself!
This is a no-brainer for every Talisman fan—fighting over the Grim Reaper (shifting him back and forth in an attempt to get him to land on someone) adds even more balls-out screwage to an already nails-in-a-baseball-bat game.
An absolute must-have for every Talismanite!
"Well, well, well. Look at you all dressed up in spats and ignorance."
The stables and Quest Reward cards are cool. Also, one of the alternative endings is a true co-op game. Nice!
As for characters, the Dread Knight is pretty much the only one my #1 son will play—he comes with a graveyard-regenerating warhorse and gains a spell for every enemy he defeats. Bad. Ass. I'm partial to the Magus purely because he gets lugged around by a bevy of oiled slaves in his fabulous sedan chair.
"Tread with care, fools! Dump me in the mud again and there will be hell to pay! This time I swear it!"
A must-have for the base game—in fact, I don't really consider this to be an expansion at all as it's so well integrated with the original. It doesn't so much "fix" or change the nature of Twilight Imperium as it just makes it more of what it already is. Not just recommended, but required. (It bumped TI3 from an eight to a solid-forever 10 for me.)