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Note: This is only a review of the 20 extra tiles in the game. This is not a review of the edition as a whole.

Carcassonne has been around for over two decades now, so it is pretty impressive that expansions are still being released annually for it. The only other game with such a track record is Catan. That being said, many of Carcassonne’s expansions have been less than impressive, and some have been downright dull or confusing. The 20th Anniversary Expansion—or rather “inspansion” since it is exclusive to the 20th Anniversary Edition of the base game—chose to play it safe, but as a result it sort of just makes parts of the first three full-sized expansions redundant. Let me explain…

Pride & Prejudice
  • I’ve Seen This Before – Hans im Glück loves its legacy and it knows that the first two expansions, Inns & Cathedrals and Traders & Builders, are the most popular expansions in the series. They have been included in every Big Box as well as several combo boxes over the years. So, instead of developing something new, the designers of the 20th Anniversary Edition decided to borrow the most popular concepts from the first three expansions, namely Big Meeples, the Builder, and Magic Portals (from The Princess & the Dragon). This is all done through 20 extra tiles (15 are marked with a lazy “20” watermarks on them—the remaining 5 are new River tiles with nothing interesting to note except for the double-sized source tile with a “20” emblazoned in the middle) that are shuffled into the rest of the tiles. The tiles are uninspired—many are just base game tiles with the new mechanic on them—and the actual mechanic is lazily depicted in a relatively small blue arrow that can be difficult to differentiate. Furthermore, playing a game of Carcassonne using both the 20th Anniversary Expansion and any of the first three expansions will inevitably result in confusion and a general feeling of repetition between features and rules.
  • Double the Punch, Half the Impact – While there are certainly tactical advantages to the new mechanic where a player can double-up their meeple presence on a feature, thereby replicating the effect of the Big Meeple from Inns & Cathedrals, the end result may be that two of your meeples are now stranded on a feature for the rest of the game. Inns & Cathedrals addresses this by providing an entirely new meeple that doesn’t cost you one of your normal meeples. The mechanic in the 20th Anniversary Edition, however, does the opposite. It now costs a player two meeples from their core supply of 7—that’s a high cost! If someone manages to trap those meeples, they are there for the rest of the game unless you also mix in an expansion like The Festival, that helpfully can be used to remove trapped meeples from tiles. While the benefit of dropping a second meeple on a feature can be shocking and game-altering, it is a risk that rarely equals the reward.
  • Bad Strategy, Now With Punishment – One mechanic I always dislike in games is account-keeping. It’s just annoying. Whenever I play The Princess & the Dragon expansion, I ignore the bonus points from the Fairy. In 2-player games especially, it rarely moves so just continues to accrue points each turn for whoever happened to move it last, and trying to remember the +3 points for completed features with the Fairy is futile. Other than the Fairy, Carcassonne hasn’t really had a ton of account keeping. But this game has it twofold. First, if a player places a tile so that the bonus action arrow is not pointing to an adjacent tile, then the player receives two points. This is just dumb. Don’t reward a bad move. If the player didn’t get the bonus action, it’s probably because they had a more valuable use for the tile. But then to add a dumb rule to a dumb rule, a player in a later turn can place a tile adjacent to an arrow and activate the bonus action. I get that this is to further emphasize the importance of these bonus tiles, but just no. We forgot about that rule at least twice when playing, and also forgot about the +2 points for not using the bonus action. And then there is the situation where you don’t want to or can’t use the bonus action but don’t qualify for the bonus points. It’s all a bit too much.

