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Topics - Decar

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General / Completionism Poll #10 - Favouritism Poll #3 : Die Schule
« on: March 23, 2016, 12:01:42 PM »
This week comes early after last week's Rules landslide.  We are combining Favouritism with Completionism this week by asking you:

What's your Teacher Preference?

Most of you know the 'Die Schule' comes with a teacher meeple and there are 6 colours (Red, Blue, Yellow, Green, Purple, Black).  There's nothing special about the different colours and only one is ever in play.  Die Schule was first released at Essen 2011 and came with a Dominion: Carcassonne Card.

The Poll is a little difficult to run, as there is so many permutations here.

I've included a photo of some of my teachers and their bags:

Here's some things to consider:

Do you need all 6 colours, are you happy with 4, or just one?

Do you need all 4 Meeple bags?

The example shows 3 different productions of Meeple Bags (The strings are different  :@ ): do you need these too?

Do you play with all 4/6 Meeple at once in some interesting variant?

Is this the worst Expansion ever for the budding completionist?

Time to tell us your interesting stories about 'Die Schule'!

The Marketplace / Ebay: BB5 - Kingdom Builder BB - Alhambra BB
« on: March 20, 2016, 03:05:40 PM »
No idea who the seller is, but saw this on Ebay - would have saved me a lot of effort:

Not a terrible price + Buy It now Option

General / Favouritism Poll #2 - The Base Game Rules
« on: March 19, 2016, 04:11:10 AM »
Firstly, sorry for the delay here - I was having it handed to me last night during a Princess and Dragon League game.

But now we're ready to continue the favouritism polls this week by asking you:

What are your favourite Base Game Rules?

As we explore the world of completionism, I think it's also good to take stock of some of the changes that also occurred during the development of Carcassonne.  It's hard to believe over the past 16 years the Carcassonne Rules have been through some subtle enhancements.  Most significantly, the farmer rules.  What I find incredible, is I still go to events and people have to clarify which farmer rules were using.  The last change to farmer scoring was in 2002; but even now Carcassonne is well known for the difficulties scoring farms brings.

Who knows where farmers will be in the years to come?  Carcassonne II has relegated farmers into a special appendix!

I will briefly summarize the differences between editions:

Small City Scoring:

Up until 2002 - The this small city would only score 2-points, not 4 as it does today.


The first thing to note is that Farmers would Stand Up like every other Meeple, you can see this, most clearly on the rear of the game boxes:

An option not available today is the 2001 edition, which quickly suggested a playing tip, that farmers should lie down to make it their function clearer, but this rule was only clarified in 2005.  This option is left off because essentially, the same as the 2000 edition.

Farmer Scoring - 1st Edition - 2000

For each completed city, the player with the most farmers touching it gets four points. Tied players all get four points, each.

So in this example:

So for each City going anti-clockwise:
Large City: Red: +4 , Blue: +4 - both players have 2 farmers touching it
Small City1: Red: +4 , Blue: +4 - both players have 2 farmers touching it
Small City2: Red: +4 , Blue: +4 - both players have 1 farmer touching it
Long City: Red: +4 - The Red player have 2 farmers touching it

Red: 16
Blue: 12

Decar's Difficulty Rating: Pretty Simple

Farmer Scoring - 2nd Edition - 2001

The player with the majority of farmers inside that field will score for that field. Tied players all get all points.
A field will score 3 points for each completed city adjacent to the field.
A player can score for a single city one time, and only one time... no matter how many fields and farmers he has next to it.

Back to our example:

North Field: Blue has the most farmers in this field, so may score the Large City for +3
West Field: Red has the majority of farmers in this field, so may score +6 for the Large and Small City.
South Field: Blue may score +6 for both small cities
Centre Field: Red can score +6 for the small and Long City
North East Field: Red cannot score the Long City again.

Red: 12
Blue: 9

Decar's Difficulty Rating: Pretty Fiddly, should that Blue field to the north score the large City, and I have to keep track that the long city was scored once already.

