An expanse of choice / an expensive choice

An expanse of choice / an expensive choice

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Writer_smallerMostly true

This comic is mostly true. While we do own some expansions, we really don’t own many. In fact, expansions for Carcassonne and Pandemic is actually the full extent of it. And what you read above is certainly an issue we face when deciding what to buy.

Our gaming is done on a tight budget, which informs all of our purchasing decisions. And we really, really love getting new games. As we’ve mentioned before, gaming is in an acknowledged golden age at the moment. There has never been this breadth of choice in design, theme, mechanics, type, or genre of games. And there has never been this many quality releases to choose from. So turning down the opportunity to experience a brand new game so we can expand a game we already own; one we’ve already played? That’s a tough call. There are many more games we own that we’d love to get expansions for, but have you seen the stream of announcements from Gen Con? Do you know how many exciting new board games are released every month? (Enough to maintain a weekly webcomic on the subject, that’s how many.)

The other thing about expansions is, it’s hard not to see them in a cynical light. I do not doubt that many game designs are trimmed down so that elements can be set aside for expansions. Sure, this is sometimes done to maintain simplicity in the original box, but I am certain that this is often a business decision. Add to this how steep the price tag often is, and it is hard not to be a little sceptical about why publishers release additional boxes for their best-selling games.

Ultimately, however, it’s hard not to like having the option of expanding your favourite titles; of gaining more play from a favoured game, and being able to add new dimensions to the experience. Most titles in our collection can happily exist without more content, but if there is an adventure we particularly love, a challenge we never tire of, a world we never want to leave, of course we’re going to want to add to it. Or at least have the option of doing so.

7 Comments on An expanse of choice / an expensive choice
  • TheSchaef

    I have the same problem but resolve it in the opposite direction. My quest for new games often falls to the back burner in favor of expanding favorites already in my collection.

    My BGG collection boasts 140 titles, but nearly 40% of them (over 50!) are expansions of other titles: Dominion, BSG, Cosmic Encounter, Starcraft, Cutthroat Caverns, Race for the Galaxy, Pandemic, Memoir, King of Tokyo, etc. If I ever put together the nickels to get Legendary, you can be certain it would suffer the same fate.

    • That sounds like an amazing collection! Although I guess no matter what type of game anybody might want to collect, it’s still a matter of having a never-ending wishlist and not enough money . . . I’m just grateful that there’s so much choice out there now for all boardgamers!

    • Jan Englund

      I agree with you. I think I have enough games right now. The newness is not a factor, I would rather play these interesting games I have.
      My BGG collections says 178 titles, 123 are actual games, 55 are expansions, and some expansions might even be just one promo card.
      And if that’s not enough, my friends have 500 more games.

      I do not make any blind purchases any more. I do not buy games if I have not played them, and if something looks interesting I might hunt down a second hand copy for half the price. It is hard to put $60 to a game that you might not even like…

      But the games I love… if there’s opportunity to get them expanded a bit, that is usually a safe bet and worth the money.

  • Gizensha

    I’m pretty sure it’s rare that things are deliberately left out of the base game for an expansion because – Based on those designer’s who have commented, it’s more common for, when things are cut out of the base game, to be for making the base game a tigher experience (Or one that can ship at a price point that suits the game), weather or not they’re thinking ‘maybe for an expansion’ when they do it.

    The reason why expansions are about the same price as a full game is simply economies of scale. If my potential market for a game is 100k, and 5k people buy that game… Then my potential market for the expansion is 5k people, and maybe 1k will buy the expansion. Which reduces the amount I can save by printing in volume.

    I *get* both attitudes towards expansions vs base games – I could get something new, fresh, and interesting that I haven’t encountered before, but might not like as much as reviews indicate I should… Or I can get something that adds on to something I know I already like which makes it that little bit more interesting, but just adds to something I already have. These are pretty much non-comparables.

  • Steven

    Yes, buying a new game is risky … but there’s no guarantee you’ll love an expansion, either. In general, I don’t buy many expansions (because I generally don’t get to play a given game enough to feel like it needs more, or play it with new people so regularly that I need to stick to the base game for ease of teaching).

    My biggest exception is BANG! — for which I have all of the expansions that came in the Bullet, plus Gold Rush. I think that Dodge City is a pretty good expansion, but not essential. High Noon and Fistful of Cards are more of a novelty than anything else, and I rarely play with them. The only one that I consider essential is Gold Rush, as it fixes one of my (and many others’) biggest complaints about the game — it gives eliminated players a stake in the game and something to do.

  • xero42

    catan is the worst at this each of the exspansions costs the same as the base game

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