Heckmeck – Extrawurm: expansion review

Heckmeck ExtrawurmHeckmeck* (AKA Pickomino) is a fantastic little Yahtzee-style family dice game, first published back in 2005 (and reviewed by me in 2012).

It’s a simple push-your-luck dice game where players try to collect the most tiles to score points – with the bonus of being able to steal tiles from opponents if you roll well.

The big plus points are that anyone can play, so it’s great to play with non gamers – while it can also be a real laugh with a few beers when people are getting competitive, but when you don’t want to play something serious or complicated.

But while I’m certainly a fan the game can feel long with more than four players (it takes seven, in theory), while its simplicity means ‘proper’ gamers will often tut, turn their noses up at it and walk away.

What does Extrawurm bring to the barbecue?

Heckmeck Extrawurm allThe expansion is essentially split into two – the new tiles and characters. The two new tiles are 11 and 13 (both score one worm) that go in front of the 21 on the rack.

What makes them special, apart from being low numbers, is you can only take them with an exact roll – and they can’t then be taken by another player, thus protecting tiles beneath them on your stack. This simple innovation makes them a strong addition.

The bigger part of Extrawurm is the specialists (and associated bratwurms). You get four cute wooden animals (canned worm, weasel, raven and sitting hen) plus a golden (read: yellow) dice. These are placed on set tiles at the start of the game and if you claim the tile, you get the specialist.

Each player can only have one specialist at a time, but they’re super useful. The golden dice is an extra one for you that only has worms and ones on it; the weasel gives you re-rolls; the sitting hen protects your tiles; the canned worm counts as a worm; and the raven gives you bratwurms. Bratwurms (seven in the box) are single worm tokens you can also get any time you save two ones from a roll – and if there are none left to take, you can take one from an opponent of your choice. All the components are high quality, with the bratwurms being made of the same material as the tiles.

How much does it change the game?

Heckmeck Extrawurm specialistsExtrawurm definitely adds a level of complexity. For example, until you’ve played the game a few times you’ll need to go back to the rulebook to check on specifics about some of the specialist a few times. That said, the only rule you could call ‘new’ is the protection of your tiles – either with the hen or new low numbered tiles.

What it means is that you can have choices in the game beyond just choosing which dice to keep each round. I’m not suggesting it suddenly rates as a strategy game, but the expansion at least offers the opportunity for strategic choices: do you want to protect what you have, or take on an option that gives you a better chance at those high scoring tiles?

Is Extrawurm value for money?

Heckmeck Extrawurm is currently (January ’16) about £15 in the UK, where you can find it – largely because it’s being imported from Germany (where it is available for around €10). In terms of pure components, it certainly isn’t cheap.

But for me it’s definitely value at around £10; and if you’re a big fan of the original and want to take it to the next level I’d suggest its worth a punt at £15. While there’s not much in the box, it adds an awful lot of extra fun – and more importantly decisions and variety – to an already great family game.

If you weren’t sold on the original, I don’t think that at this price it’s going to change your mind. However I’d suggest trying to get a play of it with Extrawurm thrown in, as you may well be converted.

Is Extrawurm essential?

Heckmeck Extrawurm sizeFor me, kind of. Now I’ve got it I really can’t see myself playing without the expansion – even with young, new or inexperienced gamers.

Because this is a game where everything is visible to players it’s super easy to re-explain any rules as you go along. But the original is still a great game in its own right.

As it’s Yahtzee style dice rolling, other players are always commenting and cajoling you on your turn anyway – so it’s easy to remind people of their new options if you think they’re about to forget something. Or, for your gaming enemies, to ‘accidentally’ forget to tell them until just after they’ve finished their turn…

… and does it fit in the original Heckmeck box?

Yes! The expansion box itself is as big as the original box, but the contents are small enough to easily squeeze in with the original dice and tiles (see image above).

* Thank you to Zoch Verlag for providing copies of Heckmeck and Extrawurm for review.

More Reiner Knizia game reviews:

2 thoughts on “Heckmeck – Extrawurm: expansion review

  1. I felt you did a good job of covering all that needed to be whilst keeping it interesting. As such, the format you created seems like a recipe for success!

    Maybe as well as main game review, overview, VFM, ‘essential’ and size, you could ask how much it alters the game?

    You cover this in the overview, but maybe one or two paragraphs just about comparing the base/base+expansion would work well.

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