Review – Witchstone: Full Moon
|Martino Chiacchiera, Reiner Knizia
|HUCH! (R&R Games)
|Strategy Game, Eurogame
One of the best strategy games I played in 2021 was Witchstone, a rare co-design from Reiner Knizia and Martino Chiacchiera. It took the tiles from Knizia’s Ingenious and developed the idea into a full Eurogame. While it took a while, expansions are inevitable when a game is successful, and now we have Witchstone: Full Moon. Is it any good? Let’s take a look!
Full Moon is a tough expansion to review. At $20 and in a very small box with very few components, it’s kind of like a glorified promo pack. And with the first module, I mean that quite literally – it’s just plastic “Big Witches” for the game along with plastic towers for them to stand on. If you really want to use the wooden pieces they replace, there are variant rules for that. But it’s mostly cosmetic, and the wrong kind of cosmetic. My main problem with this game’s presentation is the 90s looking art, not the lack of plastic. And I can’t imagine many other Eurogamers (the target audience here) were looking for miniatures in this game, either.
Okay, but there are two other modules. High-dosage ingredients can be claimed at various spots on the board, and they are placed in your cauldron. Unlike all of the other double-hex tiles, they have two instances of the same symbol, instead of two different symbols. This lets you really go nuts with certain actions. In a similar fashion, the last module adds individual player powers, providing two benefits (but only one can be used each turn) which can also ramp up the power of actions.
A very good Eurogame often requires a delicate balance, and in fact, many of Knizia’s games have a ton of very careful math behind how they work. When a game hits that balance just right, expansions are really hard to design. One way to do it is to adjust the difficulty and pace of the rest of the board to match the new player powers, like the new research tracks in the expansions for Lost Ruins of Arnak. But Full Moon makes no adjustment here – there’s just more stuff, and no accommodation on the board. Even in two-player games, there we literally found ourselves running out of things to do on the board with our actions. We felt that both modules actively made the game worse; the joy of Witchstone is trying to maximize your actions with careful play, and when the actions are just handed to you, the game gets boring real fast.
I wish I had more to write, but Full Moon is half-baked. Plastic promos and two small expansions that actively worsen the game. I won’t say you’ll have a bad time if you play Witchstone with this, but I will say that you would have had a better time without it.
The Bottom Line
Not worth getting; Witchstone is better without it.