The long-anticipated Roll Player expansion has finally been delivered to Kickstarter backers, and it extends and expands on one of my favorite games in many ways.
New Dice: Notably, the expansion box is filled with new dice. This includes 7 of the old multi-colored dice (to allow for the newly-added 5th player), as well as the new Boost Dice and Combat Dice.
There's not much special about the Combat Dice, they are just smaller dice that are rolled separately than the Attribute dice for determining combat results. The game comes with lots and lots of them, which comes in handy in the big boss fight at the end of an expansion game.
The Boost dice are powerful dice that have pips numbered 3-8 and can help make a previously impossible-to-complete Attributes goal. In the base game if you picked a race that had -2 to on an attribute that a class required to be 18, you could find yourself in a situation where it would be impossible to complete that line. With the Boost die it is now possible to complete all Attributes.
Unfortunately, there is a components issue on these dice; they are noticeably smaller and have rounded corners. It is possible for a player to feel for the Boost dice when they have the bag. It would be unfortunate if a player decided to cheat in this way, because it would be impossible for her opponents to tell.
New Boss & Minion Mode: The main feature of the expansion is a way to engage in combat while you are building your character. Instead of buying an item from the market, you can instead head off to fight a monster on top of a minion stack. Combat is simply rolling a number of dice and trying to hit a target number. If you do well on the roll, you get a Trophy, some XP, and possibly bonus items like Gold or a +1 token that can be used in combat against the boss.
If you do poorly you might get a -1 injury token which will make fighting the boss harder.
Lots and Lots of New Content: There is a lot of content jammed into this moderately-sized box. New races, new Items, new alignments, and new classes. These components merge seemlessly with the old content, but they play with the new rules, so most of the new content can't be used with the base game. For instance, there is a weapon that gives you a new combat die, since combat dice didn't exist in the base game, this card could not be added to the base game.
Playing With the Expansion
The key feature of the expansion is a new track towards acquiring victory points, and that is fighting minions and scoring well against the boss. However, this is just another VP track like Attributes, Background, and Item acquisition, so focusing entirely on fighting creatures won't win you the game. Instead, the expansion strikes a nice balance between sticking with old strategies of acquiring the right Traits and Skills when they show up in the market, and going for the monsters when there's nothing much to buy.
If you end up focusing too much on the market or too much on the combat, you may fall behind in VP because your opponent is performing a better balancing act and getting good VP out of each area (Attributes, Traits, Alignment, Armor and Background.) In fact, Traits are still the dominant method to earn lots of VP at the end of the game.
However, there is more than just VP to score in the Combat track. Defeating minions is the primary way you will earn XP in the game. XP can be used for a few different things, but its most powerful use is the ability to spend 5XP to activate an Attribute ability. This gives players the option to activate Attributes beyond three times, and makes completing Attribute rows much easier than it was in the base game. This is fine, but it does make Traits with rewards for completing Attributes much easier to achieve, and thus much more desirable when they show up in the market row.
While completing Attributes is now much easier, completing the Background card perfectly is now much more difficult. This is partly due to the new, more complex balancing act you have to do with combat, but mostly due to the new Boost dice which don't contribute towards completing your background table.
Monsters & Minions is a great, but not necessary expansion to the excellent base game. While I would never play without it on my base copy, I would definitely play the base-game-only version at a convention, or at a friends house (I don't think I'd ever turn down a chance to play this game.)
The components are all excellent with the exception of the Boost dice, and the quality of all the new content is up to par with the original. This is a highly-recommended purchase for fans of the original.
Original Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1152516291/roll-player-monsters-and-minions-expansion-reprint
Backed at: $109 level (Expansion + Base Game + Shipping)
Anticipated Delivery: Feb 2018, received April 6th, 2018.
8 - Very Good - enjoy playing it, and would suggest it.
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