Sense & Sensibility
  • Return to a Land of Magic – Introduced in The Princess & the Dragon as a way to claim vacant features left incomplete from previous rounds, the Magic Portals are by far one of the most popular and useful features introduced to Carcassonne. Thus, their return in the 20th Anniversary Expansion, albeit in a slightly modified format, is extremely welcome. Any player of Carcassonne knows that there are situations where a player must leave something vacant because something else is potentially more valuable. This little addition corrects for that by allowing a player to claim any vacant feature left over from a previous round. And I mean ANY, including empty Gardens or Monasteries, or unclaimed Fields. This feature can be a game changer in all the right ways!
  • Churning Those Tiles – Another popular mechanic from an expansion is that of the Builder, which allows a player to take a second turn if they expand a feature that has their Builder figure on it. In the 20th Anniversary Expansion, players only have to draw and place the appropriate tile to receive this bonus, but the benefit is still very nice. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like getting a second tile to place in a row, and this mechanic also helps go through the tiles a little faster.
  • More is Better – Perhaps the simplest but best feature of this expansion is the fact that it adds 20 new tiles, however simple they may be. Among these new tiles are 2 new Gardens, which are always welcome since they are slightly less represented across the line than Monasteries, and a new Monastery, which increases the number in this edition to eight total. I have always felt that Monasteries, which are limited to 6 in the base game (7 with The River), get short shrift in Carcassonne despite the fact that 10% of people in the Middle Ages were directly involved in some capacity in the Church. Adding new Monasteries and Gardens helps increase the odds that a player will pull one of these tiles, increases the chances that they will be able to claim a Garden, and provides for a more exciting play experience. The other additional tiles, including the new double-sized source tile, the new lake, and the 3 other new River tiles, are always welcome, although I wish this version of The River expansion had its own unique watermarks like those on the Big Box 6’s River tiles.

This expansion was certainly not Hans im Glück’s best, but it also was far from its worse. At least everything was fairly straightforwards, which is more than can be said about the Carcassonne Minis and half of its promo expansions over the years. Nonetheless, I feel that this expansion was a missed opportunity to do something that respected the legacy of the series but in a new way. Simply copying mechanics from the first three expansions doesn’t respect the legacy, it undermines the first three expansions! In 2011 and 2016, The Festival was released as a new expansion with a simple but useful mechanic. I think that 15 bonus tiles (not the new River tiles—those are fine) could have done something similar, perhaps by borrowing concepts from some of the most popular spin-offs or creating something equally useful and new. This is not the place to propose alternatives, but it is the place to say that Carcassonne deserved something more useful and interesting to commemorate 20 years of an amazing game. Fortunately, Hans im Glück is giving us The Gifts at Essen this year, so there is perhaps some little bonus expansion that will satisfy, if not replace the disappointment that is the 20th Anniversary Expansion.

Playability: B+
Affordability: D
Compatibility (with other expansions): B
Aesthetics: B
Learning Curve: B

The Marketplace / WTS/WTT Carcassonne Edition
« on: July 20, 2021, 01:33:24 AM »
In case you didn't see this on BGG, my coworker randomly brought an unpunched but opened copy of Carcassonne 1st edition to work. It is in a branded box (printed, not stickers) with Rio Grande Games 1st English edition branding on the back. It includes an unpunched copy of The River, as well. The scoreboard has a grey track. Meeples are still in their bag, presumably never touched. The rules are presumably the Rio Grande 1st edition Farmer scoring (I can check) but the formatting is awful and perhaps redone by PixelPark for some reason (I can also check this).

My coworker donated the box to the library, but we already have a Big Box 6 that I donated in 2019, so we don't need another copy and this one clearly has some value since it was a very limited print run...the New Zealand board game market is not that large and printing branded copies of Carcassonne could not have been cheap. Since we have the game, my coworker (who just left for a new job today, sadly) gave us permission to sell or trade it for another game.

I think a sale is preferred so we can buy some smaller, 30-minute games that can be played during lunch times, but I'd be interested in a trade if one is appropriate. At this point, I don't know the value but if you feel like making an offer via PM, please feel free. Consider it a blind, non-binding auction at this point. I'll try to post some photos shortly and I'll try to be careful not to dislodge any tiles, although I can't guarantee they'll all stay in place during shipping. Shipping from New Zealand can be expensive, so keep that in mind if you make an offer.

