Author Topic: 5-Player Game w/ Confrontation  (Read 2885 times)

Offline ChoadWolf

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5-Player Game w/ Confrontation
« on: December 31, 2013, 12:46:45 PM »
BACKGROUND:
I'm relatively new to Carcassonne (year or so) but love the flexibility of the game. We had five guys for the first time playing a game last night, all of us are casual gamers. My dad and I are only about fifteen or so games in, two other guys are about five games in, and a new guy who has only played a couple iOS games. Each session we've added more expansions, and as far as we can tell, the more the merrier; both with people and with expansions. We all prefer confrontational gameplay and love the delicate balance of cooperation versus competition in the form of informal alliances that develop as the game unfolds. We also enjoy that these alliances usually end in betrayal.

SETUP:
For this game, we used the following set:
-Carcassonne
-River I & II (1st time) combined
-Inns & Cathedrals
-Traders & Builders
-Princess & the Dragon
-King & Robber Baron (1st time)
-The Cult (1st time)
-Abbey & Mayor
-The Phantom
-The Festival (1st time)
-Mage & Witch (1st time)

SUMMARY:
The game lasted the better part of four hours, which we didn't mind since having five guys available is only possible for us over the holiday break or a special circumstance such as a some died or so on. With that being said, when just my dad and I play, we would scale back the expansions significantly and leave out many of the more multiplayer-oriented expansions (P&D in particular). Set-up alone was about 45 minutes with rule explanations and so on, as I said, many of us are newer to the game and have never played with these expansions before.

The game was great. We found that there were MANY twists and turns during the game that kept any position, 1 through 5, available to any player. The overwhelming group favorite is Princess & the Dragon. I would not play four player or up without it! I was on the fence getting the expansion based upon reviews, but cannot imagine the game without it now. I was victim to four significant dragon rampages, costing me likely up to 70-110 points by game's end. Still, we love to see who saves whom or who chooses to crush whom using the piece. I took being targeted by the dragon as a compliment. Losing any significant scoring on cities, among other features, I took on a Road and Farm approach to scoring. The Robber Baron and King were awesome additions. I printed out and laminated the scoring track for these from BoardGameGeek.com, which made tracking easy. Our house rule was that we would score whatever we remembered to mark as roads and cities were completed, so as to avoid an hour at the end of the game counting said features for scoring. The King netted Kirk 24 points for his 48 point mega city and the Robber Baron got me 34 points for my 8 tile road. I love the power this gives road-builders, as these features have been previously neglected in our games. I was very pleased with the addition.

FINAL SCORE:
Kirk - 265
Brian - 215
Peter - 196
Toby - 187
Tom - 143

EXPANSION-BY-EXPANSION EVALUATION:

Carcassonne, Inns & Cathedrals, Traders & Builders, and the Phantom: As far as we are concerned, this is the base set of the game. We would not play any amount of players or skill level any more stripped down than this. In the least, it gives great Risk/Reward opportunities (I&C), Economics and Strategy (T&B), and Meeple flexibility (Large Meeple, Builder, Pig, and Phantom). We find Carcassonne alone pretty vanilla and largely independent experiences, which some may enjoy, but we don't.

Princess & the Dragon:
As I've already said, when playing with four or more players, I would never play without this expansion. We generally favor team games and considered making Carcassonne into some sort of co-op vs., but came to the realization we would lose such a crucial balance of cooperation versus confrontation. Some times people oddly choose a merciful move of the dragon to spare an opponent's follower, especially early in a game, probably to gain a favor later in the game. However, there are certainly no guarantees. Even when the dragon does little damage in the game or takes few victims, he alters how players lay tiles and followers, such as avoiding building by a volcano/dragon, where laying volcanoes, not laying a follower to take the fairy, and so on.

Furthermore, we developed a house rule to lay a follower, move the fairy, and/or score AFTER the dragon movement so as not to give the dragon activator too much power. However, we found out in this game, that this can be very beneficial, too, for the activator. For example, Kirk laid a city end piece that finished my city, we played the dragon, which removed my knight (among other followers), then after dragon movement, he placed a follower on the tile he laid, er go taking control of my 16-point city. So, we will vote next game on whether to keep the House Rule or go back to the original written rules. We need to determine which rule gives the dragon activator more power more frequently in making a decision.

