Sometimes you know you're in the presence of greatness. That's how I feel when I play Exodus: Proxima Centauri and its expansion, Edge of Extinction.
But greatness is intimidating. And sometimes it's really mean. Even though it's cool.
Exodus: Edge of Extinction is an expansion designed by Andrei Novac for the base game Exodus: Proxima Centauri, which was designed by Novac and Agnieszka Kopera. They're both published by NSKN Games and Passport Game Studios.
Like the base game, Edge of Extinction works with up to six players ages 12 and older, but it adds rules for solo play, as well. It adds about 15 minutes of playing time per player, making the total playing time 45 minutes to an hour per player.
How it works
Exodus: Proxima Centauri is a space epic with the four elements found in most games of its category: expand, explore, exploit, and exterminate.
What sets Proxima Centauri apart is its politics. Players vote on laws or executive actions that affect gameplay.
That hasn’t gone away in Edge of Extinction.
But Edge of Extinction takes the entire game to a new level.
Players can play one of six factions. Each faction has different actions available, and each faction has a unique technology tree where it can research technologies that are not available to all factions. That’s in addition to the technology tree that comes in the base game that each player has.
The factions help players use particular strategies better than others.
There are new cards for the Centaurian Resistance, which are the enemies players fight during the game. There are combat cards that players can use to help in the fight against enemies and each other.
Players can defend against attacks from weapons of mass destruction, which isn’t possible in the base game.
They also have better cloning capabilities and more powerful shields and cannons to develop. They get a few extra ships, as well.
Why you might like Exodus: Edge of Extinction
If you already have Exodus: Proxima Centauri and love it, you will likely love the expansion. It creates a new movement system, which eliminates the need for small pieces to be played when moving ships. It’s more streamlined and more interesting.
The factions make for more complex gameplay. They also help limit your choices a bit. Some options won’t be as valuable, helping you (or a player who has a hard time with decisions) narrow the best choices more quickly.
Edge of Extinction still keeps the best parts of Proxima Centauri, but it fixes some issues, like defense and the difficulty of moving population.
It does everything right. Edge of Extinction doesn’t add so much that you can’t keep track of it, but it builds enough to feel like you’re playing a new — and slightly better — game.
The solo rules are quite good and are really challenging. There are two ways to win, one of which seems nearly impossible. The other is possible, but it’s not easy.
Edge of Extinction continues the well-developed mythology that began in Proxima Centauri, lending a sweeping backdrop to the gameplay.
Why you might not like Exodus: Edge of Extinction
If you haven’t played Exodus: Proxima Centauri, you’ll need it to play Edge of Extinction. The game doesn’t stand alone.
If you’re buying Edge of Extinction for the solo rules, you might be disappointed that you won’t use any of the components in the expansion box. You’ll only use pieces from the base game. The solo rules imply that there will be more scenarios coming that make use of the Edge of Extinction components, but it’s not included.
Proxima Centauri already has lots of little pieces to manage, and Edge of Extinction adds to them. NSKN recently released a free app to help keep track of everything, and that will appeal to some.
The rulebooks for both games can be a bit confusing at times. It takes a little patience and re-reading to get everything.
These are not games for beginners. They’re very good, but they’re also complicated.
I was a bit intimidated by both Exodus games, mainly because of the amount of room they take on the table and the amount of pieces to keep track of.
But once I got into the games, I had a really good time.
The politics make both Exodus games much more interesting than others I’ve played in the genre.
The factions make Edge of Extinction worth the work to learn. I love that each faction gets different actions, some of which are easier to understand than others. But they’re all powerful in their own way.
One caveat, though. Both iterations of Exodus are mean. You will have to attack fellow players, which can feel pretty awful since they worked all game to build up their ships and defenses.
The solo game fixes that problem, since you’re just fighting nameless enemies, but the price tag is quite steep for a solo game.
Other reviewers' opinions on Edge of Extinction
Undead Viking said the new action cards added a new "realm of subterfuge." He liked that the expansion is more story-driven. He liked the new drive power movement because it's much more tactical than the old movement system in Proxima Centauri. He especially appreciated the new technologies in the game. He felt like the expansion makes the gameplay more flexible. He appreciated having more politics and resistance cards.
Tom Vasel of The Dice Tower likes the addition of combat cards and more ships, although more pieces also complicates the movement and crowds the board. He said the game really shines because of the addition of the races in the game and the special technologies. "I think the depth and the flavor" justifies the addition of the length of the game, he said. And he figures he'll never play again without the expansion. He described Proxima Centauri as "one of the best space games out there."
No. Unless you're raising a genius.
What my husband wanted to do to the game
He knows the weapons of mass destruction are important to the gameplay, but he just really hated playing with them. It felt wrong to destroy someone's planet. "Really, who wants to be the Death Star?" he said.
I received a review copy of Exodus: Proxima Centauri and Exodus: Edge of Extinction from Passport Game Studios. I was not required to write a positive review. If I were, I wouldn't have taken the game.
Much of this review first appeared at News for Shoppers, where I wrote it.