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Topics - kothmann

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1
Reviews & Session Reports / Thanksgiving Five-Player Base Game+IC+TB+PD
« on: November 28, 2021, 09:07:21 AM »
Here's the image at the end of the game, before final scoring (the tiles got jostled setting up the photo; we don't play with such a messy landscape!):


Five players with 144 tiles:
   72 = Base
   24 = I&C (6 extra Inns)
   24 = T&B
   30 = P&D

House rules:
  • Each player gets 8 regular meeples, one Abbey (Exp#5), and one bridge (Exp#8).
  • Exp#1: No big meeple, proportional scoring for Cathedrals.
  • Exp#2: No pig, no builder, alternative scoring of trade goods.
  • Exp#3: No new rules--tiles only.
  • Border of mat closes all features (like Abbey).
  • Draw next tile immediately after turn.  Discard tile if Abbey is played.
  • Proportional scoring for farms

Comments:
  • In order of finish, the players were my daughter Julia (Gray, 162 points), me (Red, 154 points), Annie (Green, 144 points), Matthew (Black, 134 points), and Harry (Yellow, 128 points).  Julia and I usually play aggressively, Matthew is experienced but plays a friendlier game, and Annie and Harry had only played once before.
  • Five players combined with a large tile mix and the Abbeys virtually eliminated "trapping".  It is just too hard to know how to make a "'hole" in the landscape or whom you should target even if you could make a hole.  This seems like a good thing for a family holiday game.  ;D  It was still plenty competitive, just more civil than our typical 2- or 3-player smaller game.  I prefer the smaller more aggressive games but will totally play these big games again at family gatherings.
  • Proportional scoring of farms is fantastic in a big game.  The big field ended up being worth 45 points, which rounded up to 48 with 4 meeples, so each meeple earned 12.  Julia had two meeples to Annie and Matthew each having one, and she earned a narrow victory.  With conventional scoring, she literally laps the bottom 3 players  ::), which is way less fun.
  • A mat is really great to have for a large game so there are no arguments about the edge of the table and also because everyone enjoys the easy closures on edges at the end of the game.  This mat is 13x23, so the game could be much bigger.
  • Speaking of keeping the game enjoyable, Annie said at the end that the only other time she played Carcassonne, the Dragon came out and ate everything and it was kind of miserable.  I had been inspired by a recent post by @PapaGeek to try official Dragon rules again, but everyone in our group seemed to be opposed, except possibly for the magic portals, which Matthew likes.
    • Annie came out with a couple of relatively early farmers, which I thought was a mistake, but she said, "I wanted to get all my meeples working for me."  I think it turned out well for her, as she got 27 points for her 3 farmers.  As a more experienced and shrewd player, Julia waited a bit longer to start farming  >:D and ended up with 30 points for 3 farmers.
    • Harry is a young teen and seemed to be enjoying just building a landscape.  8)  He also won the trade good battle, scoring a total of 14 points, beating Julia 12, Bruce 12, Matthew 4, and Annie 4.  Proportional trade-good scoring has higher total points but roughly the same point differentials.  It also keeps trade goods compelling and relevant to the very end.
    • I closed the 18-point city in the southwest by placing the tile at J-14, even though Matthew had invaded it twice.  This gave me 3 wheat tokens (12 points!), and avoided a protracted fight which I think can often just lead to both players losing.  I was happy with this decision in the end.
    • I made a tragic blunder about 2/3 of the way through the game by closing a city that Julia and I shared.  She was out of meeples at that point and I had plenty.  I didn't see an obviously better play but that was definitely a game-loser.   :(
    • It took about 2 hours to play and everyone had a great time.  It really is a fantastic game.

2
Strategy Guide / Tactical Tuesday Week "08"
« on: November 23, 2021, 05:55:48 AM »
See the series introduction here.

<--Last Week

Sorry, no JCloisterZone file this week. 

Introduction: This scenario came up during some play-testing of a variant.  It was one of those mid-game decisions that has to happen quickly.  I didn't have a specific theme in mind here, just thought it was an interesting situation

Configuration: Base game only (72 tiles & 7 meeples per player)

Players: Black, Pink, White (order of play as listed, alphabetical by color name).

