Author Topic: 181-tile Carcassonne for Four (10 expansions)  (Read 8142 times)

Offline danisthirty

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181-tile Carcassonne for Four (10 expansions)
« on: August 15, 2013, 03:22:16 AM »
This evening I took part in the biggest game of Carcassonne I've ever played (so far)! As well as the basic tiles we included three major expansions (Inns & Cathedrals, Traders & Builders and Bridges, Castles & Bazaars) plus seven minor expansions (River 1, River 2, Corn Circles 1, Corn Circles 2, The Goldmines, Mage and Witch and King & Robber Baron) which brought the total number of playable tiles up to 181.

After I'd gone over the rules of some of the less familiar expansions with everyone, the game started off with the placement of the river using both River 1 and River 2 tiles mixed together. After this we started drawing tiles normally and after a couple of turns each all four of us were using our builders to help ourselves get off to the best possible start.

As the landscape gradually spread across the table there was enough space for all of us to develop features in our own areas so there wasn't a lot of competitiveness at first. Lenny wasn't particularly pleased when I tried to steal a city from him with my MegaMeeple but a fortunately timed Crop Circle tile meant that we ended up sharing the points when it was eventually closed. He was even less pleased when I successfully stole his points from another city in exactly the same way, even though they were only small cities worth about 14 points each.

The inclusion of the Crop Circles expansions meant that much of the middle part of the game seemed to move quite slowly and our rate of progress around the score track reflected this. Rather than adding additional followers each time a Crop Circle was drawn, most of the time we either did nothing or removed one from a corresponding city/ road/ farm forcing everyone else to do the same. Having to remove a Meeple from a potentially valuable feature was quite painful at times, but I escaped a lot of this as there was usually an alternative I could recall instead. This meant that I generally retained control of my most lucrative features whilst everyone else was abandoning theirs around me!

There was some controversy over Lenny's insistence that Michael shouldn't close a city of Edd's when the rare opportunity for him to do so arose. Admittedly it was quite a tough call but I think I probably would have closed it as it was large enough to secure the King token, probably for the rest of the game, and was also worth several trade tokens. Instead, Michael used the tile elsewhere and began to develop a city of his own. This grew quite quickly so Edd and Lenny both built castles next to it hoping to cash-in equally on his efforts but I was able to complete a tiny road in the vicinity of the castles which meant they won just two points each rather than the 20 or so that they might have scored if Michael's city had been the next feature to be completed. As it turned out, I closed Michael's city and was able to claim the King token for it although Lenny later won this back from me (and kept it) after closing Edd's city despite his earlier protests when Michael had the opportunity to do the same thing.

As the game progressed, Edd and I became locked in a battle to establish a majority on a large farm that ended up serving ten cities and two castles. Edd was winning with three farmers against my two and I couldn't see any good opportunities for me to get another farmer onto the field. Fortunately however I was able to use a Crop Circle tile to force him to remove one of his three farmers (since he didn't have any farmers elsewhere) and we shared the field for 50 points each since we also both had our pigs on it.

The Mage and the Witch didn't really impact on the game very much although I seemed to have a strange propensity for drawing tiles from the Goldmines expansion. I was always able to use them in such a way that I could later claim the gold too and ended up with nine (of 16) gold bars worth a bonus of 27 points in the final scoring.

As the game began to draw to a close it became increasingly likely that I was going to win although everyone else seemed to realise this before me as I remained unconvinced until the last dozen or so tiles. Despite drawing cloisters and placing a lot of monks in the early stages of the game, I never seemed to run particularly low on Meeples and was able to claim some reasonably good farms with my last few turns. As well as the gold I'd managed to win the majority of wine and wheat tokens whereas Lenny had the majority of the silk tokens winning us 20 points and 10 points respectively at the end of the game. I also won the Robber Baron tile for closing an unusually long road of Michael's that nobody else seemed interested in at the time. Whilst the scores were fairly even at the end of the game, my farmers and end-game bonuses were worth around 130 points and this all added-up to a final score that nobody else could come close to.

