Author Topic: Why endless expansions? Playing the Original - An opinion  (Read 1206 times)

Offline t2k

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Why endless expansions? Playing the Original - An opinion
« on: January 02, 2021, 10:12:26 PM »
Some games really change when they have an expansion added, sometimes in such a way the you're not really playing the original game any more.  Some expansions alter the original gameplay so you are playing a new game, where the base game only serves as a foundation of the expansion or expansions.

With the Catan Seafarers expansion, the game is unchanged, save  for a few minor rules, an extra resource, and ocean tiles.  But it's still Catan Classic with roads settlements, cities, resources, and trade, trade, trade...  When you add in in Cities and Knights, Traders and Barbarians or Explorers and Pirates, the game isn't really generic Catan, it's something else.  Many have said that expansions add to the game.  Really, any game that has an expansion which evolves the original game play is always good and welcomed.

With Expansion 1, Inns and Cathedrals, original Carcassonne play elements remain, only adding the additional strategic idea of stopping a player from gaining points from incomplete Roads and Cities.  The mini-expansions of The Abbot and The River, add strategy, scoring possibilities and the map elements.  With Traders and Builders, Princess and Dragon, etc., we  run down a new street and into a neighborhood we no longer know.  With any Carcassonne expansion beyond the first, the original gameplay changes such, that the basic Carcassonne is nearly unrecognizable beneath the inclusion of so many ideas and rules.  Consider also that Carcassonne, when played with many major and minor expansions, and Spiel Doch tiles don't always play or fit well together.  When this happens with other Euro-Style games, I call that "Carcassonning".  From what I've just written, you can see why.  That's an issue with Catan, and many other Euro-style games.

Keeping to the original idea inherent in a classic game is great when adding an expansion.  But when expansions change the game so much that we lose the original in a miasma of rules and game parts is never good for the player, but may be profitable for the publisher.  I can't disagree with the player who likes using all the expansions, as that is a matter of personal taste.

You can still try playing Carcassonne, or any favorite game with no expansions, and see if the love of the original gameplay and camaraderie of friends still remains, which I am sure will.  And then you see what makes a game composed of a bunch of cardboard and wooden components using simple rules of play a simply wonderful experience.

Linkback: http://www.carcassonnecentral.com/community/index.php?topic=4962.0

Offline Nunesck

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Re: Why endless expansions? Playing the Original - An opinion
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2021, 09:31:53 PM »
I like some expansions, but I do feel "meh" about some of them, specially combined. And I still have not play every major or minor one. Some really do not seem to fit togheter, IMO: towers and princess&dragon = meeple hell.
But some specific modules may be a good addition instead of the whole package. Like, just the tiles from any expansion, or magic portals tiles and not the rest of P&D. Towers with magic portals from P&D works better than without them. And myself is inclined to always have The builder.. And so goes on.

It really depends on group preference and some sort of trial and error. I know it can be frustrating having so many expansions, but at the end of the day, like the circus expansios, it feels seasonal and I don't think it's inherently a bad thing. What I do think it could be better is if we get another "significative"-feel like exp. Like the first two, or Hills and Sheep that I think it's very cool and provides a interesting twist on tile counting..

But again, trial and error. Also, a lot of gameplay videos to see if it is worth for your group to spend money on things like the infamous "catapult" one. Besides that, I do like the variety, albeit with mixed results.

The minis are a story for another day.


post scriptum. I play the original with new players, but even then, I add "the river I" mini expansion just to some visual flavour and since it doesn't add any drastic game changing rules.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2021, 07:18:05 AM by Nunesck »
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Offline danisthirty

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Re: Why endless expansions? Playing the Original - An opinion
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2021, 04:23:32 AM »
Hey t2k. Great post. I agree with you 100%.

