Poll

How well do The Inns and The Robber Baron play together?

They are an excellent pair.
They seem to work well most of the time
It really depends...
They don't seem to work well together.
They don't cooperate at all!
They don't appear to interact in any significant way.

Author Topic: Inns & Robber Baron: Element Match-Ups #1  (Read 1782 times)

Offline whaleyland

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    • Derek R. Whaley | Historian & Writer
Inns & Robber Baron: Element Match-Ups #1
« on: September 18, 2015, 07:48:55 PM »
Element Match-Ups is a new series of weekly challenges for all members of CarcassonneCentral. Each week, an element from a large expansion will be matched up with an element from a small expansion. Your job: try it out and let everybody know what you think about the pair. Consider this a quasi-scientific survey in that you are only playing with these two elements and the base game — nothing else! Otherwise the results will be skewed. You have a week to try the match-up from the time the match is announced until the next match is announced (which usually occurs sometime between Friday and Saturday, depending on time zone).

This week our elements are THE INNS, from Inns & Cathedrals (Expansion #1) and THE ROBBER BARON from King, Count & Cult (Expansion #6). These are both quite old expansions so most players should have copies of them. As a quick reminder, the Inns score +1 point per Road segment during the game, but score 0 points at the end of the game if the Road is incomplete. The Robber Baron, meanwhile, goes to the player who has completed the longest Road by the end of the game and earns for that player +1 point per completed Road on the entire board (not just their own).

The elements are set, the challenge is issued, and now it is for you to decide whether these elements work well together or are terrible companions. Summarise your experience below in however much detail you wish, and feel free to share any strategic advice you have for other players taking the challenge.

Linkback: http://www.carcassonnecentral.com/community/index.php?topic=2076.0
« Last Edit: October 09, 2015, 02:56:46 PM by whaleyland »

Offline whaleyland

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Re: Inns & Robber Baron: Element Match-Ups #1
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2015, 08:07:38 PM »
Not long after posting the above challenge, my partner and I set out to see how the two elements interacted. The result: okay. She took the initiative early on and was able to get started on some Roads with Inns and some large Cities all right away. I countered with a good Farm but my Cities all ended up being too small. I did have one promising Road with an Inn that I kept building onto for a while, but as soon as my partner realised that the Robber Baron goes to the player who completes the longest Road, she finished mine, giving me the short-term points but securing the Robber Baron for herself. Between the Cities and the Roads, she was already nearly 50 points ahead of me when the game ended. Through annoying luck, we both managed to get some good-sized Farms in the end, which pretty much just neutralised them (I think I gained a net of +2 points from them). Meanwhile, she got an additional 15 points from the Robber Baron.

Conclusion: the most important part of the Robber Baron is the motivation it causes for people to focus more on the Roads. Add to that the increased value of the Roads when they have Inns on them and everything goes to crap. Cloisters and Farms pretty much cancelled each other out, while Cities and Roads went to her, thereby ending the game with 217 to 169. Pretty embarrassing.

Offline danisthirty

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Re: Inns & Robber Baron: Element Match-Ups #1
« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2015, 12:34:20 PM »
"No shame in losing nor fame in winning" as someone pretty cool from Carcassonne Central once said...

In the basic game, it's not too painful to close someone else's road in order to keep the Robber Baron if you're in danger of losing it. Put an inn on that road and everything suddenly becomes a lot more difficult! In this situation (as with most situations) I find it's best to try to make the road impossible to complete. That way your opponent gets no points for it and the Robber Baron doesn't change hands.

This said, it's never a popular tactic when played against loved ones if you're hoping for them to remain that way... O:-)
« Last Edit: September 20, 2015, 12:42:08 PM by danisthirty »
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Offline Durbs

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Re: Inns & Robber Baron: Element Match-Ups #1
« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2015, 08:21:59 AM »
Haven’t played a dedicated experiment game, but some thoughts:

If you’re to play very aggressively, you can end up trying to pre-emptively close (or block) any road that looks like it might get long (more than 4). The flip-side of this is you end up with lots of short roads, thus making the RB worth more…
On one occasion I was able to manufacture it so the piece that closed the longest road (10+ tiles which was shared) would also close my major city – this added to the dilemma of my opponent insofar as if I got the tile (FRCC) I’d close both and get mega-city and RB, so it was worth the risk to my opponent not to close it (which they didn’t). I never got the tile, so the gamble paid off for them.

RB has the same-ish dynamic of Trade goods in this respect, helping your opponent close a feature in order to get points at end-game.

Without the builder, I personally view Inns as an added bonus to a road, rather than something I would actively pursue.
In combination with the RB, they become fairly risky in terms of being trapped and not likely very valuable unless you get an inn that closes a road (as opposed to being on a road corner or straight).
I guess the key part is who currently has the RB. If you have it, you can play Inns to increase value on short roads and (try to) cap anything that gets remotely close to taking the RB from you. If you don’t have the RB, unless it’s a quick way of getting 6 points rather than 3, I think I’d dump them somewhere useless.

With only these expansions, RB would likely be worth 10-20 points at end of game? There’s 6 Inn’s in the expansion, in a two player game, if you got half of them, you would only need 3x 3- or 4-tile roads to get the equivalent points. As soon as a road gets to 6- or 7-tiles long with an inn on it, I don’t think it would be worth capping your opponents but should try to be trapped ASAP.

It does risk slipping into 50:50 results however – if your opponent closes the road, they get the Inn points AND the RB (possibly a game winning 40 points), if they don’t, you win. I’ll try it in the next real-life game I play :)

In combination with other add-ons, notably the Builder or Abbey (or indeed both) it can become very strategic; with the builder on the road and a road 1-tile shorter than the current RB-winner makes for some very tense moments. Similarly the Abbey can be used to cap a road which your opponent has trapped (I’d already played mine in the previous example).

One thing I do like is once you have the RB – you then start building multiple roads to make it more valuable. It’s also quite fun trying to subtly steal the RB back by expanding farms/cities which “happen” to have a road next to them… (The same applies with 2-tile cities and the King).


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