Expedition Card Game Review (FABRICATE)

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Have you ever wanted to play a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure game while furiously shuffling through a deck of cards? Expedition is your game. An app-driven RPG, Expedition puts you in the role of one of many selectable adventurers, complete with their own kit of abilities. Designed to simulate the experience of playing a traditional role-playing game without a DM, Expedition marries app technology with board gaming in an altogether uncomfortable but still interesting way. When playing Expedition, it's impossible not to think that the game could be quite a lot better with a few tweaks -- but the idea itself is inspired.

Game Details

Players: 1 to 6

Game Time: 60 Minutes

Age: 12+

Genre: RPG

How is Expedition Played?

Expedition begins by selecting adventurers from a collection that will be familiar to many, ranging from the "pack rat" to the "fretful bard." From there, you pull your ability cards. Each adventurer has a starting deck of six cards, which include melee, magic, music, and ranged attacks. The bard, of course, has 6 music. Later on, when entering combat, you'll shuffle your deck and pull a specific number of cards that you can play. The cards tell you when to roll and what the rolls mean. Everything else is completely app-driven.

The Expedition app will ask you to make roleplaying choices, respond to dialogue, and (of course) enter into combat. Combat is probably the roughest part of the game, as you simply need to keep clicking to activate the round timer until you've killed all the creatures. You track creature HP and your own HP on your cards. The game chooses the enemies that you're fighting and adds special effects to combat, such as nerfing magic combat for a round

When combat is won, the game tells you how to reward yourself (by pulling loot cards). There are a number of scenarios included with Expedition, but it's completely app reliant; there's no way to play the game without the app.

How Does Expedition Look?

Expedition looks like a game that I would make. That's not praise, it's acknowledgment; I'm not an artist or a graphic designer. Most of Expedition's cards are just plain text. The pieces that are designed are neutral toned and, well, drab. From its name to its design, Expedition appears to be trying to be relentlessly boring. Yet that also recalls some of the style of the old school games. You can see this reflected in the app.

Expedition doesn't need much more, but for a game that is designed purely around imagination, better art would help. Better box art would most definitely sell the game better, as  the box does not scream "RPG quest series" to just about anyone. 

What's in the Box?
Adventurer deck * loot deck * 4 categories of ability deck * 4 categories of monster deck * helper cards * 1 d20 * HP trackers for monsters and players * 1 rulebook * 1 free app

How Does Expedition Feel?

Expedition feels a lot like someone wanted to write a text adventure but couldn't convince anyone to play a text adventure. Both the cards and the app work, but they don't quite meld together. Playing Expedition is a sequence of fumbling through the app, reading text outloud until your voice gets hoarse, and then clumsily proceeding through a timed battle. It's easy to see what they were going for: moments of roleplaying respite punctuated by intense rounds of combat. But there's a reason why D&D isn't timed.

The timer doesn't even matter. The timer gives players a moment to choose their cards, certainly -- but then the cards are resolved once the timer has been stopped. It's an artificial mechanism that's likely designed to make the game a little more active and dynamic. And none of that is to say it doesn't feel like a good game, only that it feels like an uneven game. Switching between the app and the deck doesn't feel natural, and there's very little depth to the game once you get beyond its unique setup.

The lack of depth is probably the biggest problem to this game. The system is interesting, but the game itself runs like a dozen example scenarios, and there's very little challenge to the game. If you do end up dying, you simply retry the battle with different tactics.

If you want something that you can pick up and play nearly immediately, this is a great game -- especially for larger groups. If you're looking for some storytelling or combat depth, this game will likely come off as shallow. 

Expedition Card Game Review

PRO: A wealth of scenarios that can be learned within minutes and played in under an hour.

PRO: An RPG experience without a DM, that encourages teamwork and creativity.

CON: An app-driven game that needs the app to be played; doesn't mesh the "app" well with the "game."

CON: A relatively shallow battle system that's light on challenge.