Author Topic: To block or not to block?  (Read 707 times)

Offline G-dog

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To block or not to block?
« on: March 16, 2017, 09:28:55 pm »
This question pertains more to the online version but also the board game version.  Please share your opinion on the following situation....you know that by placing your tile you will make it impossible for your opponent to complete their castle or cloister even though you have other options.  Do you go ahead and block thereby freezing out one or more of your opponents players (trapped in the castle).  In my opinion it's a d**** move and takes the excitement out of the game.  It ends healthy competition over a castle (who will end up winning it?) and eliminates your opponents player(s).  Although it's a legal move it's too easy to do and gives you an undeserved advantage.  It also screws with filling in the board.  It's sort of like sticking bacon on top of a meal - you don't have to do the hard work of making your meal taste good.

Please respond as I'd to hear your thoughts.

Linkback: http://www.carcassonnecentral.com/community/index.php?topic=3214.0
« Last Edit: March 19, 2017, 09:03:57 am by Decar, Reason: Inappropriate Language Removed »

Offline ny1050220

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Re: To block or not to block?
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2017, 10:10:13 pm »
IMHO, it is very unfortunate and unfair to say that blocking opponents gives me undeserved advantage.
In a head to head game, I usually try to block. And I think that is also true with many other players. Very often in a league game, my opponents trap my meeples. I think in the worst case I got three of them trapped with less than 10 points to score at the end of the game.
Learning the tile layout by heart and being able to count the tiles within 20 seconds is hard work that deserves great advantage.

Offline danisthirty

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Re: To block or not to block?
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2017, 02:31:53 am »
Hi G-dog, and welcome to the forums! :) :(y)

This is a great question that has come up several times and always seems to kick off a good debate, so thanks for asking it!

I'm afraid I'm with ny1050220 on this one though as I will always take opportunities to trap my opponents meeples, or if there aren't easy opportunities I will try to make them. It isn't just me who does this either; we've had a number of online competitions here over the last 3 years and almost all of the competitive players who take part in these will do the same (this is where I learnt how to do it more effectively!)

I agree that it isn't a particularly kind or nice thing to do, but that all depends on the nature of the game. If I'm having a friendly game with my wife, or with colleagues, and I don't really care who wins then I'll often just do my own thing and leave them to theirs. The winner is decided more by who draws the best tiles in this case though, which makes the game far less interesting for me. If I want to win then I will try to trap. I completely disagree that any advantage I gain by doing this is an unfair advantage as it's cost me at least one turn (or in some cases 2 or 3 turns if I have to build around something to make the hole) and my opponent should expect me to attempt to do this in response to them leaving themselves vulnerable.

And let's not forget that you're not powerless to stop it either. It's usually obvious when someone is setting up a trap. You might draw the exact tile you need to escape before the trap is fully set, but it's more often the case that you can hinder them by placing tiles in their way, or even ensure that a gap is left which can be filled with a tile that exists (and is left) before your opponent has fully trapped you. If I just sit back and let them trap me, then feel sad about it, then I'm just as much to blame as they are...

Another point though, if it's considered unfair or bad practice to trap someones meeple in an uncompleteable feature then is it equally bad etiquette to steal into their features or even take them over completely? This can be just as painful, but is kind of the point of the game as far as I'm concerned.

Ultimately, if I take risks then I should expect to have my meeples trapped. If I play defensively then this shouldn't happen too much. The excitement of the game, for me, is about balancing out that risk and deciding what's worth going for and what isn't. I might need a city cap to complete a feature elsewhere and get me some good points. But would it be better to use this to trap a meeple or narrow my opponents options elsewhere? One of the members here is still kicking himself over a play he made in quite an important game where he used a tile to claim a 10-point city instead of blocking his opponent's attempt to get an extra meeple onto a big farm. His opponent drew a suitable tile on his next turn and won the game by a few points. This was a game at the world championships that would have got him into the semi-finals if he'd chosen differently! He took a risk and it didn't pay off. That's where the excitement is. And that's what the game is about!

Offline Halfling

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Re: To block or not to block?
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2017, 11:18:10 am »
I often add Bacon.
The Geek shall inherit the earth if we get a good die role

Offline ny1050220

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Re: To block or not to block?
« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2017, 11:40:53 am »

Offline G-dog

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Re: To block or not to block?
« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2017, 02:56:15 pm »
Thanks everyone for your comments - I too like bacon as long as it's kosher!

G

Offline Decar

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Re: To block or not to block?
« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2017, 08:33:49 am »
I'm not sure what Bacon has to do with it - unless your playing with the Trading and Building pig.

It's an interesting question, thank you for posting G-Dog and welcome to the forum.  I've proposed some things players may want to think about if they think it is not not acceptable to trap meeple.

Firstly, does this mean it's ok to play a 'risky' move because it is not acceptable for the other player to trap you? This approach seems flawed, are you not giving an unfair advantage to yourself and learning weak moves?  If this is the case, I can see the next logical step would be to say:  "The other player HAS to play a tile that would otherwise trap your meeple, if it were not played."  I think this is flawed as well.

Secondly, is it acceptable to play a move that benefited me (say completed a large city where I had majority) and in doing so trapped your meeple?  It sounds like I wouldn't be able to trap the other player.  Hang on though - have I not trapped myself if I can't play the tile I need to complete my city?

