Author Topic: The Barbarian Report: War of the Roads and Cities (The Drawbridges)  (Read 486 times)

Offline Whaleyland

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    • Derek R. Whaley, PhD | Librarian, Historian, and Writer
Oh no! The drawbridge is rising and now I can’t get into the bloody city! What on earth can a poor citizen of Carcassonne do? Apparently a siege is out of the question.

So this is what invincibility feels like
  • Missed opportunity – As a collector of everything Carcassonne, I find that however much I want to like The Besiegers, I just don’t. It’s a crappy expansion with a fiddly mechanic, and I think that’s a strong reason why Hans im Glück hasn’t released it in the new art (yet). The Drawbridges was an excellent opportunity to fix that expansion by integrating the two (probably as a full-sized expansion). Instead, what we get is a decent expansion about moats and drawbridges but no actual reason for either since these features historically were only needed to defend against sieges and invaders. Maybe Hans im Glück needs to stop focusing so heavily on mini expansions and return to larger expansions.
  • Let’s break all the rules – The Drawbridges does something that few expansions do: it let’s you break the core Carcassonne rule that you cannot place a meeple in another player’s feature. While that is certainly fun and involves a new level of strategy, it can also be quite aggressive and very random. As with most things in Carcassonne, the tiles come out randomly, so one player may get all the Drawbridges or get none. This imbalance makes the expansion imbalanced and can lead to huge coups where one player goes from having no meeples in a player’s City to having the majority. Yes, there is strategy here, but there is also a lot of luck. Also, once a City is completed, then that's it—there are no more opportunities to take over that City. While there is a logic to these, it also makes for a race to complete features before a Road is completed, which can add undue stress to an otherwise relaxing game.
  • Didn’t we try this already? – On the other hand, this mechanic really isn’t new. The first edition of Expansion 5: Abbey & Mayor introduced the Wagon as a new type of meeple. When the feature that the Wagon is on is completed, the Wagon was allowed to move via Roads into an adjacent incomplete, unclaimed feature. This mechanic was considered very fiddly and so was replaced in the second edition with a new rule that the Wagon can move to any adjacent incomplete feature. So the Drawbridges brings back the spirit of the original iteration of the Wagon with movement restricted to an adjacent City but initial placement restricted to Roads and the status of the City irrelevant. Perhaps this is why they changed the rules for the Wagon, but this expansion seems to just bring back what was already discarded, which seems strange.

How did it take this long?
  • Bridges that go up – How is it that it took 23 years from this game’s release to come out with a Drawbridge expansion? I mean, it’s one of the most obvious concepts for a medieval-themed game. Don’t get me wrong, I am thrilled that one finally came out and that it looks as good as it does. The fact that some of the moats don’t have water—very historically accurate. Indeed, most moats did not have water. Conceptually, this expansion is a great idea that should have come out in the first few waves of expansions.
  • Where’s my Trojan Horse? – Despite the rules borrowing heavily from the Wagon meeple from Abbey & Mayor, the Drawbridges have a simple strategic viciousness about them that I really appreciate. These tiles hold the fate of a City in their little Roads. Complete a Road attached to an incomplete City and you can roll right in, current tenants be damned. You can even steal a City from someone using just Drawbridges if you link a few of them up to the same City. It takes a lot of advanced planning to pull off, but when it works, it feels deserved. Yes, it is a very aggressive expansion akin to The Tower, The Count of Carcassonne, or The Princess & the Dragon, but it doesn’t feel as mean, which is good. Much like The Ferries, this expansion also makes Roads feel more worthwhile and strategic than they do in the base game.
  • Simple elegance – Ah, nothing is more satisfying than relatively straight-forward tiles without gaudy expansion features or unthematic icons. And 12 tiles with a ton of Cities and Roads, what a treat! This expansion probably pairs well with Inns & Cathedrals and Traders & Builders, which also rely heavily on Cities and Roads for its mechanics. One of the tiles even includes a Garden, which is always a welcome addition for the often underpowered Abbot figure. And three Water Towers appear on tiles, foreshadowing a future use. Honestly, there is nothing negative that can really be said of the tiles themselves—they are great.

