Review of Big Trouble In Little China: Legacy of Lo Pan Expansion, An Epic Time Travel Campaign With Flaws

When I first saw Big Trouble In Little China the Board Game from Everything Epic games I had to have it. When I learned there was the Legacy of Lo Pan Expansion for the game I knew it was inevitable that I pick up that too.

The Legacy of Lo Pan box expands Big Trouble in Little China by adding the ability to play with five or six players and includes an all new epic time travelling campaign for the base game.

Disclosure: Some links in this post are affiliate links. Using these links doesn’t cost you anything extra and it helps support this blog and podcast. As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Everything Epic Games let me take a review copy of Legacy of Lo Pan home from Origins. No other compensation has been provided.

What comes in the Legacy of Lo Pan expansion for Big Trouble In Little China?

Legacy of Lo Pan was designed by Christopher Batarlis and Boris Polonsky. It features art from Henning Ludvigsen and was published by Everything Epic Games in 2019. All of the content in this expansion was included in the Deluxe version of Big Trouble in Little China which was published in 2018 after successfully funding on Kickstarter.

For a good look at what you get in the box with this expansion be sure to check out our Legacy of Lo Pan Unboxing Video on YouTube.

When first opening the box, the first thing I noticed and was surprised by was the fact there are no miniatures. With how miniature focussed the original game is I was actually shocked to not find any miniatures in the expansion.

What I did find was a rather thin board overlay, folded in half. This piece is meant to cover part of the main board while playing.

There are ten more red character dice included in the box. These are the exact same as the ones from the base game and are meant for use when playing with five or six players. There are also two “grill” tokens, two red pegs and two blue pegs, all included for the same reason.  There’s also a small red clip included in the baggie with these.

The punch board includes a bunch of new tokens for use with the new scenario book and one more large Sorcerer Lo Pan boss board. These all match the quality in the core game.

There are two packs of cards in this expansion box, some hobbit-sized and some regular-sized. The regular-sized ones are all kinds of new random quest cards. The hobbit-sized ones include new reward cards and a set of new Chinese Hell cards.

Finally, we have the Legacy of Lo Pan Campaign Book. This is the same size as the main campaign book and almost as thick. It contains the new rules for this expansion and a new branching campaign scenario you can play instead of playing with the rules in the base game.

What does Legacy of Lo Pan add to Big Trouble in Little China?

The simplest thing Legacy of Lo Pan does to enhance your games of Big Trouble in Little China is to expand the player count from four players to six players. This lets you play the base game (or the new campaign) with all of the characters. While there are some very minor rule tweaks, mostly involving setup at the start of the game and when you get to the second phase of the game, most of what you get here is just more components.

In addition to allowing for more players, Legacy of Lo Pan does have some new cards you can add to the base game. Eleven new side missions and a handful of new Hell cards are included. These can just be shuffled in with the cards from the base game. It’s worth noting that the new Hell cards are called “Social Hell Cards” and involve the players at the table doing things outside of the game to avoid an in-game penalty. Things like always talking in an accent or being rewarded for having green eyes.

While these additions are interesting enough, the big thing that Legacy of Lo Pan adds is a whole new scenario, a scenario in the form of a campaign-style of play. This new campaign has the players travelling through time trying to re-write history by defeating Lo Pan in the past. It is meant to be played by the same players and should take two or more sessions to complete.

This new campaign style scenario is very different from the gameplay in the base game but uses the same mechanics and action system. A lot of the things used in the core game are tossed out or replaced with this new campaign. For example, there are no missions, no side missions, no big trouble deck, no threat track, no crates, etc. It is very much a different, much more story-driven, style of game using the same system.

The campaign, while linear, features some branching elements. Though the overall story will remain the same each time it is played through. Playing through the campaign replaces the original gameplay and is not broken into two acts either. Most of the campaign takes place on the main game board with the other side being used for the epic finale of the campaign.

It’s also worth noting that there are variable difficulties for the scenario including a story mode which makes it rather easy so that you can see the whole thing.

Overall thoughts on the Legacy of Lo Pan Expansion for Big Trouble in Little China

I think it’s important to start off with the fact that myself and the five other people I shared the experience of playing Legacy of Lo Pan with had a lot of fun playing through this new campaign. We were laughing. We enjoyed the story. We have talked about the game after the fact. We have even been talking about running through a marathon session of it for a future Extra Life Event. We had fun playing with the expansion despite its many flaws.

My first disappointment with this expansion, which I already mentioned above, was seeing exactly what was in the box. This expansion is not cheap. At $39.99 MSRP it’s at the price point of many full games. For that cost, I fully expected to see some new miniatures. This feeling was even more reinforced once we played through the new scenario and found that it has you substituting miniatures throughout. Nazis are represented by spirit path warriors. Wing Kong Hatchetmen are used as old west outlaws, etc. Everything Epic could have at least given us a new model for Sorcerer Lo Pan to face during the epic finale.

The rest of the problems came up during play and I think all of them could have been avoided had Everything Epic just hired a good developer and an even better editor.