Including the time taken to calculate everyone's final scores the game took just under three and a half hours to play! If you remove all the stops for various reasons, the average amount of time spent per turn was probably about a minute and we each had around 45 turns. Some turns lasted far longer than this as did the discussions surrounding the more controversial/ aggressive opportunities, but there were only really two or three occasions where I actually got bored waiting for someone to take their turn. Ultimately it gave me more thinking time to decide what I was going to do with my next tile. But there's only so much time required when you either get a tile that you desperately need and would be stupid to place elsewhere or a duff tile that isn't going to make much of a difference regardless of where you put it.

As games of Carcassonne go this was definitely a good one. I felt that each of the expansions improved and added to the overall game although I would have enjoyed it more if we'd imposed a restriction on the amount of thinking time taken as long as it was fair and practical. This would be tricky though as it feels less social and more intimidating when each person has a clock in front of them and knows that they're being timed!

Linkback: https://www.carcassonnecentral.com/community/index.php?topic=372.0

Offline AlbinoAsian

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Re: 181-tile Carcassonne for Four (10 expansions)
« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2013, 06:34:46 AM »
great report... and sounds like it is the month for MegaCarc =D

Offline evmillan

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Re: 181-tile Carcassonne for Four (10 expansions)
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2013, 07:15:55 AM »
Very Detailed Report. You only forgot a picture of the end of the game

Offline danisthirty

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Re: 181-tile Carcassonne for Four (10 expansions)
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2013, 07:37:37 AM »
Thanks for the feedback guys. I tend to write in some detail as it helps me to remember which expansions worked well together, which didn't and why. This is useful as I normally host my friends when we play, so it's usually my decision as to which expansions we play and I always try to choose a selection that everyone will enjoy.

As for the photo, I was gutted that I forgot to take one this time as I often put photos on Instagram before calculating the final scores. Will definitely remember to take one next time!

Offline CKorfmann

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Re: 181-tile Carcassonne for Four (10 expansions)
« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2013, 10:25:54 AM »
Good write-up.  I'm curious why you chose those expansions or is it just because that's what was available?  I think holding a few meeples for farms at the end is a good strategy.  It seems like there are usually a few farms that slip under the radar that are good for a dozen points or so at the end. 
Flee the fleas.

Offline danisthirty

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Re: 181-tile Carcassonne for Four (10 expansions)
« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2013, 01:30:53 AM »
Thanks CKorfmann! Half of those expansions (Inns & Cathedrals, Traders & Builders, King & Robber Baron, Rivers 1 and 2) are almost always included whenever we play Carcassonne anyway, whereas the others were included randomly to add a bit of variety as it was a first outing for Corn Circles 1 and 2 and The Goldmines. I like the extra options that Bridges, Castles & Bazaars opens up (except for the bazaars which we just ignore) and Mage and Witch just happened to be in the right place at the right time!

I'm glad I'm not the only person who tries to keep a few Meeples back to place as farmers in the last few tiles. A lot of the people I play against seem to get so caught up in establishing a majority on the main farm that they don't spot (or don't have anyone left to claim) the smaller farms which, as you say, can be worth at least a dozen or so points in the final scoring, especially for big games.

Offline CKorfmann

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Re: 181-tile Carcassonne for Four (10 expansions)
« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2013, 10:36:43 AM »
I really need to give the Castles a try.  I've never played with them or with the bazaars, only the Bridges from that set.  I think I need to sit down with my wife one evening and play all the stuff I've never played before.  Sounds like a good excuse to me!  :-]

Offline Scott

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Re: 181-tile Carcassonne for Four (10 expansions)
« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2013, 12:26:57 PM »
I like to hold one or two meeples back, though I go for cloisters rather than farms.

Offline danisthirty

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Re: 181-tile Carcassonne for Four (10 expansions)
« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2013, 03:45:32 PM »
@CKorfmann - I don't know how familiar you are with Castles but take my advice, completing your spouses castles with short roads is not good for a marriage! Other than this they can be great fun and like most of the expansions give you more options to think about...

@Scott - That sounds like a good plan too but I wouldn't trust my luck to draw the last cloister if it's still up for grabs!

Offline CKorfmann

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Re: 181-tile Carcassonne for Four (10 expansions)
« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2013, 11:16:39 PM »
@CKorfmann - I don't know how familiar you are with Castles but take my advice, completing your spouses castles with short roads is not good for a marriage!

That sounds like wisdom.   :))


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