It’s A Wonderful World (IAWW) is one of my favourite board games, and before you wonder; yes I have played “Insert popular modern board game such as Gloomhaven or Scythe here.” I like board games that are easy to teach, with a quick setup but lots of strategy: Games such as Castles of Burgundy and IAWW I love for these reasons. For me, when critiquing a new expansion - it’s important it preserves the simplicity of the core mechanics and setup, whilst also adding something fresh to the strategy. So far IAWW expansions have not changed any of the fundamentals of what is already a very good base game, and there is no exception for Leisure & Decadence.
With this in mind, if you have landed here on the keyword ‘campaign’ from the empire building likes of ‘Twilight Imperium’ or ‘Through the Ages’. Or you are hoping for an expansion that would substantially up the complexity of the base game. You may find yourself shaking the box wondering where they’ve put the miniatures.
That said, unlike the first campaign offering from IAWW (War or Peace), I was impressed by how small modular additions to the game mechanics through Leisure and Decadence opened up a ‘thinkier’ version of the game. (I won't go into detail as they are nice surprises)
Leisure & Decadence is the second campaign for your eclectic IAWW world, where, on any given play of the base game, your people may find themselves just about simultaneously discovering Valhalla, teleportation and the zeppelin.
Shoehorning some sort of story into this vastly diverse version of Utopia, twice, was always going to be difficult, so I won’t be cruel as to call each scenario's paragraph of context ‘flavour text’, though it is really short. Logically with the lack of an immersive theme in the base; instead of making much reference to the cards already in the base game, both campaigns add new cards that are more cohesive with the story. These do make the campaign games a bit more thematic than playing the base game alone. If you have played ‘War or Peace.’; expect the second campaign to follow a similar format, though the short story itself is not as good.
The Leisure and Decadence story continues in the wake of War or Peace, but is by no means dependent on it. You can also optionally play it with the Corruption and Ascension expansion though there is no reference to that deck within the scenarios. Similarly to the first campaign, you play one of scenario 5 or 6 depending on your choices in scenario 4, and the overall winner is the winner of the final game. This isn’t a legacy game, so you won't be altering the board irreparably or tearing up cards, but you do get some nice secret boxes for surprise additions to the game mechanics that are worth getting excited about.
This is the hard part for someone that reviews a lot of campaign / legacy games with lots of secret boxes and envelopes.
The new mechanics that may or may not be in this expansion vastly supersede those of the first campaign (which was lacking in this regard). They fit well with the context of the game and story, whilst also adding some extra strategy and replayability for IAWW fans. Even better - there are post campaign extras to incorporate some of the new things as mini expansions in both the core game and the corruption and ascension deck. For those who count value for money on a card for card bases; It amounts to around 65 additions across the two decks plus some extra game bits. These pack a punch (unlike in War of Peace where I’ve barely noticed the new cards since completing the campaign) and can easily be separated / added on a game by game basis. I would only not include these in my games going forward if playing with new players or someone that suffers from analysis paralysis. You will be doing more thinking in the planning phase with this campaign.
One gripe I did have - is unlike in legacy games, where you stick in the new rules and they are then applied going forwards. IAWW Legacy and Decadence presents you with a new cool mechanic for a scenario - and then instructs you to put it back in the box. As I can’t give you details I will use the analogy of being allowed to have a spoonful of icecream halfway through your dinner - then being told you have to finish your plate of food before getting any more.
If you are a fan of IAWW, especially the planning part, I would strongly recommend this Leisure & Decadence expansion. The campaign is fun and while the story lacks a little (and I wouldn’t be inclined to play the campaign more than a few times) the game extras that are added do stretch out the replay value for the base game - more so than the previous two expansions.