Carcassonne Central

Carc Central Community => General => Topic started by: whaleyland on August 07, 2015, 05:44:36 PM

Title: The Abbot – Element of the Week #47
Post by: whaleyland on August 07, 2015, 05:44:36 PM
ELEMENT OF THE WEEK: THE ABBOT

Carcassonne has definitely taken strange turns in the past ten years, so these few expansions may not be in your knowledge bank, but that doesn't make them any less official (or does it?). So as we conclude this series over the next few weeks, feel free to express any form of praise or criticism you may have for these off-beat elements.

This week, we present THE ABBOT, an expansion that many of us will never encounter for the simple fact that it is intrinsically bound to Carcassonne II. The rules are ridiculously simple: for all intent and purposes the Abbot figure (each player gets one) is the same as a Monk, except it can also be placed on Gardens, which are a new feature on select CarcII tiles. Scoring is precisely the same as with a Monastery in that a Garden is completed when the eight tiles around it are filled. There is something unique about the Abbot, though: it can be voluntarily removed on a later turn for partial points (based on end-game scoring) in lieu of moving wood. In the larger scheme of things, the Abbot is a bit fiddly, though, because it can only be placed on Cloisters, Monasteries (as Monks), Abbeys, and Gardens, not other features such as Cult Places. Similarly, ONLY Abbots may be placed on Gardens—other figures cannot be placed on them.

Obviously, the expansion will turn some people off since it relies on CarcII tiles, but it is a relatively easy expansion to fan variant into your standard Carcassonne games, possibly by using Fairgrounds, Bazaars, or 10th Anniversary tiles and the Robber or Femeeple figures from the Carcassonne Minis series. The larger question, though, is does this expansion really add anything to the game? Cloisters have been used and reused over the years in increasingly head-scratching ways so adding yet another Cloister-variant is a bit odd, especially considering the more simplified nature of CarcII. The use of the term "Abbot" is also problematic since there already is an expansion featuring Abbeys and the German/Dutch Monasteries both call the followers placed on it Abbots. Thus, the term is already in use and adopting it for another purpose is just going to make matters worse. In any case, discuss your relationship with The Abbot (not Carcassonne II in general) and how you optimise your use of this strategic element.

Next Week: La Porxada    :o ;D
Title: Re: The Abbot – Element of the Week #47
Post by: Paul on August 07, 2015, 10:32:52 PM
Mine is still unopened.  :)
Title: Re: The Abbot – Element of the Week #47
Post by: jungleboy on August 07, 2015, 11:09:59 PM
Obviously, the expansion will turn some people off since it relies on CarcII tiles

I'm obviously one of those people.

The larger question, though, is does this expansion really add anything to the game?

It sure doesn't seem like it.

The use of the term "Abbot" is also problematic since there already is an expansion featuring Abbeys and the German/Dutch Monasteries both call the followers placed on it Abbots.

And both of these were brought out within a few months of each other, which makes it even stranger.

I've never played with Carc II or the Abbot, but to me the whole thing screams 'running out of ideas', which is strange because the new ideas in Carc I lately (monasteries, castles, halflings) have been 'out of the box' ideas and great ones. The gardens put me off because I don't think they belong on the Carcassonne landscape. Essentially, I think HiG wanted to try to make Carc II something more than just a reprint of Carc I so they half-heartedly added the Abbot/Gardens to it so they could sell Carc II as having an exclusive expansion.
Title: Re: The Abbot – Element of the Week #47
Post by: SithlordRPGA on August 08, 2015, 05:20:17 AM
I do use them as a new meeple piece I think they are fine even if you never use the garden tiles from Carc 2.  They free up one of your meeples to be used somewhere else.  Also we all know sometimes you just can't complete the cloister so the ability to return it is pretty cool and useful.

While I am still on the fence about gardens (and Im a little surprised to see gardens added to tiles in future expansions)  The gardens to me are far to limited as there are tons of them on tiles but only one piece can be played on a garden.  Maybe if the garden had different rules so it was different from a cloister I would be a bigger fan but the idea of having a scoring feature that one piece can be played on, I am not a big fan of that.
Title: Re: The Abbot – Element of the Week #47
Post by: franks on August 08, 2015, 05:50:25 AM
I own Carc 2.0 but haven’t played it. We have brought the Abbot over into our game and like the addition. To me it makes the Cloisters, etc more playable and gets them better involved especially in the later game. Sure the feature is just a point salad but that doesn’t bother me.

