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Topics - kothmann

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1
General / Goldmines with Magic Portals?
« on: November 28, 2022, 08:09:52 PM »
Does anyone play Goldmines mini with Magic Portals?  Since I never play the full Expansion#3, I have separated the 6 Magic Portals as their own expansion.  I thought they might be really useful with Wheel of Fortune (after the plague), but it seems like the abandoned features are usually roads or small cities, which are easily reoccupied, so the portals are almost never used.

But while playing recently, I noticed that the 4 monasteries on the Goldmine tiles are often unoccupied because the player wants to make a quick grab of the gold bars by completing a road or city on the tile.  So it seems like a great opportunity to include the Magic Portals.   >:D

Just curious if anyone else has combined these elements and how it worked out.  Thanks!

2
General / Does Anyone Play with Shrines?
« on: October 12, 2022, 12:05:15 PM »
I have been experimenting with the official rules for Shrines, and found that they are rarely interesting and often cumbersome.  Most of the time, a player who would be initiating a challenge will have fewer surrounding tiles at the moment the tile is placed, so will be at a disadvantage, and thus decide not to challenge.  Or the challenge ends in a boring tie.  The result is that the rules mostly just restrict placement of tiles.  These are not new observations, and the problems seem to contribute to an overall low ranking for Count, King, and Robber.

I have been searching for variants, but not found much, save one interesting (as usual) idea from @Leven that makes use of the Cemetery expansion.

So, I guess I'm wondering if anyone has a different point of view about official rules for Shrines, or can suggest a variant that is worth a try.

Thanks!

3
General / Wheel of Fortune: Tips for Tactics & Best Expansions to Use?
« on: August 02, 2022, 12:13:53 PM »
I'm hoping to have a few games with the Wheel of Fortune soon, and I'm wondering about tips for tactics and also what expansions work best?

Here are my thoughts, but would love advice from those who have actually played.

Adjustments to Basic Play:
  • Be more eager than usual to have two knights in a city, particularly when there are multiple pennants in that city.
  • Place farmers earlier--you will probably have chances to remove them later and they can bring you points from the wheel even if you aren't winning that field.
  • Similarly, be more likely to place monks, because you can get points from the wheel and have a chance to remove them.

Placing a Meeple on the Wheel:

I started with some math.  The distribution of pig motion distances are: 11 one tiles, 5 two tiles, and 3 three tiles.  So, the chance that the pig hits the next space around the wheel when the first wheel tile is drawn are 11/19, or 58%.  The chance that it hits the second space on the first tile is 5/19, or 26%, but it will also hit the second space on the second tile 58% of 58% of the time (33%), so the total chance for hitting the second space on the first two wheel tiles is 59%.  By similar math, the chance of hitting the third space on the first time around is 65%.

Since you don't want to wait too long to get your meeple back, you should always pick the first or second spot after the pig, preferring the one that pays 6 points if there is no other meeple on that spot?

Expansions to Use
  • Magic Portals Because of the Pestilence wheel space, there will be empty features, so these should 6 tiles should be useful?
  • Traders & Builders Because 17/19 wheel tiles are roads, it would be good to make cities more exciting?
  • Flying Machines Because of the city-heavy Traders tile mix, it might be good to add some more roads and open fields, as well another way to sneak into features?
  • Shrines Still more tiles that are heavy on roads and fields and create empty features after a challenge? (I'll actually be using the volcano tiles from P&D as surrogate shrines.)

Looking forward to hearing other thoughts.  Thanks!

4
Other Games / Fjords Tile Distribution & Drawing Odds
« on: July 15, 2022, 12:18:57 PM »
After @Decar convinced me to get a copy of Fjords, it was inevitable that this post would happen.  But it isn't mere compulsion: I think the information is also interesting.

Here are the tiles, organized by topology of features (Plains / Mountains / Oceans):



The lovely artwork varies on repeats of a given tile type, but the feature connectivity is always the same on a given tile type.  Unlike normal Carcassonne and Land vs. Sea, the topology here is best described by focusing not on the edges, but rather on the corners of the tiles, like the 45-Deg Rotated Carcassonne variant of @wolnic.  So, the tile in the top right is PMMPOO.  Incidentally, in my limited experience, focusing on the corner compatibility makes it much faster to figure out where a tile can fit on the landscape.

