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Topics - kothmann

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General / Old-School German-Style Games Guild on BGG
« on: May 16, 2024, 08:08:27 PM »

Just found this on BGG.  It is has a pretty active Forum which might be of interest to Carcassonne lovers looking to explore other games.

Other Games / Linie 1 (aka Streetcar) + Carcassonne = Double the Fun!
« on: April 02, 2024, 10:30:37 AM »
I thought some of you might be interested in my observation that the tiles from Linie 1 (aka Streetcar in the US) and the tiles from Carcassonne Travel Edition are close enough to the same size that you can glue them together and carry both games in the same box.  A bit more detail here:

Also, we think Linie 1 is a great little game.


The Marketplace / WTG: About 100 double-sided C1 tiles
« on: February 27, 2024, 05:26:05 AM »
About 18 months ago, I made a set of 60 double-sided Carcasssonne tiles.  My original idea was to keep make only a small set, 60 tiles plus a start tile.  But then I got carried away and started adding things and eventually ended up with many more tiles than I need.

I have been yet again reorganizing my collection and now I am ready to give away about 100 of these double-sided tiles.  It includes 12 double-sided River/City tiles, but I'm keeping the double-sided Abbeys.  Otherwise, it is a mix of base game and random selections from many expansions.  You can use some expansion rules (e.g. Inns, Fliers, Hills, Ferries, Belagerer all work fine, regardless of how many tile are in play).  For others (e.g. a handful of tower tiles) you can just ignore the expansion rules.  We usually ignore everything except the Inns.  The variety of edge combinations makes the tile draw seem very random and unpredictable, but the balance of tile types makes for a good game (e.g. not too many cities or roads).

The feel of the tiles really is great and the game is quite fun with experienced players; I might avoid this with newbies because of the extra decision making.

I'm happy to ship them (just tiles) anywhere for free.  I really just want someone to get some use out of them.

Please reply here if you are interested.  If we have more than one interested person, we'll have a lottery.


Anything Else / Trying to Debug Google Image Sharing Glitch
« on: January 19, 2024, 09:09:34 AM »
I am posting this partly as an example to share with google support but also in case anyone else has any insight.

Since I started posting here almost 3 years ago, I have always embedded images that are stored on google drive, but all of those images are now not showing up!   :-[

As an example, between the two horizontal lines below, there is an "img" tag linking to a google drive image, but it won't show up any more. (Please reply if you see the image!)

The google drive share permissions are fine, because you can just click on the link that is inside the "img" tag and it works

For comparison, here is what the image looks like when shared from my new Flickr account.

Other Games / New & Old Games on a Family Trip to Hong Kong & Taiwan
« on: January 10, 2024, 03:20:49 PM »
We flew non-stop from JFK in New York to Hong Kong.  What better way to wait for departure than playing mini games of Carcassonne?

In Hong Kong, we visited a tiny shop that still makes hand-carved Mahjong sets:

I passed on the beautiful hand-made mahjong set and instead bought a set of Chinese dominos, and then googled the rules for Tien Gow.  The dominos are cool, but my family didn’t love that particular game, so we didn’t play much.

Next we flew to Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan, where we found a Mahjong parlor, with automated tables to shuffle and deal the tiles!  Everyone won one hand except me!

The next day, we went to see the “Purple Butterflies” of Maolin.  By the time we reached the pagoda at the top of the hill, we had not seen any butterflies, so we decided to play a quick game of TinderBlox (using my modified rules  >:D), which we really have been enjoying as a travel game.  Happily, on the way down, we did encounter the lovely butterflies!

Next we played Spades on the train to Hualien:

After a long day of walking trails in Taroko Gorge, what better way to relax than playing Sichuan style mahjong (inspired by watching some games in a local night market in Kaohsiung) and Bananagrams:

Finally, we made our way to Taipei, where serendipity sent us the gaming highlight of the trip!  We  saw two locals playing Banqi in the Jade market.  They showed us the ranking of the pieces and then we used google to figure out the rest:

We were lucky enough to find a Chinese chess (Xiangqi) set in a small shop near NCCU, including a paper board for easy storage, so we started learning and playing this wonderful game of Banqi.  It is sort of like chaotic random Stratego that gradually morphs into chess!

If anyone wants to try it out, you can get the “Chinese Dark Chess King” app.  You’ll have to invest a bit in learning the pieces: note that equal ranks have different symbols in black and red, just to make life more interesting!  During the flight home, I was able to practice enough to beat the “Easy” computer, but still was losing on the “Medium” setting.  But this game is super fun—I highly recommend it as a quick 2-player game with a great mix of luck and skill.

