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Kanban Kontinued: The SpeedCharger Expansion Game Review

Justin gets Kanban EV back to the table for a conversation about its mini-expansion, SpeedCharger!

Kanban EV (2020, Eagle-Gryphon Games) gets to the table from time to time, thanks to a mix of the “Cafe Lacerda” game nights I do with friends every few months. Named for Vital Lacerda, the designer of games such as On Mars, The Gallerist, and Vinhos: Deluxe Edition, friends bring all their Lacerda games to someone’s house, then we fight to see which two or three of these games get to the table.

I recently decided to dig into the mini expansion for Kanban EV, SpeedCharger. I got it when I bought the “Upgrade Pack” with the base game a few years ago, but I had never played it. Like other Lacerda games, the base game is usually designed with such care that expansions are not necessary. After playing Kanban EV a few times, I was sure that I would never open SpeedCharger; designs this strong don’t need any extras.

But lately, I have been staring at my supposed “Shelf of Shame” and noticed that I don’t have many unopened base games. I do, however, have a few unopened expansions. I used SpeedCharger as an excuse to break out Kanban EV with players both new to the base game and those with some experience, and I have to say that SpeedCharger is now officially in play for good.

Easy to Add

SpeedCharger’s greatest asset? Its entire ruleset is listed on a half-page in the reference rulebook included with the base game. It’s incredibly easy to add on, even with new players.

All players receive a small board that sits to the left of their existing player board: the SpeedCharger board. It has five slots to hold five SpeedCharger tokens. These tokens, which can be added to the new board by taking an action (one shift) in the Administration area, grant the owner an ongoing player power for the rest of the game.

The powers are minor, but noteworthy. Each token aligns with a department, so that players who visit that department on future turns get something a little juicy. It’s always little, but in a game this tight, I have found these minor upgrades to be situationally important.

With an added token to the Design line on the SpeedCharger board, visits to the Design department grant a book to players who choose designs from the central stack. Normally, the central stack doesn’t provide a bonus at all.

The power for Research & Development: designs can be upgraded with a part from the supply instead of from the player board, meaning that you no longer need a part or a parts voucher when visiting that section. This is fairly significant, and sometimes you’ll need a part but can’t find what you need even through Recycling. Now this problem goes away!

The bonus for the Administration area might be my favorite one: players who upgrade that section get one extra shift to work each time they visit Administration in the future. In many ways, this is a game changer and makes the Administration area much more viable as a work location. In fact, I’ve been surprised how often both Administration spaces are taken (even the crappy one-shift spot!) during games when SpeedCharger is active.

For the Price? Sure Thing

Even on the Eagle-Gryphon web store, SpeedCharger will only set you back about $15 USD. In addition to the components listed above, there are additional garage bonuses that can be drafted at the start of each game that will take on the fifth garage bonus spot. Plus, a few new meeting cards and end-game goals that feature the SpeedCharger tokens are included, offering a wealth of different ways to change that big swing at the end of the game.

Many players received SpeedCharger when they bought the deluxe version of Kanban EV, but I have neither seen nor heard much noise one way or the other from players about what this adds to the overall package. I think SpeedCharger is worth adding for every game because it makes a tough game slightly easier. The bonuses are subtle but still provide a chance to explore such a rich experience in differing ways.

SpeedCharger doesn’t change the meta of how the timing cycle works, either. Finding ways to line up getting designs, pushing out cars then moving them into your garage hasn’t changed, which is a good thing. I don’t think Kanban EV will ever see a major expansion at this point, as it is already the second release of this IP, after 2014’s Kanban: Driver’s Edition.

If you are debating a purchase of the Kanban EV base game, I would buy the whole package: the base game plus the Upgrade Pack, which includes SpeedCharger. (But not the whole-whole package, because those slick metal cars are a bit on the pricey side.) I love Kanban EV, and I love that SpeedCharger makes this an easier recommendation for new players intimidated by the often-brutal first plays of a Lacerda experience.

About the author

Justin Bell

Love my family, love games, love food, love naps. If you're in Chicago, let's meet up and roll some dice!

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