With three feature types on a six-sided tile, someone who understands Burnside's Lemma (not me) can tell you that there are 92 possible corner configurations, excluding rotational symmetries (assuming I googled it correctly).  But the photo above shows only 23 types of tiles!  Pretty interesting that the gameplay allows such a limited set of tiles: mountains and oceans are essentially just dividers for the plains and all tiles have a single plains region (except the MMMMMM).  Rather than estimating quantities from the shadows in the image above, here is a table of the distribution (some tiles are marked with a small "3" or "4" indicating the minimum number of players for which that tile is to be used):



The rules require that all tile placements touch at least 2 other tile edges, which means they touch 3 corners.  So, here is a table of the percentage of tiles on which each of the 27 possible three-corner sequences occur:



One potentially useful fact: if a tile is to connect oceans and mountains, there must be plains between them.  Also plains alone or any non-alternating combination of plains and mountains (PPM, MPP, PMM, MMP) are roughly 50/50.  One limitation of the table is that you are not allowed to create a disconnected landmass, so even if a tile fits, it might not be playable (e.g., a POOOOO tile cannot be placed in a 2-tile OOO hole, because the land would be a new island).

I haven't played enough yet to glean much else from this.  The only other observation I'll share is that the revised (2022) rules call players to choose a tile from a "shared hand" of 4 tiles placed face-up on the table.  Having watched several YouTube videos of games being played, this really seems to slow things down.  I'm going to start learning and playing with the original Carcassonne-like rule of drawing one tile and discarding it if it cannot be placed.

Curious to know if anyone with more experience has other insights about the tile distribution.  Thanks.

5
Other Games / Land vs. Sea (Hex Tile-Laying Game)
« on: July 11, 2022, 07:15:55 AM »
Wife and I finished first game with official rules last night:



The game is elegant and beautiful and quite a lot of fun.  Think Carcassonne without meeples!  Simple summary:
  • Players maintain a hand of 2 double-sided tiles and take turns placing a tile. Some tiles allow a player to take 2 turns (like the builder) or "steal" a tile from their opponent's hand.
  • Players score 1-point/tile when their type of area (Land or Sea) is completed.
  • The player who completes an area scores 1-point for each "X" in the area. (Like trade goods except immediate points.)
  • The Sea player scores 1-point per connected coral tile when either player places a tile with a coral edge that joins another coral edge.  Land scores for connected mountain tiles.

There are also optional rules for Ship/Caravan and Waypoints, but we didn't use these.  Interestingly, when these rules are omitted, the final board position contains all the information to determine the score [Edit: this is wrong; see reply]!

Tile Description & Distribution
There are 60 double-sided tiles in the box, with 58 tiles placed in two stacks for "drafting" into the players' hands.  You can see the top side of tiles in both stacks when drafting, so you have partial information.  Players must keep their tiles in front of them with that side face-up, but they may look at the back side.

The two non-drafted tiles are:
  • Start Tile: this is a LLLSSS tile on both sides.  I thought it would have been more clever to put a LSLSLS tile on the reverse side, to allow a choice of beginning conditions, particularly because there is no LSLSLS tile in the game!
  • Vortex/Volcano Tile: this is the only LLLLLL/SSSSSS tile in the game and it is placed automatically any time a player creates the corresponding hole.  I thought this was clever and novel and might be an interesting Carcassonne variant, perhaps with the Cathedral and a RRRR cloister.

