The New Mysteries of Paupers’ Ladder: The Moon Towers
Explore the mysteries of the Moon Towers in a whole new adventure set in the cozy world of Paupers’ Ladder.
My time with Paupers’ Ladder has been amazing so far! I wasn’t necessarily tired of the base game, yet with the first major expansion just waiting to be experienced, I figured it was time to see what it added to the experience. With new paupers to play as and a host of entirely new content, I gladly continued my journey through the land of Brighthelm!
Game Name: Paupers’ Ladder
Publication Year: 2019
Designer: Paul Stapleton
Artist: Paul Stapleton
Publisher: Bedsit Games
Solo Mode: Included in The Moon Towers
As exploration leads to surprises and discoveries, a lone pauper must learn 3 of 5 virtues in order to succeed. With a trusty bird companion to help, all manner of quests and events may be uncovered. With the first major expansion, a new and separate adventure takes center stage!
February 26, 2023
March 7, 2023
30" x 24"
The Moon Towers
I still had plenty more to enjoy with the base game, yet the expansion called to me. Groatsworth seemed like the best kind of pauper… Seemingly complex, but not an enigma.
Interestingly, this expansion doesn’t simply add cards to the region decks, but replaces them entirely.
The adventure, therefore, is very different from the base game. Moon Towers rise up, new characters can be encountered, and unexpected surprises are waiting.
Groatsworth also took advantage of the new talent cards, which provide a random, unique ability. Awesome!
New Solo Components
At last, a dedicated solo board! No more using dice and opening up the booklet for some information. This helped keep everything organized with helpful reminders.
Don’t think it stopped with the easier difficulty levels: The other side features the hard and very hard settings with very little health and starting time. Quite a challenge!
Talents could be swapped out after learning a virtue, providing more of a story about growth and new horizons.
At the same time, this expansion introduced curses, which were about to be the central theme for Groatsworth…
Cursed to be Unlucky
Such troubles befell this pauper! Curses may be picked up in several ways, but failing to defeat a hazard seemed to be the flavor of the day. All of the difficult ones showed up!
Whereas a pauper is limited to a single talent, curses are unlimited and cost 2 gems each to get rid of in cities.
I liked this mechanic, though, as it gave me another reason to visit cities to do more than the standard actions.
Groatsworth was unlucky for some time, though, mainly because I could work around it by not rolling the dice too often. Still, he was so unlucky, even without the curse!
From the Depths…
Moon Towers are fairly rare in each region deck, but they weren’t shy about showing up during this play. This one brought out some fabulous Moonweed. Plus so much cold.
In short, the mountain region deck was locked until this tower was defeated. No new cards to explore. Oh, my!
As it was the bird companion who uncovered this card, no battle took place. Yet had it been Groatsworth himself, he would have been forced to try to defeat the tower.
This expansion certainly adds some layers of difficulty, although it’s nice to play a separate adventure!
More Tower Battles
I shuffled the new region decks so well, but alas, the landscape was dotted with dangerous towers! Even with some luck on his side, Groatsworth wasn’t in a good spot.
And just take a look slightly to the south. Elemantal! These replace dragons, but are even more dangerous with variable strength. Easy does it, Brighthelm.
This was almost a story about a comedy of errors. Groatsworth was very rarely without a curse.
Yet through it all, I enjoyed the entirely new region decks and all of the surprises in store as I flipped the cards.
An Unusual Quest
In Bluevale, a fairly simple quest called for vermin to be dropped off to a creative chef. I wasn’t about to question the health and safety regulations of this choice. Ha!
As it happened, the only vermin out there were birds. And it was Groatsworth’s bird companion who delivered the meat to complete the quest… Rather ironic and odd!
But that’s the fun with how random everything is. Pretty sure no one is visiting that Bluevale chef for a bit.
Little story moments like these stand out, though, and I’ve found that humor plays an important role here.
Oh, Groatsworth! Towards the end, virtues all seemed a long ways off and Groatsworth had a terrible curse.
Moving and exploring is a crucial element. A bird may only move a single region, but a pauper usually can pay extra gems to move as far as possible. Not with this curse!
Mum’s Ol’ Hairpin didn’t come in handy, either, since most of the chests and crates seemed to be hiding at the bottom of the region decks. Just one of those days.
It’s not like I wasn’t having a good time, though: I had some good laughs over the worst luck I ever experienced!
What is the Recommended Content for Solo?
As I’ve looked at this content more and more, some questions have popped up about what I recommend picking up. I know this isn’t the cheapest of games out there, and my answer isn’t to simply get it all! Technically, that’s what I do with a lot of games, but I try to save wallets sometimes! If you’re looking at the game for solo, here are my thoughts:
- Paupers’ Ladder Base Game: You need it. There’s no getting around it! It contains a full adventure.
