(2014 – Stronghold Games)
Originally released in 2011 and designed by Andrew Parks, Core Worlds soon became one of the top deck-building games in the hobby, merging the deck-building mechanic with elements of engine-building, a unique action/energy allowance system, and optional turn actions. The strong theme and stellar art production only added to an already outstanding design. If you haven’t had a chance to play Core Worlds or its initial expansion, Galactic Orders, I would suggest taking a look at my previous reviews on both of those, then joining me back here. This review will focus specifically on the components and mechanics found in the 2nd released expansion, Core Worlds: Revolution.
The first expansion, Galactic Orders (released the following year, 2012) introduced Advancement cards in the form of an individual Capital City for each race. A player could attach this Capital City to their planet, thus allowing a player to filter unwanted cards from their deck, underneath the Capital city card as long as certain conditions applied. This mechanic of attaching advancements onto planets has been vastly expanded in the Revolution expansion. Players will also see more focus on Heroes and how they are used in the game. A set of new Hero cards comes included, along with separate, individual sets of tactic cards for each of the Heroes found in the base game and both expansions. While Galactic Orders introduced an entirely new element to the game in the form integrating the various Order special abilities and faction tokens, Revolution sets its sights on simply expanding to some of the minor gameplay mechanics that were already present.
As mentioned above, the major focus found in the new Revolution expansion is placed on Advancements and Heroes. Revolution can be integrated with the Galactic Orders expansion and/or just the base game. I’ll briefly cover how these expanded Advancement/Hero mechanics work and how they can affect the overall gameplay. There are also a few minor additions found in the box as well which I’ll take a look at.
Galactic Orders presented players with a single Advancement card that could be applied to their planet, providing a special bonus. Revolution however, introduces an additional 27 Advancement cards. Whereas previously the Capital City card was given to players at the beginning of the game, these new Advancements are drawn and selected during the Galactic Phase of each turn. Therefore, at the beginning of the game, Advancement cards are shuffled in with their corresponding Sector decks (1 – 5), along with the other World, Unit, Tactic, Prestige, and Event cards of that particular sector.
If the card chosen is at the top of the deck, then it simply cost the amount of energy listed on the card. An additional energy is required for each card that has been placed on top of it. Therefore in the previous example, if Player A wished to purchase an Advancement that was the 3rd card from the top, he would need to pay its base cost in energy, plus an additional 2 energy since he has decided to filter through and pass on the top 2 cards of the deck. When attached to a World, the World will now generate energy at the beginning of each Round equal to the World’s base energy amount, plus the any additional energy provided by the Advancement. Both of these amounts are listed at the top left corner of the World and Advancement cards respectively. The World also gains the special ability provided by the Advancement, as listed in the text box of the Advancement card. Let’s take a look at a couple of these Advancements to get an idea of how they can be used:
Ancient Ruins of Volans
Hero cards have been featured in the game since the very beginning, with each barbarian race deck containing a single unique hero in the base game. Originally, these were the only cards that made player decks asymmetrical from one another at the beginning of the game (if not using the pre-game draft rules). A few more Heroes were introduced with the Galactic Orders expansion, though the base rules for these Hero cards remained the same. Revolution however, expands not only the amount of Heroes found in the game, but updates the way in which these Heroes are used throughout the game.
The back of each Hero Tactic card depicts which Hero the tactic card is associated with. When a player deploys a Hero card from their hand, if the top Hero Tactic card matches the Hero card that was deployed, the player can draw the tactic card into their hand. This heavily affects whether or not a player chooses to add a Hero’s set of tactic cards to their deck when they draft a new Hero. Having multiple sets of Hero tactic cards would ideally make each of these Heroes more powerful when deployed, however, the more varied the Hero tactic cards, the harder it will be to match the top tactic card with the deployed Hero. Players do have the option of discarding any number of cards from their hand during their turn in order to discard any number of cards from the Hero Tactic deck. This may help players filter the deck in order to find a matching Hero tactic card before deploying that particular Hero, however it does lessen the number of remaining cards in a players hand. Let’s take a look at one of the Heroes and how their new tactic deck works.
When the player obtained the Retired Flying Ace hero, he would have had the choice of also taking the hero’s set of tactic cards. If doing so, Retired Flying Ace would have the following tactic cards available to him to use when his hero was in the Warzone:
Pride of the Old Realm
The Core Worlds: Galactic Orders expansion introduced some major additions to the base game’s overall gameplay and strategy. Integrating the use of the Order icons on each of the cards enabled players to unlock diverse, special abilities that incorporated a whole new set of mechanics. Core World’s second expansion, Revolutions, takes a much different route. Instead of compounding even more gameplay elements onto the base ruleset, Revolutions focuses more on smoothing out the edges, further fleshing out and strengthening the minor pieces (heroes and advancements) that were already present, though previously on a much smaller scale.
And it is by taking this route that Revolutions succeeds. Many games with multiple expansions tend to struggle with maintaining their game’s true roots by the time the 2nd, 3rd, or even 4th expansion releases. By dedicating Revolution’s focus on strengthening and improving the use of heroes and advancements, Core Worlds becomes a better product overall, without the need for another large slew of additional mechanics.
Though it will be viewed as a more minor expansion when compared to the additions made in Galactic Orders, it is by no means inferior. The development of Heroes has helped to enrich a game already drenched in theme. The barbarian factions are now given leaders to their armies, commanders and captains of their people’s struggle to advance and overtake the recently abandoned Core Worlds. Each of these Heroes now have their own specialized decks, which further their diversity amongst one another. Advancements on the other hand present an alternate option for gaining possible additional energy and/or special abilities for a faction. Player’s can now focus on creating advancements on their own Worlds as opposed to overtaking additional Worlds. Since both routes may improve a faction’s energy production and may also include special abilities to boot, it helps to strengthens the strategy of how a player will choose to gain energy for his faction.
It’s nice to see when designers release a functional and worthy expansion because it deepens the strategy and improves the gameplay overall, not simply for the sake of releasing another expansion to a popular game. Core Worlds: Revolution makes sense, and the additions within could have easily been included with the original base game, if chosen. As wonderful as Core Worlds was when it originally released, I can’t see myself playing a session without either of its first two expansions. Revolution is a welcomed release and hopefully just the beginning of what we will see from the overall Core World experience.