Author Topic: Good Combinations of Expansions?  (Read 4875 times)

Offline DLloyd09

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Good Combinations of Expansions?
« on: December 27, 2014, 06:28:01 PM »
Hey everyone!

My name's Doug. I've been lurking on the forum for a while, but this is my first post here. I've owned base Carcassonne as well as I&C and T&B for about a year, and I play it fairly regularly. For Christmas, I received all of the major numbered expansions I didn't own (#3 through #9) except for Catapult. I just played my first game of Princess & the Dragon and it was a completely different dynamic than I'm used to! My husband eked out a win of 143-142. I hope I didn't miss any fairy points for myself!

Anyway, we both agreed that playing that expansion on its own it's very "concentrated". With 30 tiles in the expansion, the new elements come up a lot. Still though, we like to play all of the expansions on their own first, to get a feel for the new mechanics in a vacuum, and so we'll play through the Tower up through Hills & Sheep just to see how things work individually.

After that though, we're going to want to start combining expansions to lead to a more balanced game. We love playing the base game with I&C and T&B, and feel it's exceptionally well-rounded to play with both of those. To that end, I'd like to ask you all: What are your favorite combinations of expansions other than pairing I&C and T&B (and why?). Most of our games are just 2-player games, but we also do 4-player games occasionally. 

Feel free to also include mini expansions that I don't yet own, if you think any of those merit inclusion in this list, and thanks in advance for your advice!

Linkback: http://www.carcassonnecentral.com/community/index.php?topic=1377.0

Offline Decar

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Re: Good Combinations of Expansions?
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2014, 12:27:42 AM »
Hi! Welcome to the forum :)

Tbh, most of the expansions are good in their own right and you'll probably find any mix of them adds strategy to the base game.  Lots of people here play Mega Carcassonne where they go all in with all the expansions at once. That can be daunting.  You've also got to consider how many people you're playing with.

I love DnP which is a great expansion. In my opinion, for two player: if you're looking for new mechanics next, You should probably add Abbeys and Mayors. Hills and Sheep then BCnB, though the bazaar isn't great for two players.

Edit:  Just fixed some typos, from my phone this morning.

I forgot the River2 tiles are in CKnC - that's a great way to start any game.

The Tower is an aggressive expansion, but if you enjoyed Dragon and Princess that will join in well.

Make sure you check out the CAR too ;)
« Last Edit: December 28, 2014, 01:59:22 PM by Decar »

Offline danisthirty

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Re: Good Combinations of Expansions?
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2014, 02:07:35 AM »
Welcome to the forums.  :(y)

This is a great question. I'm not really one for huge games of Carcassonne as I struggle to keep track of too many different rules, but I am a fan of the base game with Inns & Cathedrals and Traders & Builders although I usually include The Phantom, King & Robber Baron and sometimes River 1 or 2 as well.

I agree with Decar that Princess & Dragon goes well with Abbey & Mayor, but it might also be worth including River 2 as well since this features a volcano so that the dragon is on the board from the start. The Tower is fairly aggressive (perhaps too aggressive for some  :-[) but I've played it combined with Bridges, Castles & Bazaars and also the German Monasteries and that has worked well in the past.

I don't have a lot of experience of the other major expansions, but I would say that it's worth looking at some of the minis (The Ferries and Mage & Witch are possible the better ones although I also like The Fliers and The Goldminers) if you want to add a twist.

I hope you find lots of setups that you enjoy! Please post back with details of any new favourites you discover...  :)
Heroically snatching defeat from the jaws of victory since 2018

Offline Nicholas Mystikos

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Re: Good Combinations of Expansions?
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2014, 04:07:39 AM »
Hi Doug, what a great Carcassonne Christmas for you! I'm sure you will get lots of enjoyment out of these games.

At first, I would play these expansions by themselves with just the base game (and maybe I&C and/or T&B that you're already familiar with) a couple of times to get used to how everything works. Personally, I'm not a fan of megacarc and I prefer instead to play several smaller games using a different mix of expansions each time.

In terms of mixing major expansions, the most obvious combination that comes to mind is Bridges, Castles and Bazaars with Inns and Cathedrals. In general, any expansion that has an element that increases the importance of roads goes well with I&C, and I think BC&B was 'meant' to be played with I&C, given the inns that feature on a couple of the BC&B tiles. The mini-expansion the Ferries is also a good one to play with Inns and/or Bridges.

Next, as I have argued elsewhere, I think to get the most out of the Count (which is not a favourite expansion for most people but is intriguing nevertheless), it's good to use expansions that reward finishing other people's features - most obviously Traders & Builders. This gets the Count mechanic into the game more, because completing someone else's city could net you a trade good or two and the opportunity to place a follower inside the City of Carcassonne. But the Count is complicated so it's definitely worth playing it by itself or with not many other expansions a few times to get used to it. While talking about CK&R, the four elements in it all began life as separate mini-expansions so they're not necessarily intended to work together. I keep them in separate tuck boxes, so I don't feel the need to play them all together (but I usually play all elements of all other expansions together).

As Dan said, using the River 2 is a good idea with the Princess and the Dragon for the volcano tile. P&D and the Tower are the aggressive expansions so in general I would suggest not playing them together, because this is a bit too much aggression in one game for me. People have argued (with good reason) that there are really too many Tower tiles as a percentage of the total number of tiles, so it might be a good idea to add a few more tiles or expansions that you're familiar (but that aren't too complicated) with when playing with the Tower., e.g. Cult places, King and Robber Baron and something like I&C.

