Author Topic: The Barbarian Report: Collecting Tolls and Taking Names (The Tollkeepers)  (Read 1749 times)

Offline Whaleyland

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After a year absence (wow, really?!), I have come to once again regale everyone with my magnanimous thoughts on an expansion to a game that I seriously thought five years ago had finally given up the ghost. And just to give a previous of my final thoughts, how are they still pushing out new and interesting expansions that improve gameplay after twenty years?! But I digress. First, THE REPORT!

The Road More Taken
 :-* Novel Approaches – Tollroads are a fact of life, especially in developing areas, or highly-developed areas, or places where road construction is/was especially expensive. And that fact was true even in the Middle Ages, at least in some places. And while I don't know for certain weather medieval Languedoc had toll roads, the idea that it did is not far-fetched and is also very relatable to today. So bravo on finding yet another reasonable mechanic.
 O0 No Costs, High Rewards – Despite the name of the expansion, Tollkeepers does not actually ask anyone to pay a toll, which is a pleasant enough fact. Instead, you just get to collect tolls from Roads. And the mechanics are quite easy since the cardboard is all player-specific. Simply claim a crossroads (yet a new "feature" that hadn't been a thing before) with your toll gate and reap the rewards when any of the connected roads are completed. And make sure to drop those juicy eight Travellers tiles on your tollroads for extra bonuses and the ability to increase (or decrease) your profits going forward.
 :)) Did Someone Say Vanilla? – Basic, feature-less tiles are always a special treat in Carcassonne because they change up the tile tower (or bag) without changing the rules. This expansion includes two tiles, one of which is new in the context of the base game, both featuring "Crossroads" but otherwise not possessing any new features. Toss these into your standard rotation and enjoy varying your game just that much more.

This Road Costs How Much?
 :neutral-meeple: Nude Is Still Not In – While this certainly isn't the first time it has happened, The Tollkeepers is yet another expansion that introduces player-specific cardboard, which means only six players can play it at a time (which I acknowledge is reasonable) rather than the twelve that can hypothetically play using the full set of Hans im Glück brand meeples (which I agree is entirely unreasonable). More annoyingly, though, is that even with games using smaller player counts, people who prefer the better, variant colors must use different color cardboard.
 :-X No Looking Backwards – The Tollkeepers is also another expansion that relies on the new thematic features on the second edition tiles. While you can proxy in bushes and farmhouses from the first edition, there is no guarantee that they have the same balance of features, and not every bush is associated with a specific segment of road in the same way the second edition features are. So adapt wisely and house-rule often to enjoy this if you have not upgraded to the new edition.
 >:D Problems with Promos – The Tollkeepers represents the fourth promotional set in four years to not be linked to some geographic region or branding strategy (the others being The Watchtowers, The Fruit-Bearing Trees, and The Barber-Surgeons). In the meantime, only one new full-sized expansion has released in that time: Under the Big Top, way back in 2017. Although these expansions are all available through Cundco, most people outside of Germany are unaware of this and these remain a real hidden gem in the pocket of Hans im Glück. An official expansion collecting all four of theses NEEDS to come out. And soon. They are treated as random stand-alone outcasts when they could constitute a viable expansion taken altogether.

You would be hard-pressed to find a better stand-alone expansion to Carcassonne than this in recent years. Simple, intuitive rules with basic mechanics completely redefines the Road game and shifts the entire Carcassonne experience just enough to make it feel fresh. Competition between players over Roads and Travellers is a fun new aspect while the abundance of tiles with Roads in the base game means that the Tollgates won't just get used, but they will shift usually a couple times through the course of the game. There's nothing inconclusive about this expansion: get it now!

Playability: A
Affordability: A+
Compatibility (with other expansions): A+
Aethetics: A+
Learning Curve: A-


Offline Meepledrone

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Re: The Barbarian Report: Collecting Tolls and Taking Names (The Tollkeepers)
« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2020, 01:35:12 AM »
Great review, whaleyland!!!

Welcome back! You were missed... And you know it.  ;D

+1 merit from me.  :(y)
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Offline Willem

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Re: The Barbarian Report: Collecting Tolls and Taking Names (The Tollkeepers)
« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2020, 04:38:57 AM »
I've played this expansion only once, but we lived it!

I like the idea of these mini expansions being grouped together as a big expansion!
I was wondering the other day when expansion nr 11 Will come out. Under the big top came out quite a while back, and even though I like the mini/promotion expansions, I like the big expansions to!
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