Review, The Wrath Expansion for Draconis Invasion, an innovative fantasy deck-building game

The fantasy deck-building game Draconis Invasion was a surprise hit with my gaming group and ever since playing it I’ve been looking forward to checking out the Wrath expansion which adds over 400 new cards to Draconis Invasion.

Draconis Invasion Wrath is a campaign-style expansion that gives you thirteen sealed packs of cards that you are expected to play through one at a time as you play through an evolving story. 

Disclosure: Big thanks to the designer of Draconis Invasion for sending us a copy of the base game and this expansion to check out.  Links in this post may be affiliate links. Using these links doesn’t cost you anything extra and helps support this blog and our podcast. As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

What do you get with the Draconis Invasion Wrath Expansion?

The box for Draconis Invasion: Wrath ExpansionDraconis Invasion: Wrath was designed by Jeff Lai and features artwork from Manthos Lappas. This expansion can be played through with one to six players with games taking fifteen minutes up to two hours depending on your player count. A copy of Draconis Invasion is required to use this expansion and you will probably want to own all the promo cards for the game as well (more about that later)

Wrath was successfully Kickstarted in 2018 by KEJI Inc and backers have received their copies. Unfortunately due to logistic issues this expansion still isn’t available at retail, but you can pre-order it direct from the publisher.  This expansion has an MSRP of $47 CAD.

The story in Draconis Invasion continues in this expansion box that includes over 400 new cards for the game, covering all card types including Actions, Defenders, Invaders, Campaigns, Events and Dividers. These cards are split over thirteen sealed packs that form a continuing campaign. 

If you want to check out what you get in the box and how it’s packaged be sure to check out our Draconis Invasion Wrath Unboxing video on YouTube

Due to the fact that this is a campaign-style expansion with sealed decks and I didn’t want to spoil anything so I don’t show off any hidden information in that video. 

The inside of the Wrath box showing all the sealed decks of cards for Draconis InvasionThis expansion comes in a pretty standard trading card-sized box. The thirteen sealed packs are arranged in a rather interesting way due to the various card sizes used in this game. While it may not be pretty it was very functional for keeping everything safe and undamaged. 

The cards themselves are of excellent quality, something that’s true of the base game as well. The cards feature a linen finish with no white or black border, the artwork is full bleed. 

Speaking of artwork, I’m pleased to say that much of the artwork in Draconis Invasion: Wrath is brighter and more colourful than that in the base game, though I do still think they all could use the brightness turned up a notch more.  One issue we did notice, though it took a couple of games to spot, is that the card backs aren’t a perfect match to the original. They are really damn close but not quite there. Some card game players are going to have a serious problem with this, but we didn’t find it to really be a problem during our plays especially once all of the new cards are mixed in.

The rules for the Wrath Expansion for Draconis Invasion are a single two-sided sheetIn addition to these sealed packs, there is a small two-sided sheet telling you how to use the contents of the box. There’s also a cloth bag, that we now know is for holding the square cards. Though I’m not sure why you wouldn’t just use the original cloth bag from the base game to hold all of the square cards. I do appreciate another large bag I can use in another game though. 

As far as the amount of stuff you get and the quality of that stuff I will say I was impressed by what you get in the Wrath Expansion for Draconis Invasion.

How do you add the Wrath expansion to Draconis Invasion?

A game of Draconis Invasion with Wrath set up to play.One thing that didn’t change with the Wrath expansion are the basic rules of Draconis Invasion.

That said, if you do have the first printing of the game, the 1.1 version changes are listed here and I strongly recommend you use those as they did a lot to fix the original printing. I personally have the second printing of the core game so there was nothing new for me, rules wise, in this box.

Using Wrath is simple. Find all the packs with stickers that say Stage 1 on them and open them. Read the scenario card for a bit of back story and flip it over to set up your game. 

The three sealed decks unlocked during State 1 of Wrath for Draconis InvasionThe first pack contains the most new cards out of any of the future expansions, giving you new Events, Actions, Defenders and more. 

Once you play through scenario one, you open pack number two. Rinse and repeat for twelve packs. The thirteenth pack contains all of the dividers for the cards in this expansion. The game suggests you not open this until the end, but I suggest you open it first. The only spoilers you get here are card names and artwork, you won’t learn what they do or any of the various scenario effects. 

One thing you may want to do to raise the stakes is to not open the next pack in the campaign until you manage to beat the current scenario by defeating invaders (as opposed to hitting the Retreat card). This makes a lot more sense thematically and will greatly increase the challenge, especially on two specific scenarios. 

A ton of empty card wraps, from the Draconis Invasion expansion: WrathOnce you complete scenario twelve all of the new cards will have been added to your copy of Draconis Invasion and you can continue to play mixing and matching cards as you see fit. 

