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Uprising: Titans of the First Age Expansion review

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Quick Look:Uprising: Titans of the First Age Expansion


Designers: Cornelius Cremin, Pawel Mazur, Dirk Sommer
Artists: Igor Desic, Bartek Fedyczak, Dirk Sommer
Publisher: Nemesis.Games
Year Published: 2023

No. of Players: 1-4
Ages: 14+
Playing Time: 120-240 minutes.
 
Find more info HERE.
 
From the Publisher:

The Titans of the First Age expansion opens up tons of new options for your armies, as well as bringing in new factions, rerolls, more baddies, and of course, more dice:

– 13 Mercenary Units
– 26 Nemesis Banes
– 2 New Factions
– 3 New Dice Types
– 1 New Mechanic

And more…

Contains all Unlocks from our Gamefound campaign.

Disclaimer: The publisher provided the copy of Titans of the First Age. The opinions expressed in the review are completely my own.

Review:

It has been quite a while now that Uprising: Curse of the Last Emperor & Expansion has sat at the top of my favorite games to play. My gaming group has been so enamored with the original base game and its first expansion, The Arch-Nemsis, that we even sought out the makers of the game to do an interview to get some special insight into the game’s history : See the link below.

 

Since I was an early supporter and reviewer of the original Kickstarter a few years ago, the team at Nemesis Games was kind enough to send me a copy of their new Titans of the First age expansion, as well as some of their “premium” add-ons to evaluate, and the bulk of today’s review will deal with my impressions of these new products.

First of all, let us talk about the add-ons I received.

Deluxe Components : wooden , heat-transferred resource tokens for salt, plunder and food, and a golden first player token)

Faction Trays : For easy in-game storage of skill cards and resources acquired.

Allies mini card expansion : 1 new card for each faction hero in the game.

Dice Tray

Painted Curse minis

 

 

Now I know that having “deluxe” components can potentially be a divisive issue. Some say these should be totally unnecessary, others welcome the option. Normally, I am with the crowd that suggests that manufacturers should just make things as good as possible right-off-the-bat. And, truthfully, Nemesis Games did just that in their original campaign — there was literally nothing to complain about , quality wise, as all of the card stock used was clearly beyond average, and the use of acrylic minis already put the game in a category beyond that of most first-time developers.

It would take a mighty special game to merit the use of more extravagant and decadent features.

And I am happy to say that Uprising is one of such games that rises to the occasion and can revel in its use of overly-excessive indulgences.

Usually, component upgrades are something that I do not consider. And yes, I may be biased given that the copies I received were “free”, for the purposes of this review. But having been a fan of Uprising for some time now, I do not see how I lived without these fanciful products.

Because, despite my usual opposition to superficiality, these unique products all collectively manage to elevate the Uprising experience — some of them even manage to make the game better through the enhancement they add to the game. Most notably, the Faction trays allow you to store all of your skill cards vertically instead of on the table, clearing much-needed spacing real estate for a game that already consumes the majority of our 4×6 table.

The tactile nature of the wooden resource tokens means less fumbling when trying to pick up tokens.

The curse minis? Commanding in their table presence. Necessary? No. But somehow makes the game feel better, more immersive.

 

And the Allies mini-card expansion , despite being a meager 20 cards or so, ends up bringing the possibilities of significantly more player interaction during (and between) player turns as opposed to the original base game and first expansion, where you could sometimes feel a bit isolated in your particular area of the board.

So in dealing with these side-products, I will make this short and simple and say they do make a better-than-expected addition to any Uprising collection. Especially with the Allies pack and Faction trays, these are more than just simple aesthetic upgrades, they serve great functional purpose.

Now for the Titans expansion.

You know, for a while there I was worried about this expansion. As is the case with many games these days, developers can sometimes get stuck in a cash-grab mentality, constantly cranking out expansions that serve little (if any) meaningful changes to a game. Bloat is one word I have heard to describe this phenomenon , and there is plenty of it in the gaming world.  Worse, sometimes in an effort to bring “more” to the table, sometimes expansions end up making the original game we loved worse…

 

Point in kind. Let us examine just one change that the Titans expansion wrought on its game world : Druid cards are now all revealed at the start of the game, instead of 1 per each round.

Initially, I felt this would be one aspect that ruined the game. I was overall quite satisfied with the excessive difficulty offered by Uprising in its initial incarnation and felt that revealing all these cards at once would somehow ruin the difficulty. Moreover, now there is a new “Aether” mechanic that allows for you to essentially accrue free dice re-rolls or activate these Druidic powers more liberally than before , if you manage to meet some conditions at the start of each round (such as having less Victory Points than Chaos or the Empire).

What I ended up discovering is that these new features are not at all the game-breakers I thought they would be. Because the game is still just as difficult! Even more so, in some ways, because let us talk about Banes!

Banes are a new set of high-quality chips (similar to those in Too Many Bones) that are drawn every time a new Legion or Horde are placed on the board. Each token provides a random buff to the Legion or Horde, making an already formidable foes even more so—perhaps even unstoppable under the right circumstances. Sound crazy? It is! But thankfully, these Bane tokens are also optional. I do highly recommend the use of these for experienced players only, though!

