OG’s Favorite Expansions from 2020-2021

Through the Ages: New Leaders and Wonders Cover Artwork

We close out this retrospective week at the OG with a piece on our favorite expansions from the past couple years.  Some of us go hard for expansions, while others turn up their noses at the concept, but love ‘em or hate ‘em, expansions seem to be the lifeblood of the industry in many ways and they only seem to be proliferating.  Today we share the expansions that we think are really worth your time!  Let us know in the comments what board game expansions really worked well for you in 2020 and 2021.

Talia: My favorite expansion from 2020-2021 is definitely Through the Ages: New Leaders and Wonders.  As a huge fan of the base game, I was skeptical that an expansion could fit, but Vlaada and the CGE team knocked it out the park with this brilliant approach to expanding Through the Ages.  I’ve played a handful of times in person and dozens, if not hundreds, of times on the mobile app.  The expansion has become an essential part of exploring this game and makes for a fascinating setup as you consider the range of card combinations in any given game.  I have also really enjoyed the 7 Wonders Duel: Agora expansion, which adds a new winning condition that makes an already tense two-player game even more tense and fascinating, and Root: Underworld, which adds even more enthralling faction combinations to a system with seemingly endless variability.  Lastly, as a growing fan of roll-and-write games, I’ve greatly enjoyed the many new Railroad Ink and Cartographers expansions (including the epic boards and eldritch expansion for Railroad Ink, and the various map packs for Cartographers).  I’ve already played so much Railroad Ink (59 times) and Cartographers (22 times), and expect to play both a lot more in the year to come.

Unmatched: Little Red Riding Hood vs. Beowulf Cover Artwork

Mark Jackson: I am a sucker for expansions… and the last couple of years has had a number of really solid additions to these, well, additions to games I love.

  • According to the ‘Geek, there have been 5 expansion boxes for the Unmatched game system in the last two years – and while I love all of them (some of which we playtested), I’d strongly recommend Cobble & Fog and Little Red Riding Hood vs. Beowulf as the two strongest boxes. (Yes, I know – Vol. 2 was released right before Christmas 2021… but I haven’t had as much time with it as the others.)
  • In the same vein, FFG has finally managed to get the Marvel Champions LCG pipeline moving – and the sheer number of expansion sets (heroes, villains, campaign boxes) is staggering. Since both of my boys love the MCU and the comics, we keep acquiring them. My suggestion: save getting villain expansions like Kang or The Wrecking Crew until later – the hero & campaign boxes are the best bang for your buck.
  • Undaunted: Reinforcements not only adds new troops and scenarios to the excellent Undaunted games, it also adds the ability to play 2 on 2 AND a robust solo AI for all the currently published scenarios. ‘Nuff said.
  • If you liked It’s a Wonderful World, there’s a plethora of expansions available – I wrote about them earlier this year here on the OG.
  • Other expansions that deserve a mention:
    • Tobago: Volcano
    • Era: Medieval Age – Rivers & Roads Expansion
    • Clank!: Adventuring Party
    • 7 Wonders Duel: Agora
    • The Dragon & Flagon: The Brew that is True
MicroMacro: Crime City – Full House Cover Artwork

James Nathan: Hmm, I struggled with this category a bit.  I’m not predisposed to being for or against expansions, but the sorts of things I play these days just don’t really have expansions, so my answer is largely “n/a”. 

If The Crew: Mission Deep Sea counts, then I pick that. If I had played the new Micro Macro, I would probably pick that. What about Pandemic Legacy: Season 0?  If that’s an “expansion”, it might be that. 

Korea Board Games has licensed ロールライト⚅富豪 (Roll Write Daifugō) as Nirvana, and it isn’t quite a straight reprint; it will include some expansion cards that guide the game; the game isn’t released yet, or I might pick that (I have played with them and enjoyed what they add quite a bit.)

Enough. I’ll pick Streams Cross, a 2011 release-ish. The designer, Yoshihisa Itsubaki, like many designers, is often revisiting previous designs and updating them or repackaging them. The base game of Streams Cross is a light variation of the designer’s Streams – a game with 10 versions listed on boardgamegeek – including one published by (checks notes…) Chic-fil-A!?  Anyway, in Stream Cross, there is a variant rule set that uses a wildly fun new way to “randomize-and-write” – your fingers!  Rather than rolling dice, the players around the table collectively give “a 1, and a 2, and a 3…shoot!” and put out 0 to 5 fingers.  The total number of fingers shown is the number the players will fill on their sheet.  The base game of Streams Cross is fine, but the finger variant is a hoot I enjoy sharing with others around the table.

Rand: Though it’s mostly a reprint, I am especially fond of Ticket to Ride: Europe 15th Anniversary, and not only because I bought it as a gift for myself after passing my last architectural exam. It’s one of my favorite games with gorgeous trains that can be used for any map (though a bit more crowded). Ticket to Ride: Stay at Home was also one of the loveliest expansions to come from the early bonhomie period of the pandemic.

Grand Austria Hotel: Let's Waltz! Cover Artwork

Chris Wray:

  • For Sale Advisors
  • Glen More II: Chronicles Highland Games
  • Grand Austria Hotel: Let’s Waltz!

Chad Roberts:

  • Res Arcana: Perlae Imperii

Craig Massey:

  • Grand Austria Hotel: Let’s Waltz!

Jonathan:

  • Fallout: Atomic Bonds
  • Res Arcana: Perlae Imperii
  • Heroes of Tenefyr: The Second Curse
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1 Response to OG’s Favorite Expansions from 2020-2021

  1. huzonfirst says:

    I usually don’t care for expansions, so it wasn’t surprising that I had nothing to add to this article from the series. But I’ve now played enough of the modules from the Let’s Waltz expansion to GAH to say that it’s become a favorite and, remarkably, seems to make a truly excellent game even better. So let me belatedly add Let’s Waltz to the list. More quality design work from Luciani and Gigli–what a shock! :-)

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