General / MOVED: Custom scoreboard
« on: February 25, 2021, 10:42:37 PM »

I may love the postman, but I don't like international shipping charges right now. For €28.95, I'll pass...

General / US East and West Coast Maps
« on: October 19, 2020, 07:18:29 PM »
I'm somewhat surprised that the announcement of a re-release of Winter-Edition with the River included and a printing of German Cathedrals in the new art have completely overwhelmed any discussion regarding the new Carcassonne Maps for the East and West Coast of the United States. I'm very excited about these, not just because they are two new maps or because they represent my home country, but because they are clearly intended to be played together in a truly epic game. The current posters are already A0 size, I believe, so this will be twice that! You will need about 200 tiles to play, based on previous Maps, and these ones actually look quite open, too, so it may require up to 250 tiles, or perhaps the equivalent of three full sets (216 tiles). And there are bound to be new rules that use the Map Markers as well. Will two sets of Markers be required? What will the new gimmick be?

After a year absence (wow, really?!), I have come to once again regale everyone with my magnanimous thoughts on an expansion to a game that I seriously thought five years ago had finally given up the ghost. And just to give a previous of my final thoughts, how are they still pushing out new and interesting expansions that improve gameplay after twenty years?! But I digress. First, THE REPORT!

The Road More Taken
 :-* Novel Approaches – Tollroads are a fact of life, especially in developing areas, or highly-developed areas, or places where road construction is/was especially expensive. And that fact was true even in the Middle Ages, at least in some places. And while I don't know for certain weather medieval Languedoc had toll roads, the idea that it did is not far-fetched and is also very relatable to today. So bravo on finding yet another reasonable mechanic.
 O0 No Costs, High Rewards – Despite the name of the expansion, Tollkeepers does not actually ask anyone to pay a toll, which is a pleasant enough fact. Instead, you just get to collect tolls from Roads. And the mechanics are quite easy since the cardboard is all player-specific. Simply claim a crossroads (yet a new "feature" that hadn't been a thing before) with your toll gate and reap the rewards when any of the connected roads are completed. And make sure to drop those juicy eight Travellers tiles on your tollroads for extra bonuses and the ability to increase (or decrease) your profits going forward.
 :)) Did Someone Say Vanilla? – Basic, feature-less tiles are always a special treat in Carcassonne because they change up the tile tower (or bag) without changing the rules. This expansion includes two tiles, one of which is new in the context of the base game, both featuring "Crossroads" but otherwise not possessing any new features. Toss these into your standard rotation and enjoy varying your game just that much more.

This Road Costs How Much?
 :neutral-meeple: Nude Is Still Not In – While this certainly isn't the first time it has happened, The Tollkeepers is yet another expansion that introduces player-specific cardboard, which means only six players can play it at a time (which I acknowledge is reasonable) rather than the twelve that can hypothetically play using the full set of Hans im Glück brand meeples (which I agree is entirely unreasonable). More annoyingly, though, is that even with games using smaller player counts, people who prefer the better, variant colors must use different color cardboard.
 :-X No Looking Backwards – The Tollkeepers is also another expansion that relies on the new thematic features on the second edition tiles. While you can proxy in bushes and farmhouses from the first edition, there is no guarantee that they have the same balance of features, and not every bush is associated with a specific segment of road in the same way the second edition features are. So adapt wisely and house-rule often to enjoy this if you have not upgraded to the new edition.
 >:D Problems with Promos – The Tollkeepers represents the fourth promotional set in four years to not be linked to some geographic region or branding strategy (the others being The Watchtowers, The Fruit-Bearing Trees, and The Barber-Surgeons). In the meantime, only one new full-sized expansion has released in that time: Under the Big Top, way back in 2017. Although these expansions are all available through Cundco, most people outside of Germany are unaware of this and these remain a real hidden gem in the pocket of Hans im Glück. An official expansion collecting all four of theses NEEDS to come out. And soon. They are treated as random stand-alone outcasts when they could constitute a viable expansion taken altogether.

