Review: Steam Park Expansions

Designer: Federico Latini, Lorenzo Silva
Artist: Marie Cardouat
Publisher: IELLO
Price
: Robots (Amazon $16.49), Play Dirty (Amazon $27.99)
Gear up friends, it’s time to head back to the peaceful town of Roboburg. In this review, I’ll have a look at both of the expansions for IELLO’s Steam Park. So let’s visit those hard working robots once more and see what else we can do to make their one week off out of the year a bit more interesting.

Robots

This expansion doesn’t do a whole lot to change the game, but it does add some pretty neat looking robot minis. These do not look the same as the original wooden meeples, but they actually resemble robots. They do come in each color in order for you to replace the original wooden meeples, but with two additional colors. The golden robots are VIRs (Very Important Robots) , and the grey robots are Stingy Robots. These two new colors get separated out and do not work the same as the normal colored robots. Go ahead and set the bag up as you would for a normal game and set these two colors aside. When you roll to attract a visitor, if you only roll for one visitor, you take one of your choice of color plus one of the golden robots, place them in the bag as normal, and pull two robots.  If you happen to pull the golden robot out of the bag, he goes onto the ride of your choice—golden robots are wild. You will still receive the normal three income for them, and they will still generate one dirt, but they do not count towards any bonuses—they are their own color and not the color of your ride or the other visitors in your park. These robots do not come in the Play Dirty expansion like the Stingy Robots do.
Stingy Robots are a bit different. If you are attracting visitors to your park, but all the robots of your choice of color are gone, you can put one of the Stingy Robots in the bag in its place. If you pull one of these grey robots, it is considered wild, but there are a couple of catches—a sort of good news bad news situation. The bad news is that they only provide you with two income rather than the three you get from the regular robots. The good news is that they generate no dirt. Again, these robots are a color of their own and do not count towards any bonuses.
Just a couple of things I’ll say before digging into the Play Dirty expansion. For one, I enjoy this expansion. It’s not a huge expansion and it doesn’t alter the rules at all—it actually adds to them a little bit, but not in a bad way. The minis in the expansion are definitely a component upgrade as they are a sort of rubbery type of material as opposed to the wooden meeples in the base game. Not to mention the fact that they actually look like robots. I didn’t think I cared about how the robots in the game looked until I opened up this expansion and realized these replace the wooden meeples. 
My only real critique here is that I do wish the VIRs did a little more than just simply being wild. They generate the same amount of dirt, they provide the same amount of income, and they don’t count towards any bonuses. For VIRs, they seem a bit on the boring side. They do, however, only come into play if you roll for one visitor, allowing you two chances to place a visitor on your ride. Still, I am of the opinion that the Stingy Robots are more interesting because they actually do something more than just simply being wild.

