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Destinies: Sea of Sand

There are, typically, two types of expansion: those that give more of the same and those that change things up. The former tends to add very few rules to the existing (presumably already liked) game, supplying more variation in content without changing the style of play. The latter often adds more complexity, changing the way the game plays, sometimes in novel and interesting ways, tho' at the cost of additional rules overhead (let's be charitable and assume most board games aren't released in need of being 'patched' by later rules tweaks). Both have their advantages, tho' in my experience, people tend to prefer the former. Destinies: Sea of Sand is just that.

The base game of Destinies from designers Michal Golebiowski and Filip Milunski was released last year by Lucky Duck to considerable acclaim, being lauded for its strong narrative elements, simple and intuitive character mechanisms and a reliable app which powers proceedings. The goal of each scenario is for the 1 to 3 characters to uncover the secrets of either of their two destinies and be the first to complete their finale. En route, they might have to best monsters, help villagers, learn rituals, any of many things that might happen in the medieval semi-magical world of a fictionalised Joan of Arc.

The first expansion for Destinies, Sea of Sand, offers three more scenarios (compared to the original's five), again with 1 to 3 players and playing in a similar time frame of about 45-60 minutes per player. Considering it contains only expansion content the same-size box feels excessive, though again production is excellent, and with a good insert. The tiny miniatures still come unpainted which means - for those unwilling to invest the time or with less than 20/20 vision - they are reduced to little grey blobs when placed on the modular map (we now put tokens under our character figures to distinguish them). Again, there is one 'bigature' which makes a dramatic appearance. So far, so similar and, as yet, not that inspiring; where's the worth?

Despite being only three scenarios, the story arc by Rafal Wojda-Wolkowycki is more cohesive than the base game and the plotting - where to go, who to talk to, what to do - felt more intuitive and logical too. New inventory cards offer more special abilities, with the new content being used three times as much as the existing. The art and graphic design continue to be excellent, with the one new rule added - distant maps - parlayed into an interesting story in the climactic scenario. I had heard that there is a bug in the app, but I did not encounter it during my plays. Quality-wise Sea of Sand is as good as, if not better, than the original.

Overall, if you liked Destinies, you are bound to enjoy the Sea of Sand expansion. While there is only 60% as much content, the price point is commensurate with that. The pro/con of the game's propensity for feeling like multiplayer solitaire remains the same, depending on how 'in character' players get, especially when reading out flavour text. Similarly, the abrupt ending if you are not the one who fulfils their destiny remains an unfulfilling line or two at the end of the winning player's success. I know my son is eager for more of the same with another expansion due, Myth & Folklore, but personally I'm hoping for something a little different next time: oh well, can't please everyone!

(Review by David Fox)

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