Designer: Louis Malz, Stefan Malz, Reiner Stockhausen
Publisher: DLP Games
Time: 60–120 minutes
Times played: 3, with a copy I purchased
I picked up Altiplano at Essen 2017 and it was one of the first games I played when I got home. I liked it immediately, but felt like I had trouble getting it to the table. There were a lot of great games at Essen that year, and I think this one got a bit lost in the shuffle. Now that I’ve played it many times I think my rating borders on love, rather than just like.
I was happy to hear about the expansion, not because I thought the game needed any sort of improvement, but because I was looking forward to a new twist on a game I really enjoy. Sometimes expansions fix a problem with a game while others add absolutely nothing but chrome. I am happy to report that neither of these is the case here; the expansion adds a new dimension to an already-good game.
(If you haven’t played Altiplano or would like a refresher on the game, check out my previous review here.)
You set up Altiplano as normal, adding in one new house card, one new boat card and five new order cards. If you are using the mission cards that came with the original game, add the new card to that deck as well.
There is an additional board– the trading point – that is put in the center of all the location boards. Players use a colored bit to mark a space as theirs, and the asset cards are placed on this board as well (more on those in a minute). Players also take a traveler board and place it above their main player board. The traveler pawn is placed on the road location.
The expansion also adds thirty-seven event cards, of which you will use twenty-eight in any game. These cards are divided by letter and stacked near the board. A new phase, phase 0, has been added. During this phase the start player reveals the top card of the event deck. If it has a lightning symbol the event happens immediately; otherwise it affects players for the entire round. The event cards are all positive and provide additional resources or options to do things that are beneficial.
Phase 1 is still the normal drawing phase and nothing about it is different.
Phase 2 is still the normal placement phase, but you now have the 2 additional spots on your traveler board where you can place goods.
Phase 3 is still the action phase, but now you have additional actions you can take. In order to take these new Traveler actions you must be on the same space as the traveler pawn, which moves from one location to another at the start of the round.
- You can remove one or more goods you placed on your traveler spaces to purchase one or more opals (one opal per good).
- You can buy a good by paying the listed number of opals to take any good from another player’s trading space or the neutral trading space (which gets seeded by event cards); the opals are returned to the general supply.
- You can also buy an asset card. There are 2 asset decks, Stage 1 and Stage 2. Stage 1 is available from the start of the game, while Stage 2 comes into play via an event card about halfway through the game. Asset cards have a cost printed in the upper right corner; Stage 1 cards cost any one basic good, while Stage 2 costs one of a higher-level good. Asset cards provide either a continuous benefit, which the player can use immediately, or provide a traveler action, for which you must place goods on the card during Phase 2. Like the house, canoe and order cards the deck is face up and players can choose the card they want from the entire deck.
Phase 4 is still the cleanup phase, and the only thing that changes is that you move the traveler pawn to the next clockwise location that is unoccupied.
End of the game scoring is the same with the addition of one point for every two opals left in your supply.
MY THOUGHTS ON THE GAME
I really like the expansion. I like the base game and am still happy to play just that, but I feel like the expansion adds dimensions to the game, particularly for experienced players. The expansion may shorten the game a bit, but it’s a minor amount and isn’t a concern, especially since it makes the game even more enjoyable.
Each component of the expansion is optional, so you can choose to play with all, none or some. I’ve only played with all and I have to say that I like them all.
I was most nervous about the event cards, since I wasn’t sure adding a random element to the game was a good idea, but they are all well-balanced, well-timed and positive; they provide a way to get a good or take an action that otherwise might be fairly hard or give you a nice bonus of something you can use right away. However, since many of them are different every game you can’t count on them or the order they will appear in. They also help seed the traveler space on the trading point, so that there is always a supply of goods to choose from.
The traveler actions are great. Depending on the start role you are dealt there will always be a particular good or set of goods that will be harder for you to get, and this helps immensely as you have a way to buy it rather than earn it, try to buy a tile or try to get the single canoe card to get one. Players are incentivized to put things in their markets, since it helps them trim down what is in their bag. For example, stage 1 asset cards let you spend any one resource – including food- to obtain them. That food is now on the market space and not clogging up your bag. In addition, some of the event cards add resources to the trading point.
The asset cards can be really helpful and give you a sort of superpower – my favorite so far it the one that lets you move your pawn to another location when you pass at the end of a round – or give you another option for actions, much like a tile that you would purchase.
You do have to be on the same location as the Traveler pawn to use the traveler actions, but that isn’t so hard to do; you know where the pawn is at the start of the round before you place your goods, so you can plan accordingly.
The expansion doesn’t add player interaction. You don’t interact with other players at the market; you’re just taking what they left there with no trade or discussion. I don’t have a problem with this, since I enjoy a good multiplayer solitaire game, but if you don’t like this style of game this expansion will not solve this issue for you.
The components are of the same quality and the artwork matches well with the original game. The new start player marker isn’t nearly as impressive, but it is easier to pass around.
It comes in a box that is the same size as the original box, but not as deep. Others tell me they can fit the expansion in the original box with no help, but I could not make that work no matter how much reorganizing I did, and I didn’t want people at events I bring the game to trying to make it fit. In the end I bought a game organizer that incorporates the expansion and makes it easier to set up the game, since it divides the bits up by number of players. It also just fits everything into the original box, but just barely.
THOUGHTS OF OTHER OPINIONATED GAMERS
Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers
I love it! Tery
I like it.
Not for me…