When a game is a hit it is not uncommon to see other versions of that same game being published. Taking Vlaada Chvatil’s incredibly popular Codenames as an example, there is now a 2-player version, a giant version, a pictures version, versions with popular intellectual properties and even a cheeky-naughty, adults only edition. Sometimes you’ll have a big game get a more streamlined version. Through the Ages being shrunk down into Roll Through the Ages is an example of this.
What is less common though is a small succinct card game being expanded on to make a large grandiose board game. Expedition to Newdale by Alexander Pfister is exactly this. Using many of the mechanics found in Oh my Goods and expanding on the story elements added by the two expansions, Expedition to Newdale is definitely bigger, but is it better? By putting more stuff in a bigger box does what makes Oh my Goods, well good, get lost?
I’m putting together an expedition…
So, Expedition to Newdale is a 2019 game for 1-4 players by Alexander Pfister. At its heart it is an engine building game where each player will be looking to build a selection of buildings from cards in their hand. These buildings will produce different goods from different raw materials. Those goods and buildings will be worth victory points and whoever has the most victory points at the end of the game wins. So far so Oh my Goods, where things start to become a bit different is how you use these buildings.
In Oh my goods you would be producing every turn by moving your worker, and eventually your assistants, to the buildings you would like to run. Whether you succeed is down to what colour cards are in the centre of the table and whether these coloured cards match the colours on your buildings. You would have to choose which buildings you would like to use before all of these cards are revealed giving an aspect of push your luck. This is sort of present in Expedition to Newdale but the card mechanic has been switched out for a big bag of different coloured wooden labourer pieces instead.
A small event
In every round of the game an event card which will have some round specific rules and will also depict a number of these coloured labourers. With this revealed you can then choose what to do with your workers. Once you’ve decided what you want to do, some more workers are pulled from the bag and added to the labourers found on the event card.
When you want to produce you move one of your assistants to one of your buildings and choose one of the production spaces next to it. You get a few options and you can choose to produce less goods but you don’t need all of the labourers depicted on the card. If you’re feeling particularly confident you can put that building into overdrive. This produces extra goods but requires you to get more than the required labourers in the colours on the card.
If after the labourers are drawn from the bag you don’t get quite the selection you need, you can discard cards from your hand to make up for the shortage. But those building cards you discard are the options for expanding your industrial empire so you should hold onto them if you can. You can also feed in any resources that chain with the building you are using. You can do this whether you manage to produce with laborours or not. This allows you to convert your cheap basic goods into more refined products that are worth more money.
Where this is really different to Oh my Goods though is that you don’t have to try and produce if that isn’t what you are interested in. Expedition to Newdale adds a new action selection mechanic. Here you can send your assistants off to do some different tasks that can help you in different ways. Normally you can only build one new building a round, but you can send your assistant off to the builder space and now you can build two. Very nice, you little master of industry, you.
If the labourers on the event card aren’t looking that good for you, maybe you should head off to the black market to get yourself a few resources that way? I won’t judge you. You can also send assistants off to get some new cards or even unlock a few more assistants so you can do more each turn. Lastly, you can upgrade your abilities so that you have to discard less cards per missing labourer on your buildings. You can also increase your range so you can move further when you place a new building. That’s right, your buildings now live on a map! How exciting.
I would walk 500 miles…
Each game of Expedition to Newdale will have a map with a network of roads connecting different towns. These towns may have different resources or attributes which will get you a discount on building certain buildings there. You may even get some bonus victory points for being the first player to construct a building there. Each new building card that you build needs to be less than two roads away, three with an upgrade, from another building that you own. If you don’t use all of your movement you can take a bonus tile from the map which will give you a one-time use ability. You can use it right away or later in the game if you so choose.
Expedition to Newdale also comes with an 8-chapter story with a divergent fork that forms a campaign that can be replayed if desired. This is not really a twists and turns, hold on to the edge of your seat sort of deal. It is more of a set of themed scenarios that add a little variety with unique events and mechanisms. The different story steps can also be played as stand alone scenarios as well. Different characters that can be picked by the players are available in each chapter.
Each scenario will use one of the 6 maps and will have a unique end of game scoring objective. It will also have an event deck that will have a few unique surprises in for each session. Some maps add new action spaces, building types and mechanics to do with constructing bridges, sailing the seas or even adding in the hooded ones. These shady guys were last seen in the Oh My Goods story expansions.
Context sold seperately…
It should be stressed that you don’t need to have played either Oh My Goods, any of its story expansions or even Tybor the Builder, (which is technically where the story begins), in order to enjoy what is on offer here. There are a few returning factions, characters and locations but these are all explained as they are introduced. All you’d be missing out on is a little context and backstory.
The box suggests a game takes about 90 minutes to complete which feels about right. Many of the turn phases can be carried out concurrently by all of the players. This means that the playing time scales quite nicely with extra players and doesn’t add a whole lot more downtime while you are waiting for your turn.
The card design is nice and clear with a lot of the artwork being reused from Oh My Goods. It is standard Lookout Games fare, i.e. it looks a lot like Agricola. The selection of map boards are nice and they all feel slightly different from each other. There is nothing stopping you from making up your own custom scenarios using the maps, events and characters that you prefer.
At its core it is not that heavy of a game, especially when compared with other Pfister designs like Great Western Trail and Maracaibo. There are some interesting choices to be made. Especially when you are deciding how confident you are when choosing how you are going to produce goods at your buildings. There isn’t much in the way of player interaction. It is mainly found on the map board where, the main interaction is being the first to build in a particular town.
Because of the light player interaction, it is quite easy to recommend the solo rules for this game. The only difference in solo mode is which event cards that are used in the scenarios. The game plays out otherwise identically.
Does Expedition to Newdale replace Oh my Goods for me? In some ways yes. The play time isn’t that much longer and the extra rules aren’t too much more complicated than in Oh My Goods. If we were sat at home or someplace where there is enough room to get it all set up I would probably play Newdale every time over Goods. But, Oh my Goods is just a deck of cards and can be quite easily pulled out for a game in a pub, café or silent disco.
The production chaining mechanic is a little more forgiving in Newdale. This is a good thing as the game takes place over fewer rounds than Goods so getting it all set up isn’t quite as straight forward. It is still equally satisfying though. With a good set of buildings and a little luck it is possible to mill some basic corn into flower and bake that flour using some coal into bread. Upping your goods from an average of 2 gold each, to 5 gold each. Those are some big tasty profits to be had. All that gold can be ploughed into buying bigger and better buildings or even more assistants giving you more choices next round.
The core experience is the very similar for both games with Newdale doing everything just a little bit better than Goods does. If you’re intrigued by the setting and mechanics but don’t want to splash out on a big box game pick up Oh my Goods. Perhaps with the first story expansion to get a feel for it. If you own Oh my Goods and enjoy it, this is a no brainer. It’s a bigger experience of everything you enjoy from Oh my Goods with more of everything added on top of it. Can you own both? Of course, you can. I do, and it has nothing to go with me being a boardgame hoarding dragon. I have quite happily played Oh my Goods with people I work with over a lunch time. I’m not sure I could manage that with Newdale though.
Expedition to Newdale is a very good game. It’s not Alexander Pfister’s best game, but in terms of an engine building game I would put it up there with the likes of Imperial Settlers. It has definitely earned its place in my collection.