Flying Frog Productions has been steadily releasing content for their popular cooperative boardgame Shadows of Brimstone. The game is a TechRaptor favorite, taking runner-up in our Board Game of the Year Award in 2015, and, while a lot of the releases have been new enemy types and new hero characters, there have also been a few full-fledged expansions, like the excellent Frontier Town, that make the game even better.
Flying Frog had quite a few new Gen Con Preview packs (sets sold before the final retail packaging is ready) available at Gen Con 2016 proper, yet I wasn't able to get my hands on any of them until PAX West. One that really stood out to me was the Ally Expansion entitled Allies of the Old West. It's not a full-fledged expansion per se, but it does add some interesting, thematic, and fun options to the game.
Let's take a look at what comes in Allies of the Old West.
Allies of the Old West comes with 6 tan plastic miniatures. The Faithful Dog, Blacksmith, and Pack Mule are static, while the three Henchman models come with different heads and the option to outfit them each with a pistol or a mining pick. The miniatures are all on-par with the other Shadows of Brimstone minis; they are all decent quality and require some assembly, but the ability to customize the Henchman is a great touch.
There are quite a few cards included that reference the Allies, including new Gear that is particularly useful to them, and some Gear cards that even provide an Ally mid-mission. There are even Daily Event cards that are used with the Frontier Town expansion and some new Darkness cards that tie the Allies into the game further.
The Allies all have both a Basic and Advanced versions. The Advanced Allies function as mini-heroes, while the Basic Allies work more like Side Bag Tokens. The Advanced Allies gain experience and can level up and even Mutate, just like the standard Hero characters.
Sometimes Allies come in to play with Ally Specialties. They aren't all positive, but they are thematic and fun, and some are pretty powerful.
Henchman are essentially expendable, and they can be put in harm's way to try to cancel some of the game's nastier effects. They will often meet a Gruesome Fate, which can be fairly damaging or dangerous to the party. The risk-reward level feels about right though.
The Basic versions of the Allies are represented by tokens that the heroes carry. The token quality is consistent with the tokens from all of the other SoB products.
With a quick coat of paint, the Allies fit in perfectly with the rest of my Shadows of Brimstone miniatures. I've become increasingly attached to my Pack Mule, whom I've lovingly named Dunkey. At first I was a bit worried that the Allies might imbalance the game in favor of the heroes, but so far they feel fun and useful without feeling overpowered. The risk vs. reward of the Henchman feels just about right, and it's often hilarious, and always entertaining, when they meet their Gruesome Fate. I'm glad I bought this set, and I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys Shadows of Brimstone.