New characters, new cards, new mechanics, and up to eight players! Wonderful additions to an already perfect game. Be prepared to cycle through the deck faster than a grease-slicked polecat sliding down a lightning bolt!
ADDED BONUS: Get ready to have TWO dynamite bundles lit and in play SIMULTANEOUSLY!!!
The point tiles are nice for taunting, though the sixth player is waaay too much. It's cool to have a different color, but after two games at 6p I'm pretty much done with "full boat" Carc.
UPDATE: I really like what this does. The all-or-nothing gamble of the eponymous tiles adds a neat way to blow out some massive points on your side while prolapsing the bowels of your opponents on the other:
"Here—" [drops cathedral into the outskirts of an unfinished megalopolis near game end] "—the Pope says you totally got this."
UP-UPDATE: Can't ever see playing Carc without this—the base game alone feels incomplete in comparison. It's the must-have, always-mixed-in keeper.
Besides, there's never a reason not to include the acromegalic BOSS MEEPLES in all games of Carc from this moment forward, forever.
The best expansion for a great game. Finally, after two other expansions, you get to assemble the Fellowship entire. As has been stated ad nauseam elswhere, the battlefields are abstract flowcharts, a fact that bothered me at first—but all doubt fled as we commenced play. We played two games back-to-back and I didn't even notice. It felt very much like arraying troops for battle. Shouts of "Get Aragorn on the left flank," and "We need Gandalf in there NOW!" were common. Cries of triumph erupted from the group when an enemy was supposed to be activated but was already dead or hemmed in by the warrior heroes of the Fellowship. Likewise, the first time the Balrog turned up in Moria we crapped our pants.
What at first appears to be a Power Point presentation on the logic flow of an abstraction of a "battle" mechanic concept actually turns out to be the other five members of the Fellowship coming to the rescue, leading to real feelings of elation and dread as they give their all to delay the forces of darkness long enough to let the Hobbits run for their lives.
We were so used to the cooperative nature of the main game that we were unprepared for the hatred and scorn directed toward the Sauron player. I personally felt "bad" when playing as Sauron, killing off my friends and essentially ending the game for them.
Fig. 1 — "Shall we spread a little alarm and despondency?"
UPDATE: Played scenarios 4-8 as a campaign (using the rules included with the Winter/Desert Board) and the attrition dice between rounds made for some interesting decisions. In at least one instance, they directly helped the whipping-boy underdog score a stunning victory.
UP-UPDATE: After playing through the Battle of Gazala campaign a second time I'm convinced that this is what the expansion is all about. The first three scenarios get you used to the new units and rules so you can dive into the full campaign. The fact that the five connected scenarios can be played to completion in three hours makes for a fantastic evening with scads of drama & narrative potential.
I figured that after we played both sides we'd be done with it, but I find myself wondering if I couldn't do better and am itching to puzzle out the problems inside the five battles again. And again.
From here on out, "playing Med Theater" means doing the Gazala campaign in one go, flipping roles in the following session & comparing scores.
The experience completely blows away single-scenario play.
Wow. Just... wow. Everything about this set is completely off the charts. The art on the terrain hexes is gorgeous and evocative, the winter rules make the game feel exactly like you'd expect—vehicles are slowed and you can't see much of anything beyond immediate contact. You can fire into the fog and hope for the best, or you can maneuver into close combat and savage each other. Tense and brutal.
The Winter Combat cards add a huge amount of thematic immersion and crazy turns of event. I have watched what should have been dramatic, game-winning turns (Their Finest Hour) end up completely repulsed and negated by a couple of flopped Winter cards. Out of Fuel, Out of Ammo, and, oh, an Ambuscade, to boot! Sorry 'bout your offensive, there.
When a robot tells you magic is real, reach for your gun.
7 runs, score of 25.
You know what's cool? The way the designers are playing with the play space:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
like the fairy hunt, or requiring players to take a knee and loudly state their names to unlock a card.
It's nudges like these that break you loose from the 2D tabletop and set you soaring...
Falling even more in love with this third iteration, amazed at how the meta of the game design and mechanics allow you to intuit how things should go in such a way that doesn't break thematic immersion—we are, after all, prescient time travelers, and looking at the machinery of events from the outside is what we do. And so the immersion-breaking meta actually reinforces immersion... I can't properly transmit the power of this idea without spoilers, and even then you may or may not experience it; but we did and it felt... revelatory.
It's clear that this is not just another random adventure scenario, but the third chapter in a much larger, overarching story. I am in awe at the ambitiousness of the project—using a board game as a framing device for serial storytelling—and have no idea if they can stick the landing. But goddamn, the ride. Such a ride. I'd take it into a brick wall it's so sweet.
A very different vibe from "Asylum", with comic book art and getting dumped right into the thick of it making the whole shebang intensely evocative of an early '90s action flick or video game.
PS. Be sure to play with some era-appropriate tunes—bookended by Vanilla Ice and Queensryche—to really get into the groove... Imagine you're a sexual tyrannasaurus, an ex-keytar player turned FBI, gun in hand, cruising a sonic soundscape from Nirvana to Public Enemy—
—C+C Music Factory's "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)" starts pounding on your Walkman mixtape as the doors kick and it's on.
Yeah, it's like that.
PPS. Another four-hour erection off the final solution as we realized we had all the clues necessary to puzzle it out in short order. Love, love, love how this works and what it does.