This is the first time I've thought of this but perhaps Cult places would be good to play with Sheep and Hills with the potential for higher-scoring cloisters with vineyards. This could make the challenge aspect of Cult places a bit more worthwhile if you're challenging for 12 or 15 points rather than nine.

So there are a few ideas. P&D (and the Tower, as you'll discover!) does indeed offer a different dynamic as you said, but for me that's one of the things that makes Carcassonne so interesting - one game can be completely different from the next depending on what expansions you use. 

Cheers!

Offline DLloyd09

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Re: Good Combinations of Expansions?
« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2014, 07:57:01 AM »
Thanks for this great info, Decar, dan, and jungleboy! It will definitely help going forward as we play through the expansions :)

We played the base game with just The Tower last night... my husband hated it, although not only because I won 135-84. I think it's really, really aggressive for a two-player game. Much more so than the Princess and the Dragon. I really did like how much it changed placement strategy though, as I often found myself sacrificing the possibility of bigger point gains in exchange for smaller, safer ones.

I wonder if in addition to varying the number of tower pieces for each player as the rules require, it might be worth taking some of the Tower tiles out too. 18 is... a lot. Maybe play with just 6 of them, randomly drawn, for a two-player game, 9 for three players, etc. It would also add an element of not knowing exactly what tiles are coming, which is always interesting.

I'm definitely planning on keeping some notes on the various combinations, and hope to eventually be able to report back on the good, the bad, and the ugly. I'll also have to keep an eye out for deals on some of the minis, because I'd love to incorporate those at some point, too!

Offline Nicholas Mystikos

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Re: Good Combinations of Expansions?
« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2014, 08:45:30 AM »
I wonder if in addition to varying the number of tower pieces for each player as the rules require, it might be worth taking some of the Tower tiles out too. 18 is... a lot. Maybe play with just 6 of them, randomly drawn, for a two-player game, 9 for three players, etc. It would also add an element of not knowing exactly what tiles are coming, which is always interesting.

This reduction of the number of Tower tiles as a percentage of the overall tiles is what I meant by suggesting that you could add more tiles in - either option could achieve the same effect. As for taking tiles out, some people have suggested that taking out six and leaving 12 would be an ideal number. If you leave in only six, it might not be enough if you're just playing with the base game and these six tiles. But if you add in some other expansions to make the Tower just a small part of a larger game, that could be cool if that's what you're looking for.

Anyway, glad to see that you're enjoying playing with different expansions and thinking deeply about them!

Offline DLloyd09

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Re: Good Combinations of Expansions?
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2015, 10:40:28 PM »
We've gone through all of the expansions individually and have now begun to play them in combination. As I wrote in another topic (because of a rules question!), tonight we played Traders & Builders with Princess & the Dragon. Two nights ago though we played Inns & Cathedrals with Princess & the Dragon, and while I've got to say that we enjoyed both games immensely, I am surprised to report that I&C with P&D was an excellent combo, and I think was far better than T&B and P&D, which I expected to be the better pair.

I think it's because it unlocks a new potential for the dragon -- knocking yourself out of 0-point cities/roads that you are trapped on thanks to the presence of a cathedral or an inn and some clever tile placement by your opponent -- and also some self-sacrificing moves with the princess.

In particular, I had a very large (11-tile) city with a cathedral going on with my large follower in it to my husband's regular follower. He drew a princess tile and I was sure I was about to be booted. Instead, he extended the city, leaving it open on two sides, and simultaneously took himself out, and then on his next turn, after I drew an unhelpful rrrr, played another tile that was sure to made my closing the city very difficult. A few turns later, I realized the tile I needed to get out of his trap didn't exist. My large follower was stuck in a useless city.

Or was it? Several turns later I drew a volcano that I put near that city and when a dragon tile was later played I was able to redirect the dragon to take myself out of the city...a move I certainly wouldn't have expected making going in. Unfortunately by that point there was little time left to get much done, but I was able to turn 0 points into 12 when I used the large follower to muscle him out of a tiny field with 4 small cities on it on the last tile of the game.

Of course, the T&B and P&D combo was interesting for different reasons, mostly related to the builder and the fairy, but I found this particular dynamic to be particularly noteworthy and wanted to mention it here. As we play through the combos, we're keeping notes so hopefully at some point I can give some opinions about the fun combos we discover!

Offline danisthirty

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Re: Good Combinations of Expansions?
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2015, 01:43:46 AM »
Great report!  :(y)

I like your husband's play where he took himself out of your city using the princess and then made it impossible to complete! It's funny how the dragon can be your friend if you want to get something back though; he's rescued so many stranded meeples in games I've played using Princess & Dragon that we once played with a house rule whereby eaten meeples aren't returned to their owners. This doesn't work well in big games!  >:D

Offline Decar

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Re: Good Combinations of Expansions?
« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2015, 02:10:59 AM »
Thanks for sharing, it sounds like you had good fun experimenting.  DnP is one of my favourite expansions mainly for the 30tiles it adds to the game.  Dan, perhaps rescuing meeple will be the next follow up article?

Offline danisthirty

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Re: Good Combinations of Expansions?
« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2015, 03:33:42 AM »
Dan, perhaps rescuing meeple will be the next follow up article?

Definitely. I guess it's similar to capturing your own meeples using the tower!

Offline Carcking

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Re: Good Combinations of Expansions?
« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2015, 09:14:18 AM »
Unfortunately, the Dragon in my house is toothless.  :-\  If you dare use him to eat certain high valued meeples you are an evil so and so.  >:D
I just drew the perfect tile for my MonKnighThieFarmer!


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