Thoughts on Ultimate, Deluxe, & Collector’s Editions

Back in January 2021, there was a blog post on Boardgame Geek about a new complete set of the “Railroads” game coming this year.

This would be the classic Russian Railroads, the German Railroads expansion and the American Railroads expansion.

I made a note of this and was going to do a blog post about this type of thing, but it fell victim to COVID disinterest.

However, recent talk about the Ultimate Railroads edition has brought this back into my mind, so I thought I would do a post about it.

Not just the Railroads game, but more “Deluxe Editions” in general.

The reason this is an issue, and what has garnered some complaints, is that the Ultimate Railroads conglomeration of the base game and all expansions is going to include another expansion as well.

Some owners of all of the “Railroads” games are somewhat understandably annoyed.

Because getting this deluxe edition of the game appears to be the only way to get the expansion.

Cue the outrage!

BGG member Ric Tomsett said:

“According to BGG, 15k of users own Russian Raliroads, 4.3k German and 2.8k American expansions (that is recorded). You’re saying you couldn’t produce say 3k copies of the Asian expansion on it’s own and distribute it worldwide with the Ultimate Edition. I’m sorry, but I’m not buying that as an excuse. I feel this is one project that could have benefited from being a Kickstarter, as least then you could have gauged the interest in the Asian Expansion alone (providing it was a minimum of a 1000 copies).

Just another waste of resources that alienates all those fans who have perfectly good copies of the base game and current expansions. “

I haven’t played any of these, and I bounced hard off of Russian Railroads on Boardgame Arena, though I think that was mainly because I need to learn this particular game on the table rather than through an asynchronous game.

But it brings to mind a number of “Big Box” and “Deluxe Edition” issues that really make me stop and think for a moment.

I was an immediate backer of the Suburbia: Collector’s Edition game but haven’t gotten it to the table in the two years since I received it.

I also backed the Castles of Mad King Ludwig collector’s edition as well as the Castle Panic one (spending *lots* of money on that last one)

The Suburbia collector’s edition came with a new expansion, Nightlife, that was exclusive to the collector’s edition.

Until the Suburbia: Second Edition came out along with the Expansions expansion (which includes all three expansions for the game).

At this point, I do have to wonder some things.

Is it worth it?

Is it worth it to buy these deluxe editions of games you love?

Is it a good thing that, to make these editions palatable to those who already have everything, they include an extra expansion?

And are people like Ric justified in complaining that this is basically a cash grab against those who already have bought everything and been a loyal customer throughout the years?

I don’t remember exactly what Bezier Games said about the Nightlife expansion, other than I remember them saying it is impossible to have it be compatible with the Suburbia you’ve owned for years because the tiles are bigger (to match the Collectors Edition and the 2nd Edition) and the artwork is that of the new versions.

I don’t remember if they indicated that it would be exclusive to the Collectors Edition or not. I doubt they did, because otherwise I wouldn’t think they’d come out with the 2nd Edition just a year or two later.

But maybe?

(The box may have changed when they relaunched the Kickstarter)

The Castle Panic Deluxe Edition also includes a new expansion.

I admit that I fell for the hype. (Yes, they did redo the Kickstarter and it sounded much better)

It includes a new expansion as well, Crowns & Quests.

To quote the Deluxe Edition page:

“The newest expansion, Crowns and Quests, introduces playable characters with unique powers. The players must attempt to complete challenging quests such as retrieving magical items, destroying cursed temples, and even teleporting the entire castle to safety all while fighting off the monster army.”

So another expansion that won’t be available to those who have bought everything before (like me).

I get why companies want to have some added value to editions like this. If you’re going to do a 10th anniversary edition, then you want people who have already bought everything to have some reason to go with the new one.

How many owners that have been with you from the beginning are going to buy your Deluxe, or Collectors, or Anniversary edition without some reason to?

It’s a great way to onboard new people, but original owners are just going to keep the game (and expansions) they know and love.

So I get it.

I truly do.

But I also get those long-time supporters of the game who are pissed off that they need to spend $100 or more to rebuy everything that they already have (just in a new format, maybe new artwork, or whatever) just to get a new expansion because it’s not being released separately (or because the format or artwork isn’t compatible with the old editions).

I’ve spent over $100 (maybe even close to $200, but I’m not sure) on Castle Panic and all of its expansions so far.

Now I’ve forked over $200 US (so almost $300 CDN) for the deluxe edition of the base game, all of the expansions, and the new expansion (granted, there are miniatures and stuff like that too).

Did I need all of that?

Probably not. I haven’t played Castle Panic in a few years now, though I would like to get it to the table again.

But essentially I have everything that’s in the Deluxe Edition, except that there are no miniatures, and the pieces and cards aren’t as good.

Oh, and the new expansion.

The Castles of Mad King Ludwig Collector’s Edition has two new expansions.

It also has a reimagined scoreboard, and considering that the scoreboard in the original kind of sucked, that may be worth the price alone.

I’m kidding, a bit.

Ultimately, I think Castle Panic may be the last “deluxe edition” I back unless the changes/add-ons look really appealing for something that I enjoy.

Or it’s a game I’ve always wanted but never actually, you know, bought.

I think I’m done paying $100+ for a new edition of a game where the only really new content I’m getting is one (or maybe two) expansion.

Sure, the artwork may be cooler, the components may be a bit sturdier, but how many times am I going to be playing these games?

Hell, Suburbia was already a table hog and now all of the tiles are bigger!

I fully support the game companies’ right to do something like this.

But as a consumer (unless, of course, I’ve never bought the game before so this is a great way to get the game and all of the expansions), I have to stand up and say no.

Given my pandemic game-buying, this may seem like a strange stance to take.

But I can’t justify it anymore.

And those who are complaining about a new expansion that’s not compatible with the old version have a point.

They’ve supported the game company through many years, buying every expansion that came out for the game that they really enjoy, and now they’re left out in the cold and have to re-buy everything if they want the new content.

I’m not going to do that anymore.

What do you think?

Are you a Deluxe Edition fan? Or do you see it as more of a cashgrab against those supporters who have followed the company through the years?

Let me know in the comments.

2 Comments on “Thoughts on Ultimate, Deluxe, & Collector’s Editions

  1. Great post! I agree with you – a “deluxe” edition should not be the only way to get an expansion. Board game publishers which offer upgrade kits (I’ve seen that even for games that had some small changes from second to third edition) have a special place in my heart (and the customer loyalty that comes with it).

    Liked by 1 person

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