Farmer Scoring - 3rd Edition -2002

The player with the majority of farmers inside that field will score for that field.  Tied players all get full points.
A field will score 3 points for each completed city adjacent to the field.
Each field is scored for itself. Therefore, a city may score more than once for a player.

Our Example Again:

North Field: Blue: +3
West Field: Red: +6
South Field: Blue: +6
Centre Field: Red: +6
North East Field: Red: +3

Red: 15
Blue: 9

Decar's Difficulty Rating:  Simples :(y)


So the significant change between the 1st and 2nd Edition was the switch from 'Majority of Farmers per City' to: 'Majority of Farmers per Field'.  I think the example above shows the difficulty with keeping track of scoring cities more than once.  I had to re-read the rules 3 times to make sure I understood that Blue, being the majority owner in that field, could score the large city - and I'm still not convinced.  Overall though, it seems the 2002 edition does allow for a bigger difference between scores, being 6 points behind, rather than 3 or 4.

Anyway, over to you - Did I make some glaring mistake?   Have you ever played with the older rules?  Do you play with some kind of  variant?  And Most importantly: Which is your favourite?

General / What does a 10080 Tile Game Look Like?
« on: March 18, 2016, 06:58:47 AM »
Unless you've been living under a rock for the past few months - you're probably all aware of Paul's World Record Attempt that will be taking place in a little over a week.

It's very difficult for even the regular Mega Carcassonne Player to appreciate the enormity (some would say insanity) of Paul's task.

I decided to put my programming skillz to the test and 'modify' JCloisterZone to support larger games.  Below is my result:


So how many boxes of Carcassonne is 10k tiles? - 138.8888 - Let's call it 140.  Some easy tinkering and the ultimate game of Adda vs Ellen (the JCZ AI was off).

I decided to leave my PC running an hour or so.  I came back to discover that both AI had trapped their meeple within the first 200 tiles.  The rest of the game was going to get pretty boring.

More tinkering was required.

How many meeple would the AI need to maintain continuous play?  71 tiles --> 7 meeple.   10k tiles ----> 1k of meeple.

I left it running again and came back in an hour, it was looking good....except each turn was taking ~2 minutes.  This will get exponentially worse as the game progressed.  Time to tinker with the AI.

I'm not an AI expert, I dodged that module at University - on the plus side I know I won't be causing the apocalypse.  Also be safe knowing that JCZ's AI won't be responsible for the end of the world either, specially not after my improvements.

Those wishing to retain the magic of JCZ's AI should probably avoid this paragraph.  The AI keeps a record of every possible tile location and works out the best possible score to determine strategy.  Here's the AI's problem with Carcassonne.  1 tile has 4 options.  2 tiles have 6 options.  3 tiles have 9 options get the picture... 10k tiles has .... alot of options for tile placements.  Firstly JCZ has to check if a tile can be placed somewhere, and then it needs to run the rotations and assessments for score.  He's what I did.  Find all the possible locations.  Select 50 of them and random, don't look at any more.  The theory being that even if the AI misses the best move, random chance should mean it gets the tile it needs.

So Attempt 2 started.....

I came back 5 hours later...

I determined I could save some time my stopping JCZ from rendering all the layers of tiles and meeple and rely on the Screenshot feature I wrote last year.  Wow lucky I wrote that!

Attempt 3 begins:

Saturday 8:30pm - 400tiles - Estimated Speed 1000 tiles per hour:

Looking Good

Saturday 8:54pm - 1300 tiles - Estimated Speed 700 tiles per hour:

Not bad

Saturday 9:43pm - 2000 tiles - Estimated Speed 500 tiles per hour:

We're slowing down now...

Sunday: 3:10am - 3300 tiles - Estimatede Speed 100 tiles per hour:

Sunday: 8:20am - 3800 tiles - Estimated Speed 50 tiles per hour:

And we're crawling now....

Sunday: 9:58pm - 5400 tiles - Estimated Speed 10 tiles per hour:

Tuesday: 15:53pm - 6300 tiles - Estimated Speed Slow

Then the unthinkable happened....Actually I expected it from the start.  Those in the know about computer will have seen it coming.  PC's are limited by two factors....Time and Space.  We've already encountered the limitations of Time......