Score: B=4, P=8, W=4

Previous Turns & Scoring: Details not recorded.  Sorry.  (Part of the variant made the long roads act like roads with Inns from Exp#1, which is why there is so much activity on the long road.  But let's ignore that here.)

Current Decision (photo below):
Pink has now drawn a CRRF tile.
Where should they place the tile?
Should they place a meeple and if so, where?


Option A (photo below)
[ 4;-3], RFCR, meeple as knight in the city. Black & Pink each score 7 for the road.


Option B (photo below)
[ 4; 0], RFCR, no meeple.  Pink scores 4 points for the football city.


Option C (photo below)
[-1; 4], CRRF, meeple as thief on the road.


Option D (photo below)
[ 2; 3], FCRR, meeple as farmer in the field not touching the city.


Option E (none of the above)
Please describe a better play in your reply.

3
Strategy Guide / Tactical Tuesday -- Week 07
« on: October 19, 2021, 07:07:25 AM »
See the series introduction here.

<--Last Week

JCloisterZone File.

Introduction: So far, situations have mostly been about battles for cities and farms.  I was working on some Cloister and/or Farm-merging ideas when I stumbled across this situation, early in a self-play game.  Even thought it is again mostly about a city battle, I thought it was very interesting, so I'm sharing it here.

Also a bit short on time so using JCZ game images.  :-)

Configuration: Base game only (72 tiles & 7 meeples per player)

Players: Black, Green, Red, Yellow (order of play as listed, alphabetical by color name).

Score: B=4, G=R=Y=0

Previous Turns & Scoring:
 1. B[ 0; 1] RRCR / knight / B+4
 2. G[-1; 0] RRRC / knight /
 3. R[ 0;-1] FCFC / knight /
 4. Y[ 1;-1] RRRR / /
 5. B[ 0;-2] FCFF / knight /
 6. G[ 0;-3] FFFF / monk /
 7. R[ 2;-1] FFFC / /
 8. Y[ 2;-2] FFCC / knight /

Current Decision (photo below):
Black has now drawn a CCFF tile.
Where should they place the tile?
Should they place a meeple and if so, where?
Please offer comments on moves 5-8 as well!


Option A (photo below)
[ 3;-1], CCFF, meeple as knight in the city.


Option B (photo below)
[ 2;-3], CCFF, meeple as knight in the city.


Option C (photo below)
[ 1;-3], FCCF, meeple as knight in the city.


Option D (photo below)
[ 0;-4], FFCC, meeple as knight in the city.


Option E (none of the above)
Please describe a better play in your reply.

4
Strategy Guide / Tactical Tuesday -- Week 06
« on: October 11, 2021, 05:14:32 PM »
See the series introduction here.

<--Last Week

JCloisterZone File.

Introduction: Continuing with the game from Week05, 5 turns later...

Configuration: Base game only (72 tiles & 7 meeples per player)

Players: Black, Gray, Red, Yellow (order of play as listed, alphabetical by color name).

Score: B=8, G=8, R=8, Y=8

Previous Turns & Scoring:
 1. B[ 1; 0] FFRR / thief /
 2. G[ 0;-1] FRRF / thief /
 3. R[ 2; 0] FCCF / farmer /
 4. Y[-1;-1] RFRF / thief /
 5. B[ 0; 1] RRCC / knight /
 6. G[ 1;-1] RFFR / /
 7. R[ 2;-1] CFFF / knight / R+4
 8. Y[-1; 0] CRRC / knight /
 9. B[ 0; 2] RFRF / farmer /
10. G[-1;-3] RRCC / knight /
11. R[ 3; 0] FRRC / knight / R+4
12. Y[-1; 1] RCCC / thief /
13. B[ 0;-2] RCRR / knight / B+8, G+8, Y+8
14. G[ 4; 0] RFRR / farmer /
15. R[-2;-1] CFCC / knight /
16. Y[ 3; 1] FFFF / monk /
17. B[ 1; 1] RRFR / thief /
18. G[ 3;-1] RRCF / thief /
19. R[-2; 0] CCCR / /

Current Decision (photo below):
Yellow has now drawn a CRFR tile.
Where should they place the tile?
Should they place a meeple and if so, where?
Feel free to comment on previous moves, but the emphasis is on Yellow's current move.


