We love boardgames. We spend extensive amounts of time with them and in the process some titles become our favorite ones. But once you played the whole game, all scenarios in different set-ups – what next? The Designers and Publishers know how to address that need of ours! The answer if simple – expansions!
A good engrossing title can be nicely developed by additional scenarios, maps, rules or other components. Sometimes expansions change the games so completely that you cannot imagine playing without them. Sometimes they nicely spice-up the title but are not necessarily essential. In my below article I would like to go through some of my favorite add-ons to games I play. As there are so many of them, except of my Top 3 you will get 2 honorable mentions 🙂 Enjoy!
Other articles in the series:
D-Day Landings for Memoir’44 by Days of Wonder
As mentioned above, there are positions where expansions spice-up the gameplay; there are also such add-ons which transform completely the game. I am huge fan of all Commands and Colors games and was sure to place at least one on that list. The choice was obvious – I think there is no second wargame I am playing which underwent such a dramatic change / upgrade / enhancement (call it whatever you like, it was huge) like Memoir’44.
If you compare the basegame from 2004 which in oversimplified way was presenting the World War II in Western Europe, to the way this title looks like today – with Eastern Front, Winter Wars, Pacific, Terrain, Air Pack and D-Day Landings expansions – you would blink in amazement with what you see. Everything, literally everything was improved – rules, variety of units, size and depth of maps, strategic and tactical options, etc. Still, if I am to choose one most prominent expansion that will be D-Day Landings.
Memoir ’44: D-Day Landings – published in 2014, commemorates the 70th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy on D-Day (June 6, 1944) with a set of six giant battle maps that can be configured and played on in small, medium and large set-ups.
The battle maps in D-Day Landings introduce the “Extended Breakthrough” format, with the maps being 23 hexes deep and allowing players to undertake battles on a scale and scope never before possible in Memoir ’44 (hurray!). The six maps consist of settings for American Airborne, Utah Beach, Omaha Beach, Gold Beach, Juno Beach, and Sword Beach. Each battle can be played individually or assembled with its neighboring scenarios for double- and triple-map battles. With enough players (and enough components), you can link all six battle maps to form a giant board that recreates the entire Normandy coast!
Important note is that the game is so huge in size, that it requires at least one copy of Memoir ’44 as well as the Terrain Pack, Equipment Pack, and Winter Wars expansions. The Mediterranean Theater expansion is recommended, though not required. To play a double-, triple- or sextuple-map battle, more copies of the base game or expansions are required. Still, this is effort worth undertaking – no other C&C game allows for such depth and breadth of oerations. Highly recommended!
More about game:
Paratroopers Battlepack for Combat Commander Europe by GMT Games
Another fantastic wargames series comes from late Chade Jensen – a Combat Commander Europe. It was a great success in 2006 when it was published first time and fully rightly (see my REVIEW of the game). While the base-game was featuring 12 interesting scenarios as well as Random Scenario generator, it was not enough for the fans. Thus Battle Packs started to be created. In this list I will draw your attention to one of them.
Combat Commander: Battle Pack #1 – Paratroopers was the first of what will be many themed collections of scenarios for use with the Combat Commander: Europe series of games. The theme of this first Battle Pack was focused on the exploits of American, German and even Russian (!) Airborne forces. What we get here is eleven new scenarios printed on cardstock, as well as four new maps – some with very interesting terrain features. Further Battle Packs were also similarly structured.
What makes this expansion so interesting? First and foremost, the battles very often feature elite units in the game – not surprisingly, as Paratroopers were such a force in each army. The balance of scenarios was definitely improved and there is more set ups of Recon vs Recon posture – my preferred one, where whole map is open and both sides hurry to take the best positions. If you already have CCE base game, you will not do wrong getting that interesting battlepack!
More about game:
Root: The Underworld Expansion from Leder Games
Since the first publication of the ROOT game I was a huge fan of this creation. It is a great asymmetric title with fantastically balancing skills and abilities of each side. It is beautiful, replayable, tense and relatively easy to play in reasonable time. Lately it also got very sophisticated solo mode. So what else would you like to see to this almost perfect game?
