Author Topic: Bests Spin-Off Games  (Read 10025 times)

Offline evmillan

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Bests Spin-Off Games
« on: August 14, 2013, 06:43:57 PM »
In few months I have become in a Carcassonne fan (Carcassonne Central is accomplice), I'm trying to complete my collection and teach the game to my family, friends and colleagues. I'm looking some spin-off game of Carcassonne, Which related game do you recommend me?

P.D I read all new posts every day and I'd like to participe in more topics, but I need to improve my writing English skills

Linkback: http://www.carcassonnecentral.com/community/index.php?topic=371.0

Offline Amorpheus

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Re: Bests Spin-Off Games
« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2013, 05:38:55 AM »
I haven't played them all (maybe only half of them), but I would recommend Hunters & Gatherers as being the best spin-off.  I think it would be easier to teach than the original Carcassonne game, especially regarding scoring on farms/meadows.  Much easier to count the animals in the field that to determine which cities you can farm to, if you're new to the game.

I also own New World and The Kids of Carcassonne, and have played The Discovery.  New World is a decently fun game, but I didn't care for The Discovery the one time I played it.  If you have young kids, The Kids of Carcassonne is a great introduction to the game for them.

Offline Tacita

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Re: Bests Spin-Off Games
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2013, 06:16:31 AM »
Discovery is different and very good, especially with four players. It is the version with the most agonising choices.

The City
is the most beautiful and the most strategic.

The Castle
is like City, but for two players only. It is also uglier.

Ark of the Covenant and Hunters & Gatherers are nearly the same game, just with different themes. Ark is a bit fiddly with some stuff. H&G has some bonus tiles with which you can devestate another's long term strategy.

New World is bollocks.

Kids is okay and cute, but probably needs some house ruling for it to be truly enjoyable amongst adults. How it play with kids I have no idea.

So ... I recommend The Discovery and The City8)
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Offline Lord_Wishmaster

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Re: Bests Spin-Off Games
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2013, 08:41:46 AM »

The Castle
is like City, but for two players only. It is also uglier.

New World is bollocks.

Got to say that I've always considered The Castle to be the best game of all of them, and that includes the main game of Carcassonne - Heathen I hear you all cry!! Well I'm sorry, but that's the way I feel about it. Far more strategic, much more compact and a clever, more original take on the game than all the other spin-offs. Most of those whilst good don't actually alter the game that much.

As to New World... No No No!! You are just so wrong! I actually owned it for near on a year before taking it out the box, but now it's one of the most played Carcassonne games we have. Their are a few 'missing' rules granted... I did post a long missive on the old forum (when I was just plain ol' Wishmaster!) and most agreed with my 'solutions'... are those pages still about? Not looked around here enough just yet

The only one I've not yet played is The City... I've had it for years, in it's rather large wood box version. Must have a go one day I guess.

Is there any sign of the mysterious (well it was a year ago!) expansion for The Castle. Falcon I believe?

Offline Tacita

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Re: Bests Spin-Off Games
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2013, 12:00:17 PM »
Got to say that I've always considered The Castle to be the best game of all of them, and that includes the main game of Carcassonne - Heathen I hear you all cry!! Well I'm sorry, but that's the way I feel about it. Far more strategic, much more compact and a clever, more original take on the game than all the other spin-offs. Most of those whilst good don't actually alter the game that much.
The Castle is great. It is also ugly. The only real gripe I have with it is that the markets are way too powerful. Nowadays we play with them being worth only two points. It has helped, but a game should not need house rules.

Quote from: Lord_Wishmaster
As to New World... No No No!! You are just so wrong! I actually owned it for near on a year before taking it out the box, but now it's one of the most played Carcassonne games we have. Their are a few 'missing' rules granted... I did post a long missive on the old forum (when I was just plain ol' Wishmaster!) and most agreed with my 'solutions'... are those pages still about? Not looked around here enough just yet
As I said: a game should not need "solutions". You do not build things playing it; you finish things to score a point here and a point there. There is no stratgey - only short term tactics.

