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Topics - danisthirty

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1
General / Carcassonne by Forums 2023
« on: January 18, 2023, 07:15:45 AM »
Hello all.

Back in the dim and distant past, we played a 5-player game of Carcassonne here on the forums. It took around 2 months to play but there was so much banter and tomfoolery between those of us who were playing, and the community in general, that it became quite an event and was certainly something of which I have a lot of fond memories. I recommend having a read through the original thread if you're interested to know more about how it panned-out. :(y)

I would love to see something similar being run again as it really brought the forums to life while it was running, not just for the players but for the spectators as well. Before we get bogged down in the detail though, I'd be interested to know how many people would be keen to take part if something like this were to be run again. Just to give you an idea though, the game would work as follows:

1. Players are determined, meeple colours are assigned and a starting player is chosen.
2. Starting player has a tile drawn for them at random (by me) and takes their turn by recreating the existing landscape at home and adding their newly drawn tile to it, placing meeples as required and then sharing the newly updated landscape back to the forum. Their turn is now over.
3. Scores are adjusted, then I draw a random tile for the next player and play continues in this way until all tiles have been placed.

It can be a bit of a chore recreating the landscape each time (especially towards the end of the game with so many tiles and meeples in play) and it was easy for mistakes to creep in so you'll either have to build out the game somewhere where it won't be disturbed for a number of weeks/ months or be good at putting it back together again in order to share each of your updates/ turns.

Like I say though, before I get too far into the detail it'd be good to know if anyone here would be interested in being part of the next game. So please, if this sounds like fun to you, give me a thumbs up below and we'll see what happens...

2
Reviews & Session Reports / WTCOC Friendly Match: UK vs. Portugal
« on: January 16, 2023, 05:25:13 AM »
It's been a while since the last World Team Carcassonne Online Championships, but 2023 will see the running of not just the annual World Teams Championship but also the bi-annual European Teams Championship. After months of hibernation, the UK team have been attempting to prepare ourselves for these upcoming championships by embarking on a series of friendly matches against opposing teams; the first of which took place yesterday evening with five of our members taking on five members of the team from Portugal.

To recap on the rules, a match consists of five "duels" with each duel being a best of three games between two players. 24 hours before the match is scheduled to be played, both teams submit a numbered lineup listing the names of their five players, and each of these players plays their duel against the similarly-numbered player from the other team. The match is decided based on whichever team wins three or more duels. All games are basegame only and the starting player alternates between the first two games, and is chosen randomly for the third game (if one is required to settle the duel). Everything is played online at BGA and all duels are played simultaneously, starting at a mutually convenient time that has been agreed between the two team captains (and their teams).

Portugal have always been a team that the UK has struggled with. They have some great players, including one who - somewhat confusingly - was declared UK champion in 2020 when there was no in-person Carcassonne championship so the UK Games Expo decided that that year's MSO Carcassonne championship should also serve the duel purpose of being the UK's championship. But this aside, when I first saw their lineup for our friendly I was unfamiliar with the majority of their players and assumed it should be a fairly safe win for us based purely on the Elo ratings and Win percentages of the players we were playing against. Oops.


Duel #1: FanaticalLime93 (1) vs. Priskus (2) :-\
#1: 99 - 67 to Priskus (watch game here)
#2: 100 - 79 to FanaticalLime93 (watch game here)
#3: 103 - 84 to Priskus (watch game here)

Duel #2: statmatt (2) vs. sisi (0) :)
#1: 111 - 78 to statmatt (watch game here)
#2: 102 - 91 to statmatt (watch game here)

Duel #3: ted the notty bear (0) vs. JMargarido (2) :o
#1: 100 - 82 to JMargarido (watch game here)
#2: 91 - 76 to JMargarido (watch game here)

Duel #4: danisthirty (2) vs. Paiva (1) 8)
#1: 84 - 80 to Paiva (watch game here)
#2: 97 - 95 to danisthirty (watch game here)
#3: 103 - 80 to danisthirty (watch game here)

Duel #5: wallaceprime (0) vs. Glovir (2) :-[
#1: 114 - 79 to Glovir (watch game here)
#2: 115 - 113 to Glovir (watch game here)

(you probably need to be registered at BGA in order to be able to watch the game replays linked to above)


This made the final scores 3 - 2 in Portugal's favour. Not quite the result we were hoping for, but it was still a great evening of international Carcassonne for us and we enjoyed the games and the experience very much despite the outcome. Thanks to the awesome Portuguese team, and congratulations on your win. :(y)

My next aim is to setup a match against our rivals from the Netherlands, and then hopefully Hungary next month. I'll be sure to share news of these friendly matches as soon as I'm able.

3
News and Events / UK Games Expo 2023
« on: January 04, 2023, 01:27:35 PM »
Yo dudes, hope you're all settling into the new year nicely.

The UK Games Expo is on this year between Friday 2nd June and Sunday 4th June. This is always a big highlight of the year for me as the UKGE hosts the UK Carcassonne championships each year, but there's much more to it than just this. It's definitely worth a visit as long as you're into boardgaming, and especially if you happen to live anywhere near the NEC in Birmingham where it's hosted. Plus there's usually at least 4 or 5 members of CarcC in attendance so it's a good excuse for a meetup!

Please post below if you think you might be interested in attending. Hope to see as many friendly faces there as possible! :)


4
Other Games / What have you played this year?
« on: December 21, 2022, 02:07:44 AM »
Yo dudes.

With 2022 drawing to a close now I thought it might be interesting to see what games besides Carcassonne everyone has been playing this year. I'm especially interested to know what games (old and new) you've played for the first time and have enjoyed playing, and how you discovered them?