Inconclusion
This is a very welcomed expansion. Its rules are straightforward if a bit aggressive. Its tiles look good and the addition of 12 new tiles is nothing to scoff at. And the integration potential with this expansion is extraordinary. If you mix these with Expansions 1 and 2—which are undeniably the most popular—then you will add the ability to daisy-chain Roads into double-pointers that then immediately allow a player to potentially steal a City, which may have Trade Goods in it. Throw in The Ferries and you will really have some aggressive Roads that do more than just score 1 point per tile. I am sure the expansion will mix well with many other expansions, although I fear that the Wagon may cause some confusion at times. As far as stand-alone expansions go, I do feel it was a missed opportunity not to release this as an Expansion 12 alongside The Siege and perhaps one other mechanic, but oh well. If you happen to have an opportunity to get this expansion, you won’t regret it.

Playability: A
Affordability: B
Compatibility (with other expansions): A-
Aethetics: A
Learning Curve: A-
FINAL GRADE: B+A-

Linkback: https://www.carcassonnecentral.com/community/index.php?topic=6648.0

Offline kelderek

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Thank you for a very nice article. (+1 merit)
I very much agree somehow combining Drawbridges with Besiegers would make sense.
Maybe even use your builder to defend against the attack?

Offline Whaleyland

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Thank you for a very nice article. (+1 merit)
I very much agree somehow combining Drawbridges with Besiegers would make sense.
Maybe even use your builder to defend against the attack?
And there's the special figure: the Gatekeeper. A special neutral figure like the Faerie that can be moved to any incomplete City on the map. A City with the Gatekeeper stops any player from using the Drawbridge to move their Meeple into the City. The Gatekeeper also allows a City to score full points if it is besieged. On a turn, a player can choose to either place a Meeple or move the Gatekeeper.

Offline Bumsakalaka

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@Whaleyland so idea of Gatekeeper is interesting and I like it. I think it should be part must have part of Cathars and Drawbridges expansions. Can you take this idea and create more?
I see two more possibilities:
1st. It will be meeple king figure with power = 1.
So you can place meeple or gatekeeper or mayor to the city. And during count of majority gatekeeper will be counted as regular meeple.

2nd. It will be special figure for each player in his color.
It will be placed to the city like builder. It will not have any other advantage for scoring just defined protection for his player.

For 1st and 2nd option, drawbridge protection and scoring besieged city as regular city is valid only for player with gatekeeper.

3rd. It will be neutral figure.
Protection will be for city at all, by drawbridge cannot invade to the city any meeple from road from any player, doesn't matter which players (colors) are in the city. And also when scoring besieged city, all players with majority scores is as regular city.
Neutral Gatekeeper will be possible to move like Mage or Witch, to any yet unfinished city (not finished city this turn).

I like the most 1st option.
In 2nd and 3rd option I don't see any benefit. Just new special figures for each color / or neutral figure in box need to store and move.

Maybe some other changes in the rules? Or move this to Expansion workshop?

Can Gatekeeper get other advantages?
Check JCloisterZone Add-ons with fan expansions and also some Slovak sci/fi projects in English https://www.scifi.sk/en/

Offline Bumsakalaka

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Anyway +1 merit, very nice review. Are you a writer?

Offline Meepledrone

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Great write-up, @Whaleyland !

+1 merit from me.

Regarding the neutral figure... I will use a king meeple I got, who should be leading a detachment of brave knight to defend the city!
Questions about rules? Check WICA: wikicarpedia.com

Offline Whaleyland

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Anyway +1 merit, very nice review. Are you a writer?
I am indeed a writer—at least it's one of my many jobs. A King meeple sounds like a good proxy. I'm sure I have a few spare meeple sitting around that could do the job.

@Whaleyland so idea of Gatekeeper is interesting and I like it. I think it should be part must have part of Cathars and Drawbridges expansions. Can you take this idea and create more?
I see two more possibilities:
1st. It will be meeple king figure with power = 1.
So you can place meeple or gatekeeper or mayor to the city. And during count of majority gatekeeper will be counted as regular meeple.
I don't think we need another meeple for Cities. The Mayor is quite enough, and regular meeples, Big Meeples, Wagons, Phantoms, and Ring Masters can already go in Cities.