Without spoiling anything I will say that each of these packs changes the game in some way. While many of them just give you new cards you can buy or new monsters to defeat, some cause significant changes to the game. 

These changes include many single-use cards that are trashed after you play them, as well as completely new starting defenders that give all of the players different starting decks and new powerful invaders that are easier to defeat with specific defenders. There are also new defenders that defeat invaders in new ways, and new after battle effects that involve passing cards to other players, as well as new events that reward the player(s) with the least kills instead of punishing those with the most, and more. 

Is the Wrath Expansion for Draconis Invasion worth picking up?

The stage 5 card for Wrath for Draconis InvasionBefore I go any further I need to bring up a serious problem with this expansion that can, will, and should, be a complete turn-off for some players. 

When you get to scenario five of Wrath for Draconis Invasion the game requires you to own certain promo cards in order to set up the scenario and play through it. These promo cards were included as part of the last Draconis Invasion Kickstarter and are not included in the retail version of Draconis Invasion. The version I own. 

Due to this, when we got to this point in the campaign, only one-third of the way through, we had to stop. There was no way for us to progress forward and play by the rules we were presented with. 

We discussed various options like just stopping here and publishing a very negative review or playing without having a full six cards in the purchase rows or just skipping over the promo cards. At this point, I was very frustrated and that’s an understatement.

You do not publish an expansion for a game that requires the use of promo materials!  That’s unforgivable. 

We scoured the rule sheet and the various scenario cards to see if we somehow missed something. I grabbed my original Draconis Invasion rulebook and checked to see if the cards were listed there. Nowhere was anything in any of the Draconis stuff I owned that mentioned any of these cards. 

Sean and Deanna playing Draconis Invasion with WrathEventually, Sean thought to go online and look and sure enough, we found a thread on Board Game Geek where the designer acknowledges the problem and offers up a list of substitutions. It was here we learned that three more of the scenarios that we would be unlocking later also require substitutions. 

While I’m glad that this issue is addressed somewhere, it really needs to be addressed within this expansion box somehow. While I’m an experienced gamer, and I visit Board Game Geek regularly and know to check there when I find problems like this, your average gamer who buys a copy of Draconis Invasion off of the store shelf or online, has no idea where to look when they run into a problem like this.

Without something included in the box to address this Wrath is two-thirds unplayable as a campaign as published. Now I will admit it’s just the campaign that is ruined. There’s nothing stopping you from opening up all of the card packs and just adding them to your game, making your own scenarios or using the randomizers.

Cards from Draconis Invasion with the Wrath Expansion.So fair warning: if you pick up the Wrath Expansion for Draconis Invasion, and you don’t have the Kickstarter Edition with the promos, you are going to need to go on Board Game Geek and find the substitution list to complete the campaign as written (or just check the bottom of this article).

Other than this major problem, we found a lot to like in Draconis Invasion: Wrath

Personally, I was happy with the quality of this expansion. The differences in card backs is subtle enough that you have to go looking for it and everything else is as good as or better than the base game as far as quality. I really appreciate the amount of colour and variety in the new artwork, though the choice of names for some cards is questionable (just check out the Goblin Enforcer card for an example). 

The new card abilities cover quite a range, with a focus on player interaction, managing Terror, and cycling your deck. I found it very interesting as they grouped these new abilities with the various scenarios so you got introduced to each new style of card one set at a time. Along with this, I appreciated the way they gave you new basic defenders every three packs or so, those really changed up how the game felt when playing. I do have to admit though that there was one new basic defender that none of us liked and we will probably never use again. 

The boxes for Draconis Invasion and the Wrath ExpansionA very welcome addition, that was nice and early in the box, were new events. One of my main complaints about the base game, which you can read about in my Draconis Invasion review, was the lack of variety in the event cards and how they all targeted the Kill leader. I’m very happy that they’ve mixed this up quite a bit with the new cards, though I do still wonder why there are so many copies of each event card in the deck.

This expansion has a number of new Invaders at both blue and gold levels and I appreciate the new variety. A twist I didn’t expect is that you do not also gain a matching number of Campaign cards. There are multiple unique Invaders added that don’t have corresponding Campaign cards which is an interesting choice. The one thing this did was to help curb the rather powerful strategy of just randomly grabbing as many campaign cards as you can in hopes of a lucky match with stuff you’ve killed. With the new card balance, campaign cards are still important but it’s more likely players will pick and choose now, which I think fits.

The Stage 1 story from Wrath for Draconis InvasionWith all of these new cards and scenarios, I will say that some were much more fun than others. There were a couple of scenarios that took steps to speed up the game that we felt didn’t work well with only two players, but worked great with five. Then later there was a mix of defenders that made playing with five a real slog. 

