“I keep warning you. Doors and corners, kid. That’s where they get you. Humans are too f***ing stupid to listen.”
― Miller in
I recently posted how a newer play of The Expanse Board Game made me reconsider the game. As a direct result of that play I purchased the new expansion, The Expanse Boardgame: Doors and Corners (WizKids, 2019). The expansion is actually a collection of five sets of new rules that can be added to your game as desired. The modular plug-n-play expansion makes the original The Expanse Board Game more interesting and much more thematically satisfying.
Before getting to the new rules it is important to point out the new cardboard in the expansion. Doors and Corners comes with a revised Game Board that clearly separates the Outer Planets sector into two movement spaces. It also contains revised ship tokens which look more like the ships seen in the TV series.
The heart of Doors and Corners is the five new rules modules:
The five modules included in this expansion are: Leaders, Expanded Technologies, Resource Tokens, Protomolecule, and Variable Setup. Leaders go with fleets and can add influence when they move with a fleet. Expanded Technologies allows variety and surprise in what powers are available. When a tech is earned you have three random choices for that tech. Resource Tokens can be spent in several ways including helping to pay CP [Control Points] costs, adding AP [Action Points] to a card (max 4), moving up the initiative track, and earning bonus points for having the most at final scoring. Protomolecule adds a new scoring opportunity. Variable Setup allows fleets and influence to be placed anywhere at the start of the game.
For our first foray we played with Expanded Technologies and Leaders. The easier of the two to grasp is the Expanded Technologies which immediately adds variability into the game. I often felt that the technology upgrades in the original game felt a bit too alike and didn’t show the asymmetric power of the different factions too well. The new technologies take the asymmetric nature of the different factions and dials each up in highly thematic ways. The fact you get three different technologies at each upgrade but only draw two and keep one also means it will be much more variable from game to game. This module is a MUST PLAY.
Leaders is an interesting module and easy to implement. Leaders act like fleets but for one AP can move AND place an influence. The more powerful action is to make a Power Play. Instead of your normal turn, one can invoke a Power Play which can score huge bonus points. The most immediate effect I can see is an increase in scores by at least 10% and probably much more as we become more familiar with using Power Play.
We haven’t used the other modules yet but I think the next one we might try is The Protomolecule. This is because we usually play a 3-player game and Protogen and the Protomolecule don’t really make an appearance. This might be a way to get some of that theme into a three-player game.
Looking at the last two modules, I feel that Resource Tokens and Variable Setup go hand-in-hand. Resource Tokens get you away from the scoring bonuses on the cards and allows a bit more freedom in strategy. The Variable Setup seems needed to avoid getting locked into “an outdated policy” and enable the players to flex to the new scoring Resource Tokens introduces.
The new expansions is not without its problems. The new rule book warns that game length may increase “significantly” as players learn new abilities and options. Personally, I feel the use of “significantly” is a bit overblown and after very few games the time of play will be close to the original. Many folks demanded a new board and complained about the blandness of the original. Uh…did any of you watch the series and note the very bland color palette used? I also found it sad that the the Initiative track on the revised board is too small for the original tokens [Sigh]. Personally, I had little trouble with the old board and it was easy to remember that going from Jupiter to Saturn was an extra AP. Further, the colors on the new board actually don’t help me; when I look at the blue UN cubes on the board they “blend” a bit under anything less than bright light.
One of my earliest criticisms of The Expanse Board Game was a seeming lack of theme. The new Doors and Corners expansion does a great job of bringing more theme to the game. Whether you play with one or all five of the modules, I am sure the game will thematically resonate in a more satisfying manner.
So…is it BOARD GAME (two words) or BOARDGAME (one word)? I ask because the first title is The Expanse BOARD GAME while the expansion is The Expanse BOARDGAME: Doors and Corners.
Feature image WizKids