Exodus:Edge of Extinction is the main expansion for the highly acclaimed 4X game Exodus Proxima Centauri. I first came across the main game at Essen in 2012 having been introduced to the NSKN team the previous year. It was a time of new companies coming into the Spiel from around Europe and the rest of the world and this company came from Rumania! Wow! (Now we know that boardgames are played everywhere so boardgame publishers come from everywhere too, but back then it was more of a novelty.)
Exodus Proxima Centauri covers the breadth of 4X games including exploration, expansion (but only what you encounter) exploitation and extermination. Exodus included many good game systems and while they were not new to gaming, the mix of the systems created an immersive experience. For example, the resource gathering activity to build up resources that then turn into various types of ship, but resources are depleted on planets so early gathering is important. But you can add more resources by mining later, so even the resource gathering option presents some interesting game choices.
The main feature is the action selection phase when player simultaneously select a card to play from a hand of six. These actions are revealed and conducted in player order, while a second action can be played from the choice of the bottom half of the cards played. This means that player turn order is important but using the second action has a cost – either a population cube from a planet that you own or two if you choose someone else’s card to use. This means that you have a large range of primary and secondary actions and provides a broad option to implement your plans.
Building on a smooth movement and combat solution is a fluidity that many people (me included) agreed that it provided a complete feeling for your space building and combat game. My personal favourite aspect is the technology tree which features expected discounts for following specific paths, but most importantly all techs are available from the beginning which allows you to plan the game the way that you would like.
Having created a really good game, I did have some criticisms. My Exodus version was from the first print run and the quality of the components was the weakest area. The cubes used to mark resources on the planets were small; the cylinders for resources were wobbly and rolled off the board while the plastic ships were OK but not of the quality from much larger companies. The solution: the re-print (revised edition) produced far better components and improved the feel of the game and this is the current version that is available. Essentially most things work the same way, but the components are far better. The resources are marked in a recessed section, ship designs are now on thicker cardboard and easier to mark upgrades, the resources on each planet are better marked and easier to see, so the combination of improved components and better presentation makes the game even more desirable. Experience and good feedback have made the game easier to play. It started as an excellent game and now has quality components.
So what do you do when you have a smooth well-regarded game that draws more plaudits than criticism? Produce an expansion? What needs adding? More choices, more types of ship with more blueprints? More technology choices? And if you add more of these will the game suffer and the efficient well-oiled system?
Enter Exodus Edge of Extinction just in time for Essen 2015. A successful and well timed Kickstarter has concluded. The main new features in the expansion are diversity.
The factions are now unique, providing different ways to start and special abilities for each player and then a huge range of extras to add on to the base game. More ships (yes!); more ship upgrades; more hexes to build a larger and more varied space environment; more technologies (hyperspace engines that allows you to move across the board faster; dark shields that protect you against damage; clone plants that allow grow population on those planets faster; spaceports that allow you to build ships at different planets; new weapons such as the EMP gun that does extra first round damage ; extra transport modules that means that more ships can carry people. Defences against weapons of mass destruction which mitigate the bad news WMD used to worry the space universe.
The other significant change is the way movement of ships works. Before there was a planning phase in which ships were assigned a direction chit and simultaneous movement took place. IN the expansion, the ships move in reverse order of type of drive. So all the drives of the slowest type (in reverse turn order) to hyperdrive (again in reverse turn order). What this does is to change the nature of the movement sequence significantly and in the games I have played before the game is somewhat slower. Not enormously, because the number of ships for each player is low and this is one of the main good features of the base game and expansion. But for those familiar with the base game it takes a while to feel the new way of moving ships. I now prefer the new movement options.
My favourite is the new player aids that show each faction, rather than generic races. The differences are really interesting providing a focus for each player to obtain benefits. For example the Han-Xia dynasty receive a faction specific set of action cards which means that second guessing the action cards other players played in the base game no longer happens. I really enjoy this aspect of the game, and if nothing else was added the game would improve just because of this. The additional faction changes provide specialised upgrades, special technologies and astonishing extra replayability.
There is a danger of course that adding more components will make the game longer and test the essential smoothness of the first game. The way the designers have approached this is to allow a shorter game and longer game with more starting money (CP tokens) to get the development of your faction off to a faster start. The box says that the expansion add 15 minutes per player to the game length, which probably is true once you have played a few games with the expansion. My first game added 30 minutes per player which wasn’t a problem as we had so much fun exploring the new options.
Short thoughts – get the expansion if you have the base game as you will love it. If you like this type of game and haven’t go t the base game then get both the expansion and the base game. If you don’t like 4X games of this type, then try one and I think this is the one to try. If that doesn’t work then I understand – steer clear of these games
Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers
- I love it!
- I like it. Alan H,
- Not for me…