1-6 players, Dice Placement Dystopian Expansion
Designer: Morten Monrad Pedersen, Nick Shaw, David J. Studley
Artwork: Jacqui Davis
Publisher: Stonemaier Games
Purpose of Expansion
There are a few new additions to the game held within this small box expansion, however I feel the main purpose behind this one is rules tweaks to optimize the main board game. Read on to get the skinny on all these tweaks and additions!
The Additions and Changes
Held within the box are new market tiles, recruit cards, player mats, an all-new “bazaar” board, over-sized commodity tokens and a deck of automa cards for solo play. You also get a sticker sheet that allows you to modify you core game board to go along with a couple rules tweaks.
Let’s start with the additions. Beyond all the added tiles and cards, arguably the biggest addition to the game is the inclusion of the automa solo mode. This transforms the game from just a multiplayer game into a solo excursion and for anyone that has never experienced a Stonemaier games automa, you are in for a treat! You utilize a deck of specific solo cards that overlap to create the actions for the A.I. player. It’s a really cool and ingenious way to craft a solo mode.
As I kind of touched on earlier the biggest purpose of the expansion are all the tweaks and changes to the core game. Let’s dig into those a bit now. First there is a new Antiques Bazaar board that sits next to the main game board. This will hold four of the antique cards from the base game face-up allowing players to actually choose which antique card they want instead of just blind drawing. Added to that is a cost for three of the four cards in increasing amounts and as cards are taken from this board, the other cards move down decreasing their cost over time. I really love this change to the game as it not only makes the antique cards more interesting BUT removes a bit of unneeded luck from the game as well.
Another change is the inclusion of some player mats for each player to use. These mats have spaces to hold your collected resources, dice and both of the tracks for knowledge and hand size so you don’t have to constantly reach over the board to manage those during play. I’m kinda torn on these honestly, on one hand I do enjoy the dedicated spaces for the resources (although I never had an issue with the way you managed them in the base game) AND I like how you can more easily manage the tracks….BUT now since all the players have their own tracks right in front of them it almost detracts a bit of strategy from the game. With the old system you can easily see where all players stand on each track and know if they could draw any more antique cards or how many dice they have available. With the new player mats it becomes much more difficult to see these stats…..although you could easily just play without them if needed so they aren’t a negative by any means.
The other big change/addition are the implementation of the new “factionless” recruit cards. These recruit cards don’t give abilities tying to the recruit tracks, rather they have individual powers that are stronger than the other factions. Players can only have one of the factionless recruits from the onset and can never draw another. Personally, I wasn’t a big fan of these recruits. A lot of the fun from the game came from manipulating the faction tracks to improve your standing with your recruits so these kinda removed that from the game for me. But again, you don’t HAVE to play with them either, just another variable addition. There are also a fat batch of larger tokens that can be added to the base set of commodities that act as 5 commodities each. These are useful when using the new player mats but much less so when using the base games tracking system and honestly it’s hard enough trying to manage all the regular sized ones on the game board that these, for me, just get in the way even more.
As far as rules tweaks there is a new starting bonus for players that have a minority starting faction that gives extra commodities to offset the gain of the majority faction bonuses. Placing extra worker dice with the same number now costs “hearts” and when visiting constructed markets you can choose to place authority tokens on the market instead of territory if you don’t already have one there. The last thing are the stickers that come with the expansion. These are meant to be placed over the miner paths on the board to so new starting locations for the miners depending on player count. The lower the player count, the closer the miner meeple starts to the finish. Overall, I enjoy all the rules tweaks and think they do go a long way to balancing the game.
The Bottom Line
Overall, I think the expansion is a worthy buy if you really enjoy the game, especially if you are interested in playing solo. My favorite thing with this expansion besides the automa, is the new antiques bazaar board and how it changes up the antique card play. I wasn’t a fan of the factionless recruits or large tokens and felt pretty indifferent with the player mats.
My biggest gripe though is that you can only use the expansion markets and recruits OR the base game markets and recruits. You cannot mix and match them lest the balance of the game gets totally thrown for a loop. When I first got into the expansion I was so excited about all the new markets and recruits and how much variability it would bring to the game mixing them all up. However, after discovering you can only use one or the other it was a bit of a letdown. Granted, there is STILL variability since you will never use all of them at once anyway but I really dislike having to keep everything separate and make sure nothing is mixed. It makes it even worse since the base games insert is designed to hold all the expansion content as well.
The Fuzzy Llama Bronze Seal of Prevalence