Gameday First Play – The Expanse Board Game

Posted on by Jesta

“Errinwright: You need me. You need my government’s resources and my protection.”

“Mao: I need a patriot who understands the historic importance of what’s happening that can adjust his worldview accordingly. But you’re just trying to save your job, so I’ll let you get back to it.”

~The Expanse TV Show

Players represent Earth’s UN forces, the military of Mars, the rebels of the O.P.A., and the mysterious corporation Protogen Inc. Each player has special abilities that must be manoeuvred to gain an advantage. Players increase their control over the solar system using characters and events from the universe of The Expanse.

This is an area control game set in a world of a TV show (and I think book series?) that I haven’t seen (or read).

Everyone gets a Faction with a player board.

You also have a starting system where you have influence cubes and Fleet tokens.

On a turn you can either take a card from a row of cards available or play an event from your hand.

If you take a card you need to pay the cost showing on that space on the track.

The card can either be played for the event printed ability on the bottom of it or for the action points printed on the top right. In the middle of the card, it shows 1 or more of the faction symbols and the event on the card and only be played by the players of those factions.

Alternatively, you can pay 1 CP to put the card in your hand instead to use later.

If used for the AP, there are a number of things you can do.

You can move your Fleets around the board, build more Fleets on the board or add influence to different regions.

If the card is used for AP then the other players, in initiative order, have the chance to use the Event on the card IF their faction icon is in the middle of it.

If they do, they go to the bottom of the initiative track.

You then shuffle up the row, replace the card and play moves on to the next player.

Eventually, as the game goes on one of the many scorecards will be revealed.

As it says on the card, the active player secretly picks one of the bonus sector tokens, and puts it to one side.

Each player has the chance to play one event that they kept in earlier actions.

Then, score the sector as shown on bonus token, most influence wins but the player with the biggest fleet in that area will add one to their influence.

When the 6th scorecard is revealed ALL bases scored and then the player with the most points wins.

Positives

While there is a lot of images from the TV and I’m sure I’m missing out of flavour text references, I never felt in the dark about what this game is about. For example, I have a rough idea what ‘The Rocinante’ is and why Alex Kamal can move it. It has made me want to watch the show though, it’s on my Netflix list 🙂

The game is simple but deep… There are a few niggly rules but it’s very simple overall. The game runs smoothly once everyone know’s what they’re doing.

The variable turn order track is great. it means when you want to take a card for AP you have to look to see if you want anyone to take the event on the card. Then you have to look to see who has the option to take it, gives you plenty to think about. You also don’t want to drop to the bottom of the track when you have the chance to play an Event on another players turn.

Negatives

It made me think of El Grande, and made me want to play El Grande. For me, El Grande is a better game but this is a tiny, much more portable box than the El Grande Big Box with a respectable price tag

Summary

A very fun game I liked a lot.

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