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Review: Seasons: Path of Destiny

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Seasons: Path of Destiny - Components

We might be divided here at the dragon on whether expansions are worthwhile but that’s not going to stop us from talking about and reviewing them.  Seasons, like most card-driven games, is ripe for expansion and Path of Destiny is here to offer more cards along with a completely new die: the Die of Destiny.  Use it at your own risk!

How It Plays

Path of Destiny is the second expansion for Seasons, the beautiful drafting and tableau-builder which I reviewed last week.  I’m going to assume that you’re familiar with Seasons and focus on what’s new in this expansion.  Path of Destiny expands on several concepts introduced in the first expansion, Enchanted Kingdoms, but only requires the base game to play.

You know you want more cards

Seasons is a card-driven game so it’s not surprising to see some new power cards in Path of Destiny.  There are 20 in all (plus a promo if you get the first edition) each with two copies just like in the base game.  Simply shuffle them into your current mix of cards or craft your own deck and you’re ready to go.  The cards from Path of Destiny have about the same complexity level as the advanced cards from the base game but they focus more on flexibility and choice.  Take for instance the Sepulchral Amulet which lets you look at the top three cards of the discard pile and add one to your hand, put one back on the deck, and one on the bottom.  Not only can you pull something back out of the discard but you can put something dismal on top of the deck for your opponent to draw (or something good for yourself).  Then there’s Arus’s Mimicry which lets you discard or sacrifice a card for 12 crystals.  This can be handy for getting rid of a nasty card that was passed to you, clearing out cards from your hand at the end of the game, or just getting some extra points out of a low value card.  The new Familiars also add interaction in really interesting ways like Otus the Oracle who places a card from the deck on the table for each player in the game and allows them to be summoned by anyone.  There’s also a card, Twist of Fate, that triggers during the prelude and allows you to replace it with your choice of two cards drawn from the deck.

Adding a little character

There’s a hole in the character boards that was just begging for something to be put in there and Enchanted Kingdom gave us special ability tokens to personalize your character.  Path of Destiny adds in 6 new special ability tokens (to the 12 from Enchanted Kingdom).  At the beginning of the game each player is given a random token that they can used once during the game.  After using it the token is flipped over and shows a number of points that are gained or lost at the end of the game.

Seasons: Path of Destiny - Ability Tokens
These ability tokens fit so nicely in that little hole!

Mixing things up with enchantments

The other thing that Enchanted Kingdom introduced was Enchantment cards which Path of Destiny also adds more of.  They allow you to add a little twist to each game you play.  Before the game starts you can select one enchantment, either at random or by specifically picking one.  It will provide additional scoring opportunities or modify the rules in a special way for that game.  One example is Io’s Mastery which lets a player draw a power card whenever they transmute for at least 15 points.  This and other conditions introduced by Enchantment cards are highly specialized but provide a significant reward for your effort.

Two of the Enchantment cards in Path of Destiny introduce an entirely new die that the expansion is named after, the Die of Destiny.  When playing with one of these enchantments you are given a new choice every turn before you use your chosen action die.  Rather than taking the actions from the normal die you may roll the Die of Destiny and use its actions instead.  All of the sides provide a variable number of Destiny Points as well as crystals, wild energy tokens, or an increase to your summoning gauge.  The Destiny Points are worth one point each at the end of the game and the player with the most will earn an additional 20 points.

Seasons: Path of Destiny - Destiny Die
It’s your destiny to collect all of these Destiny Points!

Is Seasons on the Right Path?

Path of Destiny doubles down on what Enchanted Kingdom (the first expansion) had to offer.  Outside of the Die of Destiny it doesn’t introduces any new concepts for those already familiar with Enchanted Kingdom.  This can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you look at it.  On the positive side anyone that liked what Enchanted Kingdom had to offer will be happy with Path of Destiny because it expands on the concepts introduced in that expansion.  The new power cards, special ability tokens, and enchantments are simply added to those from the first expansion.  Using only one enchantment per game combine with the fact that you are only going to see a small portion of the deck keeps the scope and integration of this expansion very manageable.  Also, for those that don’t have an expansion yet Path of Destiny adds a new entry point since it doesn’t require integration with Enchanted Kingdom.  You can decide which expansion you’d like to start with.  On the negative side there aren’t any major new mechanics so if you’re happy with the variety of the base game or Enchanted Kingdom then there’s not a rush to grab this as variety is a major selling point for Path of Destiny just like with Enchanted Kingdom.  But this is an expansion after all and I’d say that it does a great job of providing variety and increasing complexity slightly, both things that I look for in an expansion.  I will note that I do not own Enchanted Kingdom so I was not disappointment to get more of what it provided but I can understand people who might take that view.  I’m going to be looking at Path of Destiny from the perspective of it being my first expansion (since it is) so some of these thoughts could easily translate to Enchanted Kingdom as well.

