Hello!

...

Anyway, my best girl and I played a game the other night. It was The Tower, Abbeys and Mayors, Ferries, and Robbers (we each picked a large and a small expansion). We had a great game, and enjoyed it for all the reasons we love Carcassonne. However, what we did not enjoy was that 30 tiles into our 118 tile game, we had drawn 10 tower foundations. Not a horrendous ratio, certainly, but more than a little annoying. I'm pretty sure we gave the tiles a good wash before playing, so it seems the Carcassonne Gods simply fancied playing with us that day. Now, I know, this is just how the game works. Tile draw is random. Sometimes you get all of the towers in the first ten minutes, in happens. But, isn't it really annoying? We've all played that game. The last two tiles you draw are Cathedrals. All of the dragon moves are gone before there are even followers on the board. It's just how the game works. But it's annoying.

Because of this, we decided to meddle with things better left untouched. We wanted a way to reduce this effect. What we came up with is a method of playing which we (I) have called 'Tiered Deployment.'

Tiered Deployment

Tiered deployment gives you more control over how often a feature will appear, without completely negating the random aspect of the tile drawn. The idea is this. Tiles are split into a number of separate piles, each with a roughly equal number of tiles, and a roughly equal number of the feature you are looking to stagger. Players draw from one pile, and move onto the next pile when the first is expended. Play proceeds through each of the piles, only moving on to the next when the current pile is exhausted.

Take our example, The Tower. Our 118 tile game gets split into four piles of roughly thirty tiles. Each one has four/five tower foundations in it. By drawing only from one pile, we can only get four/five towers in the first 30 tiles, a much more reasonable number than 10.

This does create problems in the form of tile counting and draw predictability. If you have thirty tiles in the pile, with five tower foundations, once all of them have been drawn you know you're safe until that pile runs out. This is obviously the same as counting 18 foundations over the whole game, but staggering the draw makes it easier to do. We have two solutions for this, which we intend to playtest. The third solution, of course, is to play with Hills. Solution one is that when you reach the last few tiles of the tier you are currently in, you mix it in with the next tier and draw from the combine pile. This eliminates players being able to predict the last tile of that tier because they haven't drawn five towers yet. The other solution is as follows. After the tiers have been made (four piles of thirty piles with four/five towers in each) you take a few tiles randomly (and blindly) from each, mix them all up, then put the same number of tiles back into each tier. Now, any tier may have more/fewer foundations. They may all have the same number as they did. This removes the tile counting and puts back a little bit of the random draw taken out by your meddling.

There you have it. Hypothetically, this could be done with any expansion. Four tiers could each have two goldmines in them, one cult place, five trade cities, etc. That being said, I don't think it would work brilliantly with all expansions. Some expansions rely more on the random draw. We plan to do some playtesting and work out if this is even worth doing, and if so, what are the best numbers. We're currently thinking the size of the tiers should be one quarter or one fifth of the number of tiles you're playing with, and that the number of tiles mixed up from the tiers should be one quarter/one fifth of that.

Let me know what you think! If anyone has a go, or has done this before, I'd be interested to hear how it went. Or, if you think we're dreadful control freaks meddling with the natural order, you'd be right, but I'd be interested to hear that too.

Cheerio!

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