For me, Board Game Arena has been central to my discovery of new games as there's always so much to choose from that some of them are bound to stick! Thanks to some of my BGA friends who invited me to play with them, I've discovered four of my new favourite games: Cubirds (2018), Draftosaurus (2019), Happy City (2021),  and Next Station: London (2022). They're all very different games, and while nothing will ever steal the position of "top game" from Carcassonne, it's good to have a bit of variety every now and then.

More recently (within the last month or two) I've discovered a number of great 2-player games too. I have a long history of playing Bandido (2016) on BGA with @Halfling but since reaching more than 500 games between us we've both been keen to branch out a bit this year. Tranquility (2020) - and to a lesser extent Tranquility: The Ascent (2022) - was the first such game that we came to settle on as a strictly 2-player game, but we've since discovered Dragonheart (2010) and Lost Cities (1999) which are pretty much permanently on the go now as well.

How about you? What have you enjoyed playing (besides Carcassonne) this year?

5
Strategy Guide / Carcassonne Tips: "When the tiles are against you..."
« on: November 11, 2022, 05:23:36 AM »
"You can't out-think bad luck."

Often, inexperienced players will lose because they're oblivious to everything you did during a game to maximise your chances of success, and will simply say that you were lucky at the end of it. This is mildly infuriating, but it's also something I want to be clear that I'm NOT saying here!

In Carcassonne, you have to plan to benefit from the most likely outcomes. There can be a lot of maths, strategy and tile-counting behind this, but even at a very basic level you wouldn't plan to take control of a city via a cccc tile if you can see that the only cccc tile has already been placed elsewhere since the chances of this succeeding would be 0%! So you try to give yourself the best possible chance based on what knowledge and information is available to you, as what's probable is by definition likely... but not guaranteed!

Consider the situation where you have a nice city waiting to be closed. It needs a ccfx tile to complete and your opponent has created an opportunity to kill it by potentially pointing a road into the gap unless you defend it on this turn. Thankfully your tile is a cfff which is ideal, but how best to rotate it? Looking around you can see that three of the four cccf tiles have already been placed giving you a 50% chance of finishing the city if you point the city cap into the gap. Alternatively, just two of the ccff and one of the ccff splitter tiles are out meaning there are four tiles that would fit if you use the tile to create a ccff gap which you'd have a 15 in 16 (93.8%) chance of filling. So which do you choose; the 50% win or the 93.8% win? That's not even a question as we all know what the right thing to do is in this situation and a lot of Carcassonne is about understanding this and making decisions which give you the best possible chance of success.

But like I say, nothing is guaranteed, and in the example above, having created the ccff gap, I wouldn't be at all surprised if my next tile was the final cccf and then my opponent laughs smugly and berates me for making a "bad move" to unsettle me. Next goes the other splitter (to my opponent), swiftly followed by all three of the remaining ccff tiles which seals the fate of my newly-ruined city. If I'd just rotated the tile the other way I could have have completed the city and won the game! But why would I have done based on what I knew at the time? It remains the correct thing to have done even though it didn't work out on this occasion, which can make situations such as these especially difficult to learn from. If you want to take away something positive from it then maybe focus on what else you might have done to have hindered your opponent or generated points for yourself elsewhere in the game. Could you have won despite the city being incomplete?

Ultimately though, never beat yourself up for doing the right thing. Sometimes the tiles are just against you (and sometimes they're not!)

6
News and Events / Dan Goes to Essen: An Adventure Story (2022)
« on: October 14, 2022, 06:09:12 AM »
Wednesday...

I was ready and waiting when Tom arrived at my house at 06:30. I loaded my things into the car and we set off on our way to Ashford; the adventure had begun (but not until we'd been to McDonalds)!

Having parked the car, we grabbed our stuff and walked up to where Willem was waiting for us by the entrance to the car park. Tom and I loaded our stuff into his car and we set off again, this time for the channel tunnel! Disappointingly there was almost nothing to report throughout the entire duration of our journey apart from a brief pit stop at a petrol station for lunch. It wasn't for long though, and pretty soon we had arrived in Essen and found our way to the hotel. After checking in, finding our rooms and unpacking our bags we got back in the car and drove to the Messe where we were able to park, then explored Essen again as we walked back to the hotel, stopping at HANS IM GLÜCK for a burger and a beer on the way.

In an attempt to buy a round of beers from a little pizza restaurant-shed opposite the hotel, I did what any Brit abroad would do to break through the language barrier by asking for three beers, in English, but loudly and slowly. I was surprised not to be congratulated for the incredible effort I'd made, but rather the guy just stared at me blankly. Thankfully Willem was there to say almost exactly the same thing as I had done, but apparently they understood him and got us three beers, which I attempted to pay for, but couldn't because they wouldn't take a card. If this was the way things were going to be for the rest of the week/ weekend I might have just sat in the hotel crying, but luckily Willem also paid for the beers and then we sat outside on a park bench next to the empty outdoor seating area that they didn't open for us despite possibly suggesting that they might. Still, at least the spiders loved us. A bit too much in fact.

We didn't like to outstay our warm welcome at the charming pizza place and headed back to the hotel once we'd finished our drinks. The bar in the lobby was open and there were plenty of tables so we sat down and embarked on a game of Phase Ten accompanied by a few beers while we waited for Hector to arrive. And when he arrived, he arrived in style with an entire large suitcase full of Carcassonne boxes for Willem, and gifts for all of us! Our little gang was fully assembled at last, and we were all ready to take Essen by storm over the next few days!




Thursday...