Adding variety, synergy, and flexibility through cards

There are some expansions that drastically improve on the base game, ones that you will never play without once you have them and will even use when teaching the game to new players.  Then there are expansions that cater to veterans of the game.  They emphasize depth and variety, adding longevity to a game.  Path of Destiny falls into the second category.  Everything here – the new cards, the ability tokens, and the enchantments – they’re all ways to expand Seasons but are absolutely unnecessary for new players.  I say this because there is an excellent amount of variety present in the base game.  You can enjoy the basic cards and then, once you’ve gotten the hang of those, add in the advanced ones.  That’s already 100 cards (50 unique) from which you’ll only be starting the game with 9 per player.  Add in the opening draft and variable actions that you’ll get during the game from the season dice and you’ve got a game that you could happily play without ever adding in an expansion.  So why get Path of Destiny at all?  Well, I’m not going to argue the merit of expansions but I will say that while Path of Destiny is not essential it should appeal to those wanting to add more variety and depth to Seasons.

I’ve emphasized variety a lot so let me actually back up the claim that Path of Destiny actually adds some.  If you start by just adding in the power cards you’ll go from 100 (50 unique) to 140 (70 unique).  This decreases the chance that you’ll see the same key cards and combinations in the opening draft and encourages players to emphasize flexibility and seek out new card interaction.  Streakiness can be a problem with larger decks but this is addressed directly through the control provided by the opening draft and indirectly through increased utility provided by newer cards.  In fact, I’d argue that increased streakiness of card draw during the game is a good thing because you’re more likely to have to react to what you draw.  The basic cards from the base set (1-30) tend to be the kind of cards that are more straightforward in purpose and can be fairly easy to integrate into your tableau without much adjustment.  The advanced cards (31-50) provide much more interesting choices and can let you shift your strategy more dynamically if you draw them during the game.  Adding in the cards from Path of Destiny will further dilute the percentage of basic cards in the deck and give you a greater chance of drawing the more interesting dynamic cards.

Seasons: Path of Destiny - Cards
More beautiful artwork as you’d come to expect from Seasons

But there’s not any sort of power creep here such that you’d rather draw the expansion cards over the base game cards or automatically pick them first during the prelude.  The cards in the base game provide a great way to establish an engine for points/energy or focus on a specific strategy for big scoring opportunities.  The cards in Path of Destiny can be thought of more as utility cards that present choices and synergy to those engines.  They present the players with added decisions rather than straightforward and powerful sources of points.  Sometimes you’re going to want a card that lets you score lots of points and other times you’ll want one that’s going to help get your engine going or switch gears when your opponents (or the dice) throws you a curve.  I like the more interesting interaction present in the cards from Path of Destiny but recognize that they aren’t a replacement but rather supportive of the cards from the base game.

But it’s more than just some new cards

The other major element for adding variety is the Enchantment cards.  These not only encourage players to pursue different strategies from game to game but also shift the strength of the various cards in the game.  A card that you valued lowly during the prelude in one game may become extremely attractive in the next.  You won’t always have drastic shifts across all aspects of the game but you will have to reassess certain cards and strategies depending on which enchantment is in play.  Some enchantments are more nuanced and change the game in subtle ways.  Others reward players for pursuing more challenging strategies and make them assess whether it is worth the effort.  I really like how different games of Seasons can feel simply by switching the enchantment in play.  It’s the way that they emphasize different aspects of the game that enhances the variety.  Perhaps more so than with the new cards, I think the enchantments can really provide a new experience and challenge for seasoned players.  Enchantments also provide a level of customization as you can decide which and how many to include in each game.  If there are effects that you really enjoy then you can always (or often) include them and draw additional enchantments for variety.

