While we have all seen an anticipated expansion fail to deliver on the strengths of the base game, a well-timed, well designed expansion can breathe new life into a classic game. Furthermore, there are plenty of examples of expansions that are so good the base games simply can’t be played without them anymore (I think Tony has a thing or ten to say about that…).
Whether you feel that they are a shameless money grab by greedy publishers who released unfinished games or a way to revitalize an old favorite, there are no shortages of opinions in the hobby gaming community when it comes to game expansions. I have grown tired of the same-old games coming out with expansion after expansion (I’m looking at you Carcassonne, Dominion, and Catan) while other diamonds-in-the-rough are seemingly left behind.
This list (in a rather fluid order) pays homage to those games, old and new, that got it so right the first time, someone should revisit them for a second time. Don’t forget to comment below with some of the expansions you would like to see.
Top 10 Games That Should Have Expansions (but don’t…)
10. Tyrants of the Underdark (review)
Tyrants of the Underdark combines both area control and deck building for a unique twist on both, but with little expertise in either. At its heart, this is more of a deck building game and it is not surprising that more decks of cards would be the first addition an expansion would make. The deckbuilding and the area control mechanics in Tyrants of the Underdark are nowhere near complex, so an expansion to develop either one or both of the mechanics could do the theme some justice – and it deserves some justice.
9. Hanabi (review)
Hanabi is a cooperative memory/deduction/set-collection card game is always a fun (if not frustrating) game to play between larger games during game night. I would love to see it mixed up a bit with a card-abilities expansion or maybe a wild suit. Some Uno-style cards that force players to think twice before simply throwing things away could certainly light that old spark in Hanabi again. Maybe a “reverse order”, “replay a card”, or “trade a card” could add a little more spice to this classic.
8. Rhino Hero (review)
Yes, I am serious. Rhino Hero is an amazing game and was love at first sight for most people who found it at GenCon 2015. The object of the game is to build a house of cards and empty your hand. It is as much of a “got-cha” competitive game as it is a cooperative game. I have never before witnessed a game designed for children bring so much joy to so many “adults” than in Rhino Hero. Frankly, I think our odd-toed hero has earned himself a partner (maybe a She-Rhino), a nemesis, and some new superhero powers on the building cards.
Until Haba revisits this modern classic, for an added challenge I suggest spicing things up with a couple “Animal Upon Animal” ani-meeples and a “chop-sticks only” house rule.
7. La Granja
La Granja might be low hanging fruit on this list, but that just means it belongs here more than most. The game is ripe for more resources, more building cards, more goods, more roof tiles, more… everything. Mixing up the player boards and assigning different abilities or missions could add some early game asymmetry and force players to focus on vastly different strategies. La Granja just feels like an expansion should already be coming.
6. Terror in Meeple City (Rampage) (review)
Rampa… uhm… Terror in Meeple City has always been a hit at the table, but it does eventually grow a bit tired. Sure, things can be changed up by the distinct bouquet of the snacks at the game table and the salivary gland control of your fellow gaming mates, but eventually olfactory sensitivity overcomes us all. Joking aside, more special abilities, maybe integrating an energy cube mechanic (e.g. the King of… series) would create more strategy and perhaps move us further away from strength of lung and finger.
5. Ice Cool (review)
At this point I’m sure we’ve all seen the Ice Cool trick shots video (and if you haven’t, you really should), but I think there of as-of-yet unexplored ground here. The rules are pretty open as it is which means there is plenty of room for expansion. More rooms and maybe an additional story complete with 3-D marble maze style ramps would certainly add some more variety to Ice Cool.
4. Cthulhu Realms
I love this game and at first, was happy that it was not expanded into oblivion like its predecessor, Star Realms (this is probably an overstatement, but I stand by it). Cthulhu Realms was hands-down one of my two favorite games from GenCon 2015 (see also number 8 in this list), but hasn’t received the buzz I feel it really deserves. At this point, I have played Cthulhu Realms enough that I could certainly stand for some fresh card combinations and new artwork from a new color suit.
As a side note, for those of you who have only experienced the mobile version, I highly recommend playing the physical game with more than two players as it really excels with its multiplayer mechanics.
3. Tides of Madness (review)
The spiritual successor to Tides of Time by Portal Games is one of my favorite games of 2016. In my recent review, I called out how I would love to see a longer variant with a 2+ player option. I still stand by this and would love to see what Portal Games could pull out of their hat for Tides of Madness. The main mechanic in the game is the 7 wonders style card drafting and is by no means exclusive to two players. I would be excited to see what kind of artwork they could pull together too.
2. Mechs Vs Minions
No explanation is really needed, but I am here to give one. The price to pound ratio of this game is out of this world, so an expansion would likely have to be of similar value. The game certainly isn’t lacking, but a few more dossiers and a mech or two would certainly keep people coming back. Besides, there is likely a whole sect of new players out there so keeping them engaged can only be a good thing for our beloved hobby.
1. Terraforming Mars (review)
There is, granted, a lot of variety already in Terraforming Mars. The corporation cards can even be argued to be an expansion sold with the base set, but I think there is more to be done. Perhaps a way to over-print your opponents’ tile drops, maybe clearcut an alagal forest or drain the ocean a step. Our very own Tahsin recently reviewed Terraforming Mars and found player interaction lacking. To mitigate this, adding a “buy X from your neighbor for Y” mechanic or a steal your opponents’ area tile could be an interesting addition.
The player turns are not overly complex in Terraforming Mars, so adding some more variability would not necessarily draw the turns out too long. In my opinion, this is a great game and needs little improvement, but the theming and strategy is so much fun that I think breathing more life into it sometime down the line (but not too far down the line…) could keep fans terraforming for some time to come.