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So, by now everyone who plays board games that require exploration, deck building, worker placement and various forms of management, will know that the LOST RUINS of ARNAK was probably the top 'must have' game of 2020. 

EXPEDITION LEADERS is the first expansion for this immensely popular game.

EXPEDITION LEADERS introduces so many new items, artifacts, sites, idols and assistants, but the main thing it adds are EXPEDITION LEADERS. In the base game each player has a double-sided campsite/player board and two archaeologist figures in their chosen colour. Players have the chance during play to recruit assistants; there are two spaces on the campsite boards for these helpful folk.

The expansion doesn't use the basic player boards, instead it replaces them with character boards that have special abilities suited around each separate Leader.

Leaders each have their own start setup which includes different cards from the base game. The research tokens and meeple figures from the base box are used, as are many of the game pieces. In fact the majority of the contents in the LEADERS box are added to the base game rather than replacing everything and starting anew.

The rules book suggests that the six Leaders are not all as easy to use unless you are very well familiar with both the Base game and the basics of the expansion. I have to admit that we never read that about the Leaders, or at least we totally forgot it, so we simply took the characters we liked the look of.

Their ease of use are listed as:

Captain - A military man with 3 archaeologists.
Falconer - Has an Eagle that can find and collect items.
Baroness - Art lover and shrewd businesswoman.
Professor - Has the best knowledge of artifacts.
Explorer - She is a loner. Best suited for solo game play.
Mystic - Gains and Loses Fear and can power arcane rituals. Has a larger player board than the others

This review isn't on The RUINS of ARNAK just the expansion, whether it is of value to the players and whether it adds anything useful to the game, so I am not going to linger on the base game's play or mechanics, but simply say that if you played and enjoyed that great game (and why wouldn't you?) then that great game just got better (I was going to say it got greater but that just doesn't work, even though it's true).

Yes! EXPEDITION LEADERS does bring something to the table that doesn't just extend that which has gone before. It would have been easy to simply add another player but the designers wanted us, the players, to savor the excitement of another expedition into the fierce, dangerous, jungle world of Arnak, and to experience and revel in the ruins with the buzzing expectation of finding, nay discovering, something new and worthy of the time and cost of such a large expedition.

Now, although you are still leading an expeditionary force of colour comforting meeples, you are, as a Leader, actually in a position where you can 'lead' by example. Your decisions, use of artifacts, tactics etc are based around the skills and abilities (starting ones on the character card and those discovered or hired en route) of each character.

No longer is it a case of waiting until the next turn to claim an Item or Artifact from the display. There are quicker ways of removing them from the display, as well as more, and more powerful, Guardians preventing you making available to your character the powers and/or resources they require for success. Surprisingly, Zatu games (£33.89) have the expansion available on sale at over £10.00 higher than Magic Madhouse (23.19), and £8.00 higher than three other major UK stores. I say 'surprisingly' because Zatu is usually one of, if not the, the UKs cheapest for board games.

The RUINS of ARNAK didn't need an expansion ...... until it got one!!

© Chris Baylis 2011-2021