Option A (photo below)
[-3; 0], FRCR, meeple as knight in the city.


Option B (photo below)
[-1;-3], CRFR, meeple as farmer in field next to city.


Option C (photo below)
[ 3;-2], CRFR, meeple as farmer in field next to city.


Option D (photo below)
[ 3;-2], CRFR, meeple as knight in the city. (Yellow scores 4 points)


Option E (photo below)
[ 5; 1], RCRF, meeple as knight in the city.


Option F (none of the above)
Please describe a better play in your reply.

5
Strategy Guide / Tactical Tuesday -- Week 05
« on: October 04, 2021, 12:25:16 PM »
See the series introduction here.

<--Last Week    Next Week-->

JCloisterZone File.  (Thanks @Bumsakalaka for the template last week!)

Introduction: A different game from weeks 01-04...

Configuration: Base game only (72 tiles & 7 meeples per player)

Players: Black, Gray, Red, Yellow (order of play as listed, alphabetical by color name).

Score: B=8, G=8, R=8, Y=8

Previous Turns & Scoring:
 1. B[ 1; 0] FFRR / thief /
 2. G[ 0;-1] FRRF / thief /
 3. R[ 2; 0] FCCF / farmer /
 4. Y[-1;-1] RFRF / thief /
 5. B[ 0; 1] RRCC / knight /
 6. G[ 1;-1] RFFR / /
 7. R[ 2;-1] CFFF / knight / R+4
 8. Y[-1; 0] CRRC / knight /
 9. B[ 0; 2] RFRF / farmer /
10. G[-1;-3] RRCC / knight /
11. R[ 3; 0] FRRC / knight / R+4
12. Y[-1; 1] RCCC / thief /
13. B[ 0;-2] RCRR / knight / B+8, G+8, Y+8
14. G[ 4; 0] RFRR / farmer /

Current Decision (photo below):
Red has now drawn the CCCF tile.
Where should they place the tile?
Should they place a meeple and if so, where?
Feel free to comment on previous moves, but the emphasis is on Red's current move.


Option A (photo below)
[ 5; 0], CCCF, meeple as knight in the city.


Option B (photo below)
[ 3; 1], CCFC, meeple as knight in the city.


Option C (photo below)
[ 2; 1], CCFC, meeple as knight in the city.


Option D (photo below)
[ 1; 2], CCCF, meeple as knight in the city.


Option E (photo below)
[-2;-1], CFCC, meeple as knight in the city.


Option F (photo below)
[ 2;-2], FCCC, meeple as knight in the city.


Option G (photo below)
[-2; 0], CCFC, meeple farmer in the field.


Option H (none of the above)
Please describe a better play in your reply.

6
Strategy Guide / Tactical Tuesday -- Week 04
« on: September 27, 2021, 02:52:21 PM »
See the series introduction here.

<--Last Week       Next Week-->

Configuration: Base game only (72 tiles & 7 meeples per player)

Players: Black, Gray, Red, Yellow (order of play as listed, alphabetical by color name).

