Expansion Review – Roll Player: Fiends & Familiars

Roll Player has been one of the greatest purchases I made during the pandemic lockdown in 2020-21, when I was trying to buy some games I could play at home. My wife and I played it a bunch of times!

As part of buying the game, I had to get both expansions, especially when we realized the base game itself was so good.

The first expansion, Monsters & Minions, added a bunch of stuff that was so needed: a reason for creating this character, dice that were colorless but added higher values, things like that.

What does the second expansion, Fiends & Familiars, add?

Some interesting stuff, but it doesn’t have nearly the effect that the first expansion did.

This expansion was designed by Keith Matejka with art by JJ Ariosa, Luis Francisco and Lucas Ribeiro. It’s published by Thunderworks Games

I think it’s very cool that it also adds more monsters and minions, and rules for them in case you’re not playing with the first expansion. This way, you’re still getting at least a reason to be creating this character, even if you’re not also getting the boost dice and stuff.

But the unique stuff?

Let’s take a look.

I’m not going to go into how to play Roll Player. If you’re interested, check out my review of it.

Before talking about the new stuff the expansion adds, it also has monsters and minions, adventure cards and the like (including more Battle Dice if you need them). These use the same rules as the Monsters & Minions expansion, so see my review of that to see how those work.

What does Fiends & Familiars add?

It adds fiends…and familiars! (I know that’s shocking, but do try to start breathing regularly again).

First, let’s talk about the Fiends.

Fiends are placed on the Initiative cards that call for them (definitely the last Initiative card with the highest dice, but sometimes also the second highest depending on the number of players).

If you take the dice off of a card with a Fiend on it, you also take the Fiend. The Fiend will have some ongoing effect as long as you have it in your possession.

For example, the Fiend of Severance will make it so you can’t use your Weapon cards. The Fiend of Treachery will make it so when you complete an Attribute Row, you gain an Injury token.

You can banish a Fiend that you’ve taken any time during your Character Creation phase by spending a Charisma token or spending five gold. Some other cards will also let you banish a Fiend.

Some Market cards will give you benefits for banished Fiends, so you definitely keep them with you, but they’re no longer affecting you once you’ve banished them.

Another thing that Fiends & Familiars adds is the Familiars.

The Dragul Wolf lets you take one of the two specified Attribute Actions, which is great!

Weird how that happens.

Anyway, Familiars are added to your Character Sheet at the beginning of the game. Often they are very useful as a way to use low-numbered dice (as long as they’re the right colour).

Familiars also give you a special power, usually when you place dice on them.

For example, the Horned Viper above lets you use a Skill (even an exhausted one) without shifting the Alignment token when you place a die on it.

That can be quite good!

Because of the Familiars and the three extra dice slots, Fiends & Familiars adds the rule that for the first few rounds, each Initiative card has two dice on it. This means that the game shouldn’t be any longer than the original game.

You do this until you draw the Call to Adventure card from the Market deck. Once that comes out, you go back to one die on each Initiative card.

In addition to these two new items, Fiends & Familiars adds split dice.

it

These dice are low numbers (only 1-4), but they have two colours.

They’re actually perfect for Familiars, who want low numbers anyway. But also they’re useful when you don’t care as much about value on your character sheet but care more about colour (because of your Backstory).

Some people hate them and I have to admit I’m not the biggest fan of them. But it is nice when you are trying to fulfill your colour patterns, especially on the Familiar where low dice are good!

They’re not as useful (necessarily) on your Character Sheet itself.

Anyway, in addition to all of this, Roll Player: Fiends & Familiars adds new Market cards, new Minions and Monsters that talk about both Fiends and Familiars, as well as some other set collection Market cards that weren’t in the original game.

Look at Friendly! Getting a bunch of high dice? Buy Friendly and try to get your Familiar’s power up to a high level!

The Runic set can be quite powerful because each individual Runic card gives you an ability as well as being part of a set!

The Minions are also quite interesting, with some of them playing to the fact that you will be placing low-value dice on your Character Sheet (or at least your Familiar) at some point.

In addition to all of that, these Minions have some more interesting effects if you defeat them soundly.

Not only do you get to look at an Adventure Card, but sometimes you get to take various dice actions on your Character Sheet (like the Bat Swarm letting you switch dice). In the first expansion, the final rewards weren’t like this at all. They were more experience points and things like that.

All in all, I like some of the stuff that the Fiends & Familiars expansion adds to the Roll Player universe.

The Familiars are interesting, the Fiends are…well, they’re kind of annoying and easy to work around. They’re fairly easy to get rid of (though not always!) and sometimes the Fiend will prevent you from doing something that you’re not going to do anyway! In that case, taking it doesn’t hurt you.

Sometimes they will keep you from taking the high dice because their effect will greatly harm what you’re doing. At least until you can banish them easily.

The split dice are a mixed bag, mainly because the Familiars only have three dice slots (just like your other attributes).

Sometimes putting them on your Character sheet is fine, because you only need (for example) 14 for that Attribute so as long as your other two dice are high value, having a maximum of 4 on the split die you put in that spot isn’t a big deal.

Ice Bear lets you boost your regular Character Sheet dice!

You definitely can’t use them for Attributes where you need 17-18, unless you get the Market item that lets you add to the split dice value.

In the above picture, I could afford to have the split dice in Constitution and Intelligence because the required values weren’t that high. Having a Purple/Red die in Intelligence helped with the Backstory, which requires Red in that first spot.

But sometimes they’re just not that useful.

I do like some of the new Class cards, though.

All of them have something to do with either Fiends or Familiars, like the Conjurer letting you banish Fiends for less money and giving you Experience Points for them.

The expansion also comes with new Backstory and Alignment cards, which is always a good thing (lots and lots of choices!)

The new classes are pretty cool.

When I play Roll Player from now on, I will want to have both expansions for as much choice and variety as I can get.

That being said, I find this expansion to be the lesser of the two.

I love how there are Monsters and Minions in this expansion so that you don’t have to have the first expansion to be able to get some of the benefits of it (though the lack of Boost dice is too bad).

You definitely don’t want any active Fiends with this guy around!

But overall, I find the Split Dice mechanic to be not as interesting as the Boost dice. And Familiars are great but I found it more difficult to use them effectively.

That could just be me, though.

I love some of the new Market cards too, especially the Runic set which not only gives you a set collection bonus, but a reason to get one of the cards even if you’re not collecting the set.

Warning, though: I have only played Roll Player as a 2-player game, so playing with more players (and thus more Market cards and such) would probably be even better.

I should probably take this out to a game day and see how it is with more than two.

However, as a 2-player game, even knowing that you’re missing out on a bunch of Market and Minion cards, it is a great game.

The Fiends & Familiars expansion?

Eh. It’s good, I enjoy it, but it’s nowhere near the Monsters & Minions expansion.

If you can only get one of the expansions, get that one.

But there is nothing wrong with playing with both expansions.

It’s well worth the money if you do.

(This review was written after 4 plays of this expansion)

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