- One Lonely Pauper: You likely don’t need it. This has a solo mode and scenarios, but lacks solo components.
- The Moon Towers: You need it. A huge expansion that includes the solo board and tons of new content.
- The Bodachs of Brighthelm: You might want it. There are 4 new Halloween-like paupers that summon familiars.
- This Cobbled Isle: You might want to preorder it. It’s an upcoming big expansion for city regions and much more.
In short, you can likely get away with the base game and the Moon Towers if you want a full experience right now. There are some other neat things like a gamebook and illustrated guide with tons of achievements to mark off, but those are entirely optional. You’ll know if they fit your gaming preferences! Reminder: You never need everything.
Out of Time
Not surprisingly, time ran out before Groatsworth became virtuous enough to claim success. It was still pretty close at the end, though, with lots of hazards defeated.
The solo board is certainly very useful as more than a tracker, too. Much easier to keep track of the ways to earn more time, which is an incredibly valuable asset.
Although it was a resounding loss, this was a wonderful introduction to the expansion. So much more difficult!
It actually felt like I needed to plan ahead and play a little more strategically, all while still telling a quick story.
Groatsworth wasn’t about to be abandoned to a loss, though! I quickly reset and set about exploring. Right away, luck changed and lots of quests were within reach.
So many quests, indeed! And then a Moon Tower fell at the perfect time. Things were much more exciting this time!
Curses were minimal, and I wasn’t entirely sure if the increased difficulty was just poor luck. But it was still there with challenging hazards and the new towers.
I can now safely say that it will be a joy to swap back and forth between the base game and this expansion. Variety!
The Best Quest Card
The final virtue came in the form of a finished quest, and I decided to flip over the next card just to see what it was.
Maybe it was just me, but this Sympathy Sale made me break out in laughter. It still does! Just a simple line of flavor text brought this entire scene to life for me.
I was only slightly disappointed that I didn’t have a chance to send Groatsworth in search of this idiotic shop. Ha ha!
Some like to look at all of the new cards in a deck, but I prefer to surprise myself. This is what makes it so fun to keep flipping over the cards… I never know what’s there!
Play Number: 6 and 7
Expansion: The Moon Towers
Solo Mode: Included in The Moon Towers
Play Details: Medium Difficulty Level
Outcome: 1 Win and 1 Loss
Groatsworth triumphed in the end! It wasn’t an easy play, and I’m enjoying the increased challenge with the first expansion. With the replaced decks, it’s also easy to go back to the base game, particularly since the paupers aren’t interchangeable. No worries, though: There is plenty more fun ahead within the world of Brighthelm!
Price & Value
Challenges & Mechanics
Design & Theme
Components & Rules
Achievement & Enjoyment
Distinctness & Randomness
+ Pros (Positives)
- The touches of humor in the flavor text only pop up here and there, yet are enough to offer up plenty of laughs.
- Each pauper is very different, and the talents in the expansion only add more unique combinations.
- Combat is simple with the outcome deck, which can often be reordered by using special items or abilities.
- Stories develop naturally and may not be the most epic tales out there, but are still satisfying for the time spent.
- Setup is very quick and gameplay flies by with fast turns, typically leading to a full play taking under an hour.
- This first expansion adds an entirely new adventure without mixing content, and adds more challenging aspects.
– Cons (Negatives)
- Bad luck is a necessary part of flipping over cards and rolling dice, which can spoil some plays in some ways.
- The expansion symbol is very small and only on the face-up sides, so it can be hard to tell the decks apart.
- Of all the components, the simple wooden disc to represent the bird is the only one that seems underwhelming.
- Closer to the end, it can be hard to remember all of the special abilities that are available across a lot of cards.
Complete the Scenario Win Condition
- Overall Goal Progress 100% 100%
Goals and Milestones
Complete the Garolium's Tournament scenario.
Win at least 1 game as Derrius Burr.
Win at least 1 game as Dezzi Blonth.
Win at least 1 game as Ginny Heaver.
Win at least 1 game as Groatsworth.
Win at least 1 game as the Great Ognov.
Win at least 1 game as K'zaah Hoi'z.
Win at least 1 game as Rummy Kether.
Win at least 1 game as Sarah Bracker.
Continue the Conversation
What do you think of Paupers’ Ladder and The Moon Towers? I didn’t realize that all of the content wouldn’t be mixed together, but this provides even more variety! Are there other solo adventure games with separate decks you enjoy? I’m still not done with this one yet… More paupers and bird companions to discover before I bid a temporary farewell to it!