Variant: The Insidious Lure of Expansions
Expansions. In my opinion, expansions are awesome. I’ve written before about buying expansions even when I really don’t play the base game enough to justify the purchase. I was commiserating with a friend who also seems to share the near-OCD level desire to have all the expansions to favorite games. And as we discussed, I think I found the root of my compulsion.
So, ideally, the purpose of an expansion is generally to bring more. If you like Settlers of Catan, Seafarers brings you more. If you like Carcassonne, then Inns and Cathedrals brings you more. In those cases, they bring more tiles to the game and expand the available options for play. Some expansions go further and bring in new mechanics like Cities and Knights or 7 Wonders: Leaders. In any case, the goal of an expansion is to add that holy grail in gaming – replayability.
One of the great things that boardgaming has over most other entertainment is that it is very replayable. How many times can you really watch the same movie? I’ve seen the best movies, my absolute favorites, probably a half dozen times or so. My wife has seen her favorites a few dozen. But that’s over several years. I’ve owned The Resistance for only a year and I’ve already racked up three dozen plays. So expansions add additional replayability to give your games continued longevity.
But, for me, that’s not really why I buy it most of the time. With a few exceptions (exceptions are usually when I’m completely played out of a game and don’t want any more plays), I always want an expansion. I don’t always buy them right away, and I don’t always end up getting them. But for the most part, I put it in the back of my mind and start looking to get it at the earliest opportunity. This is even true for mini-expansions sold through the Geek Store like the Troyes Bonus Cards. Four cards. That’s it. And I still want it.
So why is it? Well, after some discussion, I think I figured it out. When an expansion is released, I don’t really consider it an add-on to the base game. Instead, somehow my brain interprets it as the base plus all the expansions are one game. And now, with just the base, what I really own is part of a great game. My collection went from having a complete game in it, to now having part of a complete game.
So, somehow, scumbag brain up there makes me feel like, just because new content for a game came out, my copy of the game goes from complete to incomplete through no fault of my own. And, rather than have my favorite games ravaged in this way, I leap to their defense and acquire the rest of the game so that I once again have a complete copy.
Crazy? Maybe. Anyone else share in this delusion? Or am I a loon on my own?