There are 14 ways to place two edge types on a hexagonal tile.  Here is the distribution, showing both sides of the tiles, as well as the total number of each of the 14 combinations.  The non-drafting tiles are omitted, so there are a total of 116 = 2*58 combinations:



I made this figure before playing the game, hoping to get some insight.  But it turns out that it didn't seem to matter very much during play.  You have four tile sides to choose from on most turns, and my crude "probability of getting a matching tile" analysis showed that the odds are generally very good, so having the right tile is not nearly as important and exciting in this game as it is in a typical Carcassonne game.  At least as far as I can tell so far [Edit: this is misleading; see reply]

Notes on 2-Player Game Play
  • Upon reading the rules, I really disliked the two-tile hand.  Experience with Carcassonne suggested that this could slow the game terribly, particularly with a few members of my extended family with whom I might try to play the game.  I also just thought it was inelegant and unnecessary.  I was wrong.  I discovered through self-play testing that without the two-tile hand, areas are too difficult to close and the game devolves to a battle to close one huge area.  So, we played official rules, as noted above.  It turns out that often having the tile you want actually allows play to move plenty fast.
  • The "X" rule is great.  You can often complete an opponent's small area to minimize a loss, or even score a small win, because some tiles have 2 or 3 X's on them.  Note that 5X's represents a 10-point swing in relative score.
  • Although the Coral/Mountain rule is optional, it is really essential.  Building a Reef/Range really racks up points: in the game shown above, Sea scores 2+3+4+5+6+7+8=35 points total for the 8-tile Reef, while Land scores 2+3=5 several times for Ranges.  The threat of a massive scoring run should compel an opponent to block a growing Reef/Range, leaving a player time to complete a large open area, particularly if they get a "Play Again" tile.
This last point and many others are in an amazing post on BGG, by someone who is somehow associated with the game.  In addition to a nice summary of tactics and strategy, the post says that a strategy book is in development as well.

Multi-Player Variants
I haven't tried the asymmetric 3-player game yet, nor the 4-player team version.  Since I strongly prefer to play Carcassonne as a multi-player game, I'm really interested to see how this goes.

I know a lot of folks on the Forum prefer Carcassonne as a 2-player game, and I think many of you would really enjoy Land vs. Sea as well.

6
Reviews & Session Reports / Father's Day (US) Game with Family
« on: June 20, 2022, 10:14:18 AM »
First time to play since our game in Scotland, this time we were scattered around the US, so we used Zoom plus my playingcards.io gameroom again.

Usual 61-tile Old-City variant.  Here is the landscape before final scoring:



Final Score (proportional farm points): Blue 84, Black 82, Yellow 62, Red 56.

7
Reviews & Session Reports / Family Game in Oban!
« on: June 06, 2022, 10:24:40 AM »
In late May, my family travelled to the highlands of Scotland.  It was the first time the four of us were together in 2022 and our first time in this lovely part of the world.  While we were in Oban, we made time for one game of Carcassonne, with 73 tiles and some variation of my old city rules.  Lots of fun, and not just because of the wonderful local whisky.   >:D




8
Reviews & Session Reports / Great Game with Family on playingcards.io
« on: April 23, 2022, 10:27:19 AM »
First the online venue: I know a lot of people play at various sites that "know the rules" of Carcassonne, but we prefer to use playingcards.io.  This is an interesting free site that lets you host a great variety of games and you can totally customize the setup!  So, I made a "deck of cards" that is Carcassonne tiles, and then added a "board" that is just an 11x11 grid and some pawns to represent meeples.  The site knows nothing about the rules of the game and this is perfect for us, because we play house rules!  You also need your own chat or video: we use Zoom.

You can check out the setup we played today: https://playingcards.io/ccasmg.

That link will expire if no one uses it for 30 days, in which case you can use the toolbox menu on the site to import this configuration file.  It includes all of the tiles from the base game, I&C, T&B, K&S, plus a couple others.  You can use the toolbox to set how many of each type of tile you want in the game.  It is really quite nice!  The interface has been improved so you could replace the pawns with images of meeples, and make other things fancier, but we just want the great gameplay.

Now the game: Had a great game with my family today: kids joined from Virginia and Houston.  My wife prefers a small game, so we used a mix of 60, with 5 regular meeples and 1 Large meeple per player.

House rules: proportional scoring for farms and the Cathedral city, plus one bridge and one gate/wall.

Here's the end of the game, before final scoring.  Yellow ended up winning by just 2 over Black and 4 over Red, with Blue a not too distant last place.

