Xia + the expansion

Xia + the expansion

I think I might have too many boardgames.

The expansion (something something Ember something) for Xia is good, quite good, but we haven’t played Xia in maybe a couple years because Xia without the expansion is uh…not great. And because it wasn’t great (although arguably it is pretty good), it didn’t get a lot of play. So my players swam ever forward, like sharks.

We played this today but it took hours of relearning the rules, stumbling through edge case stuff, grinding through web searches for faqs and forum threads. It didn’t put us in a great mood to want to try it again. It’s not the game’s fault! If we were playing between eight or ten games, gosh, we’d know them all very well. This wouldn’t come up. And because the collection has so many genuinely great games in it, it’s very hard to rationalize investing the time to master something that might not ever prove to be great.

It’s quite a conundrum. And its leading to some real frustration among my friends.

Anyway, so Xia is a sandbox space adventure game. There are a dozen ways to earn points, you can upgrade your spaceship, you can dodge around NPC ships or go exploring or carry out missions. It’s a physically beautiful game, full of painted ships and gaudy boards. The expansion fixes just about everything we had problems with (however many years ago), and I think with regular play it wouldn’t even take that long to play. There are now more map sections, more missions, more titles, more ships, more more more.

Maybe in some alternate universe I could play several days a week and keep my hundreds of games straight in my head. I could be okay occasionally inflicting less than great games on people just for the pleasure of the journey. The opportunity cost of free adulthood time would not be so high.

9 thoughts on “Xia + the expansion”

  1. I hear you on the conundrum of mastering a game that may not even turn out to be great. With 427 board games in my collection I’m at the stage where games that don’t wow me, go up for sale quickly.

    The Xia rules summaries on the back of the two rule books are quite good in my opinion. As a first-time player I also thought that the rules worked surprisingly well as references during play, which may mean that they are less easy to learn from, but I was taught by a friend, so I don’t know for sure. Based on your experience I’m now certain that he had studied quite hard before teaching us. That said, we also encountered some edge cases.

    How many players did you have? I’ve only played it with three, and imagine that to be the game’s sweet spot to avoid too much downtime.

    I found Xia, gorgeous, with a great theme, and cool components, but incredibly chaotic! In my play trading was definitely the way to victory, something I suspect to always be the case.

    Xia is the type of sandbox game I would’ve loved to play as a teenager, but I now find that other games give me a similar experience in a less chaotic manner. It’s still a fun experience, due to its theme, exploratory nature, and cool bits, but not something that I want to play too often.

  2. I was already pretty fond of Xia, but the expansion brought it way up for me. I don’t find the rules all that difficult, but I’ve also played the game several times. It does take quite a while to go over all the rules with new players, though. There’s just so much to do in the game, and I feel like it’s hard to have an idea what you want to do if you don’t know all the options.

  3. I was so/so on Xia when I played it. It wasn’t a bad game, but it wasn’t anything special. There was no real reason to become a pirate, and most players found one trade route to follow forever.

    The expansion, with its changing marketplace values fixed the One Trade Route issue. I’m still not clear if there is any reason to go pirate, but fixing one of the bigger issues is (IMHO) a good excuse for picking up the expansion.

  4. Our second place player build a missile boat and did pretty well in the murder game.

    The new map elements spread everything out and leave you exposed way longer between worlds. It’s fun! Much scarier.

  5. We really liked the little mods! I added a Max Shield mod to my ruins/asteroids explorer and it was mighty handy. Played like shit, like more than 10 points behind the winner at the end, but whatever.

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