You reach out and run your gloved hand across the sculpted scales, feeling their ornate details beneath your fingertips, and smile. If this discovery doesn’t put your name in the museum, you don’t know what will.
Jeremiah & Kara
Publisher: Rio Grande Games
Publisher: Delicious Games
Designer: Vladimir Suchy
Artist: Milan Vavron
Game Type: Resource Management
Game Type: City Building
Game Type: Action Selection
Initial Year of Release: 2019
Expected Playtime: 40 min
Age Range: 14=
Number of Players: 1-4
Theme and What is it?
You swim through the dark, chilly water, flippers undulating silently, oxygen being fed to your body through a tube on your face. You hold an enormous, underwater exploration flashlight in front of you – it’s so large, it takes both hands to keep it stabilized. The flashlight’s powerful beam cuts through the blackness, illuminating everything for several feet ahead. You sweep the beam back and forth, throwing light on as much as you can while your fellow divers search for anything noteworthy.
Suddenly, the light settles on a massive stone slab that seems painfully out of place with its surroundings. It’s easily taller than two men, and the smooth, round edges are covered in soft green algae. As you draw nearer, you realize that the center of the stone has been carved and painted by an unknown hand, to depict some form of fish-like beast. You reach out and run your gloved hand across the sculpted scales, feeling their ornate details beneath your fingertips, and smile. If this discovery doesn’t put your name in the museum, you don’t know what will.
Underwater Cities: New Discoveries is the first expansion for Underwater Cities. It adds some new content, new modules, and some great component upgrades.
What does it add?
Underwater Cities: New Discoveries adds a handful of modules that can be incorporated into the standard game to add more diversity, as well as some much needed upgrades to the player boards.
One of the most major modules is called “quick start”, and it’s similar to the Terraforming Mars Prelude expansion. Instead of players all starting with the same resources, they draft quick start tiles which tell players which bonuses, upgrades, and/or resources they start the game with. The quick start module can be added to a standard game and mixed with any of the new modules.
The second major module in the expansion is the Museum. This module adds a museum board that has little bonus-granting spaces all around the edges. During setup players place 5 discovery tokens on specific areas of their player boards. When they build on those areas, they get to take their discovery tile and place it on one of the bonus spaces on the museum board. Once a bonus has been claimed, no one else can claim it – and some of the bonuses are definitely better than others! It’s a fun little module that adds a little bit of a racing element, more incentives for building in specific areas, and a little more variety.
The other two variants introduce minor changes to the standard game, both dealing with metropolis tiles. The game comes with new green metropolis tiles, and one variant allows players to choose their starting tiles, instead of having them be dealt randomly. In the other variant, players don’t start with any metropolis tiles at all – instead, all the tiles are put into a general supply. When a player reaches a metropolis space on their board, they get to choose one of the tiles from the supply and add it to their board.
The expansion also comes with 8 new, dual-layer, double sided player boards. 4 of the boards are the same ones that come in the base game, just higher quality. The next 4 are totally new – some are used for specific variants, and others can be used with any module. The dual-layering is so nice! The buildings, cities, tunnels, and metropolis tiles fit into the depressions perfectly and stay in place for the entire game.
The expansion also comes with a ton of new cards, and new personal starting assistants that have ongoing abilities and effects.
*Note: The containers pictured in some of these photos were our own additions, and are not included in the expansion.
What does it fix/ break?
As far as I can tell, the expansion doesn’t break anything, it just adds more options and more variety. I feel like it does fix a few things though – the quick start module jump starts the game so players can really focus on expanding their underwater domain from the get go.
Most of the new assistants give players ongoing abilities, which makes the game slightly asymmetrical and opens up avenues for even more strategies.
Everything in the expansion adds variety and replayability to the base game
Do I want this?
I think yes. The Quick Start module alone adds so much to the game by getting players on the fast track to underwater development, and I think that would appeal to a lot of players. You’re not building your corporation from the ground up – You’re stepping in and taking over a fully-fledged factory that’s already churning out kelp, biomatter, and everything else you need to build a thriving sub-oceanic cosmopolis.
The extra modules add lots of diversity and new strategic possibilities, without drowning out the original flavor of the base game, and the dual-layer player boards (plus the 4 brand new ones) are a really nice upgrade from the ones included in the base game.
Do I need this?
If you really love Underwater Cities, you play it often, and you need a way to breathe some fresh life into its cardboard body, I’d say yes – you need this expansion. The new modules will help the game feel fresh and exciting again.
If you like the Underwater Cities base game as it is, you play it occasionally, and you don’t feel drawn to the expansion at all, I’d say no – you don’t need the expansion. The base game is great as it is, and you could totally keep playing it alone forever if that floats your boat. You definitely don’t need the expansion, but I don’t think you would regret getting it either.
Underwater Cities: New Discoveries is a great expansion that adds variety and replayability to the already awesome base game. The new modules are easy to incorporate, and bring fresh new life to the bottom of the base game’s delightful depths without transforming it into something completely new. If you love Underwater Cities, and you want more, definitely give New Discoveries a look!
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