The reconstruction of space stations is a tougher task than expected. But do not despair, Ambassadors from all races are on the way. Use their knowledge wisely.
What do you get for your money?
Again, lots of card. 48 Ambassador and 30 bureau cards. You also get 60 new basic locations, 30 new special locations and 4 new objectives. 1 new race is added to the mix, the Exodai. Plus, 10 location type tokens and 6 reminder tokens. These are used by some Ambassadors. And lastly, the rules.
How do you play the game?
If you want to know how to play Among the Stars, read my Among the Stars review. For this review, I will only discuss the things that change when you add the expansion.
Let’s start! There are not many changes, but the most important one is the addition of the Ambassadors. At the beginning of the game, three ambassadors are drawn from the Ambassador deck and placed face up on the table. There are two draw decks, one for year one and two and another for three and four.
An Ambassador has a name, a race, a cost and an ability. From now on you can, as an action, invite an Ambassador of another race to your station by discarding the card you’ve chosen. You then must pay the cost of the Ambassador and place it next to your station. Indeed, you don’t place it in your station, but instead you place a bureau in your station. Every player starts the game with five bureaus in their supply, one of every colour and cannot get more.
After you place an Ambassador, you use its ability. There are one-off abilities, abilities that will help you throughout the whole game or abilities that will give you extra points at the end of the game. There are things like: Gain 4 credits. Put one location type token of every type on his bureau and, later, discard a token of a location type to gain a 1 credit discount. Choose a player (you can use the reminder tokens for this) and, at the end of the game, gain one point for every Ambassador he invited during the game.
During a year there are always three Ambassadors available, but at the end of the year they are always discarded and three new ones (from deck II when in year 3 or 4) are revealed.
OK, another addition is the 15 new basic locations, like the Escape Pods, Ambassadorial Sector and a Factory. You must decide yourself, which locations, old and new, you want to use.
You also get 15 new special location cards. An Energy Lab, a Tourist Reception Area and a Dreadnought Shipyard for instance. These are all added to the original special location cards.
Lastly, the new race, the Exodai, will give you two points for every Ambassador you’ve invited. You do have to pay one credit more to invite these Ambassadors.
This expansion and mostly the Ambassadors themselves make Among the Stars more interactive. You don’t have to be interacting with you fellow players, you can still only focus on your own station, but there is at least the possibility for interaction. For example, when you get one point whenever you build a green location that already has been built by someone else, or whenever another player discards a card for credits and he must give you one credit for doing so.
I’m not going to give this game an 8, they need to bring more than this increased (Ambassadorial) interaction, so it’s still, like the base game, a
The gameplay doesn’t change very much. The addition of the Ambassadors doesn’t make the game more difficult, not at all. They do make the game, like I said before, more interactive with their different abilities. Plus, you have another element of competition, when you want an Ambassador to come to your station, you need to invite him or her before someone else does. Also, you now have to make even tougher choices than before. Not only do you have to choose between the locations in your hand, you also have these wise men and women at your disposal.
There are no new conflict cards and I have to say: I like the interactive feel of the Ambassadors more than the ‘old’ conflict cards. They felt a bit random at times, a slap in the face. The Ambassadors feel more like something you can take into account.
Lastly, and you might think this is a very obvious remark, the replay value increases dramatically when you add the Ambassador expansion. You, now, have so many races, basic locations, special locations, ambassadors and objectives that every game feels and can be played differently.
The new location will interact differently with other locations. So you must structure your stations in different ways than before.
I feel this expansion, as you can read above, does add more new and good things to the base game, with the emphasis on more, because I do not think the mechanism themselves changed or improved that much (the Ambassadors in essence work pretty much the same as the locations). Therefore I cannot give it a 9, so therefore it remains an
The new artwork is just as stunning looking as the artwork from the base game. This alone is a reason to buy this game.
Quality of the components:
Quality of the components remains the same.
More variability, more interesting, tough choices, more interaction without changing the rules very much means I can add this expansion to the base game and play it right away. This game was already very fun without this expansion, but with it, every game feels fresh and is really fun.
I did not mind the lack of direct interaction between player and stations (except the drafting) very much, it was a minor quibble. The base game was already pretty fun without it, but the Ambassadors do add that and there is more competition and more tension in the game and that makes the whole experience even more exciting than it was before.
Note: On the site of Artipia Games you can download a file with five thematic setups for the game. These work pretty well and all feel different.