Rajas of the Ganges: Goodie Box 1 released back in 2019, and we have just got our hands on this little expansion box from publisher HUCH! Designed by Inka and Markus Brand, featuring artwork from Dennis Lohausen, this is effectively a bunch of mini expansions or promos for the dice based worker placement hit title. None of them change the player count or the general length of the game. However, does the Goodie Box make enough of an impact to be worth picking up? Let’s find out!
Goodie Box 1 includes 6 separate modules for players to slowly introduce into their Rajas of the Ganges games. The rulebook suggests that they should be introduced one at a time, though fans of the base game – with a number of plays under their belt – should easily be able to start with at least two. From new tiles to build, past new river tiles to interact with, to a new meeple type, these modules just slightly tweak or add to the rules.
The first module, the Mango Village, adds new worker placement spots to the board, as well as two additional stacks of 5 tiles to build during play. Unlike the normal tiles which often require multiple dice of the same colour, the mango tiles need a double (e.g. two threes) to be purchased. These new tiles have unique yields ranging in money offered and include upgrades, dice, karma and more for being built. The new worker placement slots allow players to re-score villages, but they can be highly fought after spaces.
The Snake expansion also adds tiles, though only 4. These Shalimar Gardens tiles get mixed into the snake tile piles, so are not guaranteed to be revealed each game. These are crossroads tiles, which is useful for building out the personal player boards. On top of this, when placed the player gets to retrieve any one of their workers out on the board – to be re-used that round. Otherwise these work as regular tiles.
Like with the Snake expansion, the Tiger expansion sees 4 new tiles added, being shuffled into the respective coloured tiger piles. These are interesting tiles that give unique immediate and then ongoing benefits to the player. These permanent abilities include allowing a +/-1 to a die value which has been flipped by karma, through to being able to move an extra river space whenever taking the boat action. Instant benefits are great but it is these ongoing abilities that make the Tiger tiles sort after. Adding almost player powers into the mix is a fun concept, even if players need to actually buy them, rather than having an asymmetrical start.
The Test of Fate is an expansion that adds a punishment before a bonus. Players add fate tokens to indicated spaces on the fame and money tracks. When a player reaches them they pay the cost, be that fame or money. The amount is determined by the number of players behind you on that tracker, so a slight catchup mechanic. Commonly, this loss puts the player’s token behind where the fate token is.
Instead of constantly getting the penalty the second time the token is reached the player gains a free tile for their province. Importantly, if the player doesn’t dip below the fate token after the loss they won’t be able to get that tile benefit. This makes moving up the trackers even more of an important choice. Not only will it cost more to be first there but moving too far up and it’s solely a punishment.
The final two expansions are tiny. The gemstone trader expansion adds a translucent meeple of each colour into the pool. When a player gets to 10 fame they get to swap out one of their standard workers for this special one. Treated like a normal worker, one die that is used with it for any action can be treated as any number you wish. It’s a small addition but just adds that extra luck mitigation into the mix. Finally, two new river tiles are added, one being a dolphin! This is certainly the more interesting of the two tiles, as it allows the player to choose the benefit of any unoccupied river space.
It’s almost like each expansion targets one element of the game and either expands it or adds variety. A number of them such as the Gemstone meeples and the Snake expansion are the sort once played with they’ll stay for future games. As for the rest, players might shuffle them in or out. Out of the selection the Mango and Tiger tiles add the most extra to remember, while the Test of Fate tokens adds a way to lose fame and money – with money the only thing the base game really saw players spend.
A few elements of the Goodie Box 1 have been available previously, as part of the Brettspiel Adventskalender in 2017 and 2018, or the Deutscher Spielepreis 2018 Goodie Box. Note though that 2 of the Mango Village tiles are new to this box. Each element of the box that you already own, naturally decreases the value you’ll get from such a bundle. As these would most likely only be Essen Spiel pick-ups though, chances are all 6 of the modules will be new to most players.
It feels a bit of a waste throwing the physical expansion box away; coming with a visually nice insert and a magnetic close. However, the components of this expansion fit seamlessly into the base game and, as is the case with the tiles and river tokens are almost better stored alongside their base game equivalents.
None of the expansions change the way that Rajas of the Ganges feels. A prime example of this are the two new river tiles. These might introduce new abilities, yet the base game included river tokens to use if you wanted. Those hoping for big changes will be disappointed as this is just a collection of many micro expansions. They add to some elements, or tweak a rule here and there. The Gemstone Traders expansion, which mitigates the dice rolling luck that bit more, is my favourite of the bunch: though everyone will have their own favourite. The Rajas of the Ganges Goodie Box 1 gives players the choice of which modules to include and adds those splashes of freshness to help the game hit the table once again.
(Editor’s Note: Rajas of the Ganges: Goodie Box 1 was provided to us by Asmodee for the review. The game/expansion are currently available from local board game stores! Find your local store here.)