Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Tuesday, 11 September 2018

It's in the Bag:- Orléans: Invasion

Game: Orléans: Invasion

Publisher: dlp games

Designer: Inka Brand, Markus Brand, Reiner Stockhausen

Year: 2015

Orléans: Invasion is a big box expansion for the 2014 game Orléans. It takes the original game's bag-building worker placement mechanics and further expands upon them, adding a dedicated 2-player mode, a cooperative mode as well as several solo game modes. We will be focusing on the 2 player and cooperative modes for this review, but are they just gimmicks that are tacked onto the game, or fully fleshed out expansions in their own right?

The cooperative mode is the biggest overhaul to the base game. In it we see the titular invasion of Orléans, with you responsible for defending both it and the surrounding area. You'll have to stockpile for war, that means soldiers must be hired, food must be preserved and money... war runs on money! Should you fail to donate enough of these resources to the city by the end of the game then you will all collectively lose. In addition, you will have to fortify the outer walls by building trade posts on all of the outer cities of the map. But in case you were thinking this all sounded too easy, each player has a personal, often selfish, objective that they must complete before the game ends.

The Invasion scenario of Orléans: Invasion is truly a cooperative game, and to facilitate this you will have a new set of spots to place your workers. These allow you to donate money or goods to the stockpiles, but also to donate them to other players in need. And you will need to for should anyone go bankrupt then instead of undergoing torture like the base game, you instead all instantly lose. You can also use one of the new actions to steal another player's action, useful should you desperately need to perform that one specific action this round but lack the workers. All of this comes together quite wonderfully and creates a challenging game that demands cooperation. The personal objectives ensure that you don't just rely on rehearsed tactics to win the game but instead must spend at least some of your time chasing after your own selfish needs.

The Duel pits green vs yellow in an all our mercantile battle. race your opponent to fulfil 4 objectives, but beware the penalizing new events.

On the less friendly end of things the duel scenario pits 2 players directly against each other. I was a little sceptical of this at first as Orléans is already a good game for 2. The duel adds a new board with 4 objectives on it. instead of end game points the game is now a race to be the first to complete all 4 objectives. Of course they aren't as simple as "earn 50 gold", you'll need to collect goods across the map and deliver them to specific cities and set up several trade routes, but ensuring that one of them is entirely landlocked. To keep things difficult instead of the random events in the base game there is now a specific track of events. These events may be predictable, but they are far more brutal than the base game and if you can't keep up then you may instantly lose the game.

Whether the duel scenario is the definitive way to play Orléans 2 player is a matter of debate, but it certainly gives a different focus to the game, lowering the power of trying to get civilians as they are no-longer a point multiplayer and instead adding a bigger focus on travel and money management. Personally I'm equally happy to play it either way, but I do think that the duel scenario makes play a little bit tighter, which is certainly needed at lower player counts, a single mistake can put you back one or more rounds which is easily enough to lose you the game.

In the Invasion scenario you must fill up the city supplies (right board), however one of the things you need is civilians and you;ll need to donate to the left board in order to rescue those.

It's great to see that the Orléans: Invasion expansion adds so much interesting content to the game, it almost seems petty to complain that there is no way you will fit all of it in the base box! I was incredibly impressed that the cooperative scenario didn't feel like a tacked-on experience, but rather a fully fleshed out game that just so happened to share some components and mechanics with Orléans. So long as your table can put up with an increased footprint to an already large game then it's well worth playing. The Duel scenario didn't ignite my passions in quite the same way, partially because Orléans is already a sound 2-player experience, but it probably does just about define itself as my preferred way to play 2-player Orléans. Overall Orléans: Invasion  is a very solid expansion that I strongly recommend to anyone who enjoyed the base game.

8.5/10

Orléans: Invasion was a review copy provided by Asmodee UK. It is available for an RRP of £44.99 at your friendly local game store or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk/.

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