9
General / A Very Nice 177-Tile Mix
« on: April 02, 2022, 07:39:48 AM »

(High-Resolution Version)

I’ve been playing with this mix of tiles and I think it gives a very balanced game.  I thought it might be fun just to see the tiles sorted by edge combinations, so here it is.  The 176 tiles + start tile is in line with @Christopher’s 2016 definition of a “normal large game”.  We often play with a timer, taking 2 more turns when time is up, rather than going through the whole tower (which these tiles nicely fill).  Because of the large number of tiles and inclusion of at least 2 of all edge types, it is a bit as if the tiles are drawn from an infinite supply with some statistical distribution, so counting is pretty unimportant, which is good for our group.  Anyway, here is the list of tiles:
  • Wheel of Fortune Base (72)
  • Exp#1 I&C (18)
  • Exp#2 T&B (24)
  • Exp#3 P&D (30)
  • Flying Machines (8 )
  • Hills (9)
  • Wind Roses (5+1 Start Tile)
  • King & Scout (5)
  • Belagerer (5)
 
I originally had Das Fest (10) and Games Quarterly (10) in place of Flying Machines and Hills, bringing the total to 179.  But if you look at the tile mix, DF & GQ are both VERY heavy on roads ending in cities and distinct edge combinations (for example, those two include 3 additional CRCR tiles).  Flying Machines & Hills are really great for restoring the balance, so DF & GQ went into my “small game” box with the base game and some other minis.

10
The Marketplace / WTB / WTT : Belagerer / Besiegers
« on: January 06, 2022, 11:13:07 AM »
I want these 6 tiles:



I'm not fussy about condition: good / playable is fine.

Would be willing to buy and/or trade some of this stuff (all C1 in lightly used condition):

—Princess & Dragon (tiles + dragon + fairy)
—Mayor (tiles & meeples, no Abbeys, no box)
—The Count (mini, in box)
—River I (tiles only)
—River II (mini, in box with markings / tape)
—Das Fest (10 tiles only)
—GQ (12 tiles only)

(Last 2 are very available on ebay for about $20, so it might be silly to trade, but thought I'd list it just in case.)

Please PM if you are interested.

Thanks!

11
General / Categorizing Expansions
« on: December 31, 2021, 06:04:52 AM »
We’ve only recently starting playing with some mini expansions (Crop Circles, Mag & Witch, Goldmines, Robbers), and we’re really loving the games.  We often remove some tiles from the base game (usually 4xRRFF + 4xRFRF; sometimes CCCC, RRRR, 2xFFFF) to maintain a low tile count.  And we have even been breaking up the large expansions into key elements (e.g. Inns, Castles, Dragon, single Trade Good) and using those as minis.

To help us decide how to keep a good balance when we mix all these together, I’ve tried to categorize the effects of the various elements of the expansions.  I thought it might be of general interest (does this already exist somewhere?), so here it is.  Feel free to comment / criticize / offer additions, etc.  I’ll update the list as needed.

Balance Feature Scores
  • Inns
  • Cathedrals
  • Signposts
  • Vineyards
  • Pennants
  • Cathars / Siege
  • Pig
  • GQ Pig Farm
  • School

New Features
  • Gardens
  • Acrobats
  • Castles
  • German Cathedrals
  • German Castles
  • Dutch/German/Japanese Monasteries
  • Wind Roses

Collections
  • Trade Goods
  • Goldmines
  • Fruit Trees
  • Sheep

Tile Connectivity
  • Abbeys
  • Bridges
  • Tunnels
  • River

Tile Draw & Turns
  • Builder
  • Baazar
  • Gifts (Take Two)

Meeple Strength
  • Large Meeple
  • Mayor
  • Barn
  • Hills

Meeple Relocation
  • Abbot (-)
  • Dragon (-)
  • Princess (-)
  • Portal (+)
  • Tower (-)
  • Wagon (+)
  • Crop Circles (+/-)
  • Das Fest (-)
  • Count (+)
  • Fliers (+)
  • Plague (-)
  • Gifts (Synod, Road Sweeper, Change on the Lie, Cash Out) (+/-)

Score Modification
  • Big Top
  • Ringmaster
  • Robbers
  • Messengers
  • Mage & Witch
  • King & Scout

12
Official Rules / Another Bridge Question
« on: December 26, 2021, 06:02:02 AM »
I was surprised to learn from the answer to @Papageek's recent question about Bridges that we have not been following the official rules: we allow multiple bridges to be placed on a single turn!