ScreenShot 8.....

Out of Memory Exception.....


But I persevered... The game was still running, however I had no visuals.

Thankfully I was reminded to Save the game. The theory being I could reload the game near the end and take a screenshot.

All was not lost!

Wednesday came and went

Thursday started with 1500 tiles left to play

Friday 7am:  150 tiles left to play tiles remain!!!

Here's the final screenshot:

So now we know Adda is better at cities, Ellen is better at Roads and Cloisters,  neither player is good at farming.

My PC needs a well deserved rest now.

All I can say, is this screenshot shows the sheer craziness of completing such an endeavor. 

For those of you who think this is the largest game of Carcassonne every played:  No it isn't.  Playing two idiotic AI against each other, one of which was capable of trapping ~22 of it's own meeple into a city just to trap and cloister at the same time, isn't a game.  The sheer physical demand of playing continually-non-stop for this duration requires a stamina no PC could come close to.

Paul I wish you and your crew the vest best of luck!  Having set my PC to complete this task gives me a much better understanding of what you're trying to achieve.  Basically, my PC isn't up to the task, I hope you crew are and I hope you achieve your goals!

General / Hans im Glück - Favourite Expansion Poll
« on: March 14, 2016, 07:46:34 AM »
HiG have asked us to provide stats - What's our favourite expansion:


Now is the time to vote for catapult if you ever want to see it again!

General / Knowing Your Product
« on: March 13, 2016, 02:51:49 PM »
It's good to see Z-man's new website shows their in-depth knowledge of their products:

Carcassonne - A pretty good description of the game
Some pictures of the content of the box on the left hand side.
A detailed content of the in game box
A small game in progress with a precariously placed farmer/thief?

A picture of Agricola in action  :(y) :(y)

Other Games / Patchwork - Uwe Rosenburg
« on: March 11, 2016, 01:24:28 PM »
Tonight I got to play Patchwork with my wife.  Our first Uwe Rosenburg game?!?!?!

I'd played the recently released Android phone version and decided to get the real thing.  As most of you know I really like Cathedral.  This game is sort of similar and totally different at the same time.  The premise is to spend cardboard-buttons purchasing awkward shaped bits of cardboard fabric which you must use to build your cardboard-patchwork quilt.  Sewing all the bits down takes varying lengths of time, depending on their complexity which moves your counter around the centre track.  Some bits of fabric have buttons on them, these earn you income when you pass button markers on the track.  The track also includes cardboard-leather patches, which no self-respecting patchwork quilter would ever dream of using; these can be used to fill in those annoying holes.  All the awkward cardboard pieces are placed in a ring around the score track.  Only the next three pieces can be bought and a marker is moved around the perimeter to indicate which these are available.  If you can't afford anything you can pass and move your counter along the track until it is in front of your opponent, you are given a cardboard-button for every space you move.  The first player to construct a 7x7 grid earns an extra 7 points too.  At the end of the game, the player with the most buttons wins, however each empty square on your quilt earns you -2 points!

I'll be honest, the theme of this game sucks.  I knew my wife would hate it too - she's made quite a few quilts and her results are much better than the cardboard monstrosities we made.  Having said that though, behind the wafer-thin theme is a very interesting strategic abstract game.  Players who send big bucks and storm ahead on the time track leave their opponents open to score big points by making several smaller purchases.  You have you sneak carefully up to the extremely valuable leather patches to prevent your opponent from nabbing them from under you.

As well as timing, there's also a micro-economy to run.  You want to make sure you get pieces with buttons to bring you future income.  But most of them are either expensive or awkwardly shaped.  Sometimes you can find yourself with no options because you've invested poorly in your economy and you'll have to spend turns saving up to buy a piece to net you some big-bucks.

And now I come back to Cathedral.  There's obviously something in my mentality that likes filling holes.  It's pleasing working out the optimal position to place a tile so no spaces are left.  This is quite difficult because it's very hard to plan ahead and make sure you have space for those larger more expensive pieces you won't be able to afford until the end of the game.  Ultimately, this bit of the game is really hard.  My wife went for a fairly higgly-piggly kind of approach, where as I decided to go for the 7x7 bonus, the downside being those larger pieces become impossible to fit at the end of the game.

