Orléans: Invasion Expansion Review

Orléans: Invasion is an expansion for Orléans by Reiner Stockhausen, Inka and Markus Brand, published by Tasty Minstrel Games. It is for 1-5 players. This expansion adds 6 new ways to play, including a two player game as well as 3 solo scenarios.

For more information on the base game and how to play it, please follow the link below.

https://jlnelson73.wordpress.com/2017/03/01/orleans-review/

The review of this expansion will be a bit different from some of my previous reviews, as there’s just way too much to try and cover without completely confusing both you the reader and me the reviewer. In any event, what I’ll try and do is give you a brief look into each of the different scenarios along with what each one adds in terms of components as well as game play. I’ll then break down my thoughts on each one within the gameplay section below. Hopefully this will help you get an idea of what the expansion gives you so that you can best determine if this is something that would be right for you and your gaming group. With all that said, let’s dive right in.

The first scenario is the Prosperity scenario. It’s for 2-5 players. This scenario introduces the Prosperity scenario board which takes the place of the Beneficial Deeds board, as well as the carpenter and structure cards which the carpenter can build. Also introduced are the neutral markers and Carpenter extensions for each player board, as well as several new locations and a cover tile for the Scriptorium which allows a player to receive a new structure card. Events in this scenario are predetermined so players will be aware of what’s coming up before each one happens. Basically this scenario plays a lot like the base game, with the addition of the carpenter actions. Let me explain what these do. The Carpenter allows a player to place up to 3 character tiles of either traders or boatmen. No technology tiles are allowed on this location. During the action phase, the player can then remove their tiles to move the carpenter 1 space per character removed. If a boatman is removed, the carpenter moves on a waterway. If a trader is removed, he moves on the road. Then if the Carpenter lands on a town that is depicted on a structure card the player has, they can build the structure, placing the card face up in front of themself. They then place a trading station on a goods tile on either a road or waterway that leads to that town. The player then draws 2 structure cards, keeps one and returns one to the bottom of the deck. Structures require various items like goods, character tiles or coins. Once they’ve been completely manned the items are removed and the structure card is placed under the player’s neutral marker to be scored at the end of the game. These will give extra victory points during end game scoring. That’s pretty much the gist of this one.

The next scenario if the Invasion scenario for 2-5 players. This scenario is cooperative. This one adds a ton of new stuff including the City Defense scenario board, cooperative event tiles, character cards with personal objectives, special building tiles, the Assembly Hall board and Support Action boards for each player, as well as several new locations. For this one, players have to work together to complete a bunch of common and personal objectives. This one is played for 16 to 18 rounds, depending on the number of players. There is no census in phase 2, however. During the game, players have 5 different common objectives to complete. The exact specifications differ depending on the number of players. There’s the city wall where players have ot provide a certain number of knights. Citizen Tiles must be collected and added to the objectives. The City Treasury needs a certain amount of coins. The Warehouse needs certain goods in certain amounts. If that’s not enough, players also have to build Fortified Towers in each town along the edge of the map. There are also Personal Objectives that the players have to complete that are specified by the character card they received at the beginning of the game. Some of these are easier than others, but are still hard. There’s actually a lot to deal with but if the players are able to complete all the goals, both common and personal, before the end of the last round, they win.

The last multiplayer game is The Duel scenario for 2 players. This scenario uses the Duel scenario board, neutral markers and Bourgeois House action board. This scenario is played pretty much the same as the original game. The only differences are that the scenario board dictates the events, much like in the Prosperity scenario, there is no census during phase 2 and the torture rules don’t apply. Instead of the torture rules, if a player can’t pay what they owe, they lose. On the scenario board are several Beneficial Deeds which work the same way. There are also 4 Objectives that a player needs to complete to win. Each time a player completes one, they place a neutral marker on the space to show that they completed it. The first player to complete all 4 objectives is the winner. Also of note is the Bourgeois House action, which I haven’t really touched on yet. This action requires a character tile and a citizen tile to use it. It then rewards the player with one of 5 bonuses, including a good of their choice or even advancement on the development track.

Now let’s take a look at the 3 solo scenarios. The first of these is The Dignitary. This scenario uses the Dignitary scenario board, a neutral marker and the Stage Coach place tile. Just like with some of the other scenarios, the events in this one are predetermined as well and there is no census in phase 2. The player starts off with the Stage Coach, which they’re able to use in the very beginning. The idea of this one is to collect 7 or 8 citizen tokens, depending on the level of difficulty chosen, before the end of round 16. If the player is able to do that, they win.

The next solo scenario is the Capital Vierzon. This scenario uses the Capital Vierzon scenario board, 6 neutral markers and the Market Stand place tile. Again, like in other scenarios, events are predetermined and no census in phase 2. The player gets the Market Stand which they are able to use at the beginning of the game. This one is more like the Duel in that the player has objectives that need to be completed before the end of round 14. Each time a objective is completed, the player marks it with a neutral marker. The difficulty can be raised to make things harder by only allowing 1 objective be completed per round or even making the player complete them in order. If the player completes all 5 objectives, they win.

The last solo scenario is the Travelling Salesman. This scenario uses the Travelling Salesman scenario board, 6 neutral markers and the Market Stand place tile. Events in this one are also predetermined and again there is no census in phase 2. The player gets the Market Stand to use from the beginning of the game. Just like with the Capital Vierzon scenario, this one requires 5 objectives be completed, but this time they have till the end of round 15. If the player is able to do this, they win. Also like Capital Vierzon, the difficulty can be raised in the same way by allowing only 1 objective be completed a round or by forcing objectives be completed in order.

