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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Top 10 Expansions We Own: #2

It’s the game that I describe as D&D meets Dominion.  Well, now with the Numenera universe combined, there’s more RPG aspects than ever mixed into Thunderstone.  Coming in on our #2 spot is Thunderstone Advance: Numenera.  Anyone who plays Thunderstone knows that even though there are standalone versions, nearly every version released is interwoven in such a way that you can utilize the cards with each release of the game.  Thunderstone Numenera follows this same concept.  It is a standalone game, but it is also an expansion.  As far as the Thunderstone series goes, this is a very different approach in a way that no other Thunderstone game has been implemented.  Like all of it’s predecessors, it still maintains a fantasy theme, but now with the implementation of the Numenera universe, we’re combining a lot more science fiction and technology into Thunderstone.

In a strange, alien world of creatures, powers and relics, Numenera is referred to as the ninth world which is set 8 billion years into the future. You are the heroic adventurer seeking the Thunderstones, and ancient relics of evil power. Your plan is to turn their own power against them, banishing their corruption from the world. You begin by assembling your band of stalwart heroes willing to brave the hazards ahead and equipping them with fearsome weapons and powerful spells. Once prepared, you will lead them into peril, slay vile monsters, and recover the Thunderstones.

In this release of Thunderstone Advance, we have a two-sided board, one providing the classic dungeon hall, and the other being the wilderness dungeon hall. The darkness conditions are different for each hall. Just like the earlier versions, we have the regular dungeon halls which has a rank of 1 to 3 requiring more light penalties the deeper you delve. The other side of the board which provides the wilderness path. This side provides an additional rank, but lower light penalties. Other than the alteration of the dungeon halls, it’s the same on each side of the board. I do like double-sided boards so while it doesn't impact the game too much, I appreciate it none the less.

The Setting Cards have returned, but they've added a new variant to the game in a new format.  These cards are oversized cards with pictures of Numenera locales with text that describes their effects.  These cards add variety with a touch of chance to the game.  Before play begins, all players must agree on which setting card will be used throughout the game.  The chosen card will represent the festering collection of danger that the players will encounter.  Each card has a trigger that when activated during the game, the D20 is rolled to determine an outcome of one of the effects on the cards.  Triggers can activate every time the first player starts his turn, or every time the active player has a Monster in hand.  Other triggers can occur every time a player gains a Level 3 Hero.  Other times there may be no effect for rolls from 2-16.  Effects include gaining diseases, cycling through the Monster deck faster, or saving destroyed cards. 

Since this is a standalone version, we see a lot of the original cards along with a lot of new cards.  Treasures (yellow outlined cards), which were reintroduced after the Thunderstone Advanced base set, appear in Numenera.  When a Treasure is revealed in the Dungeon, it is equipped by the closest Monster.  The Treasure boosts the Monster in some way, and then is “looted” when that Monster is defeated, getting added to the player’s deck along with the Monster.  The artwork on the cards carries great depth as all Thunderstone cards do.  In the Numenera version of Thunderstone Advance, you can really see the futuristic weapons which add new abilities and effects.  

The XP tokens have really altered as well. For the Dragonspire expansion of Thunderstone, the XP tokens were used to keep track of how many experience points you were gaining throughout the game, but the XP tokens are used to track the experience points your heroes gain during your quests. The multi-colored XP tokens are used as cyphers to add different boosts during gameplay.  One Cypher effect may be used per turn, and requires discarding one XP. XP tokens come in six different colors (what color you get when earning XP is random), and the color of the discarded token determines which effect you get – draw a card, destroy a card, gain physical attack, gain magic attack, gain gold, gain light.

The increase of danger always puts players on the edge of their seats, especially if they have to roll for their fate. The role playing aspect with the D20 really increased our appreciation of Thunderstone. I have to say, theme matters a lot to me in board games and I really love the standalone expansion of Dragonspire. That particular incarnation of Thunderstone remained my favorite for a long time. I honestly didn’t even see the need to get many other expansions with that one in our collection. It’s definitely a close second to Numenera for me, but Numenera just adds too many new variants that make the game more interesting and unique. It doesn’t carry the same fantasy theme that Dragonspire does, but it doesn’t have to. It delivers enough new mechanics while still maintaining it’s roots of the base game. Numenera is also a standalone game, so if you want to play it by itself you can, or you can really mix things up and combine it to another standalone version of Thunderstone Advance. For all of the right reasons, Thunderstone Advance: Numenera belongs in our top 10 list.

Thunderstone Advance: Numenera
Overall Meeple Rating: 8.5/10


New additions:
1) Numenera Universe
2) Double-Sided Board with Altered Dungeon Hall
3) Cypher Tokens
4) Altered Setting Cards
5) D20

Have any thoughts or questions?  Leave a comment below.

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