Further to what you wrote, I would go on to say that there are a number of ways that Carcassonne aficionados can go with the game. Some like to play big with as many expansions, or even multiple expansions included. The appeal of this is somewhat lost on me as I enjoy playing the game more than I enjoy navigating the vast maze of confusing and often conflicting rules. However, we do have a number of rules lawyers here who do an outstanding job of trying to bring sense to all of this, and to share it in a way that makes sense to people.

Others go on to focus more on creating their own expansions. I'm grateful to these people too, and have played some great fan-made expansions in my time. But it's not a world I can be part of as I'm not creative/ imaginative enough to come up with any worthy ideas and am not artistic enough to bring them to life either!

Although I will play with expansions on occasion, I'm still as crazy about the basic game as I was when I first played it and it surprises me that anyone could find it boring or insist that any expansion is essential to make it a fun game. This is something I see on BGG often. Instead, I've learnt to play the game to a reasonable standard and have played against (and learnt from) some of the best players in the world. For me, playing Carcassonne at that level is like nothing else that boardgaming can provide. Except perhaps, the opportunity to share my passion for Carcassonne with others...

Whether an expansion improves the game, or spoils it, is entirely up to the individual tastes of the players. Some insist that it *needs* Inns & Cathedrals and/ or Traders & Builders to be worthwhile, others insist on Princess & Dragon, and nobody ever seems to have anything nice to say about The Catapult! But regardless of this, I hope you'll find it reassuring to know that there are still many, many players like you and I who appreciate it mostly for the elegant simplicity of a game involving 72 tiles and 7 meeples per player. Enjoy!

Offline DrMeeple

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Re: Why endless expansions? Playing the Original - An opinion
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2021, 04:32:56 AM »
So true Dan! Basic game is awesome! And we don’t need expansions to enjoy it... Carcassonne isn’t a boring game! Sometimes you can add some expansions and try to combine to find the best way to enjoy them.
Saddly a lot of people today thinks that carcassonne without I&C or T&B is a boring game...
« Last Edit: January 04, 2021, 07:58:02 AM by Decar, Reason: No need to quote the entire message from the message above. It sends an email with the content to all subscribers. »
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Offline Decar

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Re: Why endless expansions? Playing the Original - An opinion
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2021, 07:57:01 AM »
Well said t2k.  I always come back to regular Carcassonne.  Adding a little flavour with an expansion every so often is a nice way to adapt the experience.  It's very common now to see a lot of games hold back ideas for an expansions and they're needed to feel complete, or fix issues with the core game. I don't think that's the case with Carcassonne, classical family euro games seemed to do this much better than modern titles, but I'm over generalizing.

We're lucky that HiG has invested so heavily into contests like the world championships to demonstrate how strategic Carcassonne can be.  There's a good reason why familiar faces always appear in these tournaments and win too!

As for the Catapult, I've always liked the road tiles.

Offline dirk2112

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Re: Why endless expansions? Playing the Original - An opinion
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2021, 09:55:32 AM »
We can't play the base game anymore.  We can't play base Pandemic, Cacao, or King of New York any more either.  The expansions add flavor to games that are quite stale at our house.   Perhaps we shouldn't play our favorite games so much.   

We only have base game Catan and I am not sure if we will ever play it again.  The game is fairly easy to predict the winner based on the starting positions of every player.  Maybe we should invest in Cities & Knights or something to make it new again.  If Seafarers is as boring as Inns & Cathedrals, I'll steer clear. 

Expansions that are just more of the same get old really fast.  I guess there is a sweet spot where an expansion has to change enough to justify its existence, but not change too much so that the game isn't recognizable anymore. The catapult turns a tile laying game into a dexterity game which is stupid.  Isle Of Skye Journeyman turns a bidding/tile laying game into a Euro point salad slog.  Pandemic is a cooperative game and in the first expansion they added a bio-terrorist role...  There are probably more examples, but you get the idea.   