So all in all, we quite enjoyed playing Patchwork, it only took about 25 minutes to play and the rules were all pretty intuitive.  I thought I liked the score track, but actually I found counting quite hard, the back of the track has an alternative we will be using next time.

My wife managed to apply her existing needlework skills and I ended the game with a huge negative score:

On the plus side though:  The first player is the player who used a needle last.  My wife said that was obviously her....until I pulled out my insulin injection and pointed to the needle on the end  ;D :(y)

General / Favouritism Poll #1 - The Scoring Tracks
« on: March 11, 2016, 10:09:31 AM »
Welcome everyone!

As you know jungleboy has done a fantastic job at exploring the world of completionism in Carcassonne.  But don't think the story ends there.   O0 We still lots of things to consider; those rarer items, those strange variations, and many other things.

So this week, rather than consider what you need for a complete collection; we're changing perspective and asking you:

What's your favourite.....Scoring Track?

A few weeks ago I was reading an article that took a critical view of scoreboards from many games.  Some of them are dreadful, they don't spiral round and don't have every number marked off and some it's hard to tell what direction you're moving in.  In the comments section is an interesting review of the Carcassonne Scoreboard.  The 49-point score track has possibly the best overall design, it hits all the marks mentioned and has few extra benefits.  But the Carcassonne scoretrack has been through several iterations (well 6 to my count).

Here they all are:

Here's a chance to review your collection and decide which you like the most.  Please tell us why and if you don't like any of them what you use instead.

It would also be interesting to know what counters you use to record your high scoring games.  Do you use dice, counters, poker chips or spinning dials to record those scores, or do you use a custom printed board that goes up to 1000?

If you think I've missed an option (like the Brazilian edition with the publisher's logo in the bottom corner) it's time to share it with us!

For those interested the article I was refering to can be found here, it's worth a good look:

Start Voting!   :(y) :(y)

Anything Else / Back from Amsterdam - Boardgame shop Report
« on: March 07, 2016, 08:19:26 AM »
I've just spent a long weekend in Amsterdam.  There's not many game shops near the centre and we didn't have time to venture out with all the drinking we were meant to be doing  :(y)

On Saturday, we stumbled upon 'Tinkerbell Speelgoed' - which was really a children's toy shop, but with 2 shelves dedicated to board games.  I was quite impressed with their Carcassonne collection considering and snapped a quick photo while I had the chance.

Yesterday, we found 'The Games Keeper' which was a traditional boardgame shop.  The owner was friendly and attempted to make conversation with us, the Carcassonne collection was pretty good.  There was a broad range of games and I happened to see a hexagonal-tile laying-area control-place hut kind of game, which looked very interesting.  Unfortunately, we were in a rush and I couldn't justify the 37Euro price tag for a small boxed game.  I think it was a small production, possibly a prototype, I can't find a record of it on the shop's website.  I may have to contact them to ask for more details.  It will forever be called 'That Dutch hex-laying game with huts' as I have no idea what it was called.

Leagues (including expansion leagues) / Second's The Best Tournament (STBT)
« on: February 27, 2016, 04:03:23 AM »
There is an old playground law (here in Britain anyway), that goes something like this:
First's the worst,
Second's the best,
Third's the one with the hairiest chest.

Such laws are hard to deny! Thus I struck upon an idea for a mini-tournament.

Put simply: In a 3-player game of Carcassonne, could the 'best' player manipulate the game in order to score the second highest number of points?

I think there's some interesting strategic ideas to be pondered.  Mainly:
  • How do you score enough points to not come last, but prevent other players from helping you score too many points?
  • Is it better to get a head start then hold back, or aim for second place throughout the game

For me, such a competition is about taking part and having fun.  What better way of celebrating competition than not coming first?