Play Dirty

This is a modular expansion, meaning you can add all of the expansions into the game at once, add them one at a time, or mix and match for the maximum amount of enjoyment out of the game—it’s all up to you. The expansion adds the Stingy Robots I mentioned earlier, five new stands, two new sets of rides, park directors, one new type of dice, and the components for an extra player. 
New stands mean new things you can do that you weren’t able to do with the base stands. These can be mixed and matched with the stands in the base game, but there will always only be five out of the ten available stands actually in the game. How you decide which stands to play with is up to you. You can decide before playing, you can randomly draw for them, or you can choose either set. The new stands and what they do are as follows:
  • The Fountain: Pay two denarii at the end of your action phase to discard two dirt tokens.
  • The Hall of Mirrors: This stand copies the ability of the stand you set next to it, but you can only have one Hall of Mirrors per type of stand you have in your park.
  • The Office: This stand allows you to carry and play one more bonus card than normal.
  • The Shooting Gallery: This stand allows you to reroll one of your dice on your pig board. If you have multiple stands, you may reroll that die more than once. For each reroll, you gain one denarii—if you roll a blank, you gain two.
  • The Incinerator: At the end of the income phase, if you have the most dirt, you gain two denarii for each of these stands in your park.
The two new sets of rides do come with the standard one, two, and three sized rides, but are considered wild and can only be built if you have expanded a certain color ride to the maximum capacity. For instance, if you have built all three of the green rides, you may expand it further with either of the two new sets of rides—the rusty expansion or the golden expansion. The difference with these is that any color visitor can go on these expansions, but only visitors of the same color as the original ride stay until the end of the game—different colored visitors leave at the end of the round. They are also different in that once all of the spaces are filled on one of these expansions, you must pay a one time penalty by either gaining dirt, or paying denarii per visitor on the expansion.
For simplicity’s sake, I won’t go into too much detail regarding the park directors, but I will tell you that this expansion does change the rules of the game. At the beginning of the game, you choose one park director and the effects last for the entire game and impacts all players at the table. For instance, the sweeper changes the way you clean dirt in that if you use two shovels, you get to remove half of your dirt. The planner allows you to roll your dice once and then, one by one, place them on your pig board with the results of your choice. Finally, the architect allows you to break the normal building rules. Where you couldn’t place stands or different colored rides on adjacent tiles, now you can with the architect. There are six total park directors.
The espionage die adds a whole other layer of strategy and player interaction. It is a black die that acts just like your normal white die. You roll it with your white die, and you place it on your pig board just like your white die. These cannot be tampered with using stands, they don’t count towards any bonus cards, and to keep it, you have to pay for it. By default, you have to pay four denarii. However, you pay one less per the same symbol as the player to your right. For instance, if you roll to attract a visitor on the espionage die, and the player to your right rolls 4 of his white die to attract visitors, you get to play the espionage die for free. If you’re paying attention, and you’re quick enough, you could use this one for free every time.
Finally, let’s talk about the fifth player expansion. I would have to agree with most of the reviews I’ve come across regarding this particular part of the expansion. The game is already a load of fun with four players, but it’s not without its down time. Adding a fifth player only makes that down time worse. Yes, you can now play with one extra player, but you’ll actually be playing a lesser amount of time because the rules state that a game of five players only lasts five rounds—a one round decrease from the original six rounds. They obviously did this to try and make the length of the game the same, and I applaud them for that, but I’m just not a fan of the fifth player expansion.

Concluding Thoughts

Overall, I like both of these expansions. The Robots expansion adds those really cool little robot minis, and the VIRs are only found in that particular expansion—I enjoyed playing with those. They add a bit more strategy and thinking because if I roll two visitor die, I can’t try for a VIR. While they don’t add a huge difference to the gameplay, and they don’t count towards any bonuses, they look pretty neat sitting atop my rides.
Let me take a break from talking about the game here to mention the art. This will be one of the shortest paragraphs in this review because both expansions have the same artist as the original game. As such, the art is beautiful. Once again Marie Cardouat has knocked it out of the park in terms of making a game look good.
A couple of my personal favorite expansions from the Play Dirty set would include the park directors and the espionage die—I love the idea of changing up some of the rules in the game. The espionage die adds some tactics and strategy to the speed rolling part of the game. Finally, I’m a fan of the Stingy Robots that are included in both expansions. Not only are they wild, but they generate no dirt. So what if they only provide two income?
I’m honestly indifferent on the extra rides and stands. I don’t dislike these two parts of the expansion, but I’m not super crazy about them either. Yes, they allow you to expand your ride. Yes, the rides basically become Info Points so you can get extra income. Again, it’s not that I dislike them, I’m just indifferent on them.
As I stated before, my least favorite expansion is the addition of the fifth player. There’s a lot of down time already—a fifth player only makes it that much worse. Plus, I’m not a fan of dropping one of the rounds to add an extra player. Sure, you could just play the sixth round, but that’s not the point. The rules state that a game of five is played over five rounds. I play a game to play a game, not to have a huge amount of down time. Plus, there’s less time to enact my master plan over just five rounds.
I enjoy both of these expansions. The Robots expansion doesn’t change the game much, but does upgrade one of the components of the base game and I love the texture of the robot minis as opposed to the wooden meeples. My favorite thing about the Play Dirty expansion is that it’s a modular expansion. Anybody who has read my reviews knows that one thing I look for in a game is replayability. If I’m just going to play the same exact game every time, I don’t see a whole lot of value in it, but games that change it up from game to game tend to hit my table more often than not. Play Dirty does that with the ability to add all of them in or mix and match as one sees fit. Even adding them all in on every game doesn’t mean you’ll play the same game twice. You’ve still got only one park director out of the available six, and five unique stands out of the available ten. I like all of that. 
A review copy of the Steam Park expansions was provided by IELLO games.

Vince Chapman

Vince is a husband, father, and children's pastor in addition to the work he does for Geeks Under Grace.

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