The Expanse

The Expanse

I finally caved to peer pressure decided to check out this very affordably priced (like $35ish, for real) COIN-like area control game. It’s mostly just fancy area control! There are up to four factions competing for “influence” over the various bases on the map, which are separated into regions that may occasionally score bonus points. Each faction has a series of unique abilities that unlock as the game proceeds. Oh, and the faction farthest back in scoring controls the Rocinante from the books/show, which gives them additional options between and during scoring.

The COIN-i-ness of the game comes in the river of event cards you pick from, either to spend as an event or as action points to do just map things (fly around, influence bases, rebuild destroyed fleets). The events are keyed to the factions, so if you use the card for its action points then the other factions, in initiative order, get to use the event itself. If you use the event then you go to the end of initiative. Simple, elegant, clever.

I played the OPA, which I read Wilhelm Fitzpatrick saying was “the hardest.” Well, I lost by 1 on our first game, I think largely on nobody really understanding the cumulative power of scoring lots of second and third places. The OPA’s core special thing is the ability to spread their influence everywhere outside of the Inner Planets without needing a fleet present. They’re super good at snaking seconds and thirds! I suspect those won’t be nearly as easy to grab the next time we play.

We only played three factions — United Nations, Mars, and the Outer Planets Alliance. Super curious to see what adding Protogen itself to the mix does.

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8 thoughts on “The Expanse”

  1. I was a little skeptical (I’m a COIN partisan) but it’s really solid. It doesn’t “feel like” the show at all, because it’s all large-scale politics, but as pure game design it’s excellent.

    The event cards feature stills from the show so you know they’ll be adding cards as expansions when another season comes out. Not once did a card’s art/color really add any sort of context, but whatever, no big deal.

  2. I like that this game sits nicely in the “for when you want to play COIN but maybe don’t have 6 hours+” space. Also has the bonus of being more accessible to a few of my friends who aren’t COIN addicted like I am.

  3. I doubt there will be an expansion, the deck seems tuned to the point that you couldn’t just go hucking cards in.

    And I agree that while at a high level the mix of popular “cold war plus insurgency” mechanics are totally appropriate to the books/show, the theme is thin in the extreme.

    Unless you are the UN. Then it’s totally Avarasala’s game.

  4. Back to game talk, this has been on my radar a while, because it feels like the group I play with could appreciate a less intense COINish game.

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