At the moment I'm looking for 9-players, which will be randomly split into 3 groups [A,B,C] to comprise a first round.
The players in each Group will schedule 3 games to be played with all 3 players.  Each game will compose of different expansions (TBD).
A running total of score will be kept for the round. After all three games are played each group will have a Best (2nd), Worst (1st) and Hairiest (3rd) player.

After all the games are played there will be a final play-off round to determine who is the 'Best of the Best', the 'Worst of the Worst' and the 'Hairiest of the Hairiest' and other humorous titles.  I've got my eye on 'Best of the Hairiest'  but I suspect the competition to be tight.

Code: [Select]
             Game 1          Game 2       Game 3    Total      Rank
Player 1     120              76           100       196     Hairiest
Player 2      56             135            65       256     Best
Player 3     100              86            71       257     Worst

The Best of the Group would be Player 2, The Worst: Player 3 and the Hairiest: Player 1. 

There's nothing like a small-motivator when taking part. I'm not very good at surprises, so here's some gifts.  The prizes will be given to at the group stages.  Everyone who takes part will get a special commemorative STBT Tile, plus:
  • Second Place: STBT podium tile + a custom Victory meeple (Grey/Blue)
  • Third Place: A Custom Hairy Chested Meeple (choice of Grey/Blue)
  • First Place:

There will be some spot prizes to be determined too.

When does it Start?
We need enough interested parties.  Don't forget The Last Man Standing, Dream Team Games & Princess and Dragon Tournaments are still running.  I doubt this this mini-tournament will start until one of these is finished.  Please make sure to prioritize your existing games over new ones.

Other Considerations
Please only put your name down if you can easily schedule your games to play.  3-player games are notoriously difficult to schedule.  Though I said grouping will be random, I suspect some timezone manipulation to take place to make scheduling easier  :(y)  If there's more than 9 players, I'll consider some other rankings.

As always, open to suggestions and please let me know if you have any questions.

Who is Playing
1.Mr Numbers - Latvia  - UTC +2
2.Chuck - Germany - UTC +1
3.Merlin_89 - Poland - UTC +1
4.Decar - UK - UTC +0
5.Rosco - UK - UTC +0
6.Leven - Hungary - UTC +1
7.Danisthirty -UK - UTC +0
8.Valheru - Belgium - UTC +1
9.jma03 - Spain - UTC +1

Reviews & Session Reports / ThirstyMeeples - 30th April 2016
« on: February 09, 2016, 06:13:15 AM »
Just a note to everyone:

DanIsThirty & I are planning on visiting ThirstyMeeples - Oxford - on the 30th April.

Let us know if you fancy coming, it'll no doubt be good training for the Expo in June.

Let me be the first to say that: DanisThirty is thirsty to bring thirty meeples to Thirsty Meeples on the 30th of April

Reviews & Session Reports / First play of Carcassonne: Over Hill & Dale
« on: February 08, 2016, 04:59:00 AM »
Yesterday, I spent a significant amount of time, reworking my Study in the hope I could rotate my desk 90degrees, so 2 players could stick their feet under it and play games.  Usually, we end up playing on the floor, which is getting uncomfortable.  It took a while and some heavy lifting, but it was a success.

The first game to try:  Carcassonne: Over Hill and Dale with my wife.

Going into the game, it was clear the artwork looked nice.  The configuration of tiles is very different; I thought the stables would be insignificant and that collecting an array of goods was important.

Having played the game, I was quite surprised!

I'll begin with the overall artwork.  The fields (cities) and trails(roads) POP out of the landscape.  The bright colours made identifying features really easy.  It all looks very friendly to me and there are some sneaky touches which are only visible on closer inspection.

The scoretrack is beautiful.  The barnyard animals and vegetation give life to the usually overlooked game component.  The game comes with 50/100 score markers, which were very neat.

Here's a shot of our endgame:


It's worth noting, we were not playing particularly aggressively.  A few good gloms, but not attempts at trapping; there's little point until you learn the tile configuration.

In 2-player basic-Carcassonne, if both players have equal majority in a city, there's little point finishing it, unless you need a meeple back.  In UHnD, completing a field allows you to make the first choice of tokens.  This is a great way to make completing fields worth while.  With only 4 meeple it's important to make sure they can come back to your hand too.

