DESIGNER: Alexander Pfister
PLAYERS: 1 – 4
AGES: 12 and up
TIME: 90 minutes
TIMES PLAYED: 6, with a copy I purchased
I rely on the Opinionated Gamers blog a lot. Of course I read all the reviews when they come out, but I also often go back to check out a game I think I might buy or be asked to play, and I use it to share information with friends about games I think they will like. I recently went searching for Expedition to Newdale because I wanted to send a description of it to a friend and it turns out that we have never reviewed it. I was surprised, although so many new games come out that there are always going to be games we don’t review; this was just the first time I had noticed. Since it’s been hitting the table regularly at our house, I figured I would make up for that omission.
It is billed as a campaign/chapter game; I am not giving away any spoilers or information that you wouldn’t be able to see upon opening the game or playing the first chapter. If you’ve played Oh My Goods, you’re familiar with the basics of the game, since it takes place in the same universe, 5 years after the expansion Escape to Canyon Brook ends. However, no prior knowledge of Oh My Goods is required.
Setup involves putting the scoring track and the land board onto the table. The game comes with several boards; you are only using one at a time, depending on the campaign that you are in. All the boards are similar, with locations that you build on, but they have slightly different layouts. Bonus tiles are randomly selected and placed on the board.
There is a large deck of building cards that are shuffled and placed near the board; depending on the chapter there may be some cards face up. Each player is dealt a hand of 8 cards; they discard 3 and keep 5.
There is a deck of event cards; the deck always has 8 cards, but the makeup of said is determined by the chapter.
There is a goal card specific to the chapter you are playing. The card will tell you what particular resources you can use to purchase additional victory points at the end of the game.
Each player is dealt a secret objective card that relates to the board; the top half of the card is specific to the player and the bottom half is the same on all cards, so it applies to all players. The objectives always relate to the board where you place buildings.
Each player also has their own board and set of components in their player color. All players start with a coal mine in play.
Each player will also assume the identity of a character; the exact character will depend on the chapter of the game you are in. The characters tie to the story and give you a benefit or bonus to use during that game.
You start the game by reading the intro to the chapter you are playing. The game takes place over seven rounds. Each round is broken into six phases.
The first phase is the event phase. The top card of the event deck is flipped over, read aloud and any effects are resolved.
The second phase is the planning phase, where players place their action markers; you start the game with 2 and can purchase up to 2 additional markers over the course of the game. Some actions you can take are on the main board and allow you to buy those additional markers, discard and draw new buildings, get resources, improve abilities or build a building. Some actions are taken on your personal board to produce resources from your buildings. As soon as all players have placed their markers the third phase, the action phase, begins.
What do those actions do? Well, I’m not going to go into great detail about each action, but I will tell you about the main action that drives the rest of the games – buildings. Buildings are what get you resources, and resources help you get better buildings and be more efficient so that you can produce more and better resources as well as meet the goal of the chapter. You build a building by paying the cost in coins on the upper left of the card. You place the building in one of the designated spots on your board and place one of your wooden houses on the board. If the spot you are building on has a symbol that matches a symbol on your card you also get the indicated discount towards the cost of the building.
You can place it one or two spots away from one of your other houses (you start with one on the board); if you only place it one away you can also take a bonus tile that can be used once during the rest of the game to give you an advantage.
Now that building is available for you to use in future action rounds, playing a marker under one of your buildings allows you to generate the resources listed on that building.
It’s not quite that simple, though. Your buildings are run by workers with a particular skill, represented by color. Workers are shared by all players; each round the event card has a certain number of workers indicated by color, and the start player will draw 4 additional at random. You have two or three options of spots to place your action marker; the easier spots that require fewer workers also produce fewer goods, while the more lucrative spots are more risky as you rely on the random draw to produce them. If you don’t have the right workers, you won’t be able to take the action. The workers get drawn after the planning phase, so there is always that risk. You can discard cards to make up for missing workers, but that limits your other options going forward.
When you take an action generating resources you can also discard cards that match the symbol to the bottom right of the resource; each card will get you one additional resource of that type, plus one additional for taking that option.
Once everyone has taken all of their actions all players have the chance to build an additional building or draw 2 cards. Any special buildings that get played on the side of your board are activated and then the next round begins.
Play continues in the same manner until the final round. Players have the chance to exchange the goods indicated on the goal card for victory points, score the victory points printed on their buildings and score for any part of their secret objective that they have achieved (building on matching symbols on the board). The player with the most VPs wins. You read the epilogue for the chapter, which will tell you what the next chapter will be.
MY THOUGHTS ON THE GAME
I really enjoy the game. I like Oh My Goods, and initially I thought this might just be an attempt to profit off that by making Oh My Goods The Board Game. That is not the case. Sure, there are many similar elements, but this adds new and interesting mechanics to the way things work. It adds the element of building the actual buildings as well as playing the cards. It also allows for more manipulation of your choices; while both are engine builders, that manipulation gives Expedition to Newdale a different feel.
The game does not involve revealing secret information or unlocking special items; it is more story-based, and the non-base components come in and out based on the story. It doesn’t really feel like a campaign game to me; it seems the campaign is just really a way to randomize the setup to some degree. The story is nice, but it isn’t really affecting the game play that much, other than the goals being somewhat related.
The rules are well-written and clear, and I think it would be easy to learn the game even if you don’t know Oh My Goods. We haven’t had any questions come up that we couldn’t easily find the answer to in the rule book.
The components are of good quality, too. The cards are very sturdy and are not showing any wear. The iconography is all clear and the colors are distinct.
The set-up for the campaign is easy; the back of the rule book includes a chart telling you what to add for the chapter you are playing. It’s easy to do, and since nothing is really hidden you aren’t worrying about accidentally seeing something you shouldn;t.
The game also has replayability; you could easily replay the campaign without having much of an advantage, and you could also do a random set up and play the game.
There is a solo mode; I have not yet tried it, but I will; it looks like it will be interesting.
THOUGHTS OF OTHER OPINIONATED GAMERS
Simon W: I like Alexander Pfister a lot and this was the very first game I tried at Essen last year. I wanted to love it and yet I haven’t got it out that much since I got back, which says something I guess. The campaign mode doesn’t really light my fire despite the fact that the game includes several boards to play on – it’s not that exciting but maybe that’s just me; however the variability is definitely not a bad thing either. The game has a little more tension and depth than Oh My Goods as Tery explains, but it’s not Pfister‘s best game either. The map is a great addition to the Oh my Goods mechanic, however, and so I would still recommend to play the game; and if you liked Oh My Goods then it should be a definite buy for you.
Mark Jackson: Playing Expedition to Newdale led me to Oh My Goods… and back again. I find the production system really interesting, especially as a solo game. I also enjoy the campaign system – I’m about ½ way through my first solo campaign.
RATINGS FROM THE OPINIONATED GAMERS
I love it!:
I like it: Tery, Simon W, Mark Jackson
Neutral: Craig M
Not for me: