Author Topic: A Tactical Introduction to Inns & Cathedrals  (Read 2007 times)

Offline danisthirty

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A Tactical Introduction to Inns & Cathedrals
« on: January 11, 2016, 05:46:15 AM »
Since nothing ever gets posted here, and since I’d already written it anyway (for inclusion in the Saskgames bi-monthly newsletter: http://forums.saskgames.com/index.php - well worth checking them out), here is a brief summary of some of the tactics that are introduced via components of Inns & Cathedrals:

Inns & Cathedrals was the first major expansion for Carcassonne, and many players have become so familiar with it over the years that they rarely play without it. Indeed, it is so easily integrated into the basic game and extends it so seamlessly that it hardly feels like an expansion at all! It can certainly change the basic 72-tile game quite significantly though, and there are a number of common tactics that can be employed to boost your chances of ending up further round the score track than your opponent(s) in games that feature this expansion. The purpose of my writing this short column is to discuss the merits of those which I've come to rely on most often, as well as to explain a bit more about how this expansion works for newer players or those who may be discovering it for the first time...

One of the most important introductions made via Inns & Cathedrals is that of the large follower/ "mega meeple". This is a follower that can be deployed in the same way as any other but each player gets just one large follower in their chosen colour. This follower has twice the presence of a normal follower and so is doubly useful (to you) in terms of establishing which player has overall control of a feature. In practice, this means that if your opponent has two normal followers in a city (or any feature) and you have your large follower in the same city then the city is tied and you both win the points. If your opponent has one normal follower in a city against your large follower then your largeness beats their normalness and the city is yours outright! This makes your large follower very valuable, so play him cautiously and don't take any risks as your opponent will more than likely be going all out to trap him if they know what's good for them. But if your opponent is close to finishing a suitably valuable feature and you have the opportunity to steal it from them outright with your large follower then it's usually worth taking a chance (but be sure to expect some form of retaliation)! A final point to consider is that your large follower is especially helpful if he's still available towards the end of the game and you can find an opportunity to get him onto an opponent's farm. This is why it's usually of benefit to trap your opponent's large follower as quickly as possible since this limits their options in terms of fighting back against you.

Amongst the 18 new landscape tiles are six Inns which double the value of completed roads (an incomplete road with an inn is worth nothing). So it's handy to keep at least one road going even if it serves mostly as a dumping ground for unwanted road tiles, as this could return a decent handful of points if you're able to add an inn to it, and then complete it before your opponent attempts to share it with you. Similarly, you can use these against your opponent if he/ she has a road which is unlikely or impossible to complete. It's a risk if they do end up completing it but a road with an inn is worth nothing, regardless of length, provided it's still open at the end of the game.

Cathedrals are a big feature of this expansion too. For one thing these tiles have cities on every side which make them a welcome addition to the landscape since the single 4-sided city tile included with the basic game was one of the rarest tiles being just one of 72. A basic game with inns & cathedrals however will include four such tiles due to the addition of the two cathedrals and another 4-sided city tile which isn't a cathedral. This extra tile is one of the most interesting in the game as each side of the tile is a distinct city cap which means you can place a farmer in the middle for 12 easy points if all four of the surrounding cities are completed independently, and there's no chance of your opponent getting a farmer onto this field either! It's also handy as a splitter tile to stop your opponents from getting their knights into your cities (or for you to get your knights into their cities), and is accompanied by a similar 3-sided city tile which is useful in the same way.

The big question you're faced with having drawn a cathedral is whether you add it to one of your own cities in an attempt to win a bundle of extra points for yourself, or ditch it in an opponent's city and ensure that they don't complete it, thus generating them zero points for that city (and a trapped meeple). Neither option is without risk, but personally I find the latter is often the most effective strategy as it's usually quite easy to extend opposing cities into awkward/ blocked territory such that one or more specific tiles are required to complete them. If they don't abandon their city immediately and focus elsewhere it's going to take a few of their turns while they attempt to close off all the open city edges. This gives you time either to make life difficult for them in this endeavour, or to get a knight or two of your own into the city so that you can have a share of the points if it looks like they might just be able to close it after all. Don't underestimate their chances of doing this either, as inns & cathedrals introduces a number of very interesting tiles that weren't included as part of the basic game!

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Offline Nicholas Mystikos

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Re: A Tactical Introduction to Inns & Cathedrals
« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2016, 08:53:33 AM »
...another 4-sided city tile which isn't a cathedral. This extra tile is one of the most interesting in the game as each side of the tile is a distinct city cap which means you can place a farmer in the middle for 12 easy points if all four of the surrounding cities are completed independently, and there's no chance of your opponent getting a farmer onto this field either! It's also handy as a splitter tile to stop your opponents from getting their knights into your cities (or for you to get your knights into their cities), and is accompanied by a similar 3-sided city tile which is useful in the same way.

These two tiles are great not only for claiming the farm on them, but also for adding the tiles to your existing farm where possible in the hope of adding 3/4 extra completed small cities to boost your farm points.


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