The weakest part of this campaign is the actual story itself. While I appreciate the concept of an ongoing story that evolves as you play, this storyline was not written very well and the mechanics of the scenario didn’t tie in well to the story at all. I particularly hated the end of the story, which I don’t want to spoil, but it featured a trope that most writers know to avoid. 

I was also really bummed out that we didn’t unlock something at the end. There was no reward for getting through all twelve scenarios. We finished and it was just done. I would have liked something new to add to the game at the end. Maybe six unique cards that you shuffle between the players at the start of the game adding a tiny bit of asymmetry, perhaps a set of recommended card combinations for future games or maybe some really powerful action card you can only buy if you’ve completed the campaign. I don’t know what exactly it should have been, but I wanted some kind of reward.  There wasn’t even a final story card to read when you finished. 

A hand of cards from a game of Draconis Invasion WrathOne thing we all felt, both while playing Draconis Invasion and while playing this expansion, is that this game is so close to awesome. It’s a solid game and we have fun playing it. We must enjoy it, since we played twelve games over one weekend and weren’t completely sick of it when we were done. However, while playing we keep spotting little things that feel that they could be improved. Names of characters not matching the artwork or abilities. Card costs that seem either way too high or way too low. Cards that we never bought in any game, and cards whose decks consistently run out before any others. Story elements that aren’t cohesive. Just lots of little things that could have made this game so much more. 

Overall I can’t help but say we had fun playing through Wrath for Draconis Invasion. Draconis is already a very solid fantasy deck-building game and in almost all ways Wrath builds on and improves that experience. While I didn’t love every new card, and found some of the scenarios were more fun than others, I did enjoy playing through this campaign and discovering new aspects of play that changed the feel of Draconis Invasion without changing any of the core rules or mechanics.

A hand of cards with the a game of Draconis Invasion in the backgroundWhile there are some things I wish were improved, things that could make this expansion even better, it’s still solid. That is except for one major, huge, problem and that’s having scenarios that require you to own cards that were released as promotional items. While you can find a substitution list for this problem on Board Game Geek, you shouldn’t need to go there to be able to use this expansion. I seriously hope that Jeff and Keji can find some way to include that list in the box before it hits retail. 

If you own Draconis Invasion and all of the promo materials that have been published for it then you should pick up Wrath as soon as you can, perhaps even pre-ordering it. For someone that has everything, this expansion is just going to give you more of what you love and give you new combinations and ways to play. I can’t see any reason for someone who already has all the stuff for Draconis and who enjoys the game even a little bit to not pick this up.

If you do own Draconis Invasion but don’t have the promo materials and you are reading this, I also suggest you pick up Wrath. Since you’ve read this you know about the promo card issue and where to find a fix so you should be good. I have to say that Wrath overall made Draconis better and in that way is pretty much a must-have expansion. 

Playing Draconis Invasion with WrathIf you’ve played Draconis Invasion and liked it well enough but didn’t love it, there’s a chance that Wrath may improve the game enough for you to get it to the table more often. If your complaints about Draconis Invasion, like mine, revolved mainly around lack of variety in Events and Invaders, then this might be just the fix your game needs.

If you’ve not played Draconis Invasion and are thinking of picking up both the game and the expansion at the same time, I don’t blame you. This could be a solid choice, especially if you can find some kind of bundle deal. Just be aware that the retail second edition of Draconis Invasion does not include any promo cards so you are going to run into that problem when playing through Wrath

Speaking of those promo cards, while I initially thought that they were Kickstarter exclusives it ends up you can buy them on the Draconis Invasion website. However, they aren’t cheap. The cards required for Wrath are all included in the “Victory” and “Warrior” Add-ons pack which has an MSRP of $39CAD.  Personally, that price seems rather steep to me and I’m happy just using the substitutions online. 

Draconis Invasion Wrath Official Card Substations for Exclusive Cards

To save you having to go to Board Game Geek and find the thread from the designer about subbing cards, I thought it would be worth listing the card substitutions for scenarios five, nine and ten here. 

The first card listed is the one shown on the Wrath scenario card, the card you should swap it with comes from the Draconis Invasion core box.

Dragon Hunter – Swap with Dragon Slayer.
Soul Flame – Swap with Reinforcements.
Call To Arms – Swap with Courage.

I think by this point everyone reading this blog knows we love deck-building card games and that we love discovering deck-builders that do something new. We love discovering things like the combination of deck-building and wargame with unprecedented deck control from The Red Burnoose Algeria 1857 and the defender use cost found here in Draconis Invasion. What is your favourite unique deck-builder mechanic?

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