Author Topic: The Barbarian Report: The Labyrinth – Getting Dizzier  (Read 1965 times)

Offline Whaleyland

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The Barbarian Report: The Labyrinth – Getting Dizzier
« on: April 21, 2016, 04:03:54 AM »
Carcassonne has had some small expansions over the years, but nothing is smaller than a single tile, and that's what The Labyrinth (technically) is. Released as a part of the inaugural issue of Spielbox's SPIEL DOCH! magazine, this expansion also marks the first (and probably only) time that an expansion is released concurrently in the old art and the new. But what can a single tile really add to your Carcassonne game?

It's a Nit-Picky Way of Life
 :oConfirmed Insanity – It is official: I am insane. Why, you ask? Because I once again am complaining about the dark grass behind the Doris Mathäus artwork. Why can't Hans im Glück OR Spielbox get this colour matching issue resolved? Just like German Cathedrals, the Labyrinth art is horrendously dark, possibly the darkest of any single expansion ever released for the game. It undermines the otherwise beautiful nature of the expansion in a very negative way. I mean, the Carcassonne 2.0 tile matches almost seamlessly with the old art colour, so why couldn't they do the same for the actual old art tile? This will baffle me until my dying day. Remind me if I start a game company to spend OCD-level amounts of time making sure the colour matches perfectly. It is that important to me.
 :'(The Lonely Life – This expansion is honestly a really weird one because it is only composed of a single tile. And regardless of any magical properties that a tile in this game may have, it still is only a tile. Once it's on the board, the die is already cast. And this tile, according to the printed rules, does nothing more than what a similar tile in (out of all expansions) The Catapult did: it is a four-way Road where all four branches have to be completed to finish it. That's a pretty powerful tool to randomly hand to one lucky player. Yes it can be undermined, but even a half-completed four-way Road is pretty powerful. This expansion could have a few tiles around this same theme – some 3-way and 4-way tiles to shake things up a bit. But no, we just get one. Woot.
 O0Regression to the Old Ways – This is less of a complaint for the expansion and more for its distribution: why did Spielbox go to all the effort of releasing English-language versions of its magazines three years ago and then suddenly decide that with this new magazine, which apparently will also include expansions and quite honestly looks possibly more interesting than Spielbox Magazine itself, they would not translate it into English too? Yeah, I get that it is a German company and the bulk of their customers are German-language readers, but I know quite a few people who enjoy reading the English magazine and clearly there is a market for it, especially since the English market has no decent game magazine these days. I'm kind of ticked that I had to pay so much for a German magazine just to get two tiles when the company's main magazine is released regularly in English. Hrumph.

Something to Satisfy Players New and Old
 :yellow-meeple:Doris Rules! – Yet another expansion in the old style with Doris Mathäus is nothing to scoff at. While the tile is dark, she did not draw it that way and her stylised C-shape using roads, cottages, and trees is excellently rendered and depicted. While the "labyrinth" nature of the tile is not as strong with her tile as it is with the Carc2.0 tile, it still gets the theme across and would look excellent on a Carcassonne board were the colour matched.
 :blue-meeple:Official Variants for Life – While the basic rules for this expansion are uninspired, I do appreciate Spielbox's attempt at making a better alternate rule. Instead of just acting as a single massive Road, the tile can be claimed by a Robber regardless of whether a Robber is already on one of the connected Roads. It is now a race to see who gets the most Robbers on the network. Whoever wins receives the points for all the Roads, as is expected, but they also score 2 points per Follower on the network, which is a very nice perk. Groaming in on other people's Roads while scoring big is a pay out I like. Again, I wish there were more tiles that were capable of this trick, but it is fun all the same.
 :green-meeple:One Tile for Every Style – This is a mixed bag, but I do appreciate Spielbox's attempt to satisfy both new and old fans of Carcassonne and I think they did an especially good job here (sans the colouring). The Carc2.0 tile is surprisingly well done and matches both the new and old art almost seamlessly. With it, players do have two playable tiles, so it is not a complete waste even if you generally only play with the old art. I don't expect future expansions to include both old and new art, but it is nonetheless appreciated in this instance.

Inconclusion
I am not sure what inspired Spielbox to release this strange little expansion with stylised labyrinthine C's taking center stage. There is much to complain about, from the poor colour-matching and lame rules to the German-only magazine and obvious shift to Carcassonne 2.0 artwork, but the fact of the matter is that this expansion could have been much worse and it contributes to both art styles and to both advanced and beginning players with its rules variant. Thus everyone is equally satisfied, even if there is plenty to be dissatisfied about. In the end, my biggest complaint is the cost of buying and shipping the two tiles, but the old art tile is now a permanent part of my vanilla tile mix and will see frequent use in the games to come.

SCORES
Playability: A
Affordability: D
Compatibility (with other expansions): A
Aethetics: B- (A- for art, C- for colour-matching)
Learning Curve: A
FINAL GRADE: B

Linkback: https://www.carcassonnecentral.com/community/index.php?topic=2648.0

Offline dirk2112

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Re: The Barbarian Report: The Labyrinth – Getting Dizzier
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2016, 04:57:48 AM »
I agree completely.

Both tiles match the old art enough that I will use both.  As you said, 1 tile isn't enough, but the 2 together may add flavor. We don't play cutthroat, so I imagine we will play it like the road in the catapult or use one of the house rules mentioned in the other thread.


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