Poll

How do you primarily use The Monasteries?

As a Cloister, to earn 9 points and regain your Monk.
2 (11.1%)
As a Monastery, to try to earn a ton of points at the end of the game.
15 (83.3%)
I generally don't claim Monasteries in either capacity.
0 (0%)
I use them in some other creatively strategic manner (describe below).
1 (5.6%)
I don't ever play with or don't own either of The Monasteries.
0 (0%)

Total Members Voted: 18

Voting closed: May 01, 2015, 03:21:10 PM

Author Topic: The Monasteries – Element of the Week #33  (Read 4880 times)

Offline whaleyland

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The Monasteries – Element of the Week #33
« on: April 24, 2015, 03:21:10 PM »
ELEMENT OF THE WEEK: THE MONASTERIES

Each week, a specific element from an expansion is chosen for deeper discussion. This is an opportunity for you, Carcassonne's biggest English-language fans, to discuss strategies and problems you have encountered through the years regarding specific expansion elements. All forms of critique – from the most joyous to the most scathing – are encouraged.

This week's element is THE MONASTERIES. A little expansion that packs a big punch. It is also unique in that it (currently) has two renditions—the German and the Dutch versions—and it is the only expansion that requires users to completely remove a set of tiles from the base game (although many expansions require the removal of the start tile). The premise is that a Monastery can act in two capacities: as a standard Cloister or as a new feature. The Cloister function is identical to the normal rules in that the player scores when the eight surrounding tiles are filled, gaining that player 9 points. Alternatively, the Follower may be placed as an Abbot, at which point they remain in place until the end of the game and score one point for every unbroken orthogonal line emanating from the Monastery. In big games where Monasteries are pulled early on, these can score massive points.

As a digression, this expansion, as well as Carcassonne 2.0, have now utterly confused the landscape of Carcassonne with conflicting religious terminology. Cloisters have Monks, Abbeys also have Monks, Monasteries have Abbots, but Abbots are also what are placed on Gardens and Cloisters in Carcassonne 2.0. And just to add more confusion, Z-Man Games now calls Cloisters Monasteries (which actually matches the German usage of the term). So...yeah. In English, there are a lot of different terms that can be used for these things—Monasteries, Cloisters, Abbeys, Convents—but there are also a lot of terms that can be used for who occupies them: Monks, Nuns, Abbots, Priests, Clerics, Priors, or even Bishops and Cardinals. Forethought was something Hans im Glück sometimes fails at, but here they really just have confused the heck out of everything!

Digression aside, this expansion is perhaps also unique in that it's impact grows as the size of a game grows. In games of MegaCarc, an early draw of a Monastery can earn that player dozens of points, if not more. That makes them prime targets for the Dragon, Towers, and Plague, but also great locations for the Flying Machine and Magic Portals. In other words, when in use, who controls the most Monasteries may well decide who wins the game. The Farmer game has been completely replaced. That's not always a bad thing, but it definitely is a game changer that some people may not like. In any case, the art of all 12 tiles is beautiful and I very much look forward to future editions in Spain and, preferably, France. Discuss your relationship with The Monasteries and how you optimise your use of this strategic element.

Next Week: The Phantoms   :gray-meeple: :gray-meeple: :gray-meeple:

Linkback: http://www.carcassonnecentral.com/community/index.php?topic=1704.0

Offline franks

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Re: The Monasteries – Element of the Week #33
« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2015, 09:43:02 PM »
Monasteries are one of my favourites in the ‘new wave’ of expansions. If meeps are available we will always try and play these for the big score, (as the ‘Abbot’).

Depending on the opportunity, I will sometimes try to get onto the same row as another competing Monasteries, especially if it's a long row - in order to piggy back or negate those points.

This feature is also a good reason to fill those gaps in the landscape to extend the rows and the scoring.

I have both Monastery sets but only include one in each game. In our mega games we don’t remove the cloisters. I don’t think it affects the game much.

My wife and I just finished a mega game tonight and she pulled 5 of the 6 Monasteries, (she committed 4 Abbots for the long game). She scored about 100 pts and it saved her bacon :@ It was a 3-hour game and she won by 9 points! (As an aside she also scored 15 of the 16 gold :P)
Franks

Wanna play Carc? Can we add just one more expansion?

Offline Fritz_Spinne

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Re: The Monasteries – Element of the Week #33
« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2015, 10:21:05 PM »
We use a house rule for the monasteries (we don't remove the cloisters in 2p games, in think we will use two sets of monasteries in 3p - 6p games and remove the cloisters of the base game):

Every player gets an Abbot from Carcassonne II. Every player can use one of the monasteries (if he draws one) with this Abbot to gain points as an Abbot in the monastery.

Offline whaleyland

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Re: The Monasteries – Element of the Week #33
« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2015, 10:54:24 PM »
We use a house rule for the monasteries (we don't remove the cloisters in 2p games, in think we will use two sets of monasteries in 3p - 6p games and remove the cloisters of the base game):

Every player gets an Abbot from Carcassonne II. Every player can use one of the monasteries (if he draws one) with this Abbot to gain points as an Abbot in the monastery.
We haven't played Carc since we got our Abbots (yeah, we've been busy) but I plan to try this variant soon.

Offline kettlefish

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Re: The Monasteries – Element of the Week #33
« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2015, 11:39:57 PM »
The graphics of the Monasteries are great. Udo Schmitz (Carcassonne-on-Tour) gave the monastery Marienthal a special picture of this tile when he was there for a press event.
At HiG facebook are some photos:
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152430716907299.1073741837.237314407298&type=3
« Last Edit: April 24, 2015, 11:41:45 PM by kettlefish »

Offline kettlefish

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Re: The Monasteries – Element of the Week #33
« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2015, 05:59:16 AM »
The Monasteries

The follower as an abbot placed on a monastery

It is very powerful and the player earns many points at the end of the game.