Offline whaleyland

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Re: Bests Spin-Off Games
« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2013, 01:13:12 AM »
Since I've played and own most of them, I guess I'll chime in:
  • Hunters and Gatherers - Best spin-off with the best mechanics. A lot of the good things in Carcassonne are kept, but things like Farmer scoring are replaced with more intuitive concepts. River network idea is also a lot of fun. The Scout expansion doesn't add a lot, but it does give this a tad bit more variety in a game that already has quite a bit of variety.
  • Ark of the Covenant - Also a fun spin-off with a nice Biblical theme that doesn't seem out of place or preachy. The different rules for Temples versus Cloisters is a bit jarring at first, but makes the game feel just different enough to set it apart. The Ark is also a fun little mechanic, albeit one that was later adopted in Carcassonne expansions to a degree.
  • The City - Honestly, my least favorite of the bunch. The wall is rather annoying in its ability to crunch down the size of the city, while the internal mechanics and the visual graphics are just kind of dull. We rarely play this spin-off.
  • The Castle - Also a bit of a hit and miss spin-off. It has a nice two-player feel which is not bad, but the fiddlyness of the frame and the rather poor look of the tiles degrades this game to the realm of shelf squatter. We only really play this when we're in a Carcassonne mood, are sick of the base game, and there are only two of us. Plus, I am still waiting for somebody to release The Falcon expansion, which was announced in the Stone Age and is still buried in rock.
  • New World/Mayflower - An awful theme (especially the Europe version, which is ahistorical) for a great concept. In fact, I adapted this game to Carcassonne in my "Reconquest of Gaul" expansion available here. I love the mechanics of units forcing the board to move ever westward, yet the graphics are a bit too real-life and the icons too difficult to discern. I really wish this had been created as an expansion rather than as a spin-off.
  • Wheel of Fortune - A terrible name for an abstract spin-off that is really just an expansion to the base game. If you want more meeples, tiles, and a new mechanic for Carcassonne, look no farther than this game. If you live in Europe and want to read the Carcassonne-themed book, buy the combo set. If you don't yet own the base game, buy this instead. It gets you all the same stuff with a free expansion included. (Okay, the base game comes with the River, but this free expansion is bigger and includes a pig meeple!)
  • Winter Edition - I don't actually own this one yet, but it is basically a spin-off of the base game. Get it if you like winter-themed games. The forthcoming Z-Man edition does include the Gingerbread Man expansion as well, which is an entirely new mechanic unique to this game, so it isn't entirely a repeat of the base game, but it's pretty darn close. Expansions like the Phantom and the Messages would work just as well here as with the main game, which isn't a bad thing if you enjoy those expansions. Winter Edition is also the most likely to receive more expansions in the future due to its recency and the fact that an expansion was released simultaneously with it.
  • The Discover - I haven't played this one, but I've generally heard good things about it. It apparently has some features that are generally taboo in Carcassonne, that drive up the speed and stress of the game
  • The Dice Game - Also haven't played this, and generally not heard good things about it. Carcassonne is random enough already. Try using dice to create simple features to earn points. Short, easy, and simple, but not overwhelmingly exciting. Stick to the cardboard unless you love dice.
  • Cardcassonne - This is not Carcassonne at all. Rather it is a card game that uses Carcassonne's art. While the game is apparently not that bad, don't buy it thinking you are getting a game with similar mechanics as the others.

I think that's it. Good luck in your quest!
« Last Edit: August 19, 2013, 01:17:34 AM by whaleyland »

Offline Lord_Wishmaster

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Re: Bests Spin-Off Games
« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2013, 06:11:12 AM »
Got to come back again on this. I don't think the Castle tiles are ugly at all. They are just totally fifferent to the look and feel of the other games, which is why I like it so much... it makes for a totally different game to all the others. The majority of the other spin-offs just 'fiddle' with the rules. At Kniza had the balls to use the concept but create something completely different.

Regards the New World and that 'no game should need solutions'. It's not that the rules are bad, just that for some reason a couple of things are not explained. Let's face it, there are whole sections on this forum that deal with that for the original game, so to say no game should need solutions pretty much damns carcassonne!  ;D
Yes it is instant and jumping in to grab points, but again this is what makes it different to the original game. There's be little point in making it play the same as Carcassonne would there?

I do agree that Hunters is a good game. It was the first spin-off I purchased, but when you analise it, what you have is a very pretty remake of the same game.

....hmm, obviously got the grumpy socks on again today!  ;D

Offline Tacita

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Re: Bests Spin-Off Games
« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2013, 10:18:55 AM »
....hmm, obviously got the grumpy socks on again today!  ;D
:)

Having different opinions is great and a better help for readers than two people agreeing.

The site is full of discussions about the rules, mostly because the expansions are not released with any regard to previous expansions. They are realeased with rules only pertaining to the original release (with a very few exceptions). Most people do not buy several expansions and then play them one at a time with the base game.

Offline evmillan

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Re: Bests Spin-Off Games
« Reply #8 on: September 05, 2013, 04:44:41 PM »
Thank you all for the the helpful suggestions, I am going to buy "H&G" (because I see some concensus around this game and I get King & Scout recently) and "The Kids of Carcassonne" (because I dream teaching to my little baby how to play in a few years). I'd bought "Carcassonne: Winter Edition" some weeks ago in a bargain at amazon.de

The routemap is something like that:
- Carcassonne: Winter Edition
- Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers.
- The Kids of Carcassonne.
- Carcassonne: The Discovery.
- Carcassonne: The Castle.
- Carcassonne: The City.
- New World / Mayflower.
- The Ark of the Covenant

Offline Andrew the Ambo

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Re: Bests Spin-Off Games
« Reply #9 on: September 05, 2013, 10:40:45 PM »
I have just found a second hand copy of Kids of Carcassonne. Now I just have to wait for my son to be old enough to play it (he can't even talk yet, and has only recently started walking!) :))

Offline Carcking

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Re: Bests Spin-Off Games
« Reply #10 on: September 07, 2013, 07:25:01 PM »
We own H&G and New World - and enjoy them. My wife and I will play either one now and then for a change of pace. They each have unique mechanics from the mother game.
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Offline jungleboy

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Re: Bests Spin-Off Games
« Reply #11 on: November 08, 2015, 12:47:39 PM »
This topic has been dormant for a while but I'd like to revive it, especially since four new spin-offs have been released since this topic was last active.

I've only played the five spin-off games that I own, which are the City, the Castle, the Winter Edition, the Ark of the Covenant and Hunters and Gatherers. I've posted my thoughts on some of these elsewhere but I'll summarise them again here:

Carcassonne: the City
I love building the city walls and being able to place guards on top of them; it gives a great 3D look to the board. The inability to place a meeple to score a feature that was completed with the just-placed tile also adds a lot of strategy to the game and works especially well in this game because scoring triggers wall building - I think I really only began to understand/capitalise on this today on my third play. As with the Castle, only having to have streets match sides with other tiles and not markets or residential areas changes the strategy of the game a lot in terms of glomming on. I also think the road scoring is done really well (1 per tile for 3 or fewer tiles, 2 per tile for 4+). So in terms of game-play, I really like this game - it's just a shame about the artwork, especially of the markets. I'm still holding out hope for the City v2.0!

Carcassonne: the Castle
Still probably my favourite spin-off. Some people upthread didn't like the artwork but I think it's cool. Not having to match the edge exactly with another edge except for paths is really confusing when you're so used to regular Carcassonne, but from an aesthetic point of view it works so much better with the mostly square sides of houses and towers of the Castle than it does in the City. Meanwhile I love the wall/scoreboard, and the wall tiles add a nice touch. Can't wait to play the Falcon expansion one of these days! More thoughts on the Castle here.

The Winter Edition
I really like the artwork and it's great to have the 12 extra tiles, with some configurations that don't exist in the base game. The gingerbread man can be fun but he can also take you completely out of the normal rhythm of the game if you want to try to truly maximise your gingerbread man points. Because it's also available on iOS, and because it's (obviously) very similar to Carcassonne, I have only played it once in 'real life'. If we want a quick alternative game to the base game, we tend to play Ark of the Covenant instead.

Ark of the Covenant
My favourite of the ones that aren't radically different from Carcassonne. The prophet, the ark and the different farm and temple scoring make it just different enough from the normal game to feel like a different game, but there's also some familiarity there. I like the desert colours and the temple tiles, although the city artwork can look a bit strange.

Hunters and Gatherers
I see here and elsewhere that many people really like Hunters and Gatherers. I've only played it once so far, but for a simple Carcassonne alternative I have to say that I prefer Ark of the Covenant (although as someone said upthread, they are fairly similar games). For some reason I found the visual part of H&G (mostly the forests) a bit confusing to get used to. I also prefer the theme of the Ark. Next time we'll play with the Scout expansion to see what that adds.
 

Offline danisthirty

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Re: Bests Spin-Off Games
« Reply #12 on: November 08, 2015, 01:52:59 PM »
Some great thoughts JB! Have a merit... :(y)

I've played two spin-offs recently which weren't mentioned on this list so I thought I'd post my thoughts here too:

Carcassonne: South Seas
I've probably played this about a dozen times, mostly 2-player games but I've played it as part of a 3, a 4 and even a 5 (with Decar, JT Atomico, Curt194 and the guy from Basically Wooden). I like that it doesn't have a score track, but instead that each player builds up a supply of victory points in the form of ship tokens upon which their resource tokens are spent. Resource tokens are won by closing islands (bananas), roads (shells) and fishing (fish). This makes play far less aggressive and - dare I say it - rather fun! But it still feels like a very light game, and I do miss the tactical elements of classic Carcassonne which I haven't got to grips with in this game yet. The rule that you can recall a previously placed meeple instead of deploying one if you have none in your stock is a welcome change too, especially since you only have 4 meeples to play with.

Carcassonne: Star Wars
I've only played this once but I really enjoyed it (despite all the Star Wars nonsense). One aspect of the game that I particularly enjoyed was the fact that we played cooperatively as two teams of two, although you could do that with pretty much any game I suppose. But in any case, it felt a lot to me like someone somewhere had come up with a list of the things that casual players don't like about classic Carcassonne and had thought hard about how to put them right. Roads have become more valuable for one thing, and cloisters (planets) can be attacked and won or lost on the roll of a dice (so there's no more complaining about who drew most cloisters). There is no shared ownership of anything; a successful "glom" by an opposing player forces a battle. Battles are fought by rolling up to three dice per player/ team and taking just the highest number rolled as your score. Each player has a large meeple who gets an extra dice, and any battling players with a personal emblem that matches an emblem present in the feature being fought over get a bonus dice too. The result of all this is that the game feels very well balanced and I'm already looking forward to playing it again!
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Offline jungleboy

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Re: Bests Spin-Off Games
« Reply #13 on: November 09, 2015, 09:00:00 AM »
Interesting reports, thanks! I haven't really considered getting either of these two (mostly because of the themes), but you might have sparked my interest a bit.

Meanwhile, given my (probably useless) hope for new artwork for Carcassonne: the City, is it worth looking at the current treatment / availability of the spin-off games to see if we can spot any trends?

Unless I'm mistaken, it looks like the only spin-off published before Z-Man Games took over publication in the English-speaking world that Z-Man has reprinted is Hunters and Gatherers (with new artwork). The remaining early spin-offs are no longer being published in English (or even in German?), although they seem to pop up in Sweden quite a bit! Are there any signs that Z-Man is considering republishing any other early spin-offs?

Meanwhile, the lack of official printing of the print-and-play Falcon expansion for Carcassonne: the Castle would appear to show that there is no interest in republishing this game, since this would have been a perfect opportunity to reprint it with the Falcon expansion included. I assume this means that there is also no interest in republishing the City, although it is true that the City was republished once before (without the wooden box), so maybe there is still hope! 

Maybe whaleyland would like to chime in on this topic as he is usually on top of stuff like this!
« Last Edit: November 09, 2015, 09:03:42 AM by jungleboy »

Offline danisthirty

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Re: Bests Spin-Off Games
« Reply #14 on: November 09, 2015, 09:09:32 AM »
Are there any signs that Z-Man is considering republishing any other early spin-offs?

Maybe the best way of finding out for sure would be to ask them directly. I emailed them once (about whether W/E themed score tiles would be included with W/E) and they got back to me pretty quickly.


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