What is this game about?
Expedition: The Roleplaying Card Game is designed to be a very light, easy-access RPG that will have you and your friends adventuring within minutes. It can accommodate 1–6 players, so you can roll solo like I prefer to, or you can get a pretty big party going. The only physical components you need are cards and a d20. You'll also need a tablet with the free app on it (a phone is possible, but a tablet is preferable). Each player chooses a character card, most of which are standard. There are essentially four classes: ranged, melee, magic, and music. (I remain particularly fond, however, of the "alcoholic diplomat.") None of the cards have any art on them, and you track your own and enemy health by moving clips along the sides of the cards. This game is all powered by your imagination.
The app essentially runs the entire game and will teach you relevant rules when you need to know them. Mechanically, the most unique aspect of Expedition is its combat system, which gives you a limited amount of time to select a combat ability and touch the screen. (This is why a tablet is better than a phone!) If timing stresses you out, this might bother you (I frequently ignore the timer by touching the screen and THEN selecting my actions). But if you want to keep the game moving at a nice clip, it works.
But Expedition's uniqueness doesn't emerge from its mechanics. Its rules are as simple as it is humanly possible for RPG rules to be. Expedition's biggest claim to fame is its crowdsourcing of questlines. There are a few "official" quests that you can start with, but after that, you'll be searching through community-produced stories and selecting your next big adventure from material that other players have written. And yes, if you feel so inspired, you can write your own!
How does it play solo?
Expedition has several quests that are specifically suited to solo players. If you turn the timer off, there's no reason you can't go ahead and play cooperatively as well by controlling multiple heroes.
Expedition is a game that I really want to love. I wanted to love it in 2017, and I still want to. But I don't.
I do want to say that I think it's great that the game has such streamlined mechanics and that it is so accessible to essentially any group of players. I love that the creators have released both horror and sci-fi expansions to extend the kinds of enemies and adventures it is possible to have within the game. I even like the idea of crowdsourcing quest material. It's cool to have an enthusiastic community that writes an endless supply of quests for everyone to enjoy. I don't even care about the lack of art—who needs it when you have your imagination? (I do, however, recommend that you sleeve your Expedition cards, because the clips you use to track health will definitely wreck them.)
In the end, though, Expedition just doesn't work for me. The rules are so simplified that you really cannot get much out of the game unless the story you're playing is fantastic and fully immersive. That's where I start to have trouble. The "official" quests are delightfully quirky—as well as well-written and well-paced. But there aren't many of those. Meanwhile, the user-submitted quests remain much more of a mixed bag, and I find it unwieldy to search for new material in the app, which adds an extra layer of difficulty. (This is especially true when looking for quests designed for low player counts, and it's even more difficult if you're a solo player wanting to test run a Bard.) Some of the quests are awesome, and clearly the flowering of a vibrant community. A lot of them are okay, but just okay. Typos abound, and a lot of the story writing isn't as snappy as it could be. Which makes sense—this is something that members of the community are doing just for fun. But combined with a blah combat system, and with very simplified branching quest mechanics that don't allow for much actual role play, stories don't get a lot of boost when trying to take flight. I respect and appreciate what Expedition is trying to do, but at the end of the day, it's still too much work to find the diamonds in the rough.
Do I recommend it?
If you want to try something different, or maybe write a quest yourself, you might enjoy Expedition. The app is free, the game is cheap (especially if you PnP it), and the barriers to access are low. But I just can't love it the way I want to.
Overall Rating: 2.5 stars
5 stars — I love it!
4 stars — I really like it.
3 stars — I like it.
2 stars — It's okay.
1 star — Meh.