 

Another big concern of mine with the Titans expansion was the addition of two new player factions. I honestly felt that after having a total of 8 factions (4 from the base game, 4 from the Arch-Nemesis expansion) that all felt pretty unique, having any more might be akin to Nemesis Games shooting themselves in the foot. I found it particularly hard to believe that they would be able to make these new factions, the Titans and the Nethersea Pirates, feel much different than any of the other player races that were available, because in all due transparency, I felt that the folks behind Uprising had already reached the bottom of the barrel, and could not possibly offer up anything new, given how much of a line they seemed to be pushing with the first 4 expansion Factions, which already made themselves stand out quite dramatically by managing to creatively “break” the base game rules with their own new mechanics.

I am happy to report that the new Titans and Pirates factions proved me wrong. They were both fun and engaging to play, felt balanced , and still maintained their very own spiritual essence that made them stand out from all of the other factions that are available.

Most notably, the Titans essentially allows you to play as a “boss” of the Uprising world. This Faction functions very similarly to the Chaos Hordes, able to move about the land and consuming terrain tiles to absorb their power. This allows for them to grow more powerful, thru the use of a Threat tracker (again, similar to how Legions and Hordes use them in the base game), but carries a potentially detrimental side effect — each piece of terrain you consume means there are less resources and spaces available for other players to build havens on! So there are strengths to be had, but also strategic considerations that need to be made…

The Nethersea pirates essentially have a series of 5 “Bladeships” that function as mobile havens. You can of course build units on them, but the ships are restricted to only moving in glacial wasteland tiles, and can only attack adjacent tiles, never on their own. The fact that these “havens” are mobile allow for some really great flanking options, but the pirates do sport their own weakness—if their home tile is ever destroyed, it is out of the game permanently , meaning that it will be much harder to acquire valuable resources throughout the course of the game. The pirates do have access to some other nifty features such as a sort of “hideaway” tile that can exist outside of the regular playing space, and the ability to more easily hire and acquire mercenary forces, which are also a new addition to the game.

Mercenaries are able to be acquired on any Sea Tower, and these add some resourcefulness that may have been lacking in the base game, as you are normally not allowed to “construct” units when you are taking actions. Now, even though you may have your forces wiped out in a big fight, you can still manage to salvage something if you elect to hire a mercenary, which can be done at any time as long as your Hero is on a Sea Tower. Best of all, you can immediately  send this mercenary wherever needed, either fight for your faction or another player’s, who is in dire need of support.

 

The players aren’t the only ones to get some new abilities, however. In addition to the previously discussed banes, there are now two new Horde and two new Legion cards. Again, I initially didn’t anticipate that Nemesis Games could make these feel any different than the ones that came before, trust me, these ones do, and they come out swinging! I won’t spoil the fun, but I am most decidedly looking at you, Imperial Juggernaut, when I say “ouch!”. But still bucket loads of fun to work out strategies to defeat…

Any negatives? Just one. I do find that the Nethersea Bladeships can get a bit too bulky for the board, and perhaps they should have used something smaller and stackable for use for them, as there are times when hexes can already get quite cramped. Having multiple player and enemy units, heroes, skeletons, etc all occupying the same space can be a mess that normally resolves fast, but adding Bladeships into the fray can make for a bit of a jumble that spills over into other areas quite needlessly. Hopefully, another idea that takes up a little less space for these acrylic standees can be implemented at some point in time.

 

Conclusions :

Reviewing games is tiring. I know that there are lots of good things out there, but if my group has any gripes about playing so many games for us to consider and review, it is that we eventually find ourselves feeling fatigued after learning so many rule sets. Uprising has turned into the game we use to reset ourselves when we need a break, and for good reason. It has fantastic visuals and table presence, engaging strategy, and keeps us from having to find ways to punish each other as we often do in the more competitive games. When we need a break, we turn to Uprising…

And now more than ever, this is the case.

 

After having spent a lot of time locked into a few epic campaign games, the new Titans expansion for Uprising came at the perfect time for us. It is always a breath of fresh air bringing the old base game to the table, but the Titans expansion and Deluxe components really drove it home for us — this is no longer a 9.5 out of 10 for us. This has achieved what no other “grown up” game has done and managed to secure a full 10 out of 10 for my gaming group, adding a final coat of polish that wasn’t technically “needed”, but it really does add those final, finishing touches to the game experience, making the game more “balanced” than ever, while still retaining its hallmark tough-as-nails difficulty rating.

It is the ultimate cooperative test of endurance, and aside from the one noted Bladeship issue and overcoming some initial ambiguity of exactly how the timing of some “Immediate” game effects work (from the base game), Uprising and its expansions are as perfect as it gets for us. We especially appreciate not having to exhaust so much time looking for new ways to throttle each other, and instead focusing on not just one but TWO common foes to eliminate.

I highly encourage you to check out this game and expansion if you are a big fan of cooperative games or 4x’s. This is one marvel that is never going to leave our collection. And if this sounds at all interesting , again check out my interview with the minds behind this great game!

 

Final Verdict :

10 /10

 

After reading Jazz’s review, if this sounds like a game for you at the time of this posting Uprising: Titans of the First Age Expansion’s pledge manager has closed butt you can find out more HERE.

 

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Jazz Paladin- Reviewer

 

Jazz Paladin is an eccentric at heart — When he is not learning to make exotic new foods at home, such as Queso Fresco cheese and Oaxacan molé, he is busy collecting vintage saxophones, harps, and other music-related paraphernalia. An avid music enthusiast, when he is not pining over the latest board games that are yet-to-be-released, his is probably hard at work making jazzy renditions of classic/retro video game music tunes as Jazz Paladin on Spotify and other digital music services.

CD’s are also available here!
See Jazz Paladin’s reviews HERE.

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