Reviewing an expansion is a little bit different from reviewing a game, since I wouldn’t bother with the expansion if I didn’t already like the base game. I’m somewhat biased from the set-out. But then again, one of my least favorite expansions is for one of my favorite games, so you never know…
When I reviewed The Lost Expedition I enjoyed it so much that I bought Judge Dredd: The Cursed Earth, a game based on the same set of rules. I reviewed that game as well and liked it even more. Two of the reasons for this was the higher variability and the greater sense of discovery. Does the expansion The Fountain of Youth and Other Adventures add some of that to The Lost Expedition?
The Lost Expedition is a puzzly adventure game by Peer Sylvester released in 2017 by Osprey Games. In this review I will not explain the rules or how the game plays. If you are not already familiar with the base game I recommend that you read my review of it.
The Fountain of Youth and Other Adventures consists of 32 cards divided into four different modules that can be added one at a time or in different combinations to the base game. Just like the base game the expansion comes in a sturdy, nice box with a great front cover, but this box is smaller. The expansion rule book is as clear and well laid out as I’ve come to expect from Peer Sylvester and Osprey Games. The four expansion modules are called The Fountain, The Mark, The Mountain and New Friends. A new rule called the Endurance Rule is used when you play with one or more of the modules. Now, when the adventure deck runs out of cards, you’re not allowed to reshuffle it but lose the game instead.
A little over two hundred years before you send your expedition to the Amazon in search of the golden city of El Dorado, a group of conquistadors ventured into the same jungles in search of The Fountain of Youth and the promise of eternal life. It seems like they might have found the fountain and tasted its life-giving water. But although they achieved eternal life, eternal youth was not part of the deal…
The 12 cards in this module increase the difficulty of the game. Your adventurers have to deal not only with venomous spiders, wild animals, and the hostility of some of the local people, but also with undead conquistadors mad with age and hungry for blood. And chances are that you also find The Fountain of Youth on your way to El Dorado. But will you dare to drink its water? The price is high.
The Fountain provides a simple way of making life in the Amazon less simple. Just shuffle the twelve cards into the Adventure deck! It adds some ghastly vibes on top of making the challenge tougher. The actual Fountain card provides one of the more interesting choices in the game – sacrifice one of the explorers to gain four health points to distribute any way you like among the others. In one game I had the explorer Isabelle marching off from the fountain alone with a health level of eight, her last companion sacrificed to drink from the magic well. In the end she was the victim of her own delusions, as traveling alone put to much strain on her. She perished from starvation right outside the walls of El Dorado.
Rumor has it that a vicious spirit is preying on those who dare enter the depths of the jungle. It’s said that once you’ve been struck by its curse you become unruly and wild – almost an animal.
This module is small and consists of only six new adventure cards and a Were-Beast card. It adds a new symbol to the cards – the Mark – and a new action that goes with it. If you have to take the action, unless one of your explorers is already marked, one of them becomes marked. If you have to take the action again, the marked explorer turns into a Were-Beast, regains it’s strength, loses his or her expertise but gains great fighting skills.
Having one of your explorers being transformed can be useful or problematic depending on the situation. Sometimes I’ve desperately tried to avoid it, another time having Bessie turn to a Were-Cat would have been the only way of reaching the goal. The loss of expertise can be a curse, for sure, but the health boost and the added ability to fight – the Were-Beast can use its health points like ammunition – is sometimes extremely handy.
The Mountain represents a different route to El Dorado. The terrain is unmapped, hard to traverse and full of surprises. The 10 cards in this module replace the expedition cards and are laid out in a randomized fashion with the Peak card visible in the middle. Whenever your explorers advance to a new card that card is revealed. Most of the cards have caption boxes on them with symbols. These are resolved at the start of of each hike. Some effects are good, some are bad. Once you reach the peak, the rest of the cards are turned face up, since the explorers are able to study the terrain ahead of them from their elevated position.
This module increases the difficulty to some extent, and jacks up the sense of exploration.
This module consists of three companions that can be added to your team of explorers: Comatsi, a local man with great knowledge about the area; Vulcana, a strongwoman; and Rinty, a dog. Comatsi has all three kinds of expertise. Vulcana has five health instead of three. Rinty can help with reconnaissance, allowing him to spend one health to get rid of the last card in the path.
The friends function like explorers, except that they can’t win the game on their own; one of the regular explorers has to reach the final destination. To find the right balance of your challenge, you can add one of these to your team.
This is a no-brainer provided that you already have and like the base game. Since the modules can be combined the added variation is great. With this expansion The Lost Expedition reaches the soaring heights of its descendant, Judge Dredd: The Cursed Earth. If you’re trying to chose between the two games the addition of The Fountain of Youth and Other Adventures has it down to a pretty simple choice: just pick whichever theme you like the best, exploring the Amazon or traversing the post apocalyptic wasteland. Still a hard choice? Go with both. I did.
I hope this review was a pleasant read. The cats say “Meow!”