It made me wonder another thing we allow is also illegal.  We allow a player to place a bridge when there is no adjacent tile connecting to either end of the bridge.  For example, after placing the monastery as shown below, may Yellow place the bridge?



We don't restrict a player's ability to make a placement like this, although in this case the play is tactically justified.  (Yellow is worried that Red or Black would place a field edge to create a CRFF hole that would make the Cathedral City permanently incomplete.  With the bridge Yellow just needs to draw one of several remaining CRFR tiles to complete the Cathedral city and connect to the Inn road segment.)  Our usual ethic is to do this to prevent a permanent hole, but our rules don't stop you from doing it to create such a hole.

So, the question is: may a bridge only be placed when necessary to ensure compatibility with a previously placed adjacent tile?


13
I just got the 6-tile Wind Roses mini expansion and have been researching everything there is to know about the tiles, the gameplay, and especially Variants.

WikiCarpedia has the tiles (below) and the official rules, which are very simple: 3 points at time of placement of a Rose tile if placed in the quadrant shown on the tile, with quadrants initially defined by the orange start tile and then by the blue rose after it is placed.  There is only one set of official rules, but there are two versions of the tile art: HiG with German compass directions N-O-S-W; and Spielbox with only N-S directions:



Let's start with the most relevant links I found:

  • 2012-Sep-28: Breaking news of the initial release.
  • 2013-Jul-13: Die Windrosen: Original + Extras (Expansion) Twelve additional beautiful PnP Wind Rose tiles.  Thread includes a River Wind Rose tile as well!
  • 2013-Sep-18: Go with the Wind (Variant) Requires meeples to be placed in the quadrant of the most recently placed Rose.  Development history is fascinating, as documented here and here.
  • 2013-Nov-16: Barbarian Report (Review) Informative early review.
  • 2014-Oct-10: Mixing Spielbox & Cundco Versions (Variant)  Some novel rules for using both versions of the tiles at the same time.
  • 2015-Feb-22: The Explorers (Variant) The Roses become features that are occupied by an Explorer meeple who stays in place until the end of the game, earning one point for each tile placed in the corresponding quadrant.
  • 2015-May-15: Element of the Week #36 General discussion of how users play with the Roses.  Favorite observation: the official rules award points with no relation to meeples!
  • 2016-Feb-20: Unnamed (Variant)  A feature completed in the active quadrant earns a 3-point bonus.  This was a delayed post within the brainstorming thread that culminated in Go with the Wind (link above).  It wasn't really a clear set of rules as much as an idea for further exploration.
  • 2016-Feb-26: Campaign Report (Session Report) "Windroses is an expansion in desperate need of a rules boost..." Interesting play-test report on the Unnamed variant (above), which did not to work well in a small (50-tile) game.
  • 2016-Feb-29: Completionism Poll  Lots of users provided interesting comments about this expansion.
  • 2016-Apr-15: Favouritism Poll #5: Start Tile Great argument that the Orange Wind Rose is the best start tile.
  • 2017-Sep-05: True North (Variant)  Rose tiles must be placed in an orientation with north actually pointing north!  The novel mechanic that follows placement of each Rose is a special round in which each player may move a meeple onto a different feature in the corresponding quadrant of the landscape, (even if that feature is occupied).  There are many fascinating user comments and even a couple of play-test reports (on page 2).
  • 2021-12-19: Windrose Quadrants (Variant) Points or "one-time phantom" awarded for meeple majority in the quadrant defined by the Rose at the time of placement.  More of a musing than a variant? But it is simple and novel.
  • 2021-12-29: Geodetic Roses (Variant) Adds or Subtracts 5 points from completed features that include the active wind rose tile, based on whether the tile was placed in the correct orientation and quadrant.  (I developed this one after the original post here.)