We did agree to use the Vineyards in Hills and Sheep as the gardens but always forgot to use them and in the end, even for us, think that is a little too much. We now leave that out. Just to note we almost exclusively play a mega game at home and did not remove cloisters for Monasteries, so there are extras in the game. I would probably not include the Abbot in a short game.

It is a bit fantastic that he can travel at lightning speed across the country side, he is truly blessed  :))

DOH, I just realized I voted for the second option, religious features, which is true but should have probably voted for, Other creative uses!
Title: Re: The Abbot – Element of the Week #47
Post by: Fritz_Spinne on August 08, 2015, 07:13:18 AM
I corrected my vote first vote: Playing Carcassonne II we use the Abbot regularly.

Playing "regular" Carcassonne with the German etc. cloisters we use the Abbot in another way: Everyone is allowed to make one (and only one) German cloister to a German Abbey by placing his Abbot on it.

On the german forum we made a fan expansion with the gardens for Carcassonne I - I use female gardeners (the meeple from the Mini-Expansion Messengers) like the Abbot in Carcassonne II.
Title: Re: The Abbot – Element of the Week #47
Post by: danisthirty on August 08, 2015, 07:31:04 AM
I've played about a dozen games of Carcassonne using the Carc 2 tiles and we've not included the Abbots once. I don't have anything against them in principle, they just don't do a lot for my sense of curiosity and as such I'm happy to let them stay in the box.

CarcinFool wrote an excellent item for our strategy guide about this expansion: Maximizing Use of the Abbot (Carcassonne II) (http://www.carcassonnecentral.com/community/index.php?topic=1446). It's still a draft, but I found it quite helpful in getting to understand this expansion a little more deeply.
Title: Re: The Abbot – Element of the Week #47
Post by: SithlordRPGA on August 08, 2015, 08:21:04 AM
Fritz did I understand you correctly?

Do you use the abbot meeple on a standard cloister tile to turn that cloister into a German abbot?

If I misunderstood you, I think I may try using the abbot meeple in that way in the future and see how it works.  That way instead of tracking down the German Abbots tiles I could always just use the abbot meeple.
Title: The Abbot – Element of the Week #47
Post by: jungleboy on August 08, 2015, 01:19:02 PM
He means that when he plays with the German or Dutch monasteries, players can only place the abbot follower on those monasteries as an abbot, which prevents players from claiming more than one monastery and doesn't skew the game too much. I once played a game with T&B and the German monasteries where my opponent claimed all six and won the game even though I won all the other important aspects of the game (main farm, trade goods, biggest city etc).
Title: Re: The Abbot – Element of the Week #47
Post by: Fritz_Spinne on August 08, 2015, 01:21:51 PM
Jungleboy - youre right. We use the Abbot on the German cloister tiles so everyone can use only one of the german cloister tiles as German Abbey. If you use a regular follower it is a regular cloister.
Title: Re: The Abbot – Element of the Week #47
Post by: Paul on August 08, 2015, 02:07:31 PM
I realize I have chosen "I don't play with" since mine is still unopened. Unfortunately the toll option leaves you with only the option to use it or forfeit usage with a negative response.

A poll should allow us all to chose an appropriate answer without dealing out improper poll result.

I get that this whole new era of graphics and feature is not to the likes of many, but it's getting tedious for us that try to be neutral or positive and support the company.

Edit: I've edited the last option to be neutral.
Title: Re: The Abbot – Element of the Week #47
Post by: Christopher on February 29, 2016, 01:41:42 PM
I don't own Carcassonne II or the Abbots, but - down with the Man and his oppression - I'm going to post anyway!

I quite like the idea of the Abbot. An additional follower for cloisters only, I think it works. It slightly negates the follow shortage in larger games without just outright giving you another follower. When using cloisters, I find I almost always end up with one cloister which needs just one more tile to complete, and it stays that way for ages. The ability to leave that cloister for end game points is marvellous, I think. But only with that follower! Lovely idea. It's almost like the Phantom. Giving a player the ability to deploy an extra follower, but only if he's smart enough to keep that follower around. Same goes for the Abbot. Adds some strategy, great if you use him correctly.

