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Joining Fields

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Joining fields is a big part of Carcassonne strategy. A single field is often worth a big 9 or 12 points in the base game. If you are playing with expansions that means more tiles, more cities, and possibly field-related bonuses from the pig, pig herd, Cathars, etc. In games with expansions one or more fields can easily be worth upwards of 20 or 30 points. And don't forget those smaller fields -- those are important as well. At the end of a game placing your last meeples on a few small 6-point fields can make all the difference between who wins.

But just as roads and cities can be joined to increase your score or decrease your opponent's, so too can fields be joined with similar results. This article is all about the why and how of joining fields.

Why would I want to join fields?

In your quest to have your farmers supply the most cities (and keep your opponent from supplying very many), there are several scenarios in which you might want to join two or more fields. You might want to...

* Join a field you own to a field your opponent owns (if his has more cities).
* Join two fields that you own to increase the likelihood that you’ll score all the cities on each individual field since you’ll have multiple meeples on the joined field.
* Join two of your opponent’s fields to prevent him from scoring field points twice for any cities that border both fields (See "Being Kind to be Cruel" for an example).
* Pre-emptively join your field to an adjacent unclaimed field to prevent your opponent from using it to steal your field.
* Spoil your opponent’s attempt to join a field she owns by setting up your own join that necessarily occurs when your opponent joins his field (include photo)How can I join fields?

The most common or obvious ways to join fields include connecting fields around the corner of a city and using a cloister with a road to join fields on opposite sides of an existing road.

Using a FFxx tile joining two fields (left) and a cloister with road to join fields on opposite sides of an existing road (right)

But you can also join fields by looping roads, with cleverly placed road curves, or with any tile that has a field that connects opposite sides of the tile. This can take a little practice to spot, but once you see a few examples you’ll be able to identify more opportunities to join fields when you need to.

Joining using a road loop (left) and a tile CFCF with a crosswise field (right)

[add photo of curves like CFRR, CRRF tiles]

Tiles with fields on opposite edges can be used to build multi-tile field “bridges" to connect two separate areas of the board. This situation is less common, but you can sometimes mount a sneak attack by stretching a field over several tiles to join with another field.

[photo of FFFF + FCFC connecting fields on two separate areas of the board]

How can I block my opponent from joining fields that I want to keep separate?

Conversely, if you are concerned about your opponent joining fields you can block him. You don’t always need to create a space where no tile will fit, you can also block field-joining by forcing a 3-way road tile (preventing a loop) or placing a city edge adjacent to another city edge.

Forcing a 3-way road tile to prevent joining with a road elbow (left) and closing off a field with a city (right).

Sometimes blocking your opponent may take two moves, but if the cost would be losing a valuable/critical field (say one worth 30+ points!) it is often worth putting your other projects on hold to focus on blocking your opponent’s field-joining attempt.

How should I choose a spot to join fields so my opponent is less likely to block me?

Try to join fields where your opponent can't place a single tile to restrict or block your attempt. Compare the two situations below. The first attempt can be foiled easily with any tile that has a road while the second cannot. Of course your opponent can place a tile that would allow them to block you on their next turn. If they do, try to ensure your joining attempt can be successful. If you get a helpful tile place it to force the most common tile remaining into the spot where you are joining fields.

[photo of easily blocked field join]
[photo of better field join attempt]

Other related strategies

Another helpful strategy in the early game is to choose where you build your projects to protect any fields you’ve captured early in the game. The opposite also holds true as you can weigh your options for tile placements to help attack a field your opponent has already captured; just make sure the field is worth it.

As the game winds down, be aware of the pieces that are remaining that can help or prevent you from joining. Are there any cloisters with roads left? What about FFxx tiles like FFRR or FFCC? Are there any 3- or 4-way roads that can prevent a looping join? Don’t forget the 4-way double curve road.  Also use your knowledge of the remaining tiles to your advantage to block or minimize the chances that your opponent can join fields where it’s advantageous to him. This is pretty apparent when playing on iOS with the option to have the remaining tiles visible, but is much harder in a live game or where this option is disabled.


Here's my first attempt, and I'll say it's more of a first draft. I'm not that pleased with the intro yet, and of course none of the photos are included. But I just wanted to get something up to start the process.  Fire away with feedback, please! :-)

I've only had a quick glance at this but I like the layout and it appears to be thorough and well written.  :(y)

They don't have to be perfect, but I think it would be easier to understand some of your points if the screenshots were available at this stage. Don't worry about how neat they look for the time being, I just think the visual aid would be handy.

One defensive measure that I didn't see mentioned (although as I said, I have only scanned it) is to expand your farm into areas where opponents might try to join it from before they've placed a farmer. So, if there's an adjacent farm that needs an rfxx tile to join to the main farm then it's better to be the first to place this tile as you're robbing your opponent of the opportunity of getting a farmer on the adjacent farm and then joining it to your farm. Hopefully this makes sense!

I will post some more worthwhile feedback later on, but I will be looking forward to reading this in full!

Well done, this is a good beginning and something we can build on. I'm not sure exactly what kind of knowledge we are already assuming here, but I think you can take the 'How can I join fields?' section down to an even more basic level. I would start with something like this:

The optimum way to join a field (or to join any other feature) is to place a tile - with a follower if you don't already control that field - so that you only require one more tile to join the field. This is not always possible, in which case you can gamble by placing a tile that requires two or more subsequent tiles to join the field (making it more difficult), or you can wait until a better opportunity presents itself. Often you might have several choices of where (and in what orientation) to place your tile to give yourself the best opportunity of successfully joining onto the field. In general, the easiest way to join a field, especially playing with just the base game where they are no city tiles that stretch to the corner but not the adjacent edges, is to leave yourself needing only a FRXX tile to join. This means that the two most common tiles in the base game, the straight road (FRFR - 9x) and the corner road (FFRR - 8x), will both allow you to join the field. Several other common tiles in the base game such as RRRF (4x), CRFR (4x - i.e. the start tile) and either CRRF (3x) or CFRR (3x) depending on the exact configuration would also join the fields in this case.

In the example pictures, we can see in the left picture that yellow has started to build a nice field. It's red's turn and he draws a corner road tile. There are two possible placements that would allow red to place a farmer so that he needs only one more tile to connect the two fields. The first option (in the middle picture) means that red would need a FFXX tile to join the two farms. The second option, depicted in the picture on the right, means that red would need an easier FRXX tile to connect the two farms. So in general, this is the best move to make as it gives red the most opportunities to join the fields. However, yellow could make this task more difficult by placing a tile two tiles north of red's new farmer, leaving red needing a CXRF or RXRF tile to join the field (see blocking strategies below).


--- Quote from: jungleboy on January 14, 2015, 01:52:51 AM ---Several other common tiles in the base game such as RRRF (4x), CRFR (4x - i.e. the start tile) and either CRRF (3x) or CFRR (3x) depending on the exact configuration would also join the fields in this case.

--- End quote ---

Or a FFFR (2x - cloister with road)  ;)


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