Score: B=11, G=21, R=25, Y=12

Previous Turns & Scoring:
 1. B[ 0;-1] FFFF / monk /
 2. G[ 0;+1] FCCF / knight /
 3. R[ 1; 0] CRFR / knight /
 4. Y[ 2; 0] RFRR / thief /
 5. B[ 2; 1] RRRR / thief / B+2
 6. G[ 1;-1] FRFF / monk /
 7. R[ 2;-1] RCFR / thief / R+3
 8. Y[ 3;-1] FCFC / knight / Y+4
 9. B[-1;-1] RFCR / knight /
10. G[ 2;-2] FRFR / thief /
11. R[ 4;-1] FFFC / knight / R+4
12. Y[-2; 0] CRRR / knight / Y+4
13. B[ 0;-2] FRRF / thief /
14. G[ 1;-2] FRRR / / G+9
15. R[-2; 0] FRRF / thief /
16. Y[-1; 1] FFCC / knight / Y+4
17. B[-1;-2] CFFC / farmer / B+9
18. G[ 1; 1] RRCC / farmer / G+12, R+12
19. R[-1;-3] CRRF / knight / R+6
20. Y[ 0; 2] CCFF / farmer /
21. B[ 1; 2] CCRC / knight /
22. G[-3; 0] FFCC / knight /
23. R[ 1; 3] CCCC / /

Current Decision (photo below):
Yellow has now drawn the FRFR tile.
Where should they place the tile?
Should they place a meeple and if so, where?
Feel free to comment on previous moves, but the emphasis is on Yellow's current move.


NOTE: Due to the large landscape and number of move options, I added an orange box around tile placement to help clarify.

Option A (photo below)
[-2;-2], RFRF, meeple as thief on the road.


Option B (photo below)
[-2;-2], RFRF, meeple as farmer west of the road.


Option C (photo below)
[-2;-2], RFRF, meeple as farmer east of the road.


Option D (photo below)
[-2;-2], RFRF, no meeple


Option E (photo below)
[-2;-3], RFRF, meeple as farmer east of the road.


Option F (photo below)
[-1;-4], RFRF, meeple as thief on the road.


Option G (photo below)
[1;-3], RFRF, meeple as thief on the road.


Option H (photo below)
[4;-2], FRFR, meeple as farmer north of the road.


Option I (photo below)
[3;1], FRFR, meeple as thief on the road.


Option J (none of the above)
Please describe a better play in your reply.

7
Strategy Guide / Tactical Tuesday -- Week 03
« on: September 20, 2021, 04:28:33 PM »
See the series introduction here.

<--Last Week     Next Week-->

Players: Black, Gray, Red, Yellow (order of play as listed, alphabetical by color name).

Score: B=11, G=9, R=7, Y=12

Summary of Previous Moves:
1. B[0;-1]  2. G[0;+1]  3. R[1;0]  4. Y[2;0]  5. B[2;1] (B scores 2 points)
6. G[1;-1] 7. R[2;-1] (R scores 3 points)  8. Y[3;-1] (Y scores 4 points)
9. B[-1;-1] 10. G[2;-2] 11. R[4;-1] (R scores 4 points)
12. Y[-2;0] (Y scores 4 points) 13. B[0;-2] 14. G[1;-2] 15. R[-2;0]
16. Y[-1;1] (Y scores 4 points) 17. B[-1;-2] (B scores 9 points)

Current Decision (photo below):
Gray has now drawn the CCRR tile.
Where should they place the tile?
Should they place a meeple and if so, where?
(Feel free to discuss Black's move 17 as well, but the focus is on Gray's move.)


Option A (photo below)
[-1;-3], CRRC, meeple as knight in the city.


Option B (photo below)
[1;1], RRCC, meeple as farmer in field between road and city.  Gray and Red both score 12 points.


Option C (photo below)
[1;1], RRCC, meeple as thief on road.  Gray and Red both score 12 points.


Option D (none of the above)
Please describe a better play in your reply.

8
Strategy Guide / Tactical Tuesday -- Week 02
« on: September 13, 2021, 04:18:53 PM »
See the series introduction here.

<--Last Week    Next Week -->

Game Condition: base game only with standard rules.

Players: Black, Gray, Red, Yellow (order of play as listed, alphabetical by color name).

