August 31, 2011 by brennon
Not long ago I took a look at the amazing board game from Fantasy Flight Games, Chaos in the Old World. The game places you in the thrones of the mighty Gods of Chaos as you run amok in the Old world sowing death and destruction wherever you tread.
Well Fantasy Flight didn’t stop with just the Chaos Gods, they also bought out an expansion which delves into the underground power that is the Skaven. This insidious race of schemers and plotters surely fit right into this game of domination and power play? Oh yes.
The Horned Rat Expansion from Fantasy Flight doesn’t just give you a new race and a new God to play with. It also has a set of new power, upgrade, and Old World cards for the other players. Let’s delve into the components of this expansion and just whats on offer…
The first and greatest addition in this expansion is the set of awesome Skaven miniatures that come in the pack. In a similar vein to the other powers you get cultists in the shape of a mass of Clanrats (11 to be exact!) warriors taking the form of Rat Ogres and the greater demon being an almighty Vermin Lord. Each of the lavish models are incredibly detailed and despite a little bit of bending here and there look mighty fine on the board.
Next up are the cards and tokens provided. Again the small counters for victory points, power points and dial advancements are nice and hard wearing, stocky bits of cardboard with a good design on the front to make them distinct on the cluttered boards. They even went as far as to include extra power point markers since those darn tiny things sometimes have a habit of going missing!
The dial itself is also included. With the same clip together wheel as on the main boards its a little marvel of board gaming engineering. It also sits very nicely between the Slannesh and Khorne dials in the top right corner, snugly placed between the two without looking out of place.
The expansion obviously takes the game into the realm of 5 player madness, but does this effect the overall feel of the game? I have played through with 5 players a couple of times now and if anything it has felt more chaotic and fun that it did before. The Skaven add another dimension to the game and also take up some of the slack for Khorne with their Rat Ogres able to deal out a fair bit of punishment when they get going.
In terms of victory conditions the Skaven, mirroring their scheming ways are pretty much aiming for a victory points win condition, but the dial turn win is not out of their hands. Gaining a token every time they dominate a region with a Skaven token, and being able to capitalise on the areas of the board about to fall to corruption they can rack up a lot of points – not a threat to take lightly.
The other Gods also have a whole new way of winning the game. The emphasis in this expansion has really been to turn people away from the dial victory and onto the victory point track, making things a lot closer in the process. Khorne now really can focus on the victory points where he couldn’t before, one of his Bloodletter powers allowing him to get 2 every time he kills a figure! Nurgle is one of the Gods who has actually been changed in favour of the dial advancements, with his cards and upgrades allowing him to conquer more populace regions and therefore fulfill his dial requirements. It can be a bit of a massive thing, and really you have to un-learn the game you had played before so you can get used to this new system.
Adding to the new cards there is also the new ‘hardcore’ Old World deck. These cards usually will be shuffled into your current deck, adding a one off difficult event. However, you can also play a variant of the game where you play with cards ALL from the hardcore pack, making the game a semi co-operative experience as you fight to retain dominance of the Old World, while trying to stop the game itself from winning in the process. It truly tests the limits of alliances and makes the game seriously not for the faint of heart. You will be back stabbing your friends as you aim for the opportune moment to strike.
There is no reason why you can’t play with the power and upgrade cards that originally came with the game but you must decide before the game begins by majority rule. This isn’t usually a problem however, and its interesting to play one game with the old deck, and one with the new just to see a bit of a change in tactics and spice up your gaming evening.
The Bad Stuff?
The bad stuff for this expansion is the same as with the original game. The board, now with 5 players will become even more cluttered and while it won’t be a problem for the majority of gamer’s with their own house rules on things, if your getting into it for the first time it can be pretty daunting. On top of this there is also the problem of scaling in that with the more players you get into this game the less exciting lower player games become. It’s not actually the games fault, but it truly shines with 4 to 5 players and of course that means you have to get all your gaming groups attention focused on the game, which is sometimes a pretty epic feat.
Overall the expansion is a worth while add on to an already great game. If you love the idea of a more hectic and chaotic board game then this really will be for you. The Skaven add a whole new tactic to the games flow and with the new cards for the other Gods it truly is a new game for a snip of the main games price.
5 Players (2 hours)
Have any of you folks indulged in the wyrdstone ways of the Skaven?
What do you think about this expansion?