It's worth pointing out that while I had perhaps three or four people who had asked me to collect Spiel 22 and/ or Ukraine promo tiles for them, Hector and Willem had been asked by dozens of people between them to make sure that "spare" Spiel 22 and Ukraine promo tiles were reserved on their behalf. I wasn't quite sure how they were going to achieve this given HiG's "one tile per customer" rule that appeared to be in place, but predictably there was no way of validating which customers had already received a tile and so it became a case of one tile per transaction (provided the transaction was for more than €20) which was much easier to manage. This did however mean a lot of standing in line as the queues at both HiG booths were far longer on the Thursday than at any other point during the Spiel and there was a constant (unfounded) worry that they could have sold out at any point. So while I spent my first morning patiently waiting in line with Hector to spend our money and grab our tiles, while Tom and Willem did the same at the other booth before we switched booths and repeated, I had as much as I needed after four or five visits whereas Hector and Willem spent pretty much the entire day queuing on behalf of so many others who couldn't be there. Please remember this if you received a tile from either of them; they're both very generous people but it was a lot to sacrifice.

Since Tom and I were slightly less committed to buying ALL the Carcassonne, we found some time to try out a new Kingdomino game ("Kingdomino: Origins") which was a fun distraction but not something I'll be rushing out to buy. We also managed to visit the UKGE booth for a cup of tea and grabbed some lunch before the 2pm fan meeting. It was wonderful to see so many familiar faces again and to hear stories about what everyone has been up to since we last spoke. So much so that I would gladly have spent the rest of the day there with everyone, but we all had places to go and games to play so it wasn't to be. We took a quick selfie together and then, sadly, everyone was on their way again.

Tom had other adventures on which to embark so I spent much of the afternoon with Willem and Hector who eventually decided to take a break from the HiG booths for just long enough for us to go and play some giant Carcassonne! We hadn't really intended to actually play it, but it wasn't the sort of thing you turn down when asked and before we'd even had a chance to say "Yes, we know how to play Carcassonne" our minds had already begun merging into one super-brain with the sole purpose of beating a random woman who turned up with her boyfriend. This is what we were led to believe anyway, it's entirely plausible that she may actually have been a superior Carcassonne AI robot sent back in time to humiliate us by beating us at our own game in front of a bunch of spectators. But the singularity was unsuccessful on this occasion and the three of us breathed a sigh of relief (and guilt) as we were deemed victorious!

Our first day at the Spiel ended with a few more trips to the HiG booth for Willem and Hector and then a game of "Dorf Romantik". I didn't know what a Dorf is (and still don't), but it certainly wasn't very romantic either so overall it was a very misleading title. The game was awesome though, and we all enjoyed the simple tile-laying combined with the co-operative, goal-driven mechanics that led to an exciting game that we were all very much involved in. I didn't buy it, but Tom and Hector tried to before learning that it was already out of stock and would return the following day. It was time to leave, and there were burgers waiting for us at Burger Heart. We celebrated a successful first day with some amazing food and plenty of beer to wash it down with, then made our way back to the hotel and went to bed.





Friday...

It was Tom who had the idea that we should take some biscuits to the people behind the HiG booths as a token of our appreciation for all their patience and hard work on Thursday. This did however mean buying not only two boxes of biscuits, but two "Thank You" cards that we also needed to write before we could present our gifts to their delighted recipients. Tom was a man on a mission though, and if the future of our planet ever comes to depend on giving biscuits to someone, I know exactly who to go to (spoiler alert: it probably won't).

Since the four of us continued to liaise and stay in touch using our small Discord group chat, even when we were standing next to each other, it's useful now being able to scroll back through old messages to get a picture of everything we did each day. Or so I thought. But since around 75% of our messages amount to little more than "I'm in Hall x, where are you?" with no responses, it can be difficult to determine what exactly was going on. By contrast, the other 25% of our messages were either "Food?" or "Beer?" which usually seemed to warrant an immediate response of "On my way" or "See you there" which doesn't help much either, other than to provide the insight that we remembered to both eat and drink while we were there, which I already suspected we had done anyway.

As well as giving biscuits away, a highpoint of the day was meeting Linksux/ Edwardo and spending a while catching up with him. We went on to have another team game of giant Carcassonne where Edwardo and I took on Willem and Hector in an epic clash that was decided by just one point. It doesn't matter which team won though, so please don't ask. Really. It doesn't matter. Nobody cares, it's over. Alright?

It wasn't a popular choice among the others, but I quite enjoyed playing "Trending Kittens" which Willem, Edwardo and I sat down to play mostly because we'd rather be sitting down than standing up while we waited for Tom to come back with drinks. Somehow though, and assisted largely by the fact that I was inadvertently ignoring my phone whilst trying to help the vampire kittens thwart the evil zombie and alien kittens, Tom struggled to find us when he got back even though we'd only moved slightly to prevent people from queuing up behind us for something that we didn't want to be in a queue for. But we were all so happy to finally be reunited again that we had to have another game of Trending Kittens to celebrate and I came last again. "Stupid Kittens" more like...

Tom and I played a particularly competitive game of "WeyKick" which is almost certainly still being analysed by professional WeyKickers over at WeyKick Central, and will be for some time. Despite being a fun game, I felt at the time that I only had 66% of the required number of hands to fully grasp the subtle intricacies of the game's strategy and so mostly ignored my goal-keeper as my other two footbally people were good enough by themselves to snatch a massive 1,234,567,890 vs 123,456 victory for the blues! Our final game of the day was "Hiroba" which I didn't really grasp on account of not caring to listen when the rules were being explained as I wasn't expecting to play it. I might have enjoyed it more if I'd known what I was doing, but that's always the case for me. So much so that I should probably have it written on my headstone. Profound.