COMPONENTS
Much like the original game, the expansion has a ton of stuff inside the box. There’s are two boards that make up the City Defense board for the Invasion scenario. There are separate boards for each of the different scenarios. There are all the different new action boards. There is an Assembly board and support action boards. There are special cover tiles for the Scriptoriums. There are new cooperative event tiles, new place tiles and special building tiles. There are structure cards and character cards. There’s a carpenter token and neutral markers. As I said, there’s a lot of stuff. Everything is great quality. The boards and tiles are all thick cardboard, however the scenario boards aren’t the same thickness. Those are a bit thinner but still pretty good. The carpenter and neutral markers are wooden. The artwork is compatible with the base game and has lots of the same look and feel, as well as iconography, of the base game. I really like how nice everything looks. Design wise it all works together really well. Pretty much if you like the components and artwork of the base game, then you’ll like this one too. I don’t think there’s gonna be anything here that could be considered a real negative. Overall, the quality is there.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this expansion is rather large. That would be because there’s so many different scenarios that have to be explained. There are lots of pictures and examples throughout the book so there shouldn’t be any problems understanding how to play through any of the scenarios. Each individual scenario tells you what you’ll need and the special rules that you’ll be dealing with while playing. Each new action, event and objective is explained in great detail. I think that everything is laid out really well. I like that there’s a overview of all the different events at the end of the book for quick reference. Overall, I feel that the book compliments the game and is really good quality as well.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
As I’ve mentioned earlier, there are 6 different scenarios included with this expansion. As a fan of Orléans, I can tell you that overall I like Invasion. Some scenarios I like better than others, of course that’s to be expected. Let me go through each one now and give you my thoughts. First there’s Prosperity. Meh. Ok I like this one but I don’t. I really love the carpenter and constructing the different structures for points. I like the predetermined events cause you can figure out what’s coming and better prepare for each one. One thing I don’t like is that all the goods are face down on the board. It’s kind of hard to figure out where to go to get what you need to complete your structure if you don’t know where each good is. So you wind up moving all around gathering up stuff you don’t need hoping that you’ll find what you do. It’s a bit frustrating. Also frustrating is moving the carpenter. While it’s really cool to get him to the right place to be able to build a structure, it also stinks when you spend 3 characters to move him and another player spends 3 characters to move him in the opposite direction. It’s not quite as bad with more players but if you play with only 2, expect frustration. Next there’s Invasion. I like this one a lot. I really like the cooperative aspect of this scenario. I like working together and trying to get everything completed. I even like that it’s hard, sometimes very hard. I haven’t won yet but that doesn’t mean that I won’t keep trying. I like the personal objectives but they can be tough, even the ones recommended for an easier game. It takes a lot of strategy and planning to get things done properly. I can tell that this one will be one that I’ll wind up returning to many times. Next there’s the Duel. I like this one pretty good. I like the predetermined events and the objectives. There’s not a really big change between this and the original game but there’s just enough to make it interesting. Of course you could simply play the regular game with 2 players and be just fine. So I don’t really know if this one was needed or not. However I’m still happy to have it in the box. Now there are the 3 solo scenarios. I really enjoy solo games so having these 3 is a big time bonus for me. The Dignitary is the first one I’ll discuss. I like this one a lot. In a lot of ways it’s kind of like the base game, getting citizen tiles is a major way to make lots of points in it. For this one, you’re just getting them to complete your objective. Once more, predetermined events I like. Next there’s Capital Vierzon. This one adds a bit more objectives to complete and therefore adds more difficulty. I like this one too. It’s just a bit more of a challenge. While the Dignitary is pretty much straight forward, this scenario has you diversifying into a lot of different directions. More difficult but still fun. The last one is the Travelling Salesman. Five new objectives with more of a pick up and deliver bent towards it in this one. I think of the solo scenarios, this is probably my favorite one. I like pick up and deliver games so having that aspect in a game that I already enjoy just adds to my enjoyment. You do have to be careful with this one though as you have to be stocked for the events. If you don’t have enough food or coins each round to pay, you immediately lose from starvation. It’s a bit harsh but something to be aware of. Overall, if you like Orléans, you’re most likely gonna like this too. With so many different scenarios, there’s bound to be something that you’ll enjoy. Solo gamers should love this one. It takes a great game and makes it playable for just them. For me, it’s worth it just for the Invasion and solo scenarios. Everything else just adds to the enjoyment. I would highly recommend this one.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Orléans: Invasion is an expansion for the truly amazing game, Orléans. It adds 6 new scenarios along with lots of new stuff to give players lots of new ways to play. There are even solo scenarios for players to play without anyone else. Game time varies depending on which scenario you play but still plays in a reasonable amount of time. The components are really great and really compliment the base game quite well. The original game is great. This expansion simply adds more ways to play as well as new challenges. I enjoy many of the scenarios and found them to be a great addition to the game. Are they all great, not exactly, but they’re still interesting enough to try at least once. I really like the Invasion and solo scenarios, especially the Travelling Salesman. Fans of Orléans will most likely want to add this to their collection. Is it a must have expansion, not necessarily. However, if you like the base game, you owe it to yourself to give this expansion a try. For myself, this is one I’m happy to have. I’m pretty sure, you will be too. I highly recommend it.
9 out of 10

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For more information about this and other great games, please check out Tasty Minstrel Games at their site.

 http://playtmg.com

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About Gaming Bits - Jonathan Nelson

I'm a happily married man with 2 wonderful kids. I love my family very much. I'm a big fan of board, card and RPG games and have been playing for over 20 years. As a board and card game reviewer, I'm hoping that this blog will inform, educate and entertain you. If you like it, please tell your friends and have them join in on the conversations. Thanks and GAME ON!!
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