Pluto, poor shy, underappreciated, much maligned, downgraded Pluto! Not even a planet?! Well, guess what Commodores? Nobody puts Pluto in the corner! The Emergence of Shy Pluto is an expansion for the engine building game Space Base. It's designed by Jonathan D Clair, and published by Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG).
This expansion can only be played with the base game (which, by the way, is AMAZING!).
Shy Pluto Expansion
Over the last few years legacy games have become incredibly popular. They are generally story driven campaigns that which are played over several sessions. During said campaigns, players reveal or permanently alter the sorty, mechanisms, components and board. They do this to the point that it simply cannot be played a second time.
Now, this Space Base expansion is NOT a legacy expansion. Shy Pluto is a saga expansion. The similarities are as follow.
- It uses a narrative mechanism to add extra content to the base game.
- It does this over the course of several full games.
The differences are:
- It does not alter the board or components in a permanent way.
- The narrative aspect can be dispatched with altogether.
- The modules are added to the base game as a normal expansion would from the outset.
Although you can dispense with the story mechanism, you absolutely shouldn’t! It’s light, fun and does a great job of introducing all the new abilities and actions in bite size chunks. It also adds an element of excitement and anticipation to the experience, which is refreshing.
We played the story out over four games and then played a fifth with the final module included. Each day we set-up our stations and started rolling those dice with a childish eagerness that we hadn’t felt in a while. In fact, one day we got up before the kids to get a game in pre-breakfast!
It’s impossible to review Shy Pluto without spoiling at least some of the surprises of the story. As a result,the paragraph below will certainly be drowning in spoilers. However, for those who want to know a little more without wrecking the narrative experience for themselves I shall try and sum it up here.
The Emergence of Shy Pluto adds new cards to Space Base, each with new abilities. It adds new dice too, with unique values, and a new type of resource is introduced during the story. Also, the final module, revealed at the end of the story deck, allows for all of these new items to be integrated into a game of Space Base. This adds fresh new actions and rewards to the game without losing any of the swift paced gleeful engine building fun of the base game. In fact, for many, the passive player interaction is what makes the game so good and on that score the expansion excels as it actually increases the engagement of all players even when it’s not their turn.
Space Base Spoiler Alert!!
OK, if you do not want Space Base spoilers STOP READING NOW because...
Something stirs at the fringes of the solar system! An emergent anomaly near Pluto precipitates a buzz of excitement amongst the U.E.S high command. New technologies are needed to fully investigate, at least that’s what we’re told as new cards are added to the game.
Set-up is as normal. However, instead of picking starting cards from the tier one deck players will choose one of the new cards to start off their engines. Player order is determined as normal and the rest of the new cards are shuffled into deck one.
These new cards have some great new abilities. For example, one blue reward allows you to take any three blue rewards of cards in your one through six spots. One allows you to take the reward adjacent to the spot you rolled AND the reward adjacent to that one too! Yes, there are plenty of new cards added to Space Base from Shy Pluto but there is also a new resource, Patrol Ship tokens!
What are these for you ask? Well, remember that emergent anomaly we were chatting about? ? It’s only a flipping World Eater! All players find themselves battling this giant monster hell bent on making earth its supper. The world eater has its own die which is rolled every turn along with the two blue dice. Two sides of the die have the monster's face engraved on them. If it lands facing up, six more small dice with five blank sides and a single engraved side are rolled. All players then have a choice to spend a Patrol Ship token or not.
If anyone spends a token then the action cube on the World Eater Card slides one space closer to defeating him. Also, anyone who spent a token gains all resources shown on the small dice, either money, production or VP’s. Unfortunately, anyone who didn’t, or couldn’t, spend a Patrol Ship token LOSES the resources shown on the small dice from their own progress tracks. Ouch!
Eventually, of course, the monumental menace is defeated and turned into a hunk of lifeless goo orbiting the sun, This leads to the true expansion module of The Emergence of Shy Pluto which can be added to any normal game of Space Base. This is known as The Miners of Shy Pluto module.
The Miners of Shy Pluto
To play this module you set-up as normal and lay the Shy Pluto card out randomly. You place a 12mm pink die on each of the six available spots, before adding all 24 12mm red dice to the dice bag. Next, give each player one Patrol Ship token and make sure all Patrol Ship cards are added into the appropriate deck.
Each spot on the Shy Pluto Card has an associated cost in Patrol Ships. After the buy cards step of their turn, a player can choose to purchase one or more small dice. If they do, remaining dice slide to the left and new wins are added from the dice bag. A player can now roll their own personal small dice on theirs and their opponents' turns in a 2-3 player game, or just on an opponents' turn in a 4-5 player game.
It’s incredibly fun to collect this ridiculous amount of dice. You seem to be rolling them pretty much constantly, gaining rewards left right and centre. The new resource gives you something else to aim for in the early and mid-game and who wouldn’t enjoy more of those awesome ship cards with their snazzy new abilities.
Pros and Cons
There aren’t many games that make engine building as thoroughly enjoyable as Space Base in my opinion. Shy Pluto does more of the same so if you love Space Base, you’re more than likely to love this first saga expansion.
That said, if you’re looking for something to speed the game up then Shy Pluto doesn’t really do that. I wouldn’t say it lengthens the average game but spending time getting Patrol Ships and the rewards gained from the dice you spend them on probably cancel each other out in the long run. Also, the luck element is perhaps a little more pronounced, but adding 30 more single faced dice to game can do that. On the subject of all those dice, if off-turn downtime is your thing then be warned. There is very little time with this expansion in which you are not rolling, buying or gaining rewards. OK... you’ve been warned!
Final Thoughts on Space Base: The Emergence of Shy Pluto
All in all, The Emergence of Shy Pluto is a great expansion. Like Space Base the production values are excellent and the dice are beautiful and so tactile. The card quality is wonderful, the dice bag is a lovely touch and all components fit in the base game box too which is a boon. This is an absolute must for all Space Base fans and dice addicts out there.