The amount of grammar and spelling errors in this book is embarrassing. There are sentences so bad that they don’t even make sense. While this didn’t actually affect the gameplay, for a campaign all about the story they definitely take you out of that story. This is nothing though compared to the disconnect between that story and what’s actually happening on the board on the table.

While playing there will be times when the story indicates that all of the characters are a room together doing a thing, yet your miniatures are scattered across the board. For example, a group of police officers will come around the corner, surrounding your party by spawning in your square and two squares away out of line of sight. You will emerge from the basement of a restaurant only to have one character at the brothel, two more in the street, another pair in an apartment and no one within ten squares of the restaurant. A bomb will go off hitting everyone who doesn’t defend, even if they are on the other side of the board. You will be told to slide a progress marker on a track that doesn’t exist. Sometimes, just sometimes, the narrative will say that your characters are in a spot and the game will actually have you move your minis there, but this is the rare exception.

I found this to be particularly maddening and frustrating. Doubly so because it would have been so easy to fix. Did no one playtest this expansion at all before it was published? It’s such a blatant problem, right from the first part of the scenario. How did no one notice this?

Along with all of this, toss in your usual editing problems of ambiguous, missing and contradictory rules.

If you can overlook these flaws or your group is willing to house rule things and/or just go with the flow and move your minis to where the narrative says things are happening, then there’s quite a bit of fun to be had with this expansion.

The mechanics work and work well. I’ve always been impressed by the unique dice pool system that Big Trouble in Little China uses. One of the aspects I liked about playing this campaign over just another play of the base game is that you actually get to level your characters up and develop them. We had almost all of our characters to level six by the end of the campaign.

As for the other bits in this expansion, besides the new campaign, I don’t really have any complaints. The ability to play with six players is cool and the new side missions are fine. I didn’t mind the new Hells but I found our group split over the fact that some did not like having to do silly things out of game.

The most interesting thing I found with this new scenario was just how different it was in tone and feel to the base game. There’s way more story here and it sucked me in a lot more than the random quest cards and which-way style adventure of the base game. I liked that it was a longer more focused story and that I got to actually develop my character over time through that story. I just hated the fact that far too often the story we were being told and reading didn’t actually mesh with what was going on in the game.

One final note on difficulty. We chose to play through the game on story mode and I have to say that felt too easy. We never really felt threatened. This felt like playing a video game on story mode, which fits. If I do ever play through this campaign again I would stick to the normal difficulty.

Overall I can’t really recommend the Legacy of Lo Pan expansion for Big Trouble In Little China. While we did have fun playing through the campaign, that fun was threatened repeatedly with problems and inconsistencies in the game text. This made the entire experience feel unfinished and unpolished. I think the only thing that really saved this for us was the group of players we had, who would have had fun playing anything together. I think I would have hated playing this with a group of strangers.

For those of you who got this with your Deluxe Edition of Big Trouble in Little China, take the time to try the Legacy of Lo Pan campaign. You will probably have quite a bit of fun with it. For the rest of us though, I only suggest the most die hard of fans pick up this expansion.

Maybe someday a new printing will come out, or Everything Epic will release a real FAQ that fixes the ridiculous number of problems in the scenario book. Then and only then would I recommend this to a boarder audience, and even then I think I would suggest people watch for a good sale over paying the full price.

Check out our actual play video of Big Trouble in Little China: Legacy of Lo Pan, if you want to see us playing through the first half of this expansion.

Have you tried out the Legacy of Lo Pan expansion for Big Trouble in Little China? Was your experience better than ours? Let us know in the comments.

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4 Responses

  1. I did the pre-order and got the Deluxe (Gold Box) edition, so I had the expansion included. I have yet to play it, as I have not played the game with the same group of people twice, so I don’t know if people would be capable of handling the new changes right off the bat.

    Does the “white box” version of the game not allow character advancement in the normal game? It does in the gold box version. So you can advance up in levels while playing the base game…not needing to play the Legacy of Lo Pan to be able to use the levels.

    I’ve heard that the editing is poor, and I’ve come across a couple instances of it in my plays, but overall I just gloss over much of it and go with “common sense” when reading them. I do, however, agree that it is a bit steep on price to pick up the expansion. I am glad I basically got it “for free” in the pre-order.

    1. Phil,

      I totally agree with you. As an add on to the base game that you got with the kickstarter the expansion is an excellent edition. It’s just as a stand alone product I found it to be rather disappointing.

      Regarding leveling up in the main game, yes it does happen but not to the extend it did in the campaign game. When playing the main game we would be lucky if one of the characters hit level 3, with this we had almost the entire group to level 6.

      Thanks for the comment,
      Moe T.

  2. I agree with you. We tackled this with 3 players last night, and steamrolled the enemies. Lo Pan didn’t even get his Enemy Phase at the end of the game. We’re going to try some house rules to try and ramp up the threat level…keeping the Big Trouble cards, having one enemy activate after each player goes (like the DND boardgames).

    1. Greg,

      In a way I’m glad to hear it wasn’t just us. I did like this version more than the original but it felt like it just needed some more work.

      Thanks for the comment,
      Moe t

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