Offline Whaleyland

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Re: Why endless expansions? Playing the Original - An opinion
« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2021, 01:58:24 PM »

Agree all around. For several years I kept buying Catan expansions and even those could not quite defeat the grind and predictability of the game. Nothing really ever stopped runaway winners. Maybe the Pirates & Explorers expansion finally did, but I had given up on Catan long before that. The only Catan property I play these days is Rivals for Catan (Catan Card Game) because it's 2 player and has so many different strategies, and even with that I own both expansions and play with at least one module from them each game.

For Carcassonne, I pretty much always throw in a mini expansion and a large expansion. It's just become common practice. The only time I don't is when I am trying out a new expansion and want to try it on its own. The only time I play base Carcassonne is with people who haven't played before or if I'm invited to play someone else's game. Even my work version of the game is the Big Box 6 and we now play with Halflings included if it's just the usual crew.

My favourite types of expansions are ones that build off the core mechanics but in interesting ways. Basically anything for Flash Point: Fire Rescue, Kingdom Builder, Dominion, Dixit, or Suburbia (except Five Stars). About half of the Alhambra expansions. All of these games work fine without expansions, but the expansions add so much and I can't imagine just playing the base games forever without them (even bad expansions can provide some interesting change of pace).
« Last Edit: January 04, 2021, 03:36:13 PM by Decar »

Offline MeepleFriend

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Re: Why endless expansions? Playing the Original - An opinion
« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2021, 03:29:08 PM »

We only have base game Catan and I am not sure if we will ever play it again.  The game is fairly easy to predict the winner based on the starting positions of every player.

Expansions that are just more of the same get old really fast.  I guess there is a sweet spot where an expansion has to change enough to justify its existence, but not change too much so that the game isn't recognizable anymore. 
Agree all around. For several years I kept buying Catan expansions and even those could not quite defeat the grind and predictability of the game. Nothing really ever stopped runaway winners.

My favourite types of expansions are ones that build off the core mechanics but in interesting ways.

Highlighting these excerpts with my dual-response-- I feel the same way as you both.

Sometimes games are designed with "win more" cards, situations, abilities, tokens, etc-- where if a player is winning, they just win more. And continue winning. In those games, it's very frustrating from a competitive standpoint to not have catch-up or resetting mechanics. From a casual gaming standpoint (and from a game design philosophy standpoint, I'd argue) it is simply un-fun if in an average, typical given game, there is a player that is able to run up the score after pulling ahead by a sufficient margin. Of course, I'm not advocating against the possibility for a game to experience an incredible player turn that results from random incredible draw (luck) or by leveraging risk/odds and hitting the payout (also luck)-- that can be exciting if it is both rare and feels organic. In games that aren't like Connect-Four or Go, there ought to be room for some version of that.

While players can sometimes develop strategies that weren't foreseen by the game's designers (particularly given a high enough complexity level), the baseline progression of a game should not have runaway winners be the regular occurrence. I feel that happens too regularly with some of games, whether it be Catan or even Monopoly (although for the latter, that was sort of intended by the original creator!)

One of the reasons I enjoy Carcassonne as much as I do is that early runaway winners are not the typical experience. :(y)

To the second point you both make: I couldn't agree more. For me, good expansions preserve both the spirit and core mechanics to a large degree, but contain additions are both compelling and interesting, adding their new smaller mechanics in meaningful ways.

If I were to be argumentative about it, I'd say that if an expansion fails to do that, changes the base game not just significantly but unrecognizably so in gameplay, or adds a mechanic that is drastically out of touch, then it is either a bad expansion or should be considered a different game.  ;D
« Last Edit: January 28, 2021, 06:53:04 AM by MeepleFriend »

Offline t2k

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Re: Why endless expansions? Playing the Original - An opinion
« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2021, 02:52:10 AM »
The first expansion "Inns & Cathedrals" didn't come along two years after the initial release of Carcassonne.  I'm not sure that was due to people tiring of the game already.  In 2014, with the new art, the base game included two mini expansions (The River and The Abbot).  These add a bit of interest and some strategic scoring opportunities.

