The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher is one of my favorite book series. I just can’t get enough of the adventures of Harry Dresden and his colorful cast of allies and opponents. Last year, Evil Hat published a card game based on the book series (review here) that I found to be challenging, unique, and a lot of fun to play.
Today we are going to take a look at the two newest expansions for the card game, Dead Ends and Winter Schemes. As they both add a very similar amount and type of content, I’m going to combine both into one review.
Both expansions come with two new playable characters, 2 new scenarios, and more side jobs cards.
Dead Ends introduces sharpshooter Jared Kincaid and spiritual medium Mortimer Lindquist. These characters are pretty similar to each other, with the main different being Kincaid focuses on combat, while Mortimer focuses on investigation. In fact, their talents are almost the same, except for having the words hits/clues swapped out. Their stunts are a bit more diverse, but both of them still have you swapping cards on the board.
The two cases in Dead Ends are Changes and Ghost Story. Changes is the most like the current group of cases, with the most standout thing being that you can’t add hits to foes until you remove the Blood Curse obstacles.
Ghost Story was easily my least favorite Dresden Files book; however the case cards in the game are pretty interesting. Spoiler Alert if you haven’t read the books, Harry was killed at the end of the previous book, so he starts off dead in the case as well. This adds some interesting mechanics, including a timer of sorts.
The two new characters in Winter Schemes are Winter Night Harry and Winter Lady Molly. These, not surprisingly, replace the base characters in your game. Winter Knight Harry can now move Cases and Foes with his talent, while his stunt will let you try and freeze a foe (good if you are a gambler). Winter Lady Molly’s talent will let you avoid -‘s on a roll, while her stunt will let you copy any power from a character outside the game.
The two cases included are Cold Days and Skin Game. The standout thing about Cold Days is that you can’t kill some foes until the showdown, so this scenario forces you to win with dice rolls at the end. Skin Game is one of the most unique scenarios yet, with gates to overcome that will affect players on Harry’s left and right.
Game Experience with the Expansion:
So right off the bat, I can say that both of these expansions do exactly what you want them to do if you are a fan of the base game. They add new content to the game without forcing you to learn a new set of rules. This is purely more variety and gameplay that fits right along the line of the base game and previous expansions. If you loved the base game, you will love this expansion.
The introduction of an alternate version of Harry was a welcome addition, as Harry is required for every game. This adds in a nice bit of variety, even if I do prefer the base game Harry. I will say that Mortimer/Kincaid felt a bit like lazy design with their power sets feeling theme swapped. That’s not to say they are exact copies, but more creative talents would have been nice
Winter Lady Molly’s power was probably the most diverse, however I wish the game had a cheat sheet to use for her. Since she can use any power from a character not in the game, it can slow the game down as you fish through the box of cards trying to remember what all the stunts do. A player aid here would have gone a long way to alleviating that.
For the new cases, Skin Game is easily my favorite of the bunch, if not the entire game. I love not only the interaction in it, but also how it changes up the game play. There is a gate of ice and a gate of fire obstacle. Until they are overcome, the player on Harry’s left and right can’t investigate and attack (respectively). I thought that this was really clever and I enjoyed the challenge it presented. Skin Game is also pretty attack heavy, so make sure to bring your heavy hitters on this one.
For the rest of the cases, Ghost Story would be the other stand out. When you begin that case, you place an obstacle card at range 6. Each round it moves up and if it hits row one, the players lose. While it’s not really that hard to overcome, I still thought it was a creative idea (it’s even called Soul Train) and wasn’t something seen before in the game.
The simple answer is that if you are a fan of the Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game, then I can heartily recommend both of these expansions. It adds more of the good stuff you’ve come to know and love from the card game with almost zero rules overhead. On the other side of the coin, if you didn’t enjoy the Dresden Files Card Game, than nothing here is going to win you back to the table.
As the new expansions are only $10, I think both are an easy purchase. However if your gaming budget is a little tight and you can only get one, I’d recommend Winter Schemes. It not only gives you an alternate Harry to use, but Skin Game was one of my favorite scenarios in the game.
• Some creative new mechanics
• More of what you love from the base game
• Alternate versions of Harry and Molly
• Kincaid and Mortimer could have been more diverse
• No player aid for Molly’s power.
Mortimer came through for Dresden after Dresden became a ghost.
I’m not sure about a card game. It rather lacks the punch of Dresden I suspect