OPEN DOORS is the first expansion for the admirable board game 'The TAVERNS of TIEFENTHAL'. It doesn't add any new players to the game, it doesn't raise the age requirement (12+) and it doesn't add anything to the 60 minutes playing time. What it does add are four new modules and the components for them. These modules can be played singularly or combined with other modules. They combine just as well with each other, or with modules in the original game, though of course you always need the original game for every one of the modules.
Apart from the modules, though closely associated with them, are the slight changes to the gameplay. First up you have the new member of the Tavern's staff, the Sommelier; this translates directly as the 'Wine Waiter'. Sommeliers can be obtained like other talented staff members for a number of Thalers (in this case 3), the monetary unit of the game is based on the 16th Century German coin.
The Modules add A: Sommelier and Quack Doctor cards Wine Cellars and Markers. B: Guest Rooms with 4 Chambers in each, Priests and Reservation Markers. Priests move markers along the Monastery track (on the main board) C: Bartenders, upgrade Reputation Track and Guestbook, IOUs, Critic cards. The Bartender cards are different and can be critical. They are drawn by luck but at least you get three to select one from. D: before you actually reach Module D: there is a play variation that brings many different aspects to the game.
I am not sure that they are perfectly weighted against each other but the variation on Bartender's abilities does open up many possibilities within the game. Like the introduction of additional Nobles though, I am not totally convinced that there is enough game time to truly enjoy their full potential.
By using all particles of the Village is Mine you really do raise the stakes (pity there's no extra Kitchen staff to raise the Steaks) often by tasks and rewards, but once again I feel there isn't enough game time to actually enjoy all the new things you can do whilst attempting to input every new nuance into play. The game is over just as you get started. I must admit that we are thinking of ways to enlarge the parametres, even if it's only by one or two Rounds, without defeating the pace of the game.
For none other than aesthetic purposes (and I suppose to add a little weight to the box) roof tiles are included amongst the components. These sit on top of the new rooms/chambers, possibly so that the Nobles asleep under them don't get drenched when it rains.
Although there are four modules (detailed as A, B, C and D in the rules booklet) OPEN DOORS is set up to use the combined modules A, B and C from the off. Using them one at a time and building the game in that way is not our favoured way to play. My suggestion is that you read the OPEN DOORS rules-booklet and then dive straight in with all 3 modules combined as described. Leave the fourth module: The Village is Mine! which introduces the Order cards, until you have the first three under your belt.
Like the other areas of your Bar, the new Wine Cellar can be upgraded (for 9 Thalers) which will gain you a Noble as well as automatically making an additional Sommelier available to you. Making an appearance as a Tavern card is a Quack Doctor who is recruited using beer. Bringing in the Quack Doctor is a nod to Quacks of Quedlinburg, another distinguished game from author/creator Wolfgang Warsch. The Quack Doctor has two abilities but can only be used for one; either you gain 1 Thaler and keep the Doctor in the Inn or you reactivate a current Guest's action and send the good Doctor on his way (to the general supply - which brings up the 'stupid but silly fun' question, is the Doctor a General as he goes to the general and not the doctor supply?).
The new rooms are for Nobles only and each has a special action that replaces the Nobles dice action. The adding of Red blocks to the Sommelier which can be used to replace the dice needed on customers drinking Wine works quite well, but to be honest I would rather have just had extra dice included which would be placed on the Sommelier in the same way as you would on any of the other bar workers. I, personally, don't see the need for a change when the change is basically the same, if you can unravel that thought.
Amongst the new Nobles is the Mayoress - you do not gain a Noble by bringing her into your game - but you do get to Upgrade your Tavern or Hire Staff for free.
As the game time/length of play isn't changed, the fact that you need Nobles to fill the new rooms does put a different dynamic into play. Nobles aren't that easy to get - although because the stack of Nobles cards is so large I am wondering if we are making a massive error in our playing somewhere along the way, as we never get anywhere near using them all.
I guess the word 'expansion' is well used here because OPEN DOORS is truly an expansion of the game; adding new pieces that mainly operate the same as the base pieces. There are new Modules, as already mentioned, and they sort of expand Tiefenthal into a building management game if played progressively, even if you play the A B C combination as suggested.
My conclusion is that although personally I like The Taverns of Tiefenthal very much I can take or leave the OPEN DOORS expansion; I don't mind whether it is included or not, thus I cannot recommend it as I think it comes down to cost and personal opinion. If you feel you need to expand The Taverns of Tiefenthal then the (Zatu) price of just £15.99 could be the decider for you. Personally, if I didn't already own it, and being of the mind that I was happy with The Taverns of Tiefenthal as it is, for that outgoing I wouldn't think twice on obtaining it.