There seems to be more or less unanimous agreement that the tiles are lovely, but the official rules are "rubbish", and all of the variants abandon the weak incentive to place the rose tiles in the quadrant depicted on the tile.  Most people seem to like the elegance and simplicity of the expansion, and none of the variants requires additional tiles, tokens or other elements.

Many of the variants (Go with the Wind, Explorers, Unnamed) preserve the official notion that quadrants are defined by the orange start tile, until it is usurped by the blue rose, with new rules relating to placement of meeples, or of tiles, or scoring of completed features, respectively, within the active quadrant.  These variants all extend the action beyond the turn when the rose tile is placed.

Two variants (True North, Quadrants) define quadrants relative to the position and orientation of each successive rose tile, and retain the official mechanic that all action happens at the time of placement.

One very interesting idea, initially suggested in the Unnamed variant and formalized in True North, mandates that rose tiles always be placed with north aligned to the original direction of north on the orange start tile.  This is certainly thematically and aesthetically pleasing: a true wind rose shows the variation of typical wind speed with direction, and thus would have a fixed sense of "north", and the landscape looks great when the roses are aligned.  One difficulty with this approach is that, particularly early in the game, there may be only one or two--sometimes zero--legal placements of a rose, resulting in more frustration than fun, although the problem seems to be ameliorated in games with a lot (120+?) of tiles.  See the here, here, and here for more discussion.

It appears that the rose quadrant tiles were not designed to support consistent orientation, because they all have a city on the north edge and a field on the east edge.  So, in a typical early game setup, there may be only one or two (sometimes zero!) compatible locations for a tile that is properly aligned.  Here is a photo of a 3-player game at the point when a first rose might be drawn, illustrating the challenge:



I'm still playing with all of these ideas in search of a favorite way to use these beautiful tiles.

Would love to hear of other thoughts, links I missed, and especially good (or bad) variants or even just house rules that may never have been shared with the world...

14
Quizzes, Puzzles and Challenges / Most Correct Signposts? On a Torus?
« on: December 06, 2021, 02:05:15 PM »
I saw @KBellon's I Love the Postman image today and noticed that there are 9 correct signposts in the arrangement of the unpunched tiles:

Note that there are also 2 incompatible edges on the RRRR tile.   >:(

I thought it might be fun to determine the highest number of correct signposts that could be achieved using only these tiles with no incompatible edges.  Notice that there are an odd number of road edges, so you can't make one closed loop.   :(

As I was writing this, I remembered a super-fun Tower (Exp#4) puzzle which uses all 18 Tower tiles to make a 6x3 tessellation of a torus!  See this animation for an example of how a rectangle can represent the surface of a torus.

So, the original question is now 5 questions:  >:D
  • What is the highest number of correct signposts in a planar arrangement of these 12 tiles with no incompatible edges, but no other constraints on the layout?
  • Are there 4x3 or 6x2 rectangular arrangements of these tiles with no incompatible edges on the plane?
  • If the answer to #2 is "yes", what is the highest number of correct signposts in such an arrangement?
  • Are there 4x3 or 6x2 rectangular arrangements of these tiles with no incompatible edge on a torus?
  • If the answer to #4 is "yes", what is the highest number of correct signposts in an arrangement on a torus?

15
General / Opinions About Gardens in CII
« on: December 06, 2021, 10:00:53 AM »
By "garden rules", I mean, more or less, "Abbot in the garden as if it were a cloister."

I'm working on a garden variant for CI (using wooden flower tokens instead of tiles), and I'm seeking inspiration from everyone's experiences, likes and dislikes, with respect to the gardens, particularly with respect to tactics or strategy.

I did do some searching, and most of the Forum posts I found seem to be more focused on the Abbot generally, plus they were kind of old.  Opinions in the 2015-2016 time frame were pretty anti-CII generally, and this seemed to carry over to the Abbot and gardens.  But the community has obviously (mostly) warmed to CII over the years, as far as I can tell.  Anyway, here are some links to old posts for anyone who is interested:


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