Author Topic: The Barbarian Report: Carcassonne The Discovery  (Read 1112 times)

Offline whaleyland

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The Barbarian Report: Carcassonne The Discovery
« on: December 02, 2017, 12:38:57 AM »
Carcassonne spin-offs are always a bit of a wildcard with some much more exciting and thematic than others. However, one of the first in the long chain of endless stand-alone Carcassonne games was The Discovery, released only four years after the original game. It adopted the basic Carcassonne mechanics but altered almost every aspect of the game. That may not have been such a good idea...

Floating Adrift
 :-\ Keep the Art Submerged - The first thing anybody who buys this game notices is the relatively horrendous, child-like artwork that permeates this game. From the cartoony castles to the coloured-pencil mountains, grasslands, and oceans, everything seems both too neat and too fake to enjoy. If you feel art does not make or break a game, then you have not played The Discovery. The artwork is so simplistic, that it really makes the game feel longer than it actually plays. The only good aspect of it is that the features are all well-defined.
 :@ Take Two - Once a game is begun, however, it quickly becomes clear that the rules are really the thing that will throw you for a loop. All three of the scoreable features score like a hybrid of cities and farms from the original Carcassonne game. More annoyingly, features score different points depending on whether they are 'complete' or 'incomplete.' To help players with this, a language-independent scoring card is included for each player, which does help but also underlines the needless complexity of this game.
 :-X Backed Into Corners - For a game that really rewards players who create large features, there is a remarkably high number of tiles that create small, often pointless features. While this may create strategic situations for experienced and skilful players, new and casual players just get frustrated that their features are constantly small and insubstantial.

A Creative Twist
 ??? Voluntary Abandonment - The most unique feature in this game is that scoring is always voluntary. Players only use four followers and must choose each turn whether they place a follower or score for a feature. It creates an interesting balance that requires strategies unknown elsewhere in Carcassonne. Sometimes the hardest decision to make is whether you claim a valuable feature you just expanded (or created) or score for something before it's too late. Near the end of the game, this becomes even more pronounced since any completed feature with a follower on it receives points as if it were incomplete during final scoring. Thus, balancing placement and scoring is a constant struggle that greatly enhances the strategy in the game.
 O0 The Art of Expansion - Continuing on from the facts above, the complicated rules of this game do provide numerous opportunities for strategy unknown in other Carcassonne games. Each feature has a similar but slightly different niche. Grasslands score only for grasslands, mountains score only for adjacent fortresses, and oceans score for ocean and fortresses. Thus, there is a continuity between them. While the technicalities of these rules are difficult to remember, they do provide many very interesting opportunities for competition. And since players can choose when to score for features, there is no guarantee that two players who happen to sit upon the same feature will receive the same amount of points. One may leave before that feature is completed and receive partial points, while another may wait and score a far greater amount.
 C:-) Branching Out - It must be said that this was the only Carcassonne until 2013's South Seas that had a nautical theme. The real-life city of Carcassonne sits on a river but the Mediterranean is not far and this game does fit more or less with that theme, despite its non-thematic name. A reprint of this game with superior artwork and perhaps a more streamlined scoring mechanic could prove popular, and it could even be possible to create in this an expansion to the base game rather than a spin-off. The idea, if not the implementation, of a coastal Carcassonne expansion continues to elude Hans im Glück and concepts could certainly be gleaned from this stand-alone game.

Inconclusion
Carcassonne: The Discovery is undeniably a flawed game. Lacking in visual appeal and needlessly complex, it sits near the bottom of Carcassonne spin-offs and will certainly not appeal to everybody. This is probably one of the reasons why it has been discontinued by Hans im Glück and why Z-Man Games has not released their own version of it. It feels outdated – like a 1990s Eurogame before the craze hit America. While some of the mechanics are certainly interesting and this is arguably the most strategic of all the Carcassonne spin-offs, it simply is not that appealing. Stick to the original game or Hunters & Gatherers.

SCORES
Playability: B
Affordability (Obtainability): B (second-hand)
Aethetics: F
Learning Curve: C
FINAL GRADE: C

Linkback: http://www.carcassonnecentral.com/community/index.php?topic=3660.0

Offline Just a Bill

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Re: The Barbarian Report: Carcassonne The Discovery
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2017, 06:10:18 AM »
Oh yeah, I remember briefly looking into this when it first came out, and when I saw the awful visuals I lost interest immediately and basically forgot all about it. Artwise, it looks like a playtesting prototype.

Why are the mountains lying on their sides?

Why is some of the grass shaped like mountains, and why does all of it look like slime?

Why did they use castles drawn my Mrs. McGillicuddy's second-grade class?

Why are the followers shaped like Yondu, or fire nymphs, or Gumby, or Lyle Lovett, or ... ?

« Last Edit: July 18, 2018, 08:02:15 AM by Just a Bill »
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Offline Sinscerly

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Re: The Barbarian Report: Carcassonne The Discovery
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2017, 07:15:10 AM »
I think The Discovery is one of the simpel complex Carcassonne games I know.
I have played it a lot in my youth and brought me to the world of Carcassonne.
Yeah the graphics are a shame :(, but I would pick this one up with children I think.
But yeah, children don't look that much at the art and more to the gameplay.
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Offline Decar

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Re: The Barbarian Report: Carcassonne The Discovery
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2017, 07:15:54 AM »
Good to see you're back at this Whaleyland.  I found that using 2 types of blobby scoring features caused a lot of issues for the game. They seem to get in each other's way.  For me it highlights the balance of features in regular Carcassonne, Cities are 2-dimensional and complete with roads that are 1-dimensional. No doubt a Topology-expert would be able to express it more eloquently.  But it's something to do with roads bisecting the space/plane rather than blobs interweaving.  I think such a mathematical thing needs a lot more tiles to balance out quite right.  ??? ???

Offline Dragonlord

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Re: The Barbarian Report: Carcassonne The Discovery
« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2017, 07:49:04 AM »
I'm using it like an expansion with some homemade tiles.  :black1-meeple:

Offline whaleyland

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Re: The Barbarian Report: Carcassonne The Discovery
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2017, 10:50:07 AM »
Good to see you're back at this Whaleyland.  I found that using 2 types of blobby scoring features caused a lot of issues for the game. They seem to get in each other's way.  For me it highlights the balance of features in regular Carcassonne, Cities are 2-dimensional and complete with roads that are 1-dimensional. No doubt a Topology-expert would be able to express it more eloquently.  But it's something to do with roads bisecting the space/plane rather than blobs interweaving.  I think such a mathematical thing needs a lot more tiles to balance out quite right.  ??? ???
I think I understand what you mean. Basically, The Discovery turns Carcassonne into a strange area control game without any real competition between players since you can't steal or split points like in normal Carcassonne. Yet I feel far too many tiles in Discovery lead to really small area features, which means items score little or, in many cases, nothing at all. This is especially a problem with mountains surrounded by ocean. The fortresses on the mountains score but the fortresses in the adjacent seas don't score like they would were they grasslands. Thus, mountain islands are often worthless or worth only a few points. That aspect really turned my sister and one of my friends off to the game. Another tried as hard as he could but just kept getting crappy draws and couldn't quite figure out the scoring. Only my brother-in-law and I figured out how to maximize the potential of this game but we ended up tying, which was a bit unexpected since I was leading for most of the game.

Offline Halfling

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Re: The Barbarian Report: Carcassonne The Discovery
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2017, 11:23:49 AM »
Carcassonne without a road/river/rail dynamic.  Strange....but I still go back to it every so often....and have to read the scoring rules all over again.
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