Expansions and add-on content are a key part of crowdfunding campaigns. It’s a way for backers to unlock more stretch goals by driving their pledges up. The risk for the backers is getting a ton of content for a mediocre game but many times, it’s the only way to get some content.
I think Chronicles of Drunagor is fantastic so here’s a breakdown of the add-ons available on Gamefound for both the original campaign as well as speculation on the new content coming with the Age of Apocalypse expansion.
My personal bias for add-ons is I prioritize new content but am also a sucker for game-enhancing bling. A secondary consideration I have to keep in mind is physical volume. Chronicles of Drunagor is a massive game that can easily have you squirreling boxes away in whatever nook and cranny fit them.
Creative Game Studios generously provided copies of two adventure packs, the dungeon creation kit, Player Game Trayz, Spoils of War, Desert of Helscar, and Rise of the Undead Dragon along with the Age of Darkness core box to Board Game Quest.
Age of Darkness
Expansions that add gameplay hours are, to me, where the best value lies. The Ruins of Luccanor and the Shadow World adventure packs add side quests to play during the main campaign as well as two new monster types per pack to add more variety and replay value. These side quests are called out at specific points during the main campaign (I haven’t gotten to the Shadow World adventures yet). The Ruins of Luccanor adventures were engaging and had filled in some stories that would’ve otherwise been glossed over in the campaign. The darkness corrupted nautical enemies and dark maritime provided a creepy atmosphere for the duration of the adventure. It was fantastic.
For variability in gameplay, the Spoils of War and The Monster Pack #1 are highly recommended add-ons as the former provides 12 heroes, two enemy types, miniatures for two mini-bosses, and a lot of small quality of life upgrades. The deluxe player cards are ideal for choosing heroes as you can see the progression of their abilities at a glance and they’re relatively space-efficient on the table. The monster pack adds two more enemy types and a mini-boss. With a lot of the enemies being randomly drawn from gray or white enemy cards, having more choices keeps things interesting. I added the Monster pack to my apocalypse pledge for that reason. However, as a counterpoint, if you’re new to the game and are getting the original campaign and apocalypse with the stretch goal boxes, the monster pack may not be as critical an add-on considering all the content you’re already getting in one shot.
Optional Add Ons
If you liked how Return of the King felt like it had multiple epilogues, Chronicles of Drunagor has your back with two end game adventure packs to challenge your nearly maxed out heroes. The Desert of Helscar and Rise of the Undead Dragon each add two more chapters, one new enemy type, two new heroes with a new class, and a large boss miniature. The Desert of Helscar set comes with two barbarians and both sandworms enemies and a larger sandworm boss while the undead dragon comes with corrupted farmers, two paladins, and a really big dragon miniature. The dragon miniature has an impressive wingspan with a squat and chonky build that is fleshier and less detailed than the typical dracolich.
Player Game Trayz are a nice quality of life item that helps hold your cubes in place and keeps your player area tidy. The box the publisher sent for review came with one character’s worth of trays and between trying playing with the basic components, the deluxe player boards, and the game trayz, the game trayz were my favorite so I’m happily pledging for a full set.
The only cards that were repeatedly shuffled were the enemy cards so while I’m going to pass on sleeves. But it’s a pretty decent price if you’re a habitual sleever.
The Forteller app is another divisive topic. Forteller does a great job with their content based on what I saw during previews for the Isofarian Guard and downloading and listening to parts of Middara. But, as someone who didn’t love the narrative to start with or apps in general, this isn’t something I need.
Pass on These
Between the base box, the end game raids, and the spoils of war there are a lot of character choices available and that’s why I put the two hero packs in the unneeded pile. Handuriel, an elf Ranger, and Lordwrath, a human Shadow Knight, both look cool but not enough to want to add them to an already overwhelming pile of boxes.
The darkness dice are nice bling but I personally don’t feel the need to buy special dice when I have a bag of dice from years of playing RPG’s. Your mileage may vary.
The build your own dungeon expansion is ideal for people whose pets and/or children have destroyed game components or people who want to create massive custom scenarios. I love the idea of this but I don’t understand why it exists.
Age of Apocalypse
Looking at what’s coming with the new Apocalypse expansion; I don’t see any must have items besides the expansion itself which is a buy for fans of the game.
Optional Add Ons
I prioritize content but I’m also a sucker for component upgrades and that’s where the double layer monster status boards (cube management!) and the Companions set land for me. The former is all about keeping cubes in the correct place while the companions add miniatures for various pets, NPCs, and items to interact with. Are either needed? Nope. Do I envision getting the companion set, painting it, and using it in other games? Yup. Will I? Probably not judging by the unpainted Conan terrain I’ve owned for years.
Fallen Sisters mini boss adds a new mini boss. That’s content, so why isn’t she a must have? No good reason, to be honest. As content accumulates for a game there are diminishing returns for subsequent add ons. The expansion comes with one new mini boss (and 12 new monster types). If the Fallen Sisters came with her own adventure then it would become a Buy for me.
The Hero pack contains eight new heroes in four classes (Necromancer, Warlord, Swordmage, and Shaman). This could be a good replacement for the Spoils of War for someone walking into the game getting the only the original core box and the expansion. The stretch goal box for the expansion has plenty of new monsters and this would give eight new heroes to add to the mix.
Pass on These
As stated above I’m not a fan of these single hero packs as I don’t think there’s a great bang for the buck here. And that’s how I feel about the new mage hero Lorien.
Apocalypse Dice look sweet but they are, in my frugal opinion, not needed. And that same is true for the Initiative Marker. I believe this was a free gift to backers in the first 24 hours or so but it’s only for completionists or someone who really needs to convince their friends that they were there from the start as a way of gaining the acceptance of others.
Apocalypse the Four Horsemen is a box with four big miniatures. I’m not a fan of mixing miniatures and standees and the sculpts look really cool so why am I passing? It’s a ton of shelf space for, what I’m assuming, will be four boss battles during the campaign. More than any of the add ons, this is a lot of money for not really adding any content (arguably, they do add to the experience). Overall I think the pricing is fair for some big minis but it’s something I’m going to pass on purely due to storage issues. If space wasn’t an issue for me; I’d totally want this.
In conclusion, I think each person needs to evaluate their own gaming style when it comes to expansions. If you’re not likely to get through the base campaign, the adventure add-ons and end-game bosses probably aren’t for you. But if you love to go through campaigns multiple times to try different hero combinations then the extra variability is probably something to consider. I still have a hard time justifying backing games as good financial investments so I think you add the content you plan to play instead of going all-in for some upfront savings with a plan to sell off what you don’t want.
So what expansions do you think are must haves and what’s skippable?