Theme and What is it?
An expansion of the popular 4x Heroes of Land, Air & Sea, Chaos and Order expands the possibilities not only of the characters you play, but of the play-count, and space requirements on the table. HLASOC is huge. I have a folding 8 foot table, and it took every inch.
The new factions, Lizardfolk, Undead, Goblins, and Lionkin add a few new tricks, and ups the player-count to 6. This will also briefly discuss the mini-expansions.
The game plays exactly the same as the original HLAS. Follow the previous link to read about it here at MeepleGamers.
The new tricks are in the new races. Each add and subtract something from the previous races. The undead have a nasty trick that allows them to easily bring back killed off combatants. The Lionkin have particularly strong battle abilities, and gain resources in the desert. The new mechanics allow for differing game play choices, if you play as one of the new races.
I didn’t see anything that changed the game for all players, and also didn’t think any of the new races were over or under-powered.
I like the genre of 4x generally speaking. When balanced, it allows for diverse options, and also generally prevents someone from using the same “formula” for winning every game.
You know you have one friend, that loves one game in particular, and always uses the same method to beat everyone by 4 orders of magnitude? I think 4x largely alleviates that issue when done correctly. HLASOC has done that quite well from my perspective. You never know what race will win, prior to opening box.
Game Build Quality
The minis in this game are done quite well, the sculptor has designed minis that evoke feeling. Each race just feels correct. The quality of the minis is second to none.
After a lot of gameplay, I have become less enamored with the cardboard parts of the game. They are designed to be cool, and look good without the need to be painted like a mini. But, for a high quality game, they just don’t feel as high quality as the minis to me. Maybe Gamelyn is leaving open a space to design an ultra-high quality version of the capitals, towers, and ships.
This has not detracted from the overall quality at all, though the cardboard doesn’t have the same feeling to me as the minis, it still is made with attention to detail, and looks great on the board. Frankly, I am probably just nitpicking.
The art is very similar to the first game, which keeps the theme consistent. The sculpts are all very well made, the board is colorful, and takes great pictures.
I am very enamored with the art, it feels as if it brings me to the world of HLAS, and that has continued in HLASOC.
“More of the same” is one of those phrases that many gamers use to say an expansion is not groundbreaking. Sometimes more of the same, means the universe has expanded and allows for additional players, and a more diverse storyline. To me, that is what has happened in HLASOC.
I like the additions, I think it has given players a means to see more of this universe in a meaningful way.The mini-expansions, of mercenaries and nomads allows for a much different gameplay mechanic.
I would read this book if one were written. The races, all could have a fantastic story. I think I’d want to read the Lionkin or the Mercenaries first. These titles do not exist, but a nerd can dream.
Age Range & Weight
I tend to agree with the publishers age recommendation. 4x takes a lot of planning and thought. Most players under this age would get bored with that level of detail.
I like HLASOC, but then again, I liked HLAS. It has given you new races, and with the mini-expansions adds for new types of gameplay.
My only gripe is how much space the game now takes. it is HUGE. The spacing for this is enormous. This is a game you will have to plan around. Not all tables will fit this game.
That being said, this game has for me, become a top shelf game, and the expansion makes it ever better, especially with the mini-expansions. Now, I am very curious what Pestilence will offer in the second expansion.