The King & The Robber Baron:
We weren't sure about this one, but as scoring was previously so limited with 4 and 5 players due to removal of followers (Dragon, Princess) er go / et point scoring reduction (Mage & Witch), we thought we needed to add more scoring. The scoring track allowed for seamless tracking and end-game rewards were awesome with 24 and 33 points, respectively. I likened it to Free Parking in Monopoly, but determined by strategy in stead of pure luck. We loved the addition of this and will probably always play with it.

The Cult:
We found that there was little incentive to initiate a Cult-Cloister challenge, as you could possibly not score anything despite gaining nothing more than usual (9 points) for winning (except for your opponent not scoring). So, we used a House Rule to have the challenge victor take both the nine points of their Cult or Cloister plus whatever points their challenger would have scored according to the number of tiles they laid. Like so, if one completed both the Cult and the Cloister at the same time, they could score 18 points. We liked this because all other features have gotten (numerous) scoring enhancements throughout expansions, but the Cloister remained a relative non-contributor. But, this gave it a home run element (Mega City, Mega Farm / Barn, King, Robber Baron) allowing it to score up to 18 points.

Abbey & Mayor:
We all like the Abbeys as they are somewhat difficult to use in a really meaningful way save for a really unique situation, but give some added flexibility in tile placement. Also, we don't care too much about historical accuracy or aesthetic realism of the board. Being a farm player, I was skeptical of the barns, but love them now! Barn placement is key to winning a game with A&M. So many other expansions curb the power of the farms, it's nice to have a champion of the farms. Also, we finally employed the wagon to its full potential; deploying them early and having them ramble from feature to feature throughout the game was pretty cool.

The Festival:
The Festival is not too big of a deal, but I do think it adds something pretty unique to the game, which is why I spent over a USD per tile to acquire it. It is rare that you need its services, but the ability to remove a stranded follower can be pretty valuable. In the least, it gives a couple more turns per player of enjoyable tile arrangements.

Mage & Witch:
One of only two of the mini-expansions that interested me enough to buy (Ferry being the other), this added further cut-throat elements and risk/reward mechanisms to the game. We definitely enjoyed its continued interplay and player confrontation.

BOTTOM LINE:
I love what each expansion brought to the table and all were in agreement that none was unnecessary fat to be trimmed. In fact, we all agreed we would add more next time, probably in the form of Bridges, Castles, and Bazaars. I think we will throw all of those mechanisms in to play as they all seem to add something meaningful. We also have the Tower (which seems cool but maybe too much at this point with everything else we have going on) as well as the Ferry. At some point, we will add these in and/or rotate in/out. We like being challenged to the point where we are barely above water with keeping track of all rules and mechanisms at work. The mayhem and chaos create a living, mercurial, never dull, and never repeated game experience. Other board games have grown stale because they are too repetitive and/or too luck-dependent or entirely strategy-dependent. Carcassonne with all the expansions, instead, offers a variety that has yet to get old for us.

Linkback: http://www.carcassonnecentral.com/community/index.php?topic=564.0

Offline AlbinoAsian

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Re: 5-Player Game w/ Confrontation
« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2014, 08:45:20 AM »
Great breakdown of the game and the ingredients used to create it

Offline ChoadWolf

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Re: 5-Player Game w/ Confrontation
« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2014, 10:36:14 AM »
Thanks! I enjoy others' breakdowns of their games

Offline evmillan

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Re: 5-Player Game w/ Confrontation
« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2014, 11:56:26 AM »
Nice game and great review! :(y)

Offline ChoadWolf

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Re: 5-Player Game w/ Confrontation
« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2014, 12:50:01 PM »
Thanks, ev, I appreciate it!

Offline BT

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Re: 5-Player Game w/ Confrontation
« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2014, 10:39:16 PM »
Great review, ChoadWolf. Thanks for sharing it.

Give two player Mega Carcassonne a go with everything, don't scale back on the tiles. I love it, it gets confusing and chaotic but it is epic. It can take 4-5 hours but it's a great way to spend a rainy weekend.

Offline ChoadWolf

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Re: 5-Player Game w/ Confrontation
« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2014, 12:21:10 PM »
Haha, thanks for the kind words and advice, BT. I definitely am game and will try pull off the 2P Mega Carcassonne. I personally like the chaos and challenge of so much going on. Though, the more I play, the more I appreciate the base game, too.


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