You would be hard-pressed to find a better stand-alone expansion to Carcassonne than this in recent years. Simple, intuitive rules with basic mechanics completely redefines the Road game and shifts the entire Carcassonne experience just enough to make it feel fresh. Competition between players over Roads and Travellers is a fun new aspect while the abundance of tiles with Roads in the base game means that the Tollgates won't just get used, but they will shift usually a couple times through the course of the game. There's nothing inconclusive about this expansion: get it now!

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

News and Events / Dragon and printed sheep
« on: January 16, 2020, 10:14:39 AM »
Also a stupid question I was wondering: If we play with expansion dragons and expansion hills and sheep, what if dragon lands on a tile with a sheep painted like on River III for example ? If there is action gather flock, should we score point for the sheep ? That would seem counterintuitive since it should be eaten, but poor sheep is just painted on tile. I don't think it was ever discussed.
My own personal take on this is that, while the sheep would obviously remain on the tile, the presence of the dragon on that tile means that you can't include them in a gather flock action until the dragon moves. Basically, the dragon blocks the sheep. I doubt you'll get an official ruling on that, though, since the only pre-printed sheep appear on CC1 tiles (River III and Halflings I), which Hans im Glück is done making new rulings for. At least for thematic reasons, however, the dragon should still block sheep from being gathered even if it can't eat those sheep.

It has been years now since Hans im Glück started releasing Carcassonne expansions with rules in English. Spielbox magazine also has an English-language magazine now. But somehow this travesty of a name – Barber-Surgeons – survived copyediting to become the ridiculous title of this promotional expansion. And I haven't even begun my review yet!

Differing Opinions
 :-[Fill in the Square...Again – Monasteries? Fill in the square. Gardens? Fill in the square. Siege tiles? Escape via a tile making the square. Bathhouses? Fill in the square. It's becoming a lame pattern among Carcassonne expansions that features require the square – the eight tiles around a centre tile – to be filled to meet some requirement. In this case, it seems unnecessary too – surely some other release mechanism, perhaps one more thematic, could have been chosen. Just lazy.
 :'(Minimal Gain – Another lazy tactic taken by a lot of promos in recent years is a low bonus thresh hold. For this expansion, the most points you can gain from the bonus is 6 points, and in a 6-player game, the odds of one player getting more than maybe two such tiles is pretty low. Considering there are also 3- and 4-value tiles, the situation is even lamer. Frankly, these tiles provide very little point benefit to players.
 C:-)Maximum Punishment – In direct contrast to that, these tiles provide a massive punishment: the trapping of a meeple. The two ways to release the meeple are a) the annoying fill in the square technique discussed above, or b) pay the value of the bonus, thereby negating the bonus. In my experience, most of the time you can fill in the box to release the trapped meeple, but in one instance I intentionally stranded another meeple on the same Road just so I could get both back when the Road was completed (thereby earning the points). In another instance, I just took the score without the bonus so I could retrieve the meeple immediately. The benefit of the points is so low compared to the value of a free meeple that sacrificing the meeple is often just worth it, especially when you are running low on meeples.

Impartial Agreement
 :PA Theme! A Theme! – One thing positive you can certainly say about this expansion is that it has a theme. Granted, the English translation of that theme is not a theme, but the original German – The Bathhouses – feels right. Meeples, after a long days' work, take a break in bathhouses and lose all track of time. Sounds about right. The little bathhouse images are also cute, if somewhat simplistic.
 :oA Bridge Too Far – There is one crossroads tile included that is simply awesome: one road runs directly OVER the other. This tile is not unique, but it is also only found in one other expansion making it quite useful. While I generally hate RRRR tiles, I do like ones that get creative with their layout, such as this.

