If you play in the sand, you’re going to get sandy. Sand in your hair. Sand in your clothes. Sand in your mouth. But sand in your board games? Now you’ve gone too far. This expansion may be the exception. You’ll have plenty of other things to worry about such as getting over a wall, leading a siege, facing a powerful boss, etc…
Destinies Sea of Sand is an expansion for Destinies, a competitive story-driven board game that needs no game master. This expansion can be played with 2 or 3 players, or solo, or as a 2v2 team game.
You will need to have a tablet or other large electronic device to play this game and, ideally, a committed group.
In Destinies, players will make decisions and interact with characters in the game, using a variety of items and leveling up their skills along the way to achieving their destiny. The goal is to be the first player to do this. The expansion, Sea of Sand, plays much the same with a few new twists.
Each turn, the active player will choose whether or not to move to another tile, possibly revealing the contents of an unexplored tile. After moving (or not), the player will visit a point of interest on their current tile. Once at the point of interest, they’ll have multiple actions they can take such interacting with a character, as a skill test, scanning an item card, or scanning their destiny card. The app will guide the players through any of these options.
A key feature in the game are the three skills tracks. These start at different points, depending on which character you choose. Throughout the game, when certain options are chosen, tests are passed/failed, etc., you will move skill markers up and down to make future tests more or less difficult.
The game unfolds with the choices you make. Once a player has fulfilled the requirements to fulfill their destiny, they can trigger their finale. Depending on how well they’ve prepared, the finale can take a couple of turns or much longer. The game ends when one player has completed their finale.
Game Experience with the Expansion:
There are a few new things introduced in the Sea of Sand expansion. Obviously, we have a new setting. It’s a fun one. You’ll be working your way through the deserts of North Africa during the Crusades. Depending on the character you choose, you might be trying to siege a pirate fortress or just trying to save some folks. Without spoiling too much, the backstories of the characters are fleshed out and well-written. Their motivations are clear, and I think that helps move the stories along.
There are some cool new additions here. Underground dungeons have you choosing which way to go with some treasures and other surprises at each turn. This feature led to some potentially wasted time. I would recommend you take good notes on the paths you’ve taken. Mazes take this even further. They are very difficult to traverse and will lead to many dead ends. Next, a travel action allows you to visit submaps, giving players even more to explore beyond the original tiles. Finally, destiny hints are added to the game, which I do not think changes the game significantly. I’m pretty neutral on those.
As I alluded to above, in this expansion, it does seem a bit easier to get “lost” and not make meaningful progress every turn. The dungeons and mazes really feed into this. I guess that adds a bit more challenge, but to me, it made the game less fun. I most enjoy the discovery and getting closer to reaching my destiny, and this had more distractions mixed in.
I’ll be honest. I had some major criticisms of the base game. It sometimes feels like a game that should have been a video game. The physical pieces don’t add that much to the game except fiddliness. Now that you have way more tiles and way more equipment cards, that fiddliness (ie digging through piles of cards), is exacerbated. Also trying to parse out those tiny miniatures is a chore that the expansion did not fix. I do understand that these were all released around the same time, so that expectation was not realistic.
On the other hand, the base game, and, therefore, the expansion has several strengths. The writing is strong and intriguing. The story is engaging. The skill tracks and associated tests are a very solid system. There’s a ton to explore and discover. Gearing up to take on foes or fulfill your destiny is just plain enjoyable. You will feel like you’ve made a story that’s truly your own.
The production here is on par with the base game. Card and map tile stock is decent. Minis are good, albeit most of them are tiny. The big boss mini is, however, awesome. There aren’t any new tokens or dice added. The app runs quickly and smoothly, and it’s pretty self-explanatory to use. I have no complaints about it.
The last thing I want to address is how slowly the new materials are rolled out. There’s a lot of time spent in the first episode, using the same old equipment items from the base game while staring longingly at the cool new toys as they mock you. I felt rather bored for a good part of the first episode. Things do pick up after that, though.
What you’re getting here is largely what you’re expecting. It’s the same basic formula with a few twists. If you loved the base game, Destinies Sea of Sand is a no-brainer. Furthermore, if you are a fan, the expansions are really the only way to keep going back to Destinies. However, if you were on the fence, this likely won’t sway you. Unless you love the setting THAT much. It is a good setting. Just know that you may spend a bit extra time wandering around and you won’t get to the new items and mechanisms for a while.
Unfortunately, I cannot comment on the 2v2 mode, but I suspect that it would extend the playtime similar to adding a third player into the mix.
• Interesting setting and well-written characters
• Some new mechanics added to keep things fresh
• If you loved the base game, this is a no brainer
• New stuff is rolled out slowly
• Slower progress toward your goals
• Doesn’t address some core issues with the system