Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Room 25: Season 2

There are (to my mind) three types of expansion for a game.

There are expansions that are designed to correct or rebalance a flaw with the basic game. There are expansions which take the base game and add essentially more of the same. And there are expansions which take the game in a completely different direction.

Room 25: Season 2 is mostly that second type.  It's more of the same.  But it also fixes a few flaws that the base game suffered from.

But before I talk about the expansion, I should probably give an overview of the base game. How have I not brought this up before now?

Room 25 is a futuristic game show that is Cube crossed with ... hmm.  Maybe Twin Tin Bots is a better comparison than Robo Rally.

The game starts with 24 face-down rooms and the players in the center room.  One of the face-down rooms is Room 25, and the goal of the game is to get all of the characters into Room 25 and then move the room out of the complex to escape. Before time runs out.

Each turn, you will program your character(s) with one or two actions, and then those actions are resolved.  There are four actions available in the base game: Peek into an adjacent room, move into an adjacent room, shove someone into an adjacent room, or shift the complex.

Each room does something different, too. There are a few beneficial rooms in play, but most of the rooms are a mixed blessing at best.

There are also several modes of play, ranging from fully cooperative to team-based competitive to a semicooperative game with a traitor mechanism at work.

In the base game, each character is the same, and they are given names of archetypes rather than character names. The minis are decent and are cast in grey plastic.

Almost from the minute the game came out, folks on BoardGameGeek started working up rules for special abilities.

The base game includes 32 rooms, of which 25 are in play at a time.

It is one of those games that I really love to play but which slipped under the radar for many many other people.

So I was really surprised when I received a file of expansion rules to work on.

Remember when I said the expansion fixed a few flaws?  Here's what it brings to the table:

1) Two new characters, bringing the total up to 8 possible players. Be aware: Playing with more than six people ups the difficult considerably, as you'll have fewer total turns in which to beat the game.

2) New sculpts for the base game characters which are cast in colored plastic instead of gray.

3) New player boards for all characters (including the base game characters) that give them names. "The Geek," for example, is now "Kevin."  Or "K," as he prefers to be known.

4) A fifth action for each character that is unique. That's right: Character special abilities. One character can hide from hostile actions. One character can move and take someone with him. One character can hack the complex.

5) A once-per-game ability for each character to take a third action in a round.

6) A batch of new rooms with new hazards and abilities, including tokens, figures, cards, and markers for these new rooms.

7) A box with an insert that will hold both the base game and the expansion. Which is important because there is no way all of this stuff will fit back into the base game's box.

Several of the items on that list are - you will note - strictly upgrades to the base game. Most of them are add-ons.  Some of them straddle that line.

Either way, I had a chance to play Season 2 last week, and I loved it. Even more than I love the base game.

Amazon claims that Season 2 will release in mid-March. I'd check with your local game store, as they may be able to get it before that point.  The base game is available now (and has been for a while).

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