Author Topic: [The Barbarian Report] Halflings I/II: Twice As Fun, Half As Wild  (Read 3605 times)

Offline whaleyland

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The year 2014 was certainly the year of Carcassonne expansions. From The Besiegers and Hills & Sheep to a new art reprint of Carcassonne and Darmstadt, there have been a few surprises. But The Halflings is probably the most welcomed one. The two expansions (and there are two, totaling 24 triangular tiles) add a new dynamic into the game that was only somewhat achieved previously with The Abbey (from Abbey & Mayor). But that doesn't make the expansion perfect. There are certainly some places where it shines and some where it fails...

Misplaced Modifier
 :(n) Rules Written By Gerbils – I can only imagine that the rules crew over at Hans im Glück are running around treadwheels drinking out of large water taps. That's the only explanation I can find for why they don't have time to do rules properly. Ever. I've been an active member at CarcassonneCentral for years and we are constantly baffled by the lack of depth Carcassonne rules often go into. Halflings II (the Hans im Glück one) includes elements from two expansions. What they don't do is tell you how to use the pre-printed sheep or the corn circle. The sheep, arguably, can be figured out without much head scratching. The Corn Circle, though, uses an entirely new graphic to represent whatever it does. And what does it do? We still don't know. Most assume it's a wild card letting players choose which Corn Circle function to use, but nobody's sure. Oh, and where do you find the official English translation of the Corn Circles rules? Z-Man Games website, buried somewhere presumably, which is a step up from Rio Grande, which simply never released the rules.

:(n) The Magic Failings of Arbor Presses – The tiles are triangular with two sides the size of a normal Carc tile side and one longer side. The precision in stamping out these shapes must have taken some major work...and it failed pretty terribly. When you place two triangles beside eachother, they are not flush but rather wobbly. And two tiles beside eachother (creating a normal square tile) are larger than normal tiles and have slightly bowed edges on all sides. Thus your landscape appears more like fault lines than pristine French countryside.

:(n) Scaling The Mountain of Confusion – Let's get back to the rules real quickly: scaling doesn't seem to have entered the designer's mind when this expansion was created. There are 12 tiles. Cool. Six players, each gets 2 tiles. Cool. You have both copies of the expansion? Um, figure it out yourself if each player gets 2 or 4 tiles. Playing with fewer than 6 players? You still only get 2/4 tiles each...presumably. I can only assume that the rules writers were told they had to stick to a certain amount of page space or something, because honestly addressing these problems should have been obvious.

Building the Pyramids
:meeple: The Feature-Completion Union – Yay! I can finally complete my features without drawing (literally) on luck. This seems rather obvious, but the expansion gives players at least two opportunities to complete features without relying on the ever-annoying prospect of not drawing what you need. All four of my tiles go straight to finishing otherwise difficult-to-complete features every time. Well, unless...

:meeple: Block 'Em In Tight – I want to block my opponents. I want to block them in real good. Or maybe I want to stop their field from connecting to mine. Or really anything. I've blocked fields twice with this expansion and managed to complete a city while simultaneously blocking my opponent's project. All very nice and tidy.

:meeple: Variety is a Delicacy – There are 24 different triangular tiles between these two expansions. That is awesome! Regardless of how the final rules are determined, the sheer variety of these tiles means that it won't grow stale anytime soon. And it integrates extremely well with Hills & Sheep, if not the other tiles. It even resurrected the Corn Circles expansion, though not without issues.

Inconclusion
This expansion is pretty nifty, though not perfect. There are issues that clearly need to be worked out, and I eagerly await the next version of the Complete Annotated Rules to see what those solutions are. But between the strategic value and the variety of these tiles, it's hard to say this is a bad expansion. It also integrates extremely well with anything else, which makes it a perfect "always" expansion much like Inns & Cathedrals. Obtaining both copies, though, is not overly cheap from outside of Germany, so if you are not overly eager to obtain it, you may want to wait a while for a US release. Z-Man hasn't said anything yet, but Halflings II, at least, will likely be made available at some point in the future. Halflings I, from Spielbox, may not be so easy to obtain, so get it now while you can.

SCORES
Playability: A-
Affordability: B
Compatibility (with other expansions): A
Aethetics: C+
Learning Curve: A-
FINAL GRADE: B+

Linkback: http://www.carcassonnecentral.com/community/index.php?topic=1212.0

Offline Guy

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Re: [The Barbarian Report] Halflings I/II: Twice As Fun, Half As Wild
« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2014, 01:40:50 AM »
Another excellent review whaleyland, very informative.  I agree with you that HiG were lacking in precise rules for this expansion but hopefully these issues will be resolved relatively soon!

Offline Darwin

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Re: [The Barbarian Report] Halflings I/II: Twice As Fun, Half As Wild
« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2014, 05:11:00 AM »
Excellent review whaleyland :(y)
As usual the rules are unclear, but I don't think it has ever been released an expansion with rules so badly thought trough as with the Haflings.

In my opinion it had been better if they had just written:
“Here are some new half tiles with symbols from other expansions. Play them as you wish.”

Offline coyote

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Re: [The Barbarian Report] Halflings I/II: Twice As Fun, Half As Wild
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2014, 07:42:52 AM »
Interesting review!

Anyone have a picture of the tiles 'not cut right'? I have the ones from Spiel, and they seem perfectly fine..?

Offline SRBO

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Re: [The Barbarian Report] Halflings I/II: Twice As Fun, Half As Wild
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2014, 07:54:13 AM »
i will try and make a picture


EDIT: Mine seem to connect pretty fine.. so not with me!
« Last Edit: November 03, 2014, 08:00:07 AM by SRBO »

Offline whaleyland

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Re: [The Barbarian Report] Halflings I/II: Twice As Fun, Half As Wild
« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2014, 11:19:38 AM »
i will try and make a picture


EDIT: Mine seem to connect pretty fine.. so not with me!
I'll try to take a photo at some point, but not today or tomorrow.

Offline Big Guy

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Re: [The Barbarian Report] Halflings I/II: Twice As Fun, Half As Wild
« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2014, 05:55:09 AM »
Great review whaley. I didn't even realize this was in the works. It's excellent to see an official effort to introduce tile shapes besides the standard 4-sided, and it's also excellent to see your analysis of what works and what doesn't.

That's too bad that two 'halfling' tiles combine to create a square larger than the standard tile. I hate a board with fault lines, as you already discussed.

Who should I contact to 'attempt' to get a copy of halflings I?

I've felt a little silly including 'number of tile shapes' in my review format, as up until now, there's been no point to listing that criteria. It seems much more relevant now :c).
A good board game brings people together.

Check out my Variants:
THE TOWER (NCV)
PLAY AS THE DRAGON

Offline SRBO

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Re: [The Barbarian Report] Halflings I/II: Twice As Fun, Half As Wild
« Reply #7 on: December 01, 2014, 06:05:43 AM »
Spielbox has a magazine with them. Cundco has the other one


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