Amber Mines Explored - An expansion to Near and Far
Quick Glance: Amber Mines (Expansion for Near and Far) by Red Raven Games
Game Type: Progressive Adventure Game
Number of Players: 2-4
Mechanics: Exploration, Fantasy Story Telling, Deck/Pool Building, Dice Rolling, Optional Co-Op
Overview: Near and Far has been previously reviewed on the site earning our “Buy This Now” rating and was a sequel to the popular game Above and Below and actually many of the tokens can be used to expand that game. However, this game has a more progressive story and can be played in an RPG styled campaign over 11 maps. Amber Mines adds a few new wrinkles to the game which you can add one at a time or all at once to the game. It also adds a Co-op mode which makes the game stronger as a progressive adventure story to play with friends.
Amber Mines: A giant mine is added to the side of the town board which makes the mining action more interesting. Digging through the mines can deliver some useful items including the new amber resource as well as peril in the form of giant spiders and the like. As you dig you reveal cards showing treasures, dangers, and the options to dig further and it provides yet another means to advance toward your endgame. This addition is very easy to add into the base game and I can’t think of a reason you wouldn’t want it.
The introduction of Magic: With the mines you also add a Mystics Hut which can grant access to useful spells that don’t break open the game but can add to your strategy for conquest. Magic spells are single use and you need to return to the witches hut to regain use of the particular spell.
Upgraded General Store: A tile to lay over the old general store which opens up a few extra options and a way to spend some of your camp tokens.
New Threat Cards: You can swap the base game threats with a new group to mix up your gameplay. This is not a major upgrade but more options are better.
New Adventurers: Adding the Amber mine naturally leads to miner centric skills being useful and 5 new adventures can come up to be recruited to make your journeys in the mine more fruitful. They are not alone as magicians were also added which grant a bonus when visiting the Mystics Hut. In addition, one player can get a new animal companion to replace the default dog and cat from the start.
Shiny New Dice: “Expert Dice” were added as a bonus for your first visit to the general store. This die has replaced the “1” with a reroll symbol and the “2” allows a reroll by paying a food. This gives you one die that you can rely on a little more to get decent rolls on your adventures.
New Tokens and Artifacts: Primarily to support the new features.
2 New Map Scenarios to add to the story
A co-op mode: The Red King threatens your band of adventurers and now instead of dueling you can trade resources and work to advance your quests with a countdown clock related to the power of the Red King so you can’t meander too long before you have to take the guy down.
While none of the additions feels like a game changer this expansion touches up and enhances the game enough to revitalize your experience while also smoothing out some of the clunkier dynamics and the extra options makes the board feel less congested. In the base game, sometimes visiting town was tedious and sadly mandatory, but now you can accomplish quite a bit while in town and even without venturing out onto the map much at all. The magic is the strongest addition adding a little more depth to the utility of your character, and the co-op feature makes a ton of sense given the game is made to develop over time ideally with the same players and characters. If you bought the base game you purchased a more expensive premium game, and while spending more money doesn’t always seem wise the added features improve the value and will make it easier to play through the game again or sink more hours into your adventure.