However. I do not like the gardens. Trying to implement the Abbot as an entire separate expansion by adding the gardens, and then, diverting from this idea by adding gardens to each subsequent expansion? It's like they're supposed to be part of the base game, rather than an expansion. Gardens coming back each time, like cities, roads and cloisters. A new feature, but with an identical mechanism to cloisters? Only usable by one follower? Who can also be played to cloisters? What? So was the Abbot an expansion to alter cloisters, or part of the base game? Not cool. Also, why gardens? How is an Abbot in a garden thematically accurate?

I fear I will eventually succumb to my neuroses and will buy Carcassonne II for the Abbot if nothing else. However, I plan to re-purpose the follower for the original game as a follower for cloisters only, with no gardens. If I play CII, I will likely do the same, use the Abbot as a follower but ignore the gardens, considering them nothing more than a landscape feature.

Also, in a completely unrelated but extremely relevant aside, the spellcheck is suggesting to me that I should spell 'marvellous' with only one 'l.' One 'l!' Bloody, sodding, American language!
Title: Re: The Abbot – Element of the Week #47
Post by: whaleyland on February 29, 2016, 02:43:05 PM
Also, in a completely unrelated but extremely relevant aside, the spellcheck is suggesting to me that I should spell 'marvellous' with only one 'l.' One 'l!' Bloody, sodding, American language!
*snort*HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! We shall take over the world!!!! Oh wait, we already sort of did and then bolloxed it all up... Hmm. n/m. Sorry for that. Move along. Move along...
Title: Re: The Abbot – Element of the Week #47
Post by: Christopher on March 01, 2016, 12:06:04 AM
Also, in a completely unrelated but extremely relevant aside, the spellcheck is suggesting to me that I should spell 'marvellous' with only one 'l.' One 'l!' Bloody, sodding, American language!
*snort*HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! We shall take over the world!!!! Oh wait, we already sort of did and then bolloxed it all up... Hmm. n/m. Sorry for that. Move along. Move along...

If we're not careful, this could get very political, and we don't want to get off topic. New thread then? Donald Trump, anyone?  >:D
Title: Re: The Abbot – Element of the Week #47
Post by: Decar on March 01, 2016, 12:36:07 AM
Abbots are clearly very powerful because they can't be trapped. I think having gardens in other expansions is a neat idea.  A lot of new players grab every cloister they can, so being able to retrieve the abbot is helpful for them.

I always find cloisters too valuable or worthless. By introducing more youve given everyone an opportunity to score some. But by limiting access to them, by making them gardens, they dont get over powered.

I wonder if they called it 'the gardener', who can join a cloister to attend their gardens, you'd dislike the theme.  I just assumed that gardens were mainly maintained in religious grounds or the extremely wealthy during this time period.

Id like to see other expansions moee often, all like more inns or cathedrals, there's never enough in larger games.
Title: Re: The Abbot – Element of the Week #47
Post by: Christopher on March 01, 2016, 01:01:26 AM
Abbots are clearly very powerful because they can't be trapped. I think having gardens in other expansions is a neat idea.  A lot of new players grab every cloister they can, so being able to retrieve the abbot is helpful for them.

I always find cloisters too valuable or worthless. By introducing more youve given everyone an opportunity to score some. But by limiting access to them, by making them gardens, they dont get over powered.

I wonder if they called it 'the gardener', who can join a cloister to attend their gardens, you'd dislike the theme.  I just assumed that gardens were mainly maintained in religious grounds or the extremely wealthy during this time period.

Id like to see other expansions moee often, all like more inns or cathedrals, there's never enough in larger games.

I agree about the not trapping, it's great to have a follower who can actively avoid it.

I hadn't thought about some of those arguments. Limiting the power of this new feature is definitely a good thing.

I'm still not sure about gardens as a thematic feature, but given that we have cloisters, shrines, monasteries, cathedrals and soon more cathedrals, it's probably good to have a feature with less religious connotations.