The fact that I couldn't think up a third positive item for this expansion should show you my final thoughts. It is a meh expansion. It has a stupid name, it has stupid point mechanics, and its tiles are mediocre bordering on derivative, with the one exception of that over/under road tile. It is certainly not an expansion to track down unless you feel especially keep to own everything (sadly, like I am). Otherwise, go ahead and skip this one or wait for a convention or other event where it is available cheaply.

Playability: B
Affordability (Obtainability): C
Aethetics: B
Learning Curve: B-

Reviews & Session Reports / The Barbarian Report: The Markets in Leipzig
« on: January 15, 2019, 12:38:21 AM »
Four double-tiles. An extra set of meeples. And a German city in southern France. What could go wrong?

Differing Opinions
 C:-)Two Tiles for the Price of One – This is not the first time Hans im Glück has made this mistake – they did it with German Castles, too – but the company really needs to figure out its two-tile rule. Considering this expansion is meant to be played with the base game, the question must be answered: are these two tiles or one when scoring for Monasteries? Logic dictates that they are two, but the lack of any faux divider between the two halves and previous rulings regarding German Castles suggests they are one, and so adjacent Monasteries will score fewer points. it is a simple problem to solve by just printing a faint line down the middle where the two tiles would separate, much like the border of the Wheel of Fortune tile or the City of Carcassonne. Get it together, Hans im Glück!
 >:DMeeples for Sale! – The original version of this expansion, released at the Modell Hobby Spiel in Leipzig, came with a full set of meeples for every player because, quite frankly, this expansion requires it. With up to 4 meeples heading to Leipzig as am investment, that can leave a player a bit short on the Meeplage. Unfortunately, people who got this expansion elsewhere must substitute with their own meeples, of which not everybody has a ton of spares. I used the scoring meeple as my #8 and subbed that out with a fem-meeple from The Messengers. Still, not ideal. All versions of this expansion really need a full set of meeples included.
 :black1-meeple:The German Invasion Continues – I know, I know, I've been harping on this for years now, but seriously: German Monasteries, German Castles, German Cathedrals, Darmstadt, and now Markets in Leipzig? I'm pretty sure there are more German-themed expansions in this game than actual French-themed elements. It's getting a bit ridiculous.

Impartial Agreement
 8)A Better City than Carcassonne – The core mechanic of this expansion is obvious but very well implemented. The idea that the four quarters of the city benefits players in four different ways. It's almost like they had used a similar mechanic before... But this works much better than the City of Carcassonne, ruled over by that tyrannical count. And they all work. Really! One gives an Inn-like bonus that requires a long-term investment but pays off very well. The city bonus is a little less grand, especially if you are just playing with the pennant-low base game. The Monastery bonus can earn a total of 24 bonus points with just the base game if invested early and if all six Monasteries are completed. Perhaps not the greatest bonus, but still worthwhile. And the field bonus, well that's just a perfect use for those strange buildings in the fields that have hitherto been without purpose.
 :yellow-meeple:Making It Work with 1.0 – Speaking of those hitherto unused field features, the original Carcassonne game has them just like the new version, and while the distribution may be slightly different between versions, it still works and this expansion suddenly makes those long-neglected farm structures worthwhile. I earned nearly 24 points from the farms playing with a mixed selection of a 1.0 base game and some 2.0 tiles (primarily from The Festival).
 :-*A South American Bonus – Who dislikes free tiles? Granted, you really need to own Amazonas to appreciate this item, but this expansion includes two additional tiles for that game, which I think means that every Carcassonne Around the World game has an expansion now except Safari, which just come out in 2018.

This expansion is actually quite worthwhile, assuming you can get it cheaply. It is available from right now, but they can be pricey depending on if you buy anything else with it and where in the world you live. Nonetheless, this is definitely one of my top promo expansions, which is saying something. This along with German (or Dutch or Japanese) Monasteries is a good combination, while using The Festival alongside this allows for the retrieval of meeples from Leipzig or a German Monastery, which is definitely not a bad thing. This is also the first expansion that I actually recommend players use Carcassonne in the new art (2.0) if they have access to it. The use of the Abbot provides an additional meeples that, even with the one bonus "supplied" by (or more likely added to) this expansion, will definitely help keep your supply of meeples flowing. This is a rare expansion that I don't think would work especially well with Inns & Cathedrals, though, since the city's Road bonus may get undermined by people blocking the Inn bonus (even though the two should stack).

Playability: A
Affordability (Obtainability): C
Aethetics: B+
Learning Curve: B

News and Events / New Expansion: German Monasteries Second Edition
« on: October 10, 2018, 03:02:53 PM »
A re-release of Klöster in Deutschland (German Monasteries) has been announced prior to Essen Spiel. This will feature the original six monasteries in new art from Anne Pätzke. The number of tiles and watermark remains the same. No further information is available at this time.

News and Events / New Expansion: Die Badehäuser
« on: October 10, 2018, 02:59:32 PM »
A new mini expansion has been announced just prior to Essen Spiel entitled Die Badehäuser (The Bathouses). It includes six tiles with two 3s, 4s, and 5s printed on flags above buildings. The watermark for the expansion is a wooden bucket. No other information is available at this time.

Other Games / Saboteur: Das Duell (Schnupperspiel) English Rules
« on: October 09, 2018, 01:53:10 AM »
As one of the other promos included in Spiel DOCH! Winter 2018, a copy of Saboteur: The Duel (Trial Edition) was included. These are a close approximation of the rules, as mostly translated using Google Translate. Feel free to make recommendations regarding the translation if something is not clear. I have not yet played this game nor ever played Saboteur or Saboteur: The Duel.

By Frederic Moyersoen with illustrations by Andrea Boekhoff

Players: 2 People
Age: 8 or older
Duration: Approximately 10 minutes
Components: 31 game tiles, 3 dwarf markers, 2 keys
Goal: The player who has found the most gold in the end wins!

[The original game has 74 tiles – with trolls, ladders, and much more gold – can be found in game stores.]

Game Preparation
One player receives the green dwarf tile and the other player the blue dwarf tile.

The three target cards (red-brown back) are mixed face down and placed on the table together with the two starting cards (ladders) as shown in the picture.

All path and action cards are shuffled. Each player gets face down five cards on the hand. The cards are prepared as a hidden draw pile. In addition to the draw pile, a discard pile will be needed during the game.

The dwarf tokens and keys are laid out.

The younger player starts, then it continues alternately. In their turn, the player performs one of the following actions:
  • a. Play a route map
  • b. Play an action card
  • c. Discard two cards and remove a sabotage card
  • d. Pass and discard a card
After the action, the player must draw one card from the draw pile into their hand.

Attention: If the draw pile is used up, it is no longer necessary to draw.

a. Play a map tile
With these cards, a path is created between the starting tile and the target tiles. A new map tile must be placed beside an existing route card or a start card. All map tiles on all sides have to fit exactly to each other and the maps tiles must not be laid in a different direction (see picture).

Attention: Newly laid out map tiles must always have an uninterrupted connection to their own start tile at the moment it is placed.

Destination Tiles
If a player creates a connection from one of the starting cards to a hidden target tile, they turn over this target tile and place it at this place appropriate to the adjacent map tiles.

Attention: It may happen that a target tile is uncovered so that it does not fit between the existing map tiles. Only in this case may the target tile be placed incorrectly.

Map tiles with doors
Doors represent blockages. A path with a blue or green door may only be used by the dwarf of the corresponding color. A door will only be passable to the other dwarf if they have used a key to open it (see "Play an Action Card").

Secure Gold
If a player makes an uninterrupted connection from their starting tile to gold on a target tile, they take a dwarf marker from the supply and place it face-up on the gold.

