The Top 5 Board Game Expansions of All Time (According to Jay)

We’re back from the first of the federally-recognized holidays in this weird week-that-is-not-a-week-in-actual-time. I’m not really a “holiday season” person (Halloween is my jam), but I’ve always loved the weirdness that is the week between Christmas and New Years.

For the rest of this week, we’re running down a few more top 5 lists, and today, we’re doing my top 5 expansions. My criteria is that these expansion add a lot of replayability to an already fun game. This is mainly because if the base game isn’t fun, I probably haven’t invested the money in the bad base game and the expansion that fixes it. Without further ado, here we go!

5) Dark City – Legendary

There is a lot of game in Legendary: The Marvel Deck Building Game. You could easily just buy the base game and never touch an expansion, and you might be content. I’m a comics fan going way back, so, of course, I look at a game with superheroes, and my first thought is “where is [insert any number of heroes here].”

Many of those heroes are in Dark City. Blade? Check. Cable? Yup, here’s here. Iron Fist? You betcha! Wolverine? Wait…wasn’t he in the base game? Well, he’s here too because if the 90s taught us anything, it’s that you can never have too much Wolverine. [/end sarcasm] Anyway, Dark City basically doubles the amount of game you have in Legendary, and is the first expansion you should pick up for a game that definitely doesn’t need an expansion. If you like Legendary, this is a lot more Legendary.

4) Age of Enlightenment – Rivals for Catan

The Rivals for Catan might be my favorite two-player only game. It came out in 2010, and it still hasn’t been replaced by any other game. Not only is it just a well-designed delve into the world of Catan, but it comes with three “expansions.” These expansions are great, and make the base game box extremely replayable.

However, there are two other expansion packs for this game: Age of Darkness and Age of Enlightenment. Each of these adds three expansions to the base game, and of those expansions, the most interesting is “the Era of Explorers” from The Age of Enlightenment. “Explorers” adds a sort of physical side board made of nine ocean spaces. You can send ships out to these ocean spaces to discover and colonize islands. It really adds a tactile element to a game that otherwise is just placing and turning cards them. It’s not something the game needs, but it definitely changes the game enough that it is my “must have” expansion for the game.

3) Beyond the Black – Tiny Epic Galaxies

Tiny Epic Galaxies is not my favorite of the Tiny Epic games (that honor goes to Tiny Epic Western), but it is the one that I play the most often. On its own, it’s a great game with lots of dice-rolling along with some light resource management and tableau-building. I highly recommend it.

If you are going to get Tiny Epic Galaxies, then I also recommend the Beyond the Black expansion. BTB adds pilot cards that give your ships special abilities. It’s such a simple thing to add, but it creates a whole new level to your tableau-building strategy. Now, your individual ships gain advantages to gaining certain types of planets or for activating specific actions. This changes the race to conquer planets from just a luck-of-the-die affair to a whole strategic calculation. It’s still not a super complicated game, but that extra complication really makes a difference.

2) Pegasus – Battlestar Galactica

Battlestar Galactica is the game I judge all other social deduction games by. This is because it’s not just a social deduction game. You know that there are enemies lurking amongst you, but you can’t the search for the Cylons distract you from the fact that the Universe is a harsh mistress and is actively trying to destroy you at every turn. When you do find the Cylons, the only thing you can do is throw them in the brig and hope they don’t break out. It’s a tense game that leads to many epic moments of life-or-death situations where you have to put your faith in players who may be preparing to stab everyone in the back. What could make that better?

Airlocks. The Pegasus expansion adds a new ship (Battlestar Pegasus) with a few new actions, the most notable of which is the ability to toss someone out the airlock. Think you know who the Cylon is? Vote to cast them into the void. If you’re wrong, your morale, an important resource, drops and a new character, who may be a Cylon, enters the game. Thematically, this is the one thing that was missing from the base game.

It’s not perfect, and it can lead to some annoying metagaming. For instance, If the second-in-line for the admiralty is a proven human, experienced players may opt to airlock the current admiral, even if there is no evidence that they are a Cylon. Also, this game adds the optional “New Caprica” module. The less said about that, the better.

That said, this expansion does “fix” the problem of 4 and 6 player games being awkward by adding Cylon Leaders, or characters who are known Cylons from the beginning of the game, but who may be loyal to the humans. This effectively fixes the awkward “Cylon Sympathizer” mechanic in the base game.

1) The Path to Carcosa – Arkham Horror The Card Game

I’m kind of cheating here. The Path to Carcosa, a campaign for Arkham Horror – The Card Game, is actually one deluxe expansion and six scenario packs. in this campaign, though, you get six new characters, including the game’s first neutral-faction character. You also get some essential player cards, such as Uncage the Soul, Storm of Spirits, and St. Hubert’s Key (Obviously, I play a lot of Mystics).

If that were all this expansion had to offer, it would be worth it, but this is also my favorite campaign. The entire time you’re playing The Path to Carcosa, you have to question whether what you think is happening is really happening. Are these partygoers turning into monsters? Did you really walk into the mental asylum on your own free will? Is there strange music in the air? Did we just murder someone? Are we the baddies?

The story is written by MJ Newman, and they do some pretty daring things here. The whole dream sequence before the setup of one scenario, the way the game makes you fear saying the name “Hastur,” and even the way elements from earlier scenarios come back in the final scenario really make this scenario shine for me. I wouldn’t necessarily say to get this expansion first, as The Dunwich Legacy is more straight-forward and easier to digest, but if you are a fan of Arkham Horror – The Card Game, the Path to Carcosa is a must-have.

And those are my favorite expansions. What expansions do you think are essential? Let us know in the comments, or find us on social media!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *