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Game Info:

Renowned Explorers: The Emperors Challenge Expansion
Developed by: Abbey Games
Published by: Abbey Games
Release Date: May 10, 2017
Available on: Windows, macOS, Linux
Genre: Turn based strategy
Number of Players: Single Player game
ESRB Rating: Unrated
Price: $19.99 for the game, $ 7.49 More To Explore expansion. $7.49 price for Emperor's Challenge expansion.

Thank you Abbey Games for sending us a review code.

Exploring! Adventure! Excitement! That's what Renowned Explorers: International Society brought to me; to think I picked this game up at random. Now this is the first time I'll be writing a review on an expansion. I'll add upon some thoughts from the former review and add new ones with what the expansion has brought. Keep in mind that the scores will combine both the base game and the expansion.

The main focus of the Emperor's Challenge is a new game mode. In this mode instead of competing to maximize your Renown score, you are invited by Emperor Guāngxù to compete in challenges of his own design. Since he has invited your arch-enemy Rivaleux, you'll have limited time to complete them. These challenges can include but are not limited to raising the stats of your explorers certain ways, collecting particular amounts of study, campaign or science tokens or gathering treasures quickly. You'll also have renowned challenges and encounter challenges as well. Each challenge you complete rewards you special pottery from the emperor; the main challenges reward you much more elegant pottery while others reward you smaller pots. At the end of a set of expeditions, the team of explorers with the most pottery wins.

Highlights:

Strong Points: The new location is fun to explore, and the four new explorers are rather lovable even if they vary in strength and ability. The new mode will have a lot of challenge for experienced players.
Weak Points: While the Emperor's Challenge mode is strong, the amount of loss you'll experience due to luck is high in this mode. Your skill with the game will not save you in certain moments. 
Moral Warnings: The cult story can be rather disturbing for some people.

The expansion also includes a new place to explore and four new explorers from the reaches of Asia. They are Phailin Boonyasak, a cultured dancer and retired Thai assassin; Wang Yu, a wild inventor with a knack for explosives; Hojo Fumiaki, a great explorer and janitor; and finally Min-Jeong, the talented 12 year old scientist and diplomat. While all the other locations are still standing strong, now you can journey to a set of islands called the Anagogic Archipelago. A explorer named BoBo the Misadventurous has gotten lost while investigating a strange new religion that seems to give people an over-abundance of happiness and a really large amount of free coffee mugs.

So the positives first: the new area to explore has an interesting backstory to it. You get to save a goofball explorer while putting a stop to this evil happiness cult. The treasures have a lovely east Asia theme to them as well. Stopping the king of toucans was the best side challenge to experience. The new characters are a mixed bag for me, as captains, Min-Jeong and Hojo are the best while Phailin and Wang Yu have rather boring captain perks. Min-Jeong and Wang Yu seem to be flexible enough for multiple parties while Hojo and Phailin need to be built around. All of their personal campfire stories are rather fun and helpful at least and it adds to these character's unique personalities.

Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 84%
Gameplay - 15/20
Graphics - 10/10
Sound - 7/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 78%
Violence - 7/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 5/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 7/10

Now the new game mode shows both the strengths and the weaknesses of Renowned Explorers. The Emperor's Challenge is either a daily challenge or weekly challenge that are reset accordingly. The thing about that is if you want to have a successful run you'll want to know the game inside and out. You'll also want to take a team of explorers who have all their campfire stories unlocked. Campfire stories are unlocked by completing expeditions to earn card packs of campfire stories. The problem with a min-max game mode in Renowned Explorers is that the problems of the random number generator (RNG) and game knowledge can be highlighted. Usually I am ok with a random element to my games yet even with my hours in Renowned Explorers I felt at the mercy of luck in this game. If you don't get the right events in order before you run out of supplies, or you get a challenge that may mess up your team build, it makes it that much harder to win. I had Emperor's Challenge runs where it asked me to add diplomat or athlete perks to my explorers when I had no plans to give them said perks. Depending on the challenges you may have to plan to get certain treasures which can sometimes be up to luck as well. Add all this to the potential to fail on the adventure wheel to get certain treasures, perks or rewards and you won't be happy at every failed dice roll. I am fine with the game mode being catered towards experienced players, but the balance seems off and adds to the frustration, not the fun. Don't expect to have a team to get every single challenge completed. You'll have to decide which challenges to focus on to succeed and abandon the ones that are beyond you at that moment.

Morality-wise, most of my points still stand from the original review. Violence is strange and cartoony but not disturbing in any way at all. With the new location some people might find the story of the cult strange and disturbing. Any treasure you may find are just museum pieces.  

It's a good expansion regardless for the characters and the new area to explore, experienced players will enjoy the expansion no doubt, but that enjoyment may come with a asterisk. You can almost hear the Emperor laughing at any bad luck you may have.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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