Attention: If a player with a map tile does not connect to their starting tile but instead to that of their teammate, then that player immediately places a marker on the gold.

b. Play an Action Card
A sabotage card (red icon) is placed in front of the other player. As long as the card is there in front of them, they cannot play a route card, they may only play one action card, discard two cards, or pass.

Each player must have only one sabotage card in front of each player.

With a repair card (green icon), a player can remove a sabotage card in front of them and show the same icon. Both cards are then placed on the discard pile.

The treasure tiles allow the player playing them to look at one of the face-down target tiles. They then place the target tile face down in its place. The treasure tile is placed on the discard pile.

With the key card, a player can open a door of the opposing colour. They take a key and place it on the affected door. This is passable to the end of the game for the player. The key card is placed on the discard pile.

Attention: By playing a key card, the player can reach gold on a target card that has not yet been occupied by a dwarf. In this case, the player picks up a dwarf marker and places it face up on the gold.

c. Discard Two Cards and Remove a Sabotage Card
Dropping any two cards on the discard pile allows a player to remove any sabotage card in front of them. The player also draws only one card in this case. They, therefore, play for the rest of the game with one less hand card.

d. Pass and Discard a Card
If a player cannot or does not want to play a card, they must pass. They put a card from their hand facedown on the discard pile.

Game End
The game ends when...
  • ...all three target tiles are revealed and all three dwarf tokens are used
  • ...the draw pile is used up and both players have no more cards left.
The player who has more gold with their dwarf marker wins. If there is a tie, another game is played immediately.

General / Multi-Expansion Expansions
« on: September 25, 2018, 01:07:20 AM »
A comment about the new Spiel DOCH! Expansion got me thinking: there are now a number of multi-expansion expansions that have been released for Carcassonne and I feel they should be listed somewhere. The qualifications for this are simple: any expansion in the same art style with a watermark shared by another expansion is a multi-expansion expansion.

Using this basic definition, we have:

The Corn Circles:
  • Die Kornkreise (The Corn Circles I)
  • The Corn Circles II

The Bonus Tiles:
  • Spiel 2014
  • Spiel 2015
  • Spiel 2016
  • Spiel 2017

The Monasteries:
  • Die Deutschen Klöster (The German Monasteries)
  • Die Kloosters (The Dutch Monasteries)

The Spielbox Expansion:
  • Die Kultstätte (The Cult Places)
  • Der Tunnel (The Tunnel)
  • Die Pest (The Plague)
  • Halb so wild (The Halflings (I))

The Spiel DOCH! Expansion:
  • Das Labyrinth (The Labyrinth – New Art)
  • Spiel DOCH! Mini Expansion

The Hobby World Expansion:
  • Bogatyr' na rasput'ye & Izbushka (Hero at the Crossroads & Baba Yaga)
  • Солове́й-Разбо́йник & Водяной (Solovei Razboynik and Vodyanoy)

Have you played any of these multi-expansion expansions? How have the different components interacted? Were there any obvious problems? Was there anything surprising? Share your stories!

Anything Else / Complaints about Star Wars
« on: May 28, 2018, 06:29:11 PM »
After dinner we watched Rogue One, after watching this film 3 times I'm still enjoying it, the same cannot be said for Solo after a single watching ;(
The Star Wars Anthology films just aren't doing it for me. Rogue One was the first SW film I didn't re-watch in theatres. Solo will be the second. I would have skipped a re-watch of Last Jedi also, but I saw it apart from my partner and she wanted to complain about it together, so we re-watched it when I got back to New Zealand.

I really hope Episode 9 is a good send-off for the franchise and that they just take a break after whatever Anthology #3 is going to be (sounds like Boba Fett or Obi-Wan). I know the LJ director has some contract to do a new trilogy but I hope it gets cancelled. Focus on television for a while — let the movies rest.

