Radio Review #66b – Among the Stars: Expanding the Alliance

 

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(2014 – Stronghold Games, Artipa Games)

 

“Moon changing shape and shade….as we all do under its gaze….”

 

In 2012, designer Vangelis Bagiartakis released his space station building strategy game, Among the Stars, to high acclaim. Combining building management, with a card drafting element and science fiction theme, many declared it, 7 Wonders in Space (though I view Among the Stars the superior game). Since its release, Among the Stars has seen its 1st expansion (The Ambassadors) along with various promotional expansion materials that could only be obtained at events such as Essen, Spiel or through numerous crowd-funding efforts.

Originally packaged as Among the Stars: The Promos during one of Artipa Games’ Kickstarter campaigns, Stronghold Games (who previously handled the English distribution of the base game and The Ambassadors expansion), has re-released this collection as Among the Stars’ 2nd expansion. Renamed Among the Stars: Expanding the Alliance, it includes a majority of these promotional materials. Since I’ve previously compiled a review for the base game and covered the rules of play there, I’ll strictly be taking a look at the components and additions found in the Expanding the Alliance expansion.

 

 

 

Components:

– Special Location cards

 

– Alliance Inspection cards

 

– Race tiles and tokens (the Debos, the Ludons, and the Nyxtos)

 

– Ambassadors cards (the Debos, the Ludons, and the Nyxtos)

 

– Objective cards

 

– Conflict cards (Infestation and Relocation)

 

– Components needed for 5-6 players

 

 

 

 

 

Special Locations:

The Expanding the Alliance expansion comes with a new set of Special Location cards to add to those found in the base set and Ambassadors expansion. What’s unique about some of these location cards is that they merge two different location types onto one card. Therefore, this location will essentially represent both location types when constructed. For instance, taking a look at the location above, we can see that the Mess Hall location features both an Administrative (blue) location and a Recreational (purple) location. Even though it is a single location on its own, it is considered Administrative and Recreational, when relevant.

Let’s take a look at a few other Special Locations that come in this expansion:

 

 

Galactic Trade Centre

– Although the Galactic Trade Centre is worth no immediate Victory Points when built, it will be worth an amount of Victory Points at the end of the game equal to either the number of Diplomatic (green) or Business (yellow) locations in their space stations, whichever they have fewer of.

 

 

 

Hotel

– A Hotel is worth 3 Victory Points when built, but is also worth an additional Victory Point for every Business (yellow) or Recreational (purple) location adjacent to it.

 

 

 

Ambassadorial Shuttle

– When built, this location is worth 2 Victory points and is placed into an opponent’s space station. No other locations can be built next to an Ambassadorial Shuttle.

 

 

 

 

New Races:

Three new races are introduced with this expansion, including the Debos, the Ludons, and the Nyxtos. Let’s take a look at how each functions and the special rules surrounding each, including the included Ambassadors for the Ludons race:

 

 

The Debos

– You can think of the Debos as a race that enjoys renovations. At the beginning of each year (or Round), the player controlling the Debos can take one of their constructed locations and place it somewhere else in their station.

 

 

 

The Nyxtos

– Every party has that one guy who ends up just ruining it for the rest of us. Such is the case with the Nyxtos. At the beginning of the game, the Nyxtos player gets a Nyxtos token for every other player in the game. Once per game for a particular player, the Nyxtos player can force the player to discard the location he chose to build by handing him one of his Nyxtos tokens. That card is then discarded instead of constructed. Apparently, it didn’t meet the regulation codes.

 

 

 

The Ludons

– Ludons are specialists whose expertise is mastering the efficiency of constructing particular types of locations. At the beginning of each year, the Ludons player will randomly select two of the included Ludon tokens. The back of each token represents one of the five location types. He will choose to keep one of these tokens and that token will be active for the current Round. Every time the Ludons player constructs a location that matches his chosen token, it will cost 1 less to construct. At the end of the year, the token is discarded and the player will randomly choose two more, again keeping one for the following Round.

 

The expansion comes with a set of Ambassador cards for the Ludons that can be used along with those found in the Ambassadors expansion. In addition, the Revuarz (reviewers) promo Ambassador cards are also included. Tom Vasel, being the swell Ambassador he is, will award a player a Victory Point for every 50 board games in their collection.

 

 

 

 

Alliance Inspections:

While many of the components found here are additions to elements found in the base game and previous expansion, Alliance Inspections provide a whole new mechanic to gameplay. During the game, inspectors are sent to each space station to check in on the status of its construction. An Alliance Inspection card is secretly dealt to each player at the beginning of the Round. There are six different inspectors. Five of the inspectors will review the status of a certain location type in a station, while the final inspector will review the amount of “delayed” locations present (those locations that provide end-game Victory Points and contain a gold background).

Player A currently has the following Alliance Inspection card shown here. At the end of the present year (or round) this inspector will review the amount of administration (blue) locations in his station, compared to those in his opponent’s stations. He will gain 3 Victory Points if he has the most administration locations at the end of the year, and will lose 2 Victory Points if he has the least.

 

 

 

 

New Objectives:

Expanding the Alliance contains six new Objectives that can be added to those found in both the base game and the Ambassadors expansion. Let’s take a look at a few of these Objectives and how they work:

 

 

Energy Efficient

– The player who has built the fewest amount of power reactors by the end of the game will complete the Energy Efficient objective, and collects 4 Victory Points.

 

 

 

Fully Operational

– This objective can be completed by more than one player and rewards 7 Victory Points to the players who have built at least 12 basic locations in their space station.

 

 

 

Multi-Purpose

– The first player to build two locations of each type will complete the Multi-Purpose objective and collects 4 Victory Points.

 

 

 

 

New Conflicts:

The base game for Among the Stars included a set of Conflict cards entitled Dispute, while the Ambassadors expansion did not include any new conflict types. Expanding the Alliance however, includes two new Conflict card types that can be used instead of the “Dispute” set.

 

 

Infestation

– At the beginning of the 2nd Round, each player must place an Infestation token on his main reactor card. The conflict cards from this set can be played in order to take one of the Infestation tokens from a location in their station and place it on a location in an opponent’s station. Once an Infestation token is present at a location, no other locations can be constructed beside it. At the end of the game, each Infestation token in a player’s station is worth negative 3 Victory Points.

 

 

 

Relocation

– By playing a Relocation card, the player can remove a location from an opponent’s station and place it in their station, unless the opposing player pays 2 credits to prevent this.

 

 

 

 

5-6 Player Components:

With this new expansion, Among the Stars can now be played with 5-6 players. To accommodate these extra players, the box includes additional Power Reactor cards, Energy tokens, a set of Bureau cards, a starting Main Reactor card (orange & purple), player markers (orange & purple), and extra credit tokens.

 

 

 

 

Thoughts:

Other than the Alliance Inspection cards, a majority of what can be found in the Expanding the Alliance expansion involves supplementary material to the components and mechanics previously found in the base game and the Ambassadors expansion. The title essentially says it itself. It expands the previously released material with almost all of the additional promo items that were previously unreleased in retail form. Three new races, over 20 new special locations (including the introduction of the dual-type locations), our first new set of Conflict cards outside of the base game, along with additional Objectives cards, the Alliance Inspection mechanic, and inclusion of components and rules for 5-6 players.

While individually these items seem minor, the inclusion of all of them under one roof is quite a bargain. If you were one that participated in the crowd-funding campaigns and received the stretch goals and promos, chances are you have most of what can be found here. But for those that did not, it’s a nice package of all promo items (except for the couple BGG-store items) that were previously unreleased.

 

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