The secret life of a board game geek…
It’s true, I am famous on the internet! To see how, you need to read further…
As noted in my recent article, I love board games! One thing I didn’t have time to go into in that article are the many “expansions” that have come out for many popular games. Expansions breathe new life to a familiar game by adding new rules and generally add new game components such as advanced pieces, or a new map. They generally increase the length and complexity of the game they expand, and they vary from a few dollars for a few cards and new rules, to nearly the same price as the game they expand.
As much as I love board games, I am addictied to expansions! This is despite the fact that they rarely provide significantly more fun than the original game itself. It’s worth calling out a few ppoular games to see how their expansions extend the gameplay experience:
- The Settlers of Catan is the archetypal mainstream eurogame. It has as many reissues, expansions, and spin-off games with similar rules as any other game. The most famous expansion for this game is the Cities and Knights of Catan, which is on the higher end of the scale in terms of added complexity and cost. It turns a game which can frequently be completed in around an hour into a game which frequently takes 2 hours or more. I really enjoy this expansion, but it is practically a whole new, more complex game based on the idea of the original. This is a good example of a large expansion which makes you really rethink your approach to the game.
- Race for the Galaxy is a recent card game. As I noted in my earlier article, it is complex to learn but fun to master. It has two expansions so far, both adding relatively little new material and rules. Unfortunately, the expansions are pretty pricey for what they add. The first expansion, The Gathering Storm, simply built on the rules of the original, providing a little more options for growth, without changing the formula for success. The second expansion, Rebel vs. Imperium, added new attack mechanics which changed the tone of the game and increased the complexity a good bit. Overall, both are examples of mid-sized expansions which evolve the game by adding new ways to win, without breaking old techniques.
- Ticket to Ride is a fantastic game which has been recreated several times as a complete new game based on the original rules. Spin-off games in the series include Ticket to Ride Europe which is the only edition we own. Both the original game and the Europe edition have seen relatively small expansions (ex: Ticket to Ride: Europa 1912) which keep the original rules and map, but replace the destination cards used when playing the game to mix things up. These small expansions often offer the least value despite their low cost since they only change the game in minor ways. (That said, I don’t have Europa 1912, and I do look forward to getting it and being pleasantly surprised.)
One of my favorite games, also turns out to be the king of expansions and spin-offs; Carcassonne. It’s simple design and modular tile-based gameplay is easy to extend and reimagine. Carcassonne has seen 6 mid-sized expansions, 8 small expansions, 7 spin-off games (one is for children) and a card game only tied to the rest of the series by name. I had collected every expansion and spin-off in the series until recently, when they released a poor game and a poor expansion in the series the same year. The expansions alone are difficult to keep organized, since they all consist of square tiles which are difficult to distinguish from one another.
This is why I am famous, if only amongst a small number of board game enthusiasts on the popular Boardgamegeek website. To aid in my own organization, I designed a set of printable “tuck boxes” that store the tiles from one expansion so I can keep them separate from other expansions and the main game. I designed boxes for a few of my favorite expansions quickly in PowerPoint, printed them on cardstock using a color laser printer and then folded and taped them into perfect little boxes. Pleased with my work, I shared them with other Carcassonne players.
Assembling a Printable Tuckbox for Carcassonne which I designed.
What followed after sharing them on the web is a little strange. I started getting emails from folks who found my tuckboxes on the web like the following:
I already have several your boxes (for the Cathars, River, the 3rd expansion, the 5th)
I would like you to ask for the others, do you have boxes for the 1st, the 2nd, the 4th
I would like modify it so I can create my own tuck box for a different expansion.
I saw in your tuckboxes from boardgamegeek.com that you were wanting a copy of Cathars. Are you still looking for one, or is this old information?…I have all of your tuckboxes, in fact, and use them to be able to store the entire game in the orignal box, which would be impossible otherwise. … I particularly like how you have put the expansion name on the top flap, since that is how I store the boxes in the main box.