Theme and What is it?
Tanto Cuore is a deck-building game where players employ cute maids to serve them. Expanding the House is the first expansion to the series. Just like the original game, the player with the most valuable collection of maids at the end of the game is the perfect master and wins. Tanto Cuore means “Much Heart” in Italian. Expanding the House adds several new twists to the game and does not feature events unless paired with the base set. It plays completely as a stand alone without the need for the base game to play.
The biggest new feature of Expanding the House are building cards. Buildings go directly into private quarters when purchased. The Garden card is worth a single instantly banked victory point and provides protection from events if the player has 4 or more and is playing with a set that includes events. Another reason to buy Gardens is to be allowed to buy Lily Gardens that are worth 4 points but cannot be purchased without a Garden or specific maid first.
The Estate is one of the most important new buildings as it can only be purchased when you have a maid chief in hand but immediately banks that maid chief underneath it that cannot be the target of events. This is an easy way to gain not only the base 2 points for the estate but to avoid paying the servings to store Chambermaid Chiefs. It is also the only way to get the high victory point Maid Chief cards out of deck.
The buildings offer a whole new depth of play. The 18 new general maids and 9 new private maids provide many new game setup combinations. When combined with the base set, the possible setups reach epic proportions. We were really looking forward to testing out all the new features and card combination combos. Expanding the House did not disappoint.
Game Build Quality
The cards are of quality construction and the dividers for the sets of cards are well organized. The dividers also have numbers on them for a reasonable sorting order (descending cost). The box was designed with sleeves in mind so that a cardboard spacer makes the game fit as packaged. By flipping the spacer vertically, thin sleeved cards will fit snugly. And premium thick sleeves with solid backing will still fit in the box by removing the spacer entirely.
This is a very courteous step Japanime Games has taken. It ensures players will be able to use the provided materials effectively regardless of how they protect the game. I wish every company took the time to make sure their components will remain useful in the real world.
As you would expect from Japanime Games, there is a HUGE anime theme to the art! Fans of the original will find more of what they expect. It is worth noting that some of the cards in this set have more skin showing than the original game. There are also some particularly well endowed maids and another that is essentially in a bikini. Both of these cards are in the image above, so if nothing in it jumps out as inappropriate you will have no problems with this game. Fans of anime and manga will not find anything unusual about this. I didn’t find any of the art to be distracting from the core gameplay experience.
As with all deck building games, the core experience comes down to making choices and taking risks. How will you distinguish your house from that of the other players? Will you pick a single combo and chase it with everything you can during the game? Will you seek balance in your purchases and attempt to have an unstoppable engine by the end of the game? These questions are what brings players to a game like Tanto Cuore and learning the best answers to those questions are what makes it particularly fun.
Age Range & Weight
Expanding the House has a rating of 12+ while the base game was 13+. I think the old rating was closer. This is especially true with some of the artwork becoming more suggestive than the base set. Tanto Cuore is one of the easier deck building games to teach while still packing all the strategic fun of much larger games.
After playing the original Tanto Cuore, we were really excited to keep playing more matches. We went straight to Expanding the House after a few plays of the base game and were even happier with the results. We haven’t tried mixing them together yet but expect the combination to give a strong strategic combo. The buildings have many effects that are even more powerful when event cards are in play. Having seen what Japanime has done with the Expanding the House set, we are excited to move onto the next one!