Score: B=2, G=9, R=7, Y=8

Summary of Previous Moves:
1. B[ 0;-1]  2. G[ 0;+1]  3. R[ 1; 0]  4. Y[ 2; 0]  5. B[ 2; 1] (B scores 2 points)
6. G[ 1; -1] 7. R[ 2;-1] (R scores 3 points)  8. Y[ 3;-1] (Y scores 4 points)
9. B[-1; -1] 10. G[2; -2] 11. R[4; -1] (R scores 4 points)
12. Y[-2; 0] (Y scores 4 points) 13. B[ 0;-2] 14. G[ 1; -2] (G scores 9 points)
15. R[-2; 0]

Current Decision (photo below):
Yellow has now drawn the FFCC tile.
Where should they place the tile?
Should they place a meeple and if so, where?


Option A (photo below)
[-1; 1], FFCC, meeple as knight in the west city segment.  Yellow scores 4 points.


Option B (photo below)
[ 3; 0], CCFF, meeple as farmer.


Option C (photo below)
[ 0; 2], CCFF, meeple as knight in east city segment.


Option D (photo below)
[ 0; 2], CFFC, meeple as knight in north city segment.


Option E (none of the above)
Please describe a better play in your reply.

9
Strategy Guide / Tactical Tuesday -- Week 01
« on: September 06, 2021, 11:38:08 AM »
See the series introduction here.
Next Week -->

Players: Black, Gray, Red, Yellow (order of play as listed, alphabetical by color name).

Score: B=0, G=0, R=0, Y=0

Description (photo below): All players placed a meeple on their first turns and black has now drawn the RRRR tile.  Where should they place the tile?  Should they place a meeple and if so, where?


Option A (photo below)
[-1; 0], RRRR, meeple as thief on the south road.  Yellow scores 4 points.


Option B (photo below)
[-1; 0], RRRR, meeple as thief on the west road.  Yellow scores 4 points.


Option C (photo below)
[2; -1], RRRR, meeple as thief on the north road.  Black scores 2 points.


Option D (photo below)
[2; 1], RRRR, meeple as thief on the south road.  Black scores 2 points.


Option E (none of the above)
Please describe a better play in your reply.

10
Strategy Guide / Tactical Tuesday -- Let's Build an Online Workbook!
« on: September 06, 2021, 11:34:39 AM »
As much as I enjoy general strategy tips, I find myself craving specific example problems to ponder and discuss.  I thought it might be useful and fun to build a library of concrete example problems by starting a weekly series here on Carcassonne Central.  I'll post a problem with multiple-choice answers, and we can use a poll to record everyone's votes.  I'll always include an "Other, please specify" option, so that we can capture the good choices that I overlooked or just don't understand.  Ideally, everyone would ponder the problem and cast a vote before reading other answers.  That way, we benefit from lots of original thinking.  After voting, please post a reply to explain your thinking and/or react to others'.

My model for a "workbook" of realistic, practical problems is the no-limit hold'em poker trilogy by Dan Harrington.  Another inspiration is the chess Combination Challenge book by Lou Hays.  Janice Kim's series of Go books also contain lots of specific examples in the form of problems to solve.

By the way, I love Steve and Dan's book--the discussion of farm strategy alone is worth the price--and recommend it to everyone who wants to be better.  But I think a collection of problems would be a nice supplement.

My initial focus will be on multi-player base-game only situations, since that's my preferred game.  But hopefully we'll also branch out into two-player games and also include various expansions.  Please message me if you have ideas for a situation you would like to see posted.  Right now I have maybe a half dozen decent ideas, so I'll need more to keep this going.

Notation
If you choose one of the multiple-choice answers, there is no notation required (unless you want to give a lot of details in your reply).  But if you want to specify "Other", then we to be able to define the move.  I found a great thread on a general annotation scheme for Carcassonne games.  As impressive as this system is, I want to propose a simplified version that I hope will be sufficient and more accessible for these problems.

  • I will put an arrow pointing North on the start tile in each puzzle photo.  That will be [0; 0] and other tiles will be denoted by [east offet; north offset] from the start tile.
  • As far as orientation, let's just list the tile edges going clockwise from North, so the starting tile would be CRFR.  If it were rotated clockwise 90 degrees, it would be RCRF.
  • And then we can just use words to describe what meeple goes where.  For example, on a CCRR tile, you could say, "Place a meeple as a farmer on the field between city and road."
I'll update below with links to each week's problem...