I'm not sure why people seem to tire of playing games in their original form.  Nobody complains that Draw Poker & Pinochle never change, and they still get played endless times.  What really makes any game replayable, is player individuality, the best asset we all bring to the gaming table.

That may apply even to Monopoly (forgive the curse word).

Offline danisthirty

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Re: Why endless expansions? Playing the Original - An opinion
« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2021, 03:41:45 AM »
The first expansion "Inns & Cathedrals" didn't come along two years after the initial release of Carcassonne.  I'm not sure that was due to people tiring of the game already.

I'm not sure why people seem to tire of playing games in their original form.  Nobody complains that Draw Poker & Pinochle never change, and they still get played endless times.  What really makes any game replayable, is player individuality, the best asset we all bring to the gaming table.

I think the reason for the existence of expansions is just as much commercial as it is anything else. Pretend you're HiG and it's 2001. You've just released a great boardgame that everybody loves (and has bought), how do you capitalise on that success in order to keep the money flowing towards you? You can release the same thing again in a slightly different format and hope that everyone buys it again, or you can start to release additional content in the form of expansions which will add further enjoyment to the existing game. So with this in mind, I don't think expansions exist because people got tired of the basic game, but more because people were willing to buy them if they added a new dimension to a game that they already owned and enjoyed playing. Now, 20 years later, here we are; HiG are still in business and Carcassonne is a global phenomenon! :(y)

There are still plenty of people who aren't tired of the base game and who prefer to get their Carcassonne fix without expansions; BGA is full of them! Personally, there's a lot I like about Carcassonne but one of the first things that really drew me to it in a way that no other games has done was the elegant simplicity of the basic game. Sure, it's fun to play with expansions too, but there's something very special about the standard 72 tiles that has maintained my interested over thousands of games, and I'm sure it will do for thousands more too.

Offline Decar

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Re: Why endless expansions? Playing the Original - An opinion
« Reply #10 on: January 28, 2021, 03:47:08 AM »
Would be even more special with 73 tiles though :D

Offline Vital Pluymers

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Re: Why endless expansions? Playing the Original - An opinion
« Reply #11 on: January 28, 2021, 04:01:39 AM »
Would be even more special with 73 tiles though :D

Indeed!  :D

Offline Meepledrone

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Re: Why endless expansions? Playing the Original - An opinion
« Reply #12 on: January 28, 2021, 06:38:46 AM »
Are you talking about the base game bundled in Big Box 5 with an extra CRFR tile?
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Offline dirk2112

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Re: Why endless expansions? Playing the Original - An opinion
« Reply #13 on: January 28, 2021, 01:08:37 PM »
Nobody complains that Draw Poker & Pinochle never change

I do.  I entered a hold em tournament with a friend a few years ago.  I was glad when I got kicked out and happy to not have to play anymore.  Once you know the odds and stuff, the game kind of plays itself.  I see people at casinos playing blackjack or slot machines for hours on end.  Some people are happy with playing Dominoes, Uno, Mahjong, or Phase 10 every weekend.  I had an aunt that cheated at solitaire.  I don't get it.   
 

Offline Allograft

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Re: Why endless expansions? Playing the Original - An opinion
« Reply #14 on: February 07, 2021, 03:15:44 PM »
Today is a busy day for my family and I, and we are planning on a short version tonight with the original, river, and Abbot. We're new to it and having a great time. We've been working with the 2017 Big Box and added expansions slowly. Our biggest game so far was 2 original sets, 2 river I's, Abbot, Inns, Traders, Abbey, Bridges, Fliers, and Messengers. Still have lots more just from the Big Box. But for tonight, going back to the original for some light, quick fun before home-school hell tomorrow. The complexity and nuance, interaction, and difficulty of the big games are a whole lotta fun, but I think that a simple, relaxing version will be perfect for tonight.


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