Author Topic: The Art of the Un-Trap  (Read 595 times)

Offline PapaGeek

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The Art of the Un-Trap
« on: December 25, 2021, 03:17:51 PM »
The first subject discussed in Chapter 8 (advanced features) in The Book of Carcassonne is The Art of the Trap, which is closely followed by the discussion on digging holes!

Our neighborhood group of four started playing   in June of 2021.  Two of us are well into the art of the trap which is causing the other two to start talking about other games.  Carcassonne does offer the Abbey and Mayor expansion that completely eliminates the traps, and also Halflings which basically cuts the traps in half, and of course the Bridges that do provide a little help in breaking out of a trap: but we are still looking for other ways for our more gentle players to un-trap themselves.

So, here is what we are thinking!

We wanted to start using Bridges a few months ago, and since Z-Man Games has basically stopped producing Carcassonne Expansions for the US market, we had to create the bridges for ourselves.  So, we got a piece of three eighth inch square oak trim from Lowes and cut it into 1 ¾ inch strips to use as the Fake Bridges.

Then, we recently read a post by kothmann where he talked about the Gates and Walls that he created as part of his personal Old City Expansion.  Basically, when a city tile, with a pennant, exists next to an empty space, you can place a Wall on the edge of the city and then place a field tile next to it, or, you can place a Gate on the edge of the city and then place a road tile next to it.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/19u_XBVNw7EbzUPn_TstHHnjQyZc22DQK/view

The ability to use Gates and/or Walls and/or Bridges to modify the four sides of the trap makes the probability of filling the hole far more possible.

Our basic game usually includes 125 tiles: 71 basic game tiles, 12 river tiles, 18 Inns and Cathedrals tiles, and 24 Trader and Builder tiles . . . plus 4 of our fake wooden bridges for each player, which we will now probably rename as Tile Modifiers, which can be used as either Bridges, Gates, or Walls as the game progresses.  We will not restrict the use of Gates and Walls to only cities with pennants, but we will restrict them to only city tiles that touch four sided holes, like the Abbey tile restriction.

Here is the page on our personal Carcassonne website that talks about this personal Expansion in more detail:

http://www.papageek.com/car/GatesWalls.htm

Your opinions would be greatly appreciated.  Again, our target is to help less aggressive players ease into the Art of the Trap with an easier way out of the traps as they get used to making them!


Linkback: https://www.carcassonnecentral.com/community/index.php?topic=5632.0
Totally addicted to this game

Offline PapaGeek

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Re: The Art of the Un-Trap
« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2021, 11:51:51 AM »
Many thanks Daniel from the BoardGameGeeks forum, his suggestion is excellent and it will be suggested to our group at tonight’s game night.  His Quote: “For the reluctant competitive players, it might sweeten the pot for those that love making traps if leftover bridges netted a player points at the end of the game. Like the stations in Ticket To Ride: Europe.”
 
And my adaptation: Ticket To Ride is not a Carcassonne expansion, but the concept that each unused Modifier would be worth 5 extra points during the end of game scoring, similar to the scoring rules for Goods Tokens, does have merit!

Have been added to our Carcassonne webpage.

Offline kothmann

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Re: The Art of the Un-Trap
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2021, 10:25:46 AM »
Two of us are well into the art of the trap which is causing the other two to start talking about other games....Our target is to help less aggressive players ease into the Art of the Trap with an easier way out of the traps as they get used to making them!
I think this is the right approach!  I have seen some posts suggest that players be "less aggressive", but for us that doesn't really work at all.  When we play games, we try to figure out the best plays within the rules: that's what makes the game fun.  If that results in tactics that some players don't like, then change the rules to make those tactics less advantageous.  Since it isn't practical to calculate how many tiles can complete any feature in real time, you can't make a rule to ban "trapping," even if you wanted to.

Quote
we are still looking for other ways for our more gentle players to un-trap themselves...we recently read a post by kothmann where he talked about the Gates and Walls...
Yes, this was my motivation too!  We all found it unpleasant to be stuck in a big city, and more generally, we didn't like how many incomplete cities there are in a typical game, even without traps, particularly using only base-game tiles.  (Traders and Builders ameliorates a lot of these problems in our games, but with enough other expansions, I expect it would again be a challenge.)

Quote
We will not restrict the use of Gates and Walls to only cities with pennants, but we will restrict them to only city tiles that touch four sided holes, like the Abbey tile restriction.  Here is the page on our personal Carcassonne website that talks about this personal Expansion in more detail.
I'm a huge fan of doing whatever works for your group, and I love the web page as a quick reference for all players.  But this change makes the Walls/Gates modifiers very similar to the Abbey?  In particular, I worry that it diminishes something that we discovered was an unexpectedly fun aspect of using them:  Walls/Gates not only help players escape traps, but they also open up a lot of clever new tactical avenues for joining features or blocking attempts to join features.  The members of your group who are more adept at trapping may really enjoy exploring and exploiting these new tactics and find that they at least partially compensate for the loss of successful trapping outcomes.

...each unused Modifier would be worth 5 extra points during the end of game scoring...
Did this work?  It is interesting.  My concern is that with the Abbey-like rule, it may often require more than one modifier to escape a trap, and the increase in points may not offset the "cost" of the modifiers.  Of course, there is value to getting the meeple back, even if that is interestingly difficult to quantify.  But a meeple trapped in a half-moon city while attempting to join a city might be best left abandoned?  I suppose that is the intention of the rule, so maybe it does work?

While thinking about this during idle time of holiday travel, I thought of another approach you could use to help players escape traps.  This is totally untested, but maybe you can adapt it...

Absolving Abbot
On any turn when a player does not "move wood", the player may place their Abbot next to any meeple, indicating their intention to abandon the feature occupied by that meeple.  On the next turn, the player must use their "move wood" action to remove the meeple.  And on the next following turn, they must use the "move wood" action to remove the Abbot.  If at that time the Abbot is the only meeple in the feature, the player scores points for the feature as if it were the end of the game.

This allows a player to abandon a truly hopeless feature, but at the very considerable cost of locking up their Abbot and not placing new meeples for 3 turns.  If this is found by experiment to be too "expensive" you could have the Abbot and meeple depart the feature together on the second turn.

Anyway, thanks for providing a thread for this important topic.  I often find new players don't enjoy the trapping tactics and it is always good to have a lot of ideas to ease them into the game, as you suggest.

Looking forward to hearing results of any play-tests with these ideas...

Offline kothmann

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Re: The Art of the Un-Trap
« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2021, 02:18:55 PM »
While thinking about this during idle time of holiday travel, I thought of another approach you could use to help players escape traps.  This is totally untested, but maybe you can adapt it...
Or you could just include Das Fest in your games!   ::)

Happy Nee Year.

Offline PapaGeek

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Re: The Art of the Un-Trap
« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2022, 07:21:21 AM »
Our group of 4 met for Dinner and 3 games on New Year’s Eve.  We argued a bit over if unused “Tile Modifiers” should give you 5 points at the end of the game or cost 5 points at the end of the game.  Final answer no points either way!

The first game did not include Modifiers and had two four sided holes, so we decided on the no points approach and played the next two games with 4 Modifiers each.  Wouldn’t you know it, when there was now a way out of a four sided hole, non appeared in either game!  There was some talk about one of the players caught in a 3 sided hole, should they make it worse by creating their own 4 side hole so they could use Modifiers, but that didn’t happen!

Hopefully we will keep trying the idea on future game nights!


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