Strategy Guide / Relatively Small (~100-tile) Games with 5 or 6 Players
« on: December 02, 2023, 09:50:02 AM »
Over Thanksgiving, we played 3 games with 5 or 6 players and about 100 tiles, including one abbey per person.  For 2 of the games, we used only the 7 regular meeples, and in one game we played the variant where we each had 8 "special meeples" and no regular meeples.

Anyway, I realized pretty much right away that with only about 16 turns per player, a meeple shortage would be very unlikely, so I started placing farmers MUCH earlier than usual.  The other players didn't seem to realize what I was doing, so I shared the strategy about halfway into the first game.  I think they were a little slow to adjust, even in the second and third games, and I ended up winning all 3 games, I think primarily because I had a lot of small valuable farms.   >:D

Of course, adjusting strategy to match the conditions is part of the game, but I think I prefer the "meeple tension" in a game with fewer players.  I wonder if it would be better to play with fewer meeples: maybe 5 per player in a 6-player game? Would be curious to know if anyone has ever tried this.

Anything Else / R.I.P. Klaus Teuber
« on: April 06, 2023, 04:28:54 AM »
Sad day.

Nice tribute here.

Other Games / Favorite Tile-Laying Games
« on: March 23, 2023, 12:50:00 PM »
I am interested in other tile-laying games and want help from anyone who is interested.  First a bit of background....

I found this great thread with a lengthy index of tile-laying games:

In fact, it was the last post in this thread that led me to Land vs. Sea:

And from there to Fjords:

And then to double-sided Carcassonne and double-sided Fjords:

I am in the process of making double-sided variants of Tsuro and Days of Steam, though I was also persuaded by @danisthirty (Tsuro Review) to give the official version of Tsuro another try, and did enjoy it.

I prefer tile-laying games where there is no board, and a minimum of extra "equipment".  Land vs. Sea can be played with nothing but the tiles, for example!  Tsuro has only a single dragon marker per player.  Fjords has only 2 types of wood bits, and they are placed in distinct phases of play.  Days of Steam has a bit more complexity, and is my least favorite (it seems to have a dead Forum on BGG, and having only just bought a copy, I think I see why).

I prefer the randomness of the game to come only from the tile drawing.  And I like a lot of player interaction, not "simultaneous solitaire" (though I think this aptly describes Chinese Mahjong, which I do very much enjoy).  And I prefer each turn to present a reasonable number of choices, with clear risks and rewards and some tactics, but with enough randomness and complexity that it won't be useful to over-think things, so you can make a decision in a few seconds most of the time.  (As you can tell from all of this, Carcassonne is by far my favorite game!)

So...what tile-laying game should I try next?  I would be especially interested in games that meet most of my preferences but perhaps have a hand of tiles, because I think games like this are candidates to be improved by eliminating the hand of tiles and making the tiles double-sided!   >:D

Thanks in advance to anyone with suggestions.

Reviews & Session Reports / I Love the Landscape!
« on: March 01, 2023, 06:33:50 PM »
Inspired by the I Love the Postman thread, I thought it would be fun to start a thread for posting end-of-game photo(s).  Add whatever details you want, or just the photo(s).  No game is too big or too small--all Carcassonne Landscapes are beautiful!  Also feel free to add photos of the players if you have them--all Carcassonne players are beautiful, too!

I'll start with tonight's game against my daughter using my Updated Double-Sided Tiles.  Here is the landscape just before and after final scoring.  She (Gray) won over me (Yellow): 199-172.

Hi-Res Version

Hi-Res Version

Strategy Guide / Tactical Tips for Ferries
« on: February 13, 2023, 11:19:18 AM »
I like the Ferries more than I thought I would.  It’s a bit chaotic but fun.

The obvious new tactic is simply to use a ferry to join an opponent’s valuable road.  More than some other expansions, I like this because the opponent often has a chance to kick you out before the road is completed.  So player interaction and tension rise.  Fun.

But are there other more subtle tactics?  I’m especially interested in ways to combine multiple ferry tiles in interesting or unexpected ways.  (I think 8 ferry tiles is too many so I’m thinking of splitting up my set into 2 groups in an irreversible way.  But before I do that, I’m wondering if I might end up losing out on something that is really cool.)

Thanks in advance for any tips.

General / Some Carcassonne Dice Game Observations
« on: December 19, 2022, 02:56:36 PM »
I recently bought the Carcassonne Dice Game on eBay.  As I said in the Postman thread:
My wife and I ... simulated playing a 4-player game, and we discovered the profound value of the "keep a meeple" option!  After two players do this, only 7 dice go to the 3rd player, who will typically throw at least one catapult, making their maximum possible score only 10 points, but it is trickier to build a 6-dice city, so then they end up keeping a meeple too.... My preliminary conclusion is that the game gets interesting and exciting with 4 or 5 players!