Well, a lot as you might see what Cole Wehrle prepared! We got already couple of expansions and below I will point to my favorite one – The Underworld Expansion. It includes things like:
- The Great Underground Duchy: an imperial faction that mixes the flexibility of the Marquise with the escalating Eyrie Dynasties. We really needed it – not a nimble faction with special abilities, but a head-on, area control and war-liking animals pack which can stand up to the Marquise or Eyrie warriors.
- The Corvid Conspiracy: a secretive faction that hatches plots directly into the hands of their opponents. It has a very interesting mechanics, intriguing traps and abilities. Really nicely spicing-up the game.
- Two new maps: you can now dig tunnels on the mountain map or fight to control the ferry on the lake map. Not only they are beautiful but add so much needed variation and replayability to the game.
If you have a base game and wonder where to start with expansions, I can wholeheartedly recommend The Underworld Expansion.
PS. On a side note, I will not enter into the discussion whether ROOT is a wargame or not. For me this is one of the most brutal and unforgiving games I played, nicely disguised under the Forest and Animals creations 🙂
More about game:
I have already hinted at the beginning of article that I cannot restrain myself from mentioning couple of other titles. There are at least two more which I would like to briefly describe as I think they also add a lot to their basegames.
Arioviustus for Falling Sky by Volko Ruhnke – A great addition to a great COIN series title. Ariovistus expands Falling Sky to take 1-4 players back to Caesar’s first entry into Gaul, with a Helvetian migration challenging the Aedui and Germanic Tribes pressing close behind. New components and Faction enable one player to take command of the Germanic Tribes, while veteran Roman, Aedui, and Belgic players face unfamiliar strategic dynamics and deal with new events. There is even an extended scenario, covering whole Gallic War! Really a great expansion to original.
The Age of Iron and Rust for Time of Crisis – Definitely one of my favorite games, Time of Crisis is the game that allows 2-4 players to re-create the Roman Crisis of the Third Century, leading separate dynasties in a struggle for control of an empire beset by threats both internal and external. With the The Age of Iron and Rust expansion we are getting to much improved and extended product:
- New Influence Cards – Deckbuilding is a key aspect of this title and the expansion doubles the number of choices with a full new set of cards that are available for purchase alongside the existing cards!
- New Emperor Rules – These optional rules place Emperors directly on the board in place of a Governor or General token. Bold use of your Emperor will grant you bonuses, but if the Emperor token should be removed from the board, your reign is at an end.
- Solo variant – We are getting three different AI Player profiles can with whom you can play solo or fill missing players at the board. Very enjoyable experience which you should definitely try!
Highly recommended if you have only base game of Time of Crisis.
It is good that we have great expansions which allow us to prolong fun from our favorite titles. It is even better, when those add-ons make the base game much more exciting and transform it into completely new, better product – like with Memoir’44. And what will be yours examples of such great expansions?
All above titles are highly recommended! And see you in next episode of the “My Top 3” series!
A brilliant article!
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Thank you! Expansions are great way to prolong the fun from our favorite titles!
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I can attest to nearly all of these expansions as doing a great deal for their base games! Only one(s) I’ve not played is MEMOIR ’44 and the D-DAY expansions. Since I can’t list these, I’ll have to provide others as my favorite expansions: (1) New England Simulations’s OVERLORD: D-DAY AND THE BEACHHEAD BATTLES expansion to THE KILLING GROUND, (2) DRAGON’S JAW expansion for DOWNTOWN: AIR WAR OVER HANOI, 1965-1972, and (3) TALON 1000 expansion for the sci-fi space ship combat game, TALON.
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Thank you! All good points!
If we ever get done with Pacific, I’d love to do some of the battle pack scenarios for CC:E. Some great-sounding stuff!
Hi Michael, thanksl! I have D-Day landing. I was able to play OMAHA+UTAH (2 out of 6 maps combined).
I hope once in life to try American / British Landings (3 out of 6 maps).
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That is great experience, although of course needs a planning, space and dedicated friends 🙂