Seasons: Path of Destiny - Enchantments
Enchantment cards have an explanation on the back for when you just can quite figure out those icons

The last aspect to Path of Destiny that attempts to creates variety is the ability tokens.  However I’d say that they are more likely to add character to the game than variety.  The reason is that they don’t have a very large impact on the game.  It seems they are designed to give you a little boost or flexibility on par with the bonus actions.  They’re cute.  They fit in the little hole in your player board and they give you something to differentiate you from the other players.  But it’s not much and perhaps for balance purposes that’s a good thing.  They’re almost a bit of a tease, a really cool concept that has little impact on the game.  Your first draft pick during the prelude will likely have more of an impact than your ability token.  It feels like they played it a little too safe for the sake of balance and missed a great opportunity to give the players something to really differentiate them.

Control your own destiny with the roll of a die

Only two of the ten enchantments in Path of Destiny have you play with the Die of Destiny.  I thought this was an odd choice considering that it seemed to be the most unique aspect of this expansion.  It can actually be integrated pretty naturally into the game to the point where you could simply decide whether to include it and then draw another enchantment to play with as well.  I’ve heard people mention the idea of always including the Die of Destiny in their games because they like the dynamic that it adds.  However, I’m leaning towards not doing this because rotating it in and out does add variety to how the game plays and feels.  I would like to see the Die of Destiny show up more often then simply when its enchantment cards gets drawn but I’m sure how often will vary by group.

I mentioned the Die of Destiny being the most unique aspect of this expansion because it has a much different impact on the game than the other enchantments.  It encourages players to weigh the options of pursuing a less efficient option with the reward of more points just like several other enchantments but it uses a completely new system.  The actions provide by the Die of Destiny are generally less efficient than their counterparts on the season dice with the exception of the side that provides any 2 energy tokens.  The obvious reason for considering it over the season dice is the race for Destiny Points and the 20 points that you’ll get if you have the most.  But what really makes the option to opt for the Die of Destiny interesting is that it simply provides more options.  You can draft the die that your opponent wanted with the intent to ditch it and go for Destiny Points instead.  Likewise if you don’t care as much about what you get then you can put pressure on your opponent by grabbing a couple extra Destiny Points and making them decide whether it’s worth keeping up.  It also presents the option to try for a better result if you don’t like what comes up on the season dice.  The Die of Destiny has one side with a summoning gauge increase and two sides with wild energy tokens, it’s not something you can count on getting but it can by worth the risk if you already didn’t get what you wanted.

The Die of Destiny successfully adds a number of fun factors to Seasons.  There’s the player interaction presented by the equal opportunity race for Destiny Points.  The thrill of gambling for some extra energy or a bump to your summoning gauge.  The opportunity to block your opponent by taking exactly what they wanted without having to get stuck with it yourself.  And the distraction of pursuing something that could end up much less rewarding then just sticking to your plan.  It’s situational and tactical just like the rest of Seasons but in a new way.

Seasons: Path of Destiny - Special Cards
Some of the cards come with seperate parts

An expansion for Seasons fans

I classified Path of Destiny as an expansion for Seasons veterans and I’ll reiterate that I think it is of great value to those that already love and actively play Seasons.  Although the added card complexity may win over some players that were hoping for more interesting card interaction from the base game it’s unlikely to pursuade any skeptics.  This is an expansion that adds variety and depth that will be most appreciated by players that are already very familiar with Seasons.  From the changing dynamics of the enchantments to the increased variety of the prelude draft to the added synergy of card play during the tournament.  And for those that want something entirely new there’s the Die of Destiny that adds a wrinkle to the dice drafting.

iSlaytheDragon would like to thank Asmodee for providing a review copy of Seasons: Path of Destiny.

Summary

  • Rating 8.5
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Summary

Pros

  • Introduces great variety and depth
  • Creative and well balanced new cards
  • Enchantment cards make new strategies viable
  • Die of Destiny is an excellent addition to any game

Cons:

  • Ability Tokens aren't as exciting as the could have been
  • Similar offering to Enchanted Kingdom
  • Won't convert any non-Seasons fans
8.5 Very Good

I love optimization and engine games with tableau builders and card driven ones being my favorite. This usually means medium-heavy euros and medium-light card games.

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