A few days later, I started experimenting with the dice, just to see the best way to get a high score.  My process was to roll all 9 dice, then set aside the catapults, as required by the rules, but always re-roll the meeples: I was just trying to get high-value completed cities.  I did this 30 times, and here is a histogram of the resulting number of dice in the largest city (graph from

As you can see, one-third of the time, I did not complete any city!  The average score for my 30 turns was 7.35 points, but the standard deviation was 8.33 points!  (Scoring is 1 point for 3 dice, 3 points for 4 dice, 6 for 5, 10 for 6, 15 for 7, 21 for 8, and 28 for 9.)  Scoring is extremely volatile!  And it would only be more volatile if those scores are doubled because of a reserved meeple!

Since I wasn't trying to keep any meeples around, the only interesting decision I had to make was almost always of the form shown in this photo, with one roll remaining (though it could also be the first roll):

Here there is a 6-dice city that could be completed with the CFCF die, scoring 15 points for a 7-dice city.  Or, I could re-roll the CFCF die and the meeple in an attempt to get an 8-dice city worth 21 points.  I spent an hour or so doing my best to sort-out the math, and I concluded that you should essentially always accept the smaller city.  In other words, even if could have a 5-dice city worth only 6 points, don't roll 2 dice try to get a 6-dice city worth 10: the odds are not in your favor.

I suppose a game-theoretical optimum strategy is to be much more conservative than I was thinking would be best.  You probably need to try to get 3 meeples on most turns, and only go for a big city when you roll a lot of good city segments on the first roll?  But it isn't too hard to get an 8-dice city, so I don't think most people will play that way, and you will run out of turns before someone wins?  The game feels like it is too likely to be won by "shooting the moon" as opposed to at least a somewhat methodical build-up of points with calculated risks and benefits.

Now, I have not yet played a real 4-player game, so I can't say for sure.  But I'm less optimistic that the official rules will turn out to be fun than I was on that first night when I opened the box.

Fortunately, I have developed a variant that we have been playing, and it seems to be quite fun.   >:D

Details forthcoming...

General / Interesting Wagon-Abbot Tactical Interaction
« on: December 10, 2022, 11:51:34 AM »
I almost always use only regular meeples and I only have C1 tiles.  Although I have a set of Abbots, I have very rarely used them, because, as described in this old post by @CarcinFool, there is a simple optimum strategy when using Abbots in a C1 game.  The post also describes how Abbots and Magic Portals combine in what seems to me an undesirable avalanche of points.  (See also the discussion of Abbots in the excellent Element of the Week series.)

But recently I've been experimenting with a variant where all the meeples I have get used, except the regular meeples, and I've discovered what I think is an interesting interaction between the Abbot and the Wagon!

If there is a monastery occupied by an Abbot, you should try to place your Wagon nearby, so you can jump into the monastery if the Abbot leaves.  In a recent play-test, after a monastery with a Wagon was completed, I was able to jump the Wagon a second time into another monastery!   >:D  To me, this seemed to make the Abbot strategy much more interesting and subtle, because you should be even less likely than usual to put your Abbot in a monastery (see footnote), for fear that an opponent's wagon will end up there when you leave.  Unless you were pretty confident that you could get your Wagon onto the monastery before your opponent?!  Or if the only good spot for your monastery is near an opponent's wagon, you would have to try to complete your opponent's Wagon feature before you removed your Abbot?  It just seems like there are many more interesting possibilities than playing without the Wagon.  I will definitely consider adding these two meeples to my games now!

I suppose my "discovery" is kind of obvious and probably something that is already widely known among regular Abbot / Wagon players?  But I searched the Forum and didn't find any threads that mention the Abbot-Wagon interaction.  I did find the Wagon in the Element of the Week, and a link from there to a very nice discussion by @MrNumbers of basic Wagon tactics.  I had previously collected Abbot threads here.  Based on this thread, the Wagon rules changed around the time the Abbot was introduced (with C2? circa 2014?), and most of the Forum posts I found were evidently before that change, I think.

Anyway, I thought this might be of general interest and of course would be interested in others' thoughts or experiences combining these two meeples.  Thanks!

footnote: I assume that since only the Abbot can go in a garden, but any meeple can go in the monastery, you should generally be less inclined to place the Abbot in a monastery than in a similarly valued garden?  After all, if you place the Abbot in a garden and the next tile is a monastery, you can still claim the monastery, but it won't work if the draw order is monastery-garden and your Abbot is in the monastery.  I haven't played C2, so this is just logical inference / conjecture.

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!

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.


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!

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