We rounded off the day with an adventure into the centre of Essen by train, and then walked up the highstreet to FrittenWerks where we dined on a variety of awesome chip-based delights. My dream of playing a full game of Super Mario Carcassonne was short-lived when I received word from Melvin that his train was nearby, so Willem and I dashed back to the train station to meet him. Melvin is a very dear friend of mine, and someone I've been looking forward to meeting for years so this was certainly another highpoint of the weekend for me. Willem and I met Melvin and Theus at the train station and helped them to find a nearby hotel where some of their friends were staying. We stayed for a while and exchanged gifts, boxes, tiles, meeples, cameras and large sums of money before bidding them farewell until tomorrow. But as we were leaving, we met up with Tom, Hector and Edwardo again so they came in to meet our new Brazilian friends and we did it all over again!

We walked back to our hotel, considering where we might be able to buy beer along the way with increasing urgency as the walk continued. At one point we stopped outside what appeared to be an Indian restaurant but were told it was closed, despite being open, and so then visited a dodgy off-license where the two proprietors quickly hatched a dastardly plan to murder us before taking pity on us for not being able to work out how many beers were required for four people to drink two each. I knew that being bad at maths would save my life one day, and today it did. Although we never actually drank any of the beers we'd bought as we were all quite tired by the time we got back to the hotel and so decided to go pretty much straight to bed (but only after we'd all helped Hector to create a future Quiz of the Week of course).






Saturday...

Saturday was a great day all-round. Shortly after arriving at the Spiel, Willem and I taught Hector how to play Next Station: London. I wasn't sure I'd done a very good job of explaining the rules, but thankfully he enjoyed it so much that he went off to buy it almost before we'd finished working out our final scores! Soon after, we met a couple of Koreans at the "Lucky 6ix" stall who were absolutely delighted to meet Willem. They also had a very cool tile-dispenser which looked a bit like a vegetable slicer (but wasn't). It was love at first sight for Hector who spent the next infinity billion years demonstrating the elegant simplicity of this wonderful device to anyone who came anywhere near the stall. In fact I'm pretty sure he'd still be there now if we hadn't dragged him away...

Tom had booked us a demo of a game named Village Rails which we went over to play next. It seemed like a very neat game with a lot of strategy, and I loved that it came in such a small box, but it took me a while to feel as though I'd got the hang of it and time was short so we had to rush off just as it was all starting to make sense. I'm glad we did though as our next stop was the CarcC/ CarcF/ CarcX fan-meeting which was another huge highlight for me. I won't list names (or nicknames) as there were so many people to meet and greet and our time together seemed to pass in the blink of an eye.

Shortly after the fan-meeting I realised that it was now getting quite late in the day and I'd forgotten to remember to eat anything. Hector was hungry too, so we paid a visit to the burger vans outside the Galleria (a street between the main halls and the smaller ones) for a burger, and since they were selling them, a beer too. When Tom joined us we all had another beer, and when Willem joined us we did the same. Then UK champion Chris Wallace (@wallaceprime) joined us, as did Melvin Quaresma and Brazilian champion Theus, and the pattern continued. There were of course other things I had wanted to see, but in that moment there was nothing I wanted more than to be sharing a special few hours with some very special friends, and so that's pretty much exactly what we did #essenhighlight.

Understandably, the rest of the day was a bit of a blur. We had made plans to eat at another burger place and so headed there from the Spiel, stopping at another little bar along the way (the one where I tried to pretend to be 13 so that the waitress couldn't serve me another beer, but she did anyway, even after I showed her my driving license {which proved that I'm 42 so I'm not quite sure how this was supposed to have helped, but whatever}) before meeting up as a group of ten, or eleven, or twelve for food.

After the meal, we somehow managed to organise enough space in the back of Willem's car for both Hector, me and our combined Essen haul between the four of us so far, and drove back to the hotel (kudos to Willem for not drinking) for a particularly challenging game of Carcassonne that consisted largely of Ukraine tiles, Spiel 22 tiles and a selection of other random tiles that had been signed by friends at our fan-meeting earlier in the day. The game was complicated by the fact that we only had two meeples between us, and further still by the fact that Tom and Willem insisted on introducing new rules that always seemed to work in their favour every time they placed a tile. This aside, it felt important enough not only that I should take a photo of it but that Willem should take a photo of me taking a photo of it, and that Tom should take a photo of Willem taking a photo of me taking a photo of it. Downside: Hector and I lost (probably). Upside: I didn't accidentally tell any random Germans in the lift that I loved them (don't ask).






Sunday...

I've come to realise over the years that as much as I enjoy boardgames, especially Carcassonne, I'm much more of a people person than I am a boardgame person and while everyone at the Spiel had their reasons for being there, my own reasons were largely about the people I was looking forward to meeting rather than the games I was looking forward to playing and perhaps buying. So, the Sunday was a big deal for me thanks to one thing alone: the Carcassonne world championships! I haven't quite given up hope of representing the UK here one year, but the opportunity to meet so many excellent players, many of whom I'd already met online through Boardgame Arena, along with the likes of Klaus-Jürgen, Moritz Brunnhofer of HiG and Thomas Moder who organises the world championships every year was always going to be the high point of the trip for me, and I certainly wasn't let down!

There was a palpable "buzz" in the air at the championships that made me wish I could have been a bigger part of it, and an atmosphere of intense focus and concentration during games that made me glad I wasn't! I was excited for Chris as his campaign got off to such an incredible start with three wins from three games before they stopped for lunch, but tried to remain calm on behalf of the other players.