The wanderer was great.  My wife stacked up a lot of points early on just building a long road and extending it in either direction, scoring points like an arithmetic progression.  Our criticism here, is there's basically no point finishing a road.  Leaving both ends open allow you to place roads on either side and go wandering.  I eventually glommed onto the road to complete and score, but by then I'd easily lost 10+9+8+7+6... points.  I didn't get much chance to do any wandering, most of the roads seem quite short.

I was most surprised by the stables.  They score the animals which are located in the 9 surrounding tiles.  They scored quite a few points and MrsDecar put them to the best use.  The FFFF tiles were a nice addition too. 

The Token, set collection aspect, which I thought was important, turned out not to be so.  MrsDecar got a few scarecrows (wildcards) and that made it easy for her to catch up.  You'll see from the photo above I was a sunflower behind scoring another 5 points.

Overall, you've probably guess we enjoyed playing it.  I've still got a few spin-offs to try but this is a contender for favourite.  It's hard to tell with spin-offs because I've not invested the time to learn tile combinations and playing aggressively to trap or neutralize points is very important.  But if I can ignore those points for a moment, I was really impressed with the overall mechanics. 

Considering MrsDecar and I didn't know which was the best ways to score, we finished only a few points apart (in MrsDecar's favour):

This definitely deserves some more attention!

Other Games / My First Stone Age
« on: January 08, 2016, 10:49:22 AM »
HiG & Z-man have announced My First Stone Age:

Other Games / Above And Below
« on: January 03, 2016, 09:24:27 AM »
Last night, my wife and I played 'Above & Below' by Ryan Laukat.  I kickstarted this having watched a runthrough (against my wife's recommendations).  For those of you who don't know Ryan Laukat, is a bit of a board game polymath capable of designing games and artwork and essentially self-publishing his games.

We recently played Artifacts Inc, which is a Dice Engine Building game, where you refine a mechanism for scoring points.

At its core, Above and Below is an adventure game.  Your band of merry townsfolk, must go off exploring and use your limited actions to build buildings or employ more workers.  Ultimately, you're trying to create your 'engine' that generates points at the end of the game.  The differentiator, is the storytelling aspect; you can go exploring (in caves) and by rolling a dice, select a paragraph from a pretty big book, your other players read to you.

The paragraph, sets the scene and you're left with choices, which require 'explore' points in order the achieve.  Depending on the skill of your workers, this may be easy, but if necessary, you may 'injure' your party in order to earn a few more points and succeed at the event.  The outcome of the events are not known to you at the time, so there is a great risk/reward element to this game.

We truly loved playing this game. It looked quite complicated to begin with, but within the first few rounds you should be well on your way to finding the 'engine/machine' you need to exploit to score-points at the end of the game.  Like Artifacts Inc, we found it hard to determine each other's scores, so you're left trying to optimize every turn.  The game only lasts 7-rounds, our 2-player game lasted 80minutes.  My wife is not a gamer, but she loved the story element (and loved watching me get terrible luck in the caves).  She totally kicked my ass.  I think this is also a great family game, but possibly with 2-adults if the child's reading isn't confident.

The storytelling aspect is fantastic.  Players don't really interact very much, so reading paragraphs to each other (and putting silly voices to the characters) was really fun.  The book has about 300 paragraphs in it, so there's little chance of hitting a repeat any time soon.

Many boxes ticked for me here:  Storytelling, worker placement, engine building, risk reward, dice rolling.

For those interested, you may want to check these videos:

Rahdo's Runthrough:

Watch It Played:

The Marketplace / WTS: Carcassonne Neues Land / The Discovery
« on: November 24, 2015, 07:37:36 AM »
I've got a spare copy of Neues Land (The German Edition of The Discovery).

Here's a BGG link:
English Rules from Rio Grande are here too

It's been played a couple of times, but it is in good condition.

Looking for about £7.50 / 10.50€ (+ postage from the UK), but open to offers

Many thanks

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