Expeditions is a stand-alone sequel to Scythe. It has the same alternate history setting of 1920’s eastern Europe, with enormous mechs to do your bidding. Moreover, the game includes the same amazing artwork by Jacob Rozalski that was introduced in the elder sibling.
In Expeditions you will need to explore the regions of Siberia where a meteorite has landed; unearthing ancient corruption. The hexagonal game tiles and game cards really depict a dark and portentous environment. As you travel across the map hexagons you need to vanquish corruption and thereby improve the functions of each of these tiles. This allows you to complete your other objectives.
The rulebook for Expeditions is quite wordy but very clear. There are detailed diagrams and examples to iron out any wrinkles in your understanding. The game is fairly icon-heavy so I appreciate the back cover of the rulebook having an icon glossary. If you aren’t fond of reading a full set of rules you can find teaching and play-throughs on Youtube.
This is not a game that you can play straight from the box. One of your games group will need to invest the time in learning the rules and teaching everyone else.
In my opinion the tiles, cards and mechs in Expeditions are artistically and stylistically brilliant. You will find yourself picking up the mechs and cards and just staring at their details. The five types of worker meeples all come in different sculps. This is a nice touch, which isn’t really needed but is appreciated.
The game tiles are quite big, and you always play the game with all of them, irrespective of player count. This means that you will need quite a substantial table for even a two-player game. The artwork on the game cards is quite dominant and so the text is quite small. With the physical span being substantial you will often find yourself out of your chair to read the text on a card across the playing area.
You start Expeditions with two cards, which are your starting character and companion. As you progress through the locations of Siberia you will accumulate more cards that will offer additional abilities to help you fulfil your mission. Essentially you only have three possible actions: move, play and gather. On most turns you can only do two of these, unless you take a refresh turn, which returns all your played cards to your hand and collects all your accumulated workers. There are five types of workers; soldiers, explorers, merchants etc in five different colours. However, you will probably find yourself stating that you need a “red worker,” rather than a “soldier”. This is one aspect of the game where the theme is not so well realised.
Expeditions is an engine-building game and so your turns get more powerful as the game progresses. You will need to read your acquired cards carefully to ensure that you aren’t missing a benefit, especially when you have seven or eight cards in hand. You will need to evaluate which cards need to have their actions boosted by the addition of a worker. There are lots of nice decisions to make as the game progresses.