What make an Expansion "Essential"

Supporter

Piggy backing off the post sharing the "Top 10 Essential Expansions" I am curious about what everyone thinks about the following two questions.

1. What is it that makes an Expansion "Essential"?

2. Which Expansions to you deem "Essential" and why?

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12 months ago

1. It changes the game in such a way that you wouldn't play the base game without it

2. Tuscany for Viticulture (specifically the new board) and Hall of Heroes for Raiders of the North Sea.

Supporter12 months ago

Awesome.  I definitely feel that way about Tuscany (unless I'm teaching it).

Supporter12 months ago

I guess I should add my answer, haha.

1. If a game needs and Expansion to be an enjoyable game then I think that game needs to be skipped.  That makes it "essential" in a way that leaves sour taste in my mouth.

2. To me what makes an Expansion Essential is does it take a game I love and make it better.  Does it make a change to the game that increases my desire to play it.  But at the same time doesn't "fix" a game.  I think Viticulture is a great example of this.  I don't think any of the Expansions are needed to make it a great game.  But the Expansions take a great game and make it even better.  I still like playing with the base board, and I always teach using the base board.  But I never play with it with experienced players.  

Supporter12 months ago

I can get behind this attitude, in spite of my curmudgeonly attitude. 

Owner12 months ago

Lots of good points made already so I'm sure whatever I say will overlap with others. For me, these are some of the signs of an "essential" expansion:

  • Its aware of the strengths of the base game and leaves it alone.
  • Its aware of the fans of the base game and tries to address their needs.
  • It should typically focus on a single mechanism of the base game and turn it on its head to bring a fresh spin.

Based on this, I wouldn't get the future expansion for #Clans of Caledonia if it's simply more clans, more port tiles, more contracts, etc. I'd be most interested in seeing a new take on the terrains where it adds a fun twist on the "expand" mechanism and hopefully introduce another layer of strategy and player interaction.

Supporter12 months ago

Awesome, yeah I wouldn't get a Clans Expansion if it's just more stuff.

Supporter12 months ago

I’m order for an expansion to be considered “essential” you first need to have a really good base game. Then you can add an expansion that takes this wonderful base and expands or refines it into something magical. 

That, to me, is what makes an expansion essential.

Consider my all time favorite game #Star Wars: Rebellion) and the most essential expansion of all time (Rise of the Empire). Rebellion is an incredible game. There are so many amazing things about the game - from the theme, to the mechanics, to the simple fact that they captured Star Wars and put it in a game. How do you expand this? By taking systems and making them better. By adding more variety and refinement. This is what Rise of the Empire does. It takes a so-so combat system and makes it absolutely fascinating. It adds more depth and variety. It is essential. 

Supporter12 months ago

Nice answer.  I love the word magical to describe a game being better.

Supporter12 months ago

I would say an expansion is essential if it significantly contributes to my desire to continue to play the game.

#King of Tokyo: Power Up is probably the most essential that I own.

#Stockpile: Continuing Corruption and #Camel Up: Supercup Expansion would come close but not on the same level as Power Up.

Of course now I feel like I wasted money on a lot of other expansions haha....

Supporter12 months ago

I love this answer.  I try to be very discerning with and Expansion.  I put as much research into an expansion as I do with a base game.  Even if it's a small expansion like one for #Star Wars Imperial Assault. @Skurvy5 (amiright?)

Supporter12 months ago

Welcome to the forums Captain! I’ve not seen you around before and it’s great you are a supporter too!

I like your definition of “essential”. 

Supporter12 months ago

Thanks I’ve been here a little less than two weeks I think. Some heavy handed forum moderation over at BGG caused me to question how much I really wanted to contribute there going forward. 

Supporter12 months ago

Yeah, I’ve never been fond of the BGG forums. This place is great though!

12 months ago

I think an expansion needs to make the game better, while at the same time preserving the core mechanics of the game. Don't be creating expansions that make you re-learn the game before you play with it. Some "essential" expansions, for me, are:

For me, those are essential. They don't change the game, but add something new--not much, but enough to enhance the game sufficiently. 

Supporter12 months ago

Prelude is definitely essential. 

12 months ago

It really is. I take it you like your new copy?

Supporter12 months ago

Definitely. Having that focus at the beginning really helps out. 

12 months ago

It sure does. And it's nice going in with at least something going on in your favor. I always feel better the first time I start producing something haha

Supporter12 months ago

I don't think there are any "essential" expansions except for those that fix a broken game. 

Supporter12 months ago

Haha.  Nice.  This I'm sure you saw above that I wouldn't define essential this way in the fact that I don't think a game is worth it's salt if it needs to be "fixed".

Supporter12 months ago

Yep I did. Good take. 

Supporter12 months ago

Ooo hot take. 

Supporter12 months ago

Uncle Chris has unpopular opinions. 

Supporter12 months ago

He’s crazy. 

Supporter12 months ago

Crazy right. Lol

12 months ago

My thought is if it makes the game better! Agricola, Farmers of the Moor from what I heard is essential, I have heard Salsa for Concordia is as well with adding a valuable flexibility with the new resource. 

Premium User12 months ago

I think if it adds more opportunities for strategy/adds good choices without adding very much complexity, I think that would be an essential expansion. Bonus points if it actually streamlines or simplifies aspects of the game.

Premium User12 months ago

As for expansions that are essential, I don't have a big list. I thought the Brothers Murph's list was pretty good, knowing what I know about the games on there, which is not much except for Evolution. So I would say that #Evolution: Climate is indeed an essential expansion.

Another expansion I have that I would say is essential is #King of Tokyo: Power Up, which adds unique abilities to each player without adding much in the way of rules overhead.

Some expansions I own that I would not say are essential, but are still fun and worth having:

Supporter12 months ago

Good to know that Pearlbrook isn’t essential. I strongly dislike feeling that I’m missing out. 

Premium User12 months ago

Haha, same. It's definitely a solid expansion and lots of fun, but it's not like we'll only ever play with Pearlbrook. In fact I think the 3 expansions are not meant to be played together, so it's kind of like 4 different games - base plus the three expansions. So in that way, I don't think any of them will feel essential.