Week 01
Week 02
Week 04
Week 04
Week 05
Week 06

11
General / Homemade Map: Texas
« on: September 06, 2021, 06:46:06 AM »
The Taiwan map generated a lot of interest--it certainly looks really cool!  I wanted to put in a plug for making your own maps!  It seems that many users like the special rules that come with these maps, but I just want the clear landscape boundaries and cool aesthetic.  Plus it is a fun weekend project...

A lot of my dad's family lives in Texas, six generations from the great German migration of the 1840's, and that state has such a distinctive shape that I thought it would make a great map.  I knew about how big I wanted the map to be, so I sketched out the rough idea using PowerPoint:


To make the map, I bought sheets of tyvek on Amazon and then use Sharpie markers and a meter stick to make a grid.  I used a fine-tip Sharpie to add the detailed borders of Texas:


We often use it with the River, which often ends just by running to the border of Texas.  Here is a completed game (the coins are our 50-point tokens):


You might have noticed that the first photo has row and column labels.  Those were added during the pandemic to assist our approach to playing over Zoom.  Basically, I set up a tripod on the table, with an iPhone logged on to Zoom and pointing down to show the landscape.  Here is what it looks like without the map:

The other players make the map full-screen and have young eyes, so they can see the key information.  But as you might imagine, it can be cumbersome to call out the desired tile placements, so the map is a big improvement.

By the way, we often play using the whole 13-by-13 area, which is perfect for base game + I&C + T&B + K&S.


12
Strategy Guide / Defensive Tactics with the Castle (Expansion #8)
« on: April 08, 2021, 06:29:57 AM »
I've been thinking about defending a city against invasion when playing with the castle.  Consider the scenario shown below, where the two CCFF tiles shown are not part of the board, but just shown for reference.

In the base game alone, Blue is hoping to draw the tile (top right) that divides the cities before Yellow draws the tile (bottom right) that joins them.  There are only two dividing tiles, but there are five joining tiles, so the odds are against Blue.  When using the castle from Expansion #8, things get worse for Blue, because in that case if either Blue or Yellow places the dividing tile, Yellow can create a castle and then share the city points by completing Blue's city before any of the roads in the castle fief are completed.  There are many more "city cap" tiles than "road end" tiles, so the Yellow invasion has a very high chance of success even if Blue draws the dividing tile!

But, if Blue closes the left edge of the city before placing the dividing tile, Yellow could no longer use a castle to share the big city points, because the dividing tile will complete the city at the same time that the castle is created, and a castle only scores for features completed on a subsequent turn.

The tactical implication is that when your city is threatened with invasion from a city segment that could become a castle, close all other open edges of that city as soon as possible, so that a dividing tile will effectively repel the invasion.

Perhaps this isn't too important, because the better tactic for Blue is to respond offensively, by "invading" their own city from the left, in which case a joining tile would be to Blue's advantage in preventing a castle and allowing them to win the meeple war in that city?

I like the castles and they certainly create interesting situations.  But in the base game, it already seems very difficult to defend against invasion, and castles appear to make it even more difficult.  We use a few castle house rules, one of which is: a player may only create a castle when they close a city.  In the example here, Blue would be able to deploy the dividing tile to repel the invasion without Yellow creating a castle.

I'd be very interested to hear other thoughts about the example shown here, or other subtle castle tactics, and also any house rules that you may have when using the castles.

Thanks!

13
The Marketplace / Free Cathedrals in Germany with English Instructions
« on: December 28, 2020, 09:23:43 AM »
https://www.dropbox.com/s/ztwdqegry3m7ern/2020-12-28%2010.17.34.jpg?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/rzrnzn47x2a24uf/2020-12-28%2010.19.08.jpg?dl=0

I bought these on ebay and but I don't use them.  Hope to get them to someone who appreciates how beautiful they are, might like to use them, and loves Carcassonne as much as I do:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/cqjpa635yz0hxc5/2020-12-26%2016.57.37.png?dl=0 

Will send to US address via priority mail for free.

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