I'm curious how y'all think about expansions.
Expansions are weird beasts, and I'm sometimes surprised at how popular they are. At the same time I really want the expansions for Scythe, so I can understand the appeal.
Personally I'm not a big fan of expansions. I will play with them, there are some games that are dramatically improved by their expansions, looking at you Catan. And, I have bought expansions and will probably continue to do so.
Broadly speaking there are two sorts of expansions. There are expansions that just add new material. The Dominion expansions fit in this category. There are also those that fundamentally change/add/remove game mechanics. I tend to have more reservations about the latter form.
I have some reservations about expansions, but I also have a deeply personal taste that inclines me towards buying a new game rather than a expansion for an existing game. So my reservations may have a confirmation bais.
In games with asymmetrical faction abilities expansions *can* unbalance the factions. For instance, in the wind gambit expansion for scythe, the airships really hurt those who's native ability permits them to cross the river sooner.
They often make teaching a bear.
How did the designer want you to play the game? I believe that most designers design with a optimal play in mind. For instance, this game can play 2-4 but it plays best at three. I am interested whenever possible to discover where and how the game was designed to be played. It is clear that some games were designed with expansions in mind. Talking about Scythe again, on the board of the base game there are spots for two factions that don't appear in the base game. So, I should probably buy the Raiders from Afar expansion since it seems like it was designed with those in mind. But, it feels like often expansions are a afterthought. "Game x has lots of fans, let's make em a expansion and stick to em." Or, on Kickstarter, "get all in now... So we can hit the pledge goals that have expansions." in both of these cases I question the effects of the expansion on the game itself.
There is a subset of this reservation that says that too often expansions are " fixing" things that didn't show up during playtesting, or that the expansions themselves are not sufficiently play tested.
In games where expansions add more material without changing the game that much the expansions can lead to bloat. I love Dominion. I love the base game. I love playing the base game with one expansion. But I know people who have everything that was ever made for Domion. Playing their sets gets tiring.
I don't feel like I have it all right about expansions. Just wanting to write down some of my thoughts and see what y'all thought. I figured I could maybe get some viewpoints that help balance mine out.