I agree about the inns and cathedrals, but the problem, I think, with repeating them in other expansions is where do you draw the line? Would we start expecting to see bazaars in other expansions? What about hills? Or tower foundations, volcanoes? I know the argument falls flat because those features simply aren't the same, and more inns and cathedrals would be nice, but I think implementing it would be difficult. Of course, now that they're reprinting all of the expansions, now would be the time to do it.

In large games, I often add a second set of inns and cathedrals to balance it out.
Title: Re: The Abbot – Element of the Week #47
Post by: whaleyland on March 01, 2016, 01:18:21 AM
I'm rather in the camp of preferring expansion expansions, as Dominion has hesitantly done with Adventures and, presumably, Empires. But it must be done in extreme moderation for accessibility. Inns are fine to include, as are Sheep and Wolves, since none of those features really hurt anything if one doesn't own the games. In fact, Inns can even be played without Inns & Cathedrals. Including the Volcano in River II was a genius move since that really improves gameplay with Dragons. But the Crop Circle in Halflings I is just annoying. Only a few expansions, therefore, really allow features to be placed in other expansions:
CarcII – Gardens
Expansion #1 – Inns
#3 – Volcano, Princess, Magic Portal
#5 – Double pennants
#6 – Cults
#9 – Sheep, Vineyards

Minis #1 – Flying Machines
M#2 – Maybe Messenger icon
M#5 – Mage & Witch icon
M#6 – Maybe Robber icon

Others:
Besiegers – Maybe
Festival – Conceptually but not practically

Note I don't consider Corn Circles or the River acceptable expansions for export into other expansions even though both have appeared in others.
Title: Re: The Abbot – Element of the Week #47
Post by: Decar on March 01, 2016, 01:49:14 AM
I think there's already a precedence for including other expansions in expansions.  Like Whaleyland already said: The Volcano appears in River 2.  Halflings seem to have all sorts: Hills & Sheep, Corncircles.  GQ11 has the pig tile.

I think the Abbot is more of a general expansion.  If you don't play with the meeple, the gardens become decorative. It's the meeple that makes the expansion.

I can see that playing with more copies of Inns would work.  But I think having the same tile distribution will never be as good as having a few more tiles.
Title: Re: The Abbot – Element of the Week #47
Post by: Christopher on March 01, 2016, 08:29:25 AM
Agreed that certain features lend themselves to reappearing, and work in other expansions. The volcano in The River II is brilliant, it adds a great deal when combined with the Princess et al. However, the single inn in (I think) Bridges, Castles and Bazaars adds very little if playing with Inns and Cathedrals, and if not playing with I&C, it adds a fairly pointless single inn to the game. The sheep in the River III also seems odd to me, as it's completely incongruous with other tiles. There's suddenly a single sheep larking around. Reasonable if playing with H&S, random sheep if not. Even if playing with H&S, none of those tiles have sheep in them. At least the vineyard in River III will match with the other vineyards in H&S. The Pig tile in the River II and GQ11 applies to farms which are a base game mechanic and are thus present in all games, which I think separates it from the others.

Adding more inns is great, but as you say, it doesn't change the tile distribution. I love the idea of an expansion expansion. Obviously not going to happen as they're no longer printing in the old art, but I would love an expansion which adds new tile configurations to a few of the old expansions. More inns and cathedrals, hills, double pennants, vineyards, that sort of thing.

I seem to have gone completely off topic, sorry!
Title: Re: The Abbot – Element of the Week #47
Post by: Decar on March 01, 2016, 08:38:23 AM
I think most of Carcassonne's expansions are binary - eg: on or off.  I think I would like to see smaller expansions, like The Abbot become more integrated in future expansions.  This would make Carcassonne 2.0 significantly different from Carcassonne.  It's much easier in this release because Road Map is essentially decided and no doubt give original-artwork-ists something to moan about :p
Title: Re: The Abbot – Element of the Week #47
Post by: Hounk on March 01, 2016, 08:59:26 AM
I don't have and never played with Abbots, but I keep wondering, are these "gardens" really necessary for that expansion? (Beside the fact, that they are pretty unthematic. I would agree, that "vineyards" would have better fitting, if they had not been occupied by H&S, or something like libraries or breweries.)

But I would assume, that they can easily also be used on "cloisters", and "cloisters" alone, and since they scale up on nearly all expansions, I don't really see the point for the need of gardens.