Welcome to BBD labs, where the future is being gamed today! Here at Big Blue Die we’re big fans of Flying Frog Productions particularly their colonial gothic game A Touch of Evil. So it was with an excited dread that we tore into their newest aToE expanse, The Coast.
The Coast extends the doomed village of Shadowbrook to the icy waters of the Atlantic with a beautiful full-sized board that can be placed adjacent the original game’s board or the Something Wicked expansion to create a 3-board long town of terror. Like all of Flying Frog’s games, The Coast has excellent production value, with finely sculpted plastic figures, beautiful photo- and artwork, and sturdy cardstock.
Along Shadowbrook’s coast can be found 4 new village spaces, including a new Town Square and new Coastal Town Items for sale like the Dueling Pistol and the Seafarer’s Lantern. A new town means new Town Elders and new Secrets like the Widow Jessica and her frightful collection. There are also new Mystery and Event cards. The highlight, however, of this picturesque little fishing village is the Village Encounter deck, a mix of helpful and baneful episodes with the thick salty tang of the sea, like the Lost Ship and Deadman’s Fog. Beyond the village, the expansion offers 3 new location decks: the labyrinthine Smugglers’ Cove with its ghosts and buried treasure, the fog-shrouded Lighthouse, and the deadly Shipwreck. In addition to these familiar mechanics, The Coast adds some new features to the game such as the Kraken and the Lost Ship, fearsome and mysterious tokens that emerge randomly based on cards drawn. There are also the Sunken Seven, seven tragic and terrible ghosts that attack the heroes without warning and are introduced in the rulebook in a surprisingly well-written and chilling little short story. Of course, the new expansion comes with new villains like the Dreamweaver who attacks the heroes in their sleep as they struggle to stay awake and the Siren who draws everything on the board (including the heroes) slowly towards a watery death. New heroes include the Maser Hunter who draws Event cards for defeating minions and Liliana, the Lost Soul who fights with Spirit and uses “exploding dice” in combat, but cannot exchange items or allies with other heroes (a handicap that was much more severe in play than expected).
In our playtest games we found The Coast to be a great addition to the game, seamlessly blending with the original game but bringing its own distinct feel. The new locations were exciting to explore and the new decks were great fun (everybody loves drawing cards). The new heroes were all unique and fun, particularly Abigail Sturn with her occult books and Jack the Privateers with his impressive fighting prowess (we used the Hero Pack: Two as well). The new villains were challenging, if a bit complicated. Our win/lose ratio remained at about 50%, just what it was with the original game, with most games a desperate race against the Shadow Track. We played with just two boards and games with all three. It was neat to see all three boards linked up to make a huge field of play, but it did take forever to set up! It was also a lot of ground to cover during the game (though there is a secret passage from The Coast to the original board); in fact, during one game I never managed to get to the new board at all, so busy was I defending the old Town Hall from the villain’s minions. We also found that the expansion added more complexity to the game, and while this slowed play down a bit it should improve with familiarity. More importantly, though more intricate, the game hasn’t yet reached the top-heavy rules-bloat that affects so many expanded games.
The Coast is an even better expansion than the excellent Something Wicked, for whereas Something Wicked expands the original game with great new locations, villains and heroes, The Coast does all this and more by introducing new entirely game elements like the Village Encounters and Lost Ship. The only thing that disappointed me about this expansion was the lack of a new CD full of ghostly pirate songs, but I suppose Flying Frog has spoiled me with their fantastic games! If you love A Touch of Evil I would strongly recommend The Coast whether or not you own Something Wicked. Everything’s better with pirates.
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