I think this mini expansion is interesting to play with expansions like the tower, princess & dragon (p&d) also the flying machines.


Offline jungleboy

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Re: The Monasteries – Element of the Week #33
« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2015, 09:48:41 AM »
I love the artwork and the concept of the Monasteries but if you're playing only the base game or the base game + minor expansions, I think the Monasteries are too powerful. In a two-player game, if someone draws 4+ of the 6 and places them wisely, this should be enough to secure victory. There are three obvious ways to combat this:

1) Play a house rule as Fritz suggested upthread to limit the number of abbots players can place.
2) Play it with destructive expansions as kettlefish suggested that can remove abbots from the board. I think the Tower is particularly good because both the Tower and the Monasteries make use of horizontal and vertical rows of tiles.
3) Add other high-scoring elements such as cathedrals or barns to help neutralise the power of the abbots.

Offline Christopher

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Re: The Monasteries – Element of the Week #33
« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2016, 02:47:17 PM »
Monasteries are a fun expansion. Can be a little powerful though. I'm not a huge fan of them in larger games as the points racked up are just too much. Even with other powerful expansions, like cathedrals and barns, these are still the ribbon winner. Barned farms can be stolen by connecting your farms, cathedrals cities can be blocked or muscled in on. Stopping an Abbot is harder. You can't get in without a flier, and so your best bet is to attempt to block building in a direction or two. By forcing a blank space in one direction in the same way you would block any other feature, you cut off the points. Tricky, though.

I quite like the idea of using these with the destructive expansions, although that feels a little counter-productive. Adding destructive expansions and an expansion which relies on committing followers is directly contradictory. You wouldn't bother deploying an Abbot when playing with the plague, for example. But it does add an element of working extra hard to protect followers. I can imagine capping a tower to protect a well placed Abbot!

I enjoyed the variant suggested in which each player can only use one Abbot. That worked very well, as it prevented players scoring too many monastery points due to some lucky draws. We also tried a variant in which the monastery only scored in two directions, left and right, determined by the direction of the tile. This effectively halved the points they could earn, which is great in larger games, and also made players think a bit harder about placement, rather than just throwing it down somewhere central. It did also make them easier to block, however, as forcing a space in one direction cut the points right down and made them significantly less worth committing a follower for.

I think it was a good idea to include the rule in which you remove the base game cloisters when playing. Otherwise you suffer an abundance of cloisters. This is also surprisingly relevant in larger games. I did some maths a while ago, and playing Mega Carcassonne with all tiles and just one set of Monasteries gives 11 cloisters over the number which would match the ratio in the base game!

Another slight issue is that these tiles can be powerful even if drawn quite late. This is unlike other powerful features as previously mentioned. A cathedral placed last minute is unlikely to score you decent points unless you happened to have a big city and are lucky enough to close it. A late placed barn can do reasonably well, but usually not as well as one placed earlier on that large farm. Monasteries, on the other hand, are different.  Imagine the game board in the diagram (it's rubbish, I know, I'm not a computer person). Player A draws his monastery near the beginning of the game and plays an Abbot, committing that follower for the entire game, at the end of which he scores 28 points. Player B draws his monastery right at the end of the game, deploys and Abbot and scores... you guessed it, 28 points. I realise the playing area is rarely this uniformed and this is a very black and white example, but in large games, I often find the map takes the shape of the table simply because we run out of room!

Overall, I enjoy the monasteries, but they have their limitations in larger games.

« Last Edit: March 07, 2016, 02:59:03 PM by Christopher »
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Offline Just a Bill

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Re: The Monasteries – Element of the Week #33
« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2017, 08:29:19 AM »
My first post to the forums and it's a necro. (Sheesh. Freakin' noob.)

Just a thought, building on what others have said about wanting to limit the number of monasteries a particular player might luck onto drawing. What about this?
  • Leave the cloisters in the game.
  • Give each player one monastery tile, to be held (much like an abbey or a German castle.)
  • When you draw a cloister,
    • you may play it normally, or
    • you may return it to the supply and play your monastery instead. If you deploy a follower to the monastery, you still have the option to place it as an abbot or a monk.*
* Using your monastery in simple "cloister mode" may seem to waste your special tile, but since the features around the two tiles may differ, in urgent circumstances you may find that the monastery "fits the hole" while the cloister does not. However, I would imagine that this would be rare. If that turns out to be true, then a side benefit of this variant is that monks are distinguished from abbots not only by the orientation of the wood, but also by the cloister/monastery artwork. If this distinction is valued (hey, at least I like it) then you could adopt a rule that a follower deployed to a monastery is always an abbot, and thus they no longer have to stand on their heads.

Note that playing your monastery tile actually slightly helps other players to play their own unused monasteries, due to the mechanism of returning the drawn cloister tile to the bag. (Or, you can rule that the unused cloister is removed from the game rather than recycled.)
« Last Edit: March 30, 2017, 08:33:05 AM by Just a Bill »
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Offline Decar

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Re: The Monasteries – Element of the Week #33
« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2017, 09:43:28 AM »
Welcome to the forum Just a Bill!

We're not too fussy here and happy to have a contribution on any thread that makes sense (and family friendly  :(y)).

I like your idea, though I'd worry about being able to swap a FFFF-Cloister for a FFFR-Monastery.  These tiles are rarer (2 vs 4), so it could really help out a player who draws the wrong cloister (being able to swap it).  Re-adding the tiles to the bad might alleviate some of that issue though.

Offline Dragonlord

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Re: The Monasteries – Element of the Week #33
« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2017, 09:43:47 AM »
In my case I'm playing with 9x7 tiles for 15 points max... rather than 58 points  :black1-meeple:


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