Also, what does it mean to be trapped? I think you're assuming this only happens when no tile exists to complete your feature.  It is often feasible (in larger games) to form a '2-tile trap'; where 2-tiles are required to complete the feature, but no remaining combination of 2-tiles exists in the game.

Combining these ideas - What should you play when you have a tile, which you want to play to traps one of your own meeple, but as a result gets another meeple back?  If you are not able to trap a meeple - you won't be able to get either back; but that means they're already trapped, so you shouldn't have been able to get into that situation, how on earth do you know that would happen?  "I'm sorry Steven (I'm playing Steven for some reason), you can't play there, because in 5 moves time I when I want to complete this cloister, I won't be able to."

If you cannot trap a meeple, are you able to play a meeple into a feature you know won't be completed (say on your last turn of the game), because the result of the move is they are trapped? This mechanic is often crucial to earning a few extra points.

Finally, there are farmers.  It's an absolute necessity to block opponent's farmers, often in fields with little to no points.

Sure, it can be frustrating when the combination of tiles come up that means you can't score what you want.  But that's the nature of the draw.  With imposing such a restriction beyond that of the physical-fit of the tiles, I think Carcassonne would be far more complicated. Just remember, you're capable of performing the same moves against your opponent, and this can often make the game far more tense.! Your flow of meeple is crucial to scoring and you're constantly trying to balance big vs small point investments. 

Last year I played a game with Rich_the_Fish and trapped a meeple is a rather large city, which scored 14-points at the end of the game.  I lost the game, by about 14-points because I had wasted so many moves trying to trap him, rather than construct something meaningful....or maybe I would have lost by even more...it's impossible to know.

But that's the advantage of board-games - you can play/adapt them however you want - so long as your gaming partners are happy (and know the tiles well enough not to accidentally trap you);  I hope you have some good games!

Offline Halfling

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Re: To block or not to block?
« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2017, 11:14:29 am »
I don't block in my lunch time carc games. I have started blocking in leave matches in jcz but I don't feel good about it.

Offline Chooselife

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Re: To block or not to block?
« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2017, 02:56:54 am »
Well my two cents of Bacon in this one is that if you honor the game and the player(s) that is playing with you, you need to play the game at the best of your abilities as long as within the rules.
Blocking, and farm taking, are by far the pinnacles of strategy within a game Carcassonne so if you actively avoid to do so you're not only not really playing but you're also undervaluing your opponent.

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Offline danisthirty

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Re: To block or not to block?
« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2017, 03:56:11 am »
Thanks everyone for your comments - I too like bacon as long as it's kosher!

There are some more points on this thread: http://www.carcassonnecentral.com/community/index.php?topic=313.msg2608#msg2608

Though no mention of bacon... :@ :(

Offline thodekey

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Re: To block or not to block?
« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2017, 05:31:43 am »
Hmmm, the tricky part of blocking and cutthroat Carcassonne!

Before I got on this forum, I used to play small and large Carc games online with the app "7 Castles" which is in fact another package for the same game.  Now, I rarely play the app because of the -sometimes quite heavy, histyrical or exagerated- comments that were given in the public chat room about the blocking part and the actions that were involved with that.

Even in a 36 tile game, some people quit in the middle of the game because i trapped one of their meeples blaming me to play agressive.  I find the quitting of those people more inappropriate then trying to win a game using only the game mechanics like they are.
So, I'm glad most of the people on JCloisterzone can handle the blocking part even if that means they bust my ass with blocking all my meeples...on the contrary, I've learnt more about those people trying to trap my meeples.

When i introduce friends to a real life game, i tend to hold back a little and explain them during the game what i could have done with a particular tile instead of what i actually did, so they get to know the more agressive - or should i say more tactical, underlaying - way of playing.  In a second game, I notice those friends pick up these tactics quite fast and enjoy it using them against me...

On that moment, although i might be blaming myself inside for explaining them too good, I'm sure they understand and enjoy the game even more....mission accomplished

Offline Decar

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Re: To block or not to block?
« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2017, 05:41:12 am »
Hahah, quitting early reminds me of the last time I beat DanisThirty on the Android implementation of Carcassonne:

http://www.carcassonnecentral.com/community/index.php?topic=796.msg42177#msg42177

Offline danisthirty

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Re: To block or not to block?
« Reply #12 on: March 20, 2017, 07:13:04 am »
Before I got on this forum, I used to play small and large Carc games online with the app "7 Castles" which is in fact another package for the same game.  Now, I rarely play the app because of the -sometimes quite heavy, histyrical or exagerated- comments that were given in the public chat room about the blocking part and the actions that were involved with that.

Same here! Back in my day it was still called "Carcassonne" hence why I didn't realise it was unlicensed as I didn't realise anyone could be that blatant about stealing someone else's game and then not even thinking of a new name for it! Anyway, in the post I linked to above, the comments I was talking about, and the arguments I had with other people, were all on the FB app for Carcassonne/ 7 Cities. People sure do like to take offence there! :o
« Last Edit: March 20, 2017, 03:14:52 pm by Decar, Reason: fixed a tpyo...i mean a typo »


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