Reviews & Session Reports / The Barbarian Report: Carcassonne The Discovery
« on: December 02, 2017, 12:38:57 AM »
Carcassonne spin-offs are always a bit of a wildcard with some much more exciting and thematic than others. However, one of the first in the long chain of endless stand-alone Carcassonne games was The Discovery, released only four years after the original game. It adopted the basic Carcassonne mechanics but altered almost every aspect of the game. That may not have been such a good idea...

Floating Adrift
 :-\ Keep the Art Submerged - The first thing anybody who buys this game notices is the relatively horrendous, child-like artwork that permeates this game. From the cartoony castles to the coloured-pencil mountains, grasslands, and oceans, everything seems both too neat and too fake to enjoy. If you feel art does not make or break a game, then you have not played The Discovery. The artwork is so simplistic, that it really makes the game feel longer than it actually plays. The only good aspect of it is that the features are all well-defined.
 :@ Take Two - Once a game is begun, however, it quickly becomes clear that the rules are really the thing that will throw you for a loop. All three of the scoreable features score like a hybrid of cities and farms from the original Carcassonne game. More annoyingly, features score different points depending on whether they are 'complete' or 'incomplete.' To help players with this, a language-independent scoring card is included for each player, which does help but also underlines the needless complexity of this game.
 :-X Backed Into Corners - For a game that really rewards players who create large features, there is a remarkably high number of tiles that create small, often pointless features. While this may create strategic situations for experienced and skilful players, new and casual players just get frustrated that their features are constantly small and insubstantial.

A Creative Twist
 ??? Voluntary Abandonment - The most unique feature in this game is that scoring is always voluntary. Players only use four followers and must choose each turn whether they place a follower or score for a feature. It creates an interesting balance that requires strategies unknown elsewhere in Carcassonne. Sometimes the hardest decision to make is whether you claim a valuable feature you just expanded (or created) or score for something before it's too late. Near the end of the game, this becomes even more pronounced since any completed feature with a follower on it receives points as if it were incomplete during final scoring. Thus, balancing placement and scoring is a constant struggle that greatly enhances the strategy in the game.
 O0 The Art of Expansion - Continuing on from the facts above, the complicated rules of this game do provide numerous opportunities for strategy unknown in other Carcassonne games. Each feature has a similar but slightly different niche. Grasslands score only for grasslands, mountains score only for adjacent fortresses, and oceans score for ocean and fortresses. Thus, there is a continuity between them. While the technicalities of these rules are difficult to remember, they do provide many very interesting opportunities for competition. And since players can choose when to score for features, there is no guarantee that two players who happen to sit upon the same feature will receive the same amount of points. One may leave before that feature is completed and receive partial points, while another may wait and score a far greater amount.
 C:-) Branching Out - It must be said that this was the only Carcassonne until 2013's South Seas that had a nautical theme. The real-life city of Carcassonne sits on a river but the Mediterranean is not far and this game does fit more or less with that theme, despite its non-thematic name. A reprint of this game with superior artwork and perhaps a more streamlined scoring mechanic could prove popular, and it could even be possible to create in this an expansion to the base game rather than a spin-off. The idea, if not the implementation, of a coastal Carcassonne expansion continues to elude Hans im Glück and concepts could certainly be gleaned from this stand-alone game.

Carcassonne: The Discovery is undeniably a flawed game. Lacking in visual appeal and needlessly complex, it sits near the bottom of Carcassonne spin-offs and will certainly not appeal to everybody. This is probably one of the reasons why it has been discontinued by Hans im Glück and why Z-Man Games has not released their own version of it. It feels outdated – like a 1990s Eurogame before the craze hit America. While some of the mechanics are certainly interesting and this is arguably the most strategic of all the Carcassonne spin-offs, it simply is not that appealing. Stick to the original game or Hunters & Gatherers.

Playability: B
Affordability (Obtainability): B (second-hand)
Aethetics: F
Learning Curve: C

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