I recently got back into reading fantasy literature after a lengthy departure from the genre. All I really needed, was to find a series that would sink its teeth into me and remind me what I’d been missing out on.
For me, that was the Kingkiller Chronicle, a series by Patrick Rothfuss.
This series has been blowing up over the past decade, and with good reason. In fact, even though the fanbase has been eagerly awaiting the third book in the series for several years, a television-adaptation is likely on the way.
As a member of that fanbase, imagine my delight when I discovered that a Kingkiller Chronicle-themed expansion was coming to the Call to Adventure board game! Based on the events that take place in the first book, the Name of the Wind expansion is a must-add if you’re already a fan of the base game.
The World of the Kingkiller Chronicle Series
First, a few words for those of you that aren’t familiar with the Kingkiller Chronicle series, here’s a little breakdown. The books follow a musician named Kvothe, who spends his time in the present retelling the story of his life. Over the course of the first two books, we see young Kvothe’s childhood, his time at the University, and some other interesting places that he travels.
Like most fantasy settings, the University is where the youth of today learn the magics of tomorrow. As I described above, people try to understand the true Names of things in order to control and manipulate those elements.
As a character, Kvothe has a clever tongue and a somewhat reckless attitude. Although intelligent, he often rushes into things without thinking them through, but his adaptability benefits him greatly. His musical talents are also, without question, extraordinary.
The novels are filled with memorable characters, like Kvothe’s recurring love interest Denna, and his University nemesis Ambrose. Each of the characters gets adequate ‘page-time’, which adds another dimension to the immersion that we experience as readers.
If you are looking for a new series to dive into, you could do worse than picking the Name of the Wind. There’s been talk of a TV series, with Lin-Manuel Miranda executive producing, but it seems to have stalled for the time being. That should give you plenty of time to catch up before it hits the screens. And let’s hope that it does – I’m game for anything that Lin-Manuel Miranda touches.
Now, let’s look specifically at the board game!
Call to Adventure: Name of the Wind Expansion Overview
I’ve already written about the base game at length, and you can find that complete synopsis here. My focus in this review is to discuss the main additions that the expansion brings to the table.
First thing’s first – the Name of the Wind expansion doesn’t change the core gameplay of Call to Adventure. Everybody is still trying to progress through the three Acts to create the story of their character. Nothing new there.
If you want to truly get the narrative feel of the Kingkiller Chronicle setting, there’s a list of cards from the base game that you can swap out. Something that often happens with expansions that offer thematic differences is that the card pool becomes too diluted to see that theme carry through. Having a list of cards to remove definitely helps alleviate that problem.
Another change in the expansion is the removal of the ‘Nature’ story icon. This icon is replaced with the ‘Music’ icon, which is especially fitting, considering the musical prowess of Kvothe, the main protagonist of the series.
The big new change, however, comes in the form of Naming. For those of you familiar with the setting, understanding the true Name of something gives you power and control over it.
Likewise, in the expansion, players can attempt to understand the names of Wind, Fire, or Iron. You can’t just do this any time you want though – you can attempt Naming only if you just failed a challenge. In this way, the game lessens the blow of missing a challenge by giving you a shot at something else.
Learning a Name is difficult, but it yields a powerful benefit. Whenever you attempt a path of that type in the future, it’s an automatic success. That’s right – no casting runes and no wishing on a star. You just get it.
Call to Adventure: Name of the Wind Expansion Takeaways
Naming is nice touch to help players catch up if they fail too many challenges. This is especially true since there isn’t any downside to making an attempt at learning a Name; you might as well give it a shot. Your successes at Naming also give you three points at the end of the game.
What I appreciate about the expansion is that Naming doesn’t inherently break the game. For example, it really isn’t an optimal strategy to purposefully fail a challenge just so you can attempt to learn a name. Completing challenges remain the primary route to victory.
There may be situations, however, that you may want to purposefully fail a challenge if you can guarantee that you will learn a Name. You might do this if you see another challenge with a Name icon that you just can’t live without. At the end of the day, though, Naming remains a solid ‘catch-up’ mechanism and a way to immerse players in the setting of the Kingkiller Chronicle.
One place that Call to Adventure has always excelled is its artistic presentation, and the Name of the Wind expansion continues that tradition. Patrick Rothfuss’ world is so vivid and interesting. The fact that we can finally see some pseudo-canon visual representations of that world is nothing short of amazing.
Call to Adventure: Name of the Wind Expansion Final Thoughts
Creating a game or an expansion of a game from an existing IP is always a tricky tightrope to walk. On one side, you tend to limit your audience to fans of the setting. On the other side, the audience that you’re catering to is full of experts, and they’re bound to be the most critical of the end-result.
I’m no expert, but the Call to Adventure: Name of the Wind expansion did wonders to renew my interest in the Kingkiller Chronicle series. It’s really magical when your vision of the events in a novel coincides with artwork from that setting, which is exactly what happened with me. Even the vague titles of the cards perfectly capture specific scenes from the books.
That being said, the Call to Adventure: Name of the Wind expansion adds an extra layer of depth to this highly-touted storytelling game. I mentioned in the original review that the base game is prime for expansion material, and the cards included in this expansion should feel right at home.
You can get the Call to Adventure: Name of the Wind Expansion here, direct via Brotherwise Games, or, better yet, ask for it at your Friendly Local Game Shop (FLGS).
[Disclosure: Nerds on Earth was provided a copy of Call to Adventure: Name of the Wind Expansion by Brotherwise Games in exchange for an honest review.]