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Expedition: The Roleplaying Card Game Review

Quick Look:

DISCLAIMER: This is a review of Expedition: The Roleplaying Card Game. I was sent a copy of the game for my review.

Designers: Scott Martin, Todd Medema
Artist: Scott Martin
Publisher: Fabricate.IO
Year Published: 2016
No. of Players: 1-6
Ages: 10+
Playing Time: 20+ minutes

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com

You've waited all week for game night. Last week's dungeon delve ended on a cliffhanger, and you're itching to roll some dice and get some epic loot. The snacks are bought, the other players just pulled into the driveway... and the Dungeon Master cancels last minute. But fear not!

Expedition: The Roleplaying Card Game is a combination card game and app. Doing away with the traditional Dungeon Master, the app guides players through a scenario, allowing players to make their own choices on how to approach the situation. Players select a unique character, gain abilities and loot, and fight monsters in order to complete their quest and get out alive!

How'd they get a tabletop RPG into such a small box?


Rules and Setup:
The rules of the game are simple: follow the directions of the app. After loading the app up, each player touches the screen so that the app knows how many players are present. Then, it's a simple matter of deciding which quest to play through. Throughout the quest, the app provides reminders to the rules, but the majority of actual gameplay consists of combat. During the combat round, each player only has a short amount of time to decide which of their abilities they wish to use (the default timer is ten seconds, but the timer can be modified or removed completely). Then, everyone rolls the 20-sided die included with the game to determine if, and how, successful their ability is. After the players' combat round, the enemies deal damage, and combat continues until one side is defeated and the quest continues. Eventually, the quest will come to an end, either by the defeat of the players or of their foes.

Eleven types of cards means an immense amount of variety between games.

Like many card-based games, the setup of Expedition mostly involves separating out the different types of cards. There are a staggering amount of card types: four ability types (Melee, Ranged, Magic, and Music), four enemy types (Bandit, Beast, Fae, and Undead), three different tiers of Loot cards, ten unique Adventurer cards, and a Helper card for each player. The ability cards are shuffled into their respective decks, and the Loot cards are separated by tier and shuffled, as well. The enemy cards are placed within reach without shuffling them (quests call for specific monsters).

Players look freely at the Adventurer cards to select which character they wish to play as, and they place one of the plastic clips on their card to mark their current health. Then, each player draws a number of ability cards depending on their character of choice, looking them over to make sure they have an idea as to how each ability works, and finishes by shuffling them and placing them face down next to their Adventurer card. Each player also receives a Helper card to remind them of the meanings of certain symbols seen throughout the game. Once everyone is ready, a quest is selected and the game begins!

Our hearty adventures begin their journey and soon must face a giant rat - what's the worst that could happen?
(Spoiler: it wrecked us.)

Theme and Mechanics:
As you likely expect, Expedition is largely themed around tabletop roleplaying games. Everything from the monsters you fight to the character roles hearkens back to the days of pen and paper games, where the roll of the 20-sided die would decide your very fate. In doing this, the game does well to serve both as a loving tribute to such games while simultaneously poking fun at their silliness, especially with the different Adventurer cards. The combat within the game also does a decent job at recreating the grind to lower an enemy's health to zero, all with just cards and trackers.

And before you ask, yes, there is a "Chef" class in Dungeons & Dragons. In two versions of it.

The good guys have a tough fight on their hands...

For such a streamlined set of rules, Expedition does surprisingly well to reinforce many of the mechanics of popular tabletop RPGs. The most obvious is the 20-sided die, where every ability requires a certain number to be rolled for its success, but rolling the highest or lowest number on the die can yield great success or certain doom. The grind to kill an enemy (as mentioned previously), the collection of loot, and the leveling mechanics after successful battles are all pulled straight from games like Dungeons & Dragons. However, veterans of such games may find this to be a bit lackluster; outside of collecting loot and getting new abilities over time, there's not much in the way of actual leveling up, meaning that lower-level enemies can still take you down if the dice don't go your way.

Being a combination card game and app also brings interesting new mechanics to the game. Having the app act as the Dungeon Master, guiding you through a story and outlining your progression, means that those new to these sorts of games can join in without concern of being completely lost. Perhaps my favorite mechanic is the timer; on each combat round, players only have ten seconds (again, this can be modified to fit your group's play style) to look at their hand and choose an ability. This adds an increased sense of urgency that makes combat intense and every card meaningful. Think the opening scene to Stranger Things, where the kids face off against the Demogorgon, and you'll have an idea as to what I'm talking about.

Dice can be fickle things - pray that they fall in your favor.

Artwork and Components:
While each type of card has its own design, unique enough to set it apart but similar enough to prevent confusion as to what cards go together, there's not much artwork to speak of outside of minor design elements. As anyone familiar with tabletop RPGs will attest, the storytelling and descriptions are what bring a game to life, not fancy artwork or components; that being said, some cool character artwork on the Adventurer cards or on the enemy cards would put this game over the top.

Each card is a unique enemy. Want to have multiple thieves? Use the back of another Bandit card!

The cards are all good quality, as to be expected, and the box has room for them all and for future expansions to fit alongside them. The plastic trackers are also sturdy, but they may be a turn-off for some, as prolonged use by careless players will cause wear and tear on the cards.

As the app is certainly a component to the game, I feel it necessary to speak on it, and this is perhaps the true selling point of the game. Expedition is fully open source, meaning that anyone can add to the game and make it their own. Have an awesome quest idea? You can write it up here and play it in the app, and you can share it with the world if you're so inclined. Or perhaps you want to make a monster to pit your group against? Go here, and you can make a custom card of your design. You can event get a print-and-play version of the game for free, to see if it's something up your alley! Outside of this, the app has several different options for you to tailor the game to your group. You can change the difficulty of the game, add an auto-roll mechanic if you're not able to roll the die, or enable GM mode and tell your own story, letting the app focus on running combat. The app can be found here.

Items can turn the tide of battle, if used wisely.

The Good:
Easy to learn, quick to play, and a lot of fun. It's a great introduction into tabletop RPGs. There's a good variety of enemies to fight, and there's already hundreds of player-made quests to try out. The components are good quality, and the app is a thing of beauty.

The Bad:
The plastic trackers can damage cards if not used carefully, and there's little in terms of artwork. For rabid fans of tabletop RPGs, this game may feel a little lackluster due to its streamlined gameplay.

Final Thoughts:
If you'll excuse me, I have some cards to design!

Pack it in, boys - we're headed home.

Players Who Like:
If you enjoy tabletop roleplaying games - or you've ever wanted to get into the hobby - Expedition will prove to be a fun and fast addition to your collection.

Also, stay tuned for my review of the expansion, Expedition: The Horror!

I am giving Expedition: The Roleplaying Card Game 8 out of 10 super meeples.

Check out Expedition: The Roleplaying Card Game on:

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/194298/expedition-roleplaying-card-game   https://expeditiongame.com/   https://www.facebook.com/expeditionrpg   https://twitter.com/Expeditionrpg   https://www.instagram.com/expeditionrpg/   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJZ5Sravkx4   https://www.amazon.com/Expedition-The-Roleplaying-Card-Game/dp/B01MSPKLVR

About the Author:
David Jensen has tried his hand at everything from warehouse work and washing dishes to delivering pizza. Now, he writes reviews and works as an editor for a literary magazine. When not busy procrastinating, he's playing tabletop games with friends and writing fiction.
Expedition: The Roleplaying Card Game Review Expedition: The Roleplaying Card Game Review Reviewed by David J. on November 22, 2017 Rating: 5

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