Quote
2nd. It will be special figure for each player in his color.
It will be placed to the city like builder. It will not have any other advantage for scoring just defined protection for his player.

For 1st and 2nd option, drawbridge protection and scoring besieged city as regular city is valid only for player with gatekeeper.
See above. Even if, say, we increase the number of Besieger tiles to 10 (i.e., The Cathars + The Besiegers, since they have different configurations) and add the 12 Drawbridge tiles, there still are not really enough tiles to justify every player getting a figure that can stop sieges. That will just make Drawbridges and Siege tiles relatively worthless since most players will only have one or two besieges Cities at a time. Those will be super easy to defend.

Quote
3rd. It will be neutral figure.
Protection will be for city at all, by drawbridge cannot invade to the city any meeple from road from any player, doesn't matter which players (colors) are in the city. And also when scoring besieged city, all players with majority scores is as regular city.
Neutral Gatekeeper will be possible to move like Mage or Witch, to any yet unfinished city (not finished city this turn).
This is the only reasonable mechanic. It makes defending a City a challenge—you need to make sure you get the Gatekeeper at the time that the adjacent Road(s) or City scores. Otherwise you risk losing control or points for the City. And yes, it defends the City regardless of which players' meeples are in the City. Consider it a hired defender. If a City with a Gatekeeper scores, the Gatekeeper is returned to the side of the play area until a player decides to defend another incomplete City.

The Gatekeeper shouldn't do anything else. It already is doing two things: providing protected Cities with full points (rather than reductions from Siege tiles) and blocking players from using the Drawbridge. That's essentially what the Faerie does: it protects a meeple from the Dragon and provides 1 bonus point at the start of a turn (not that I ever remember that rule). The "expansion" gets its other rules from the Drawbridges and the Besiegers. If there is another small stand-alone expansion that you think would thematically connect well with this, then I'd consider adding it to round out the "expansion," but 22 tiles plus a meeple is a decent expansion as-is. Bringing it up to 30 tiles would be icing on the cake.

Offline Whaleyland

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Ugh. Sometimes I feel SUPER dumb. I just said that bringing the tiles up to 30 would be icing on the cake...

The Drawbridges: 12 tiles
The Besiegers: 6 tiles
The Peasant Revolts: 12 tiles
TOTAL TILES: 30 tiles

I totally forgot about the Peasant Revolt and it would thematically fit REALLY well with the other two expansions and the Gatekeeper. In fact, the Gatekeeper could also protect a City from negative effects of a Peasant Revolt tile draw (5 of the tiles do impact Cities, after all).

Alternatively, the Peasants Revolt may increase the number of trouble tiles enough to make it more feasible for every player to have their own special figure—one that protects the feature or tile from negative effects in general. Essentially, each player gets their own faery. This is what Bumsakalaka was suggesting, but the scale wasn't there to make it necessary. But if somebody now needs to defend Cities, Roads, and Monasteries, and if they can only defend a single meeple rather than the entire feature, then maybe it makes more sense for each player to have one. Rather than Gatekeeper, it could be a Guardian or Escort. You could use the torch-carrying meeple from Mists Over Carcassonne.

What do you all think?

Offline Bumsakalaka

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I like Gatekeeper name (King is used also for King token/King tile and in at least one fan expansion Royal Family - which has King symbol like Princes or Queen - another fan expansions).

I'm excited of this idea I suggest to include also other mechanics to this figure.
General rule: 1. It is disallowed to place a meeple to the city with Gatekeeper in other then 2B-1 (2B-2) phase.
2. The city is protected against any revolts or attack.

So this will disable to:
1. Use drawbridge
2. Use 20th anniversary - double meeple
3. Crop circles
4. Peasant revolt to city
5. Besiegers (-1) per tile when scoring complete city
6. Change position The Gift card
7. Place meeple from City of Carcassonne when completed city
8. Use Flying machine to join the city

What do you think?

This can be interesting fan-expansion!


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