When I met Klaus-Jürgen in 2016 I had a gift for him; a framed Carcassonne landscape which you can read more about here and here. This year I had another gift for him, something in a frame again, but not a Carcassonne landscape. Short story long, Klaus-Jürgen and I have had an ongoing correspondence via email since I met him in 2016 and as we share news of what we've both been doing from time to time, he's always very keen to hear how my kids Jess and Ben are getting on. Jess in particular has always been quite artistic, and he has always taken an interest in this. When I recently showed her a photo of Klaus-Jürgen taken at the French fan-meeting at Carcassonne in August, with a familiar backdrop behind him, she decided she was going to draw it for him, and I decided to put it in a frame and take it to him. So I did.

Meeting Klaus-Jürgen was as magic as I remembered it being six years ago and I'm glad he either liked or did a very good impression of someone who liked receiving a framed picture drawn by an obsessive fan's 11 year old daughter. We chatted for a while and he signed some tiles and a little sachet of some random energy powder that happened to be at the table we were at, but there were a lot of other people, including Tom, Willem and Hector who wanted to meet him so I tried to avoid taking up too much of his time even though I gladly would have done. I also met with Thomas Moder and gave him a grand total of 36 Mr Kipling apple pies. None of them were framed, but he still seemed grateful...

My blood sugar let me down a bit in the afternoon so my recollection of events besides watching most of the quarter-final, semi-final and final games, taking lots of photos and having a slightly awkward chat with Moritz Brunnhofer during which I repeatedly said the opposite of what I'd meant to say, is a little disjointed. I do remember the sad moment we had to say goodbye to Hector though, and then seeing him again half an hour later still saying goodbye to people in the hall. I also remember a sad trudge back to the car, another swift reorganisation of everything inside so that I could fit in, and then saying goodbye to Essen as Tom, Willem and I began our long journey home.

Our long journey home wasn't quite as long as it might have been as we'd decided to stop at a hotel in the Netherlands to break it up a bit. We also broke it up on the way to the hotel by visiting Willem's parents' house to eat apple pie and collect yet more Carcassonne stuff to cram into the car. It wasn't hard to imagine that in the event of a car crash, anyone coming to my aid would have to dig through actual tonnes of boardgames to get to my mangled body, and there was a real possibility that I could have suffocated under a pile of thousands of Carcassonne tiles. But as harrowing as my imaginary near-death experience had been, the worst was yet to come, upon arrival at the apparent safety of an innocent-looking hotel somewhere in the Netherlands...

Truth be told, it was actually quite a nice hotel with a bar that was as open as I required it to be and complimentary ladybirds in every room. The only thing that let it down was that the room Tom and I were sharing was haunted by the ghosts of about two dozen old-fashioned people in a picture that had been positioned deliberately so that they could flash rare Carcassonne tiles at us and lure us into their ghostly dimension in the middle of the night. Neither of us were up for that, so after a couple of beers we slept so soundly that the ghosts couldn't wake us up or tempt us to our doom even with a Spiel 14 and complete set of Russian promos for just 10 GD (Ghost Dollars)! It was certainly a night to remember, but also one to forget. I tried to do both and the resulting confusion caused me to fall asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. Or possibly before.









Monday...

I couldn't quite decide if I was more relieved or surprised when I woke up on Monday morning to find that the ghosts hadn't taken me in the night. But then I realised that I was probably stuck in some kind of loop and that the ghosts didn't want me to know straight away that I now belong to them. Crafty things!

We went from the hotel to a nearby shop to stock up on supplies such as sweets for our kids and baked goods for ourselves, before embarking on the next part of our trip which saw us going to visit a fellow Carcassonne collector named Ringo in Belgium. He was an awesome guy, with an awesome dog, and the three of us were in absolute awe of his collection that had gradually taken over an upstairs bedroom over the last 15 years. He certainly hadn't started collecting yesterday! After a thorough examination of everything on his many, many shelves we all had lunch together before he and Willem shared some obscure bits and bobs and we were back on the long and winding road, this time heading for the channel tunnel.

Our onward journey was fairly uneventful in that Willem drove us back to the car park where Tom's car was, Tom and I got out and then met Willem again at a nearby supermarket to make sure we all had everything we were supposed to have. We bid Willem a sad farewell before he headed back to the Carcassonne Museum, and Tom and I headed back to my house where he dropped me off before making his own way back to Wales.




I could conclude my "short" writeup by mentioning that my son had asked me about what German McDonalds were like four times before I'd even got out of Tom's car, or I could conclude it by mentioning some of the little things I forgot to mention earlier but which I can't now be bothered to go back and add (like the super-tight exit door security wristband uber-Police who I fell foul of). But I can't conclude without devoting a few sentences to my wonderful fellow adventurers who made the trip everything that it was; a long weekend filled with gaming, fun, laughter and occasionally being more than a little bit silly. But the main thing that remained constant throughout the adventure (despite our sore feet) was the companionship of my traveling partners and our shared love of all the things that Essen came to stand for while we were there. I count myself very lucky that they're part of my Carcassonne family, and while we weren't quite complete in that Rich wasn't able to join us too, I already feel confident that any trip away with these guys will always be something that I want to be a part of! Thanks so much chaps; it was an honour to be there with you.



"No word left unwritten"

7
Online Games and Competitions / Our First BGA Tournament - Expansions
« on: July 12, 2022, 01:46:06 AM »
Please vote above and share any additional thoughts here! :(y)

8
Online Games and Competitions / Our First BGA Tournament - Style
« on: July 12, 2022, 01:46:02 AM »
Please vote above and share any additional thoughts here! :(y)

9
Online Games and Competitions / Carcassonne Central on BGA
« on: July 08, 2022, 09:22:23 AM »
Hey everyone. Hope you're all well. :)

I wanted to let anyone who might be interested in playing some online board games know that I've created a Carcassonne Central group at Board Game Arena (BGA). I've invited as many CarcC members as I'm aware of from my friends list, but it's an open group so you should be able to join even without an invite. The group can be found here: https://www.boardgamearena.com/group?id=12347445. Players of all abilities are very welcome and encouraged to join!

BGA makes it pretty easy to organise tournaments in a range of styles (Swiss/ single elimination/ round robin) so my intention is that we can use the group to host CarcC tournaments for Carcassonne (and other games) and have some fun together over a few games of whatever boardgames everyone wants to play without getting too serious about it all.

Please post thoughts/ comments here, or list any games you'd be interested in playing against other CarcC regulars...

I'll update again here in a week or so. Hope to see you there before then! 8) :(y)

10
Online Games and Competitions / UK Mini Teams Championship - Format & Rules
« on: February 08, 2022, 04:25:49 AM »
Overview

This competition is intended mostly to be a fun and friendly introduction to the format used more widely by Carcassonne.cat for the World/ European Online Teams Championships since 2020. It also serves to celebrate how widely Carcassonne is played with the UK, and to broaden the horizons of the existing UK team in the event that any new players would like to join us.


Teams

The “UK Mini Teams Championship” will consist of 6 teams. Each team will be captained by an existing member of the UK Carcassonne team and will include 4 other players.


Format

The competition will operate as a Round Robin between the teams, such that every team will play one match against every other team. Therefore, every team will get to play a total of 5 matches according to the following schedule (this has been updated to double the length of the first round):

  • Mon 14/02/22 – Sun 27/02/22:   First Match
  • Mon 28/02/22 – Sun 06/03/22:   Second Match
  • Mon 07/03/22 – Sun 13/03/22:   Third Match
  • Mon 14/03/22 – Sun 20/03/22:   Fourth Match
  • Mon 21/03/22 – Sun 27/03/22:   Fifth Match

As it’s an online competition, we will be using www.boardgamearena.com (BGA) to play all matches. All players are expected to have their own account there (premium if possible, though not mandatory) and should preferably be familiar with BGA’s implementation of Carcassonne.


Matches

Each week, team captains will liaise between their teams and the captain of their opposing team for that week in order to establish a mutually convenient date/ time for the match. There are no restrictions on this beyond that the match should take place before the end of the week in order that the next week’s matches can begin on time. Once a date and time has been agreed upon, both captains will submit a lineup of 3 players (numbered from 1 to 3) to take part in that week’s match. The players featured on the lineup are expected to change from week to week and will likely depend on availability within the team. It also means that no single player is expected to take part in all 6 of their teams matches, but should take part in at least 1.


Duels

A match is won or lost based on the outcome of the 3 “duels” of which it consists. Each of the 3 numbered players on the lineup for each team will play a single duel against their opposite number on the other team. A duel is determined by the player that wins the best 2 out of 3 games of basic Carcassonne with no expansions. This means that a duel could consist of either 2 games if the same player wins the first two games, or 3 games if both players win one game each from the first 2 and go to a deciding game to settle the duel. In the case of a tied game, the player that went first is deemed to have lost given that they had an extra turn compared to their opponent (regardless of whether this was useful). The match isn’t considered complete until all 3 duels have been completed.


Leaderboard

Teams will be ranked on the leaderboard primarily according to big points (match wins) and then small points (duel wins) and finally by total number of games won minus total number of games lost. Once all teams have played their 5 matches and results have been updated, the team at the top of the leaderboard will be declared the winner!

11
Yo dudes.

As some of you may be aware, alongside my admin job at Carcassonne Central I'm also the captain of the UK Carcassonne team. This isn't necessarily an official title, but in terms of Carcassonne's online World/ European Team Championships I captain the team that represents the UK, and am always scouting out new talent to join our team and share in the fun and excitement of these high-profile competitions.

In order to help welcome new members to the team, we will be running a mini teams tournament which I'm hoping to kick off on Monday 14th February. It will share a similar format to the WTCOC/ ETCOC events, but will be a round-robin format competition between teams of 5, with each match being won or lost based on the outcome of 3 "duels" (a duel is a "best 2 out of 3" between 2 players from opposing teams using the basegame only). This means that 2 players per match can be rested, but it is expected/ hoped that all players will be able to take part in at least one match. Everything is online, and is played via www.boardgamearena.com (BGA) so you won't need to worry about random people turning up on your doorstep to play Carcassonne with you! :o

Full tournament details will be made available soon and I can answer any questions you may have, but for now I'm hoping to rapidly assemble a sixth team as one of the teams dropped out recently and an odd number of teams will mean that one team has to sit out of each round which I'd rather avoid if possible. Which is why I'm writing this post! The five other teams are captained by existing members of the UK team who have drafted in UK-based friends, family members and complete strangers to populate their teams; and now I need to do the same...

So, if you are a UK-based Carcassonne player who would like a good excuse to play some online Carcassonne in a friendly, encouraging environment then I'd be delighted to welcome you to my team! :(y) It would be beneficial if you're already a member at BGA and have played a few games there, and of course it would be good if you already know how to play Carcassonne ::) But where there's a will there's a way, so if this is something you'd be keen to be involved in then please let me know either by replying here or sending me a direct message!

Cheers,
Dan :) :(y)

12
News and Events / Carcassonne Central News #9 - January 2022
« on: February 01, 2022, 05:04:39 AM »
Carcassonne Central News #9 - January 2022


Welcome

Hello there, and welcome back to another edition of "Carcassonne Central News" – the imaginatively titled monthly newsletter summarising the last month of toings and froings here at Carcassonne Central. It's been a little while since I last wrote one of these, over six years in fact! But it's something that I've always wanted to come back to, and now seems like as good a time as any to get the ball rolling again. I've tried to keep it fun and light-hearted, so there's lots to read and enjoy, and a few challenges along the way. I do hope you enjoy it, and look forward to seeing your feedback – good O:-), bad >:D or ugly :@ – below...



Under Starter's Orders

As always, we start at the start with something to help you get your games started! Fans of Squid Game may remember the Glass Bridge obstacle where the contestants had to make their way across a bridge via a series of 50/50 guesses; each guess being between a stable pane that would support their weight, and a fragile pane that would break as soon as they stepped onto it. Thankfully Carcassonne isn't often this dangerous, but I thought it might be fun to mimic this using Carcassonne tiles and meeples in order to create a quick and easy pre-game game to establish a triumphant starting player.

Start by taking ten unseen Carcassonne tiles and placing them face down in a grid that is five tiles long by two tiles wide. This is the bridge! Take one meeple from each player and place them all at one end of the bridge. Everyone chooses one of the two face-down tiles directly in front of the meeples, and puts their meeple on top of their chosen tile. Tiles may be shared by more than one meeple, but both tiles must have at least one meeple on them. As soon as all meeples have been placed, the two tiles are turned over and evaluated based on the number of distinct features on that tile (including fields). The tile with the highest number of distinct features is safe and any meeples placed here will proceed to the next round. Any meeples on the tile with the least number of distinct features are plunged into certain disappointment. If both tiles have the same number of distinct features then any tile that has a pennant is safe, otherwise both tiles are stable and all meeples survive. Repeat this across as many stages as necessary (I suggested five but draw more tiles as required if your meeples are especially good at Squid Game) until just one meeple remains. The player owning that meeple may then choose either to receive €455 billion or to be the starting player. If you don't have €455 billion, they must choose to be the starting player.

left: the six meeple are split equally between the first two tiles as a shady stranger looks on from the other side
middle: disaster for Green, Yellow and Pink as their tile contains just 2 distinct features vs. the 3 on the other tile
right: two rounds later, Blue emerges victorious as his ccrr with pennant beats Red's plain old ccrr



Forum News

Arguably the biggest news we saw this month was about how Carcassonne Central is now under new ownership. Not that there was anything wrong with the old ownership, it was more just that Gantry wanted to pass on the mantle and give someone else a chance to steer the ship. So that's what Decar, Meepledrone and I are now doing, although not literally as the vast majority of my limited ship steering experience has involved crashing. We can't wait to find out what the future has in store for our beloved CarcC though, and are doing everything we can to make sure it involves as much fun and collaboration as possible!

As the news above exploded all over Facebook and Twitter, the forums were starting to feel like the 1000th episode of a popular TV program, with no shortage of cameo appearances from some of the forums regulars of old who came back to the site to say hello, to thank Gantry for his years of hard work and to wish us all the best for the future. I won't try to list all the names that brought a smile to my face, but I will mention that kettlefish and Scott were among them. Scott in particular took the time to share a little about where his life took him when he felt the call to step away from Carcassonne Central for a few years. I won't spoil it, but it's been quite the journey and it was wonderful to read about it.

As far as we know, 2022 looks like it could be another big year for Carcassonne. With new-artwork editions of the basegame and latest Big Box scheduled to be released later this year, you certainly wouldn't be alone if you've ever wondered why there are so many "different" versions of Carcassonne that seem so similar, or what the differences between all the boxes actually are. Yet there's never been a suitably thorough and detailed account of Carcassonne's chronology... until now! Decar (with some help from Willem) has pulled out all the stops to put together this well-written and easy to understand history including details (and plenty of photos) of box art, scoretracks, international deviations and many other points of interest along the way. :(y)

I'm not a big Instagram user personally as I'm usually so hungry by mealtimes that it won't occur to me to take a picture of my lunch until I've already mostly eaten it, and I've been advised by the Police that I could face prosecution if I continue posting 200 selfies a day as - apparently - they "scare children" C:-) :(n). Thankfully, others have found more productive ways to use Instagram, so if you're not following them already please be sure to visit The Carcassonne Museum by Willem and MP Works by MMike. Neither of them ever seem to post photos of what they're about to eat, or selfies, but they do post a lot of fantastic Carcassonne content so please show your support by following them anyway.

Although there was too much in the way of news and discussion for me to summarise everything here, it would be remiss of me not to draw attention to Melvin Quaresma's awesome Carcassonne Everywhere project (you are hereby implored to make the most of this opportunity to be part of it), exciting news about the upcoming MSO Grand prix and Mind Sports Olympiad 2022, and finally Decar's insightful interview with Board Game Arena which takes us behind the scenes of one of the most significant online boardgaming platforms that's used by millions of boardgamers around the world (he posted it in February but I'll allow it because it's such a great read).



What Happens Next? (by Decar)

It's Black against Green in the Carcassonne World Championship final, and you're playing Green! Black draws the first tile and takes an easy 4 points with a cfff. Hate it when that happens! You go next and it's an fffr cloister which you drop on the east end of the road across the start tile, claiming the cloister with your first meeple of the game in the hope that it comes back to you quickly. Black's next turn, and it's an ffrr corner road. He extends the road across the start tile with the open end facing South and claims it. Now it's your turn again, and you've got a crrf to play. What's the plan boss?


I'd love to hear your thoughts on what your next move would be, and why. I have something in mind, but I also have an open mind, so share your thoughts and let's help GREEN become Carcassonne's next world champion! :(y) :green-meeple: :(y)



Member of the Month

The purpose of this little section is to recognise the efforts of those forum members who have championed some of the ideas and initiatives that have benefitted our community throughout the month. Everyone can contribute something (or lots of things) and we're very lucky here in that most people do! All things big and small are appreciated; whether it's acts of generosity such as we've seen from The-Edge with his recent giveaways, or simply just by exuding the sort of enthusiasm and positivity that kothmann and Challa007 have been demonstrating so consistently, it all adds up to making our little corner of the internet something that we can enjoy all the more and be truly proud of. 8)

While we (the admin team) do try to recognise and consider everyone's individual efforts, some efforts are rewarded in different ways, for example by awarding forum badges to individuals who have contributed significantly in specific areas. Recently, Decar announced on this post that oldbonz and Wolnic have both been awarded the "Author" forum badge which you'll now see just below their name alongside any of their forum posts. This is somewhat overdue considering how long they've been with us, but please join me in congratulating them both for the creativity and outstanding artwork that they've both been responsible for over the years.

Our Member of the Month for January though, is someone who promised us last year that he was working on a number of Carcassonne projects that he planned to share with us throughout 2022. This said, he was apparently so excited about the first of these that he couldn't quite wait until January before sharing his Carcassonne Game Notation with us on New Year's Eve! ;D Based on this, I'm sure I speak on behalf of the majority of our members at the moment when I say that I'm very much looking forward to his next project already, and am happy to name DIN0 as our Member of the Month based on this and his many contributions elsewhere across the forums. Congratulations to you, and thanks for all your hard work! :(y)



Carcassonne Knowledge Tester (by Meepledrone and/ or one or more of his imaginary friends)

Dear boys and girls,

Supervisor Nick wanted to share with you some insights about scoring. He noticed during the Advent Quiz that a few answers showed some issues when scoring roads or cities with complex layouts.

The issue stems from the fact that you may get distracted with the shape of the feature and count the same tile multiple times. This may happen  when the same tile has several segments connected to the feature. When you score a road or a city you always count the number of tiles, not the number of segments conforming the feature.

Let's have a look at the following examples showing a road loop with some surprises. The tile bottom right contributes twice to the road loop but we are used to that configuration and we count that tile only once automatically, because it is easy to spot. However, we may get fooled if the tile contributing multiple times to the road is not at one end.

The roads in the following examples have 7 tiles, no matter the configuration of the tile at the center (the tricky one ;)). Let's check each example:



* Example A: The 4-legged roundabout on the Spiel 18 tile is counted only once even if it connects several road segments, one of them even looping back.
* Example B: The tile at the center has two separate road segments connected to the same road. Even so, the tile is counted only once.
* Example C: The tile at the center has two separate road segments, one of them featuring a printed bridge, which allows one road to pass over the other without actually meeting. Both road segments on the tile are connected to the same road, and the tile is counted only once.
* Example D: This example features a wooden bridge. It will behave in a similar way to the printed bridge featured in Example C.

Therefore, Red would score 7 points for each of these roads no matter their configuration (7 tiles x 1 point/tile), since the tile count is what matters, not the total number of road segments in the road.

This said, Supervisor Nick would like to check you've been paying attention. How many points would Red score for this city?



Have fun!



Forum Statistics

Jan 2022  2022 to date  Jan 2021  2021 to date
New Topics72  72  67  67
New Posts1206  1206  1204  1204
New Members538  538  573  573
Most Online102  102  91  91
Page Views460,999  460,999  579,821  579,821

- 1967 fans
- 1852 followers

Total Members to end of Jan 2022: 8273



Homework

Now settle down everyone, SETTLE DOWN, or we'll all be here until half past three... OK? Good.

A previous homework that I set in an old newsletter required you to build the most valuable complete city from tiles in the basic game in order to discover that the most valuable city possible weighed-in at an impressive 84 points! But while city points are always important for keeping your score ticking over, sometimes lots of small cities are better than one big city, especially when farmers are concerned. So, with this in mind, the challenge I have for you this month is to arrange the tiles from the basic game only into some configuration that yields as many farmer points as possible. But to make it more interesting, I'm going to allow everyone three farmers and your score will be made up of the combined score of the three of them. We'll be going over your answers in class next month so please be sure to submit them before then! Here's a hint: DON'T put them all on the same farm ::)



The Last Tile

Thanks so much for reading January's newsletter, and thanks to Decar and Meepledrone for their contributions too of course. Naturally we hope you had a fun time reading it, and that it gave you plenty of Carcassonne food for thought, but it's your newsletter too so don't feel compelled to accept this collection of our collaborative efforts if there's anything else you'd rather see; let us know! I still have plenty of ideas for extra features I'd like to include in future newsletters, but haven't got round to writing yet, so please help to make sure I'm heading in the right direction by leaving a comment below, and I'll be sure to take your feedback on board.

Before I finally sign off for the month though, I'd just like to leave you with these words of wisdom from Siegbert Tarrasch (Polish Chess player: 1862 - 1934). He was actually talking about Chess when he said them, but I feel it applies just as much to Carcassonne (and most games):

"One doesn’t have to play well, it’s enough to play better than your opponent."

See you at the end of February! C:-) :(y)

13
News and Events / Mind Sports Olympiad 2022 - Dates and Grand Prix
« on: January 31, 2022, 06:50:59 AM »
Hi everyone.

Just a quick note to share news of the Mind Sports Olympiad (MSO) upcoming events. For anyone who has never heard of MSO, they're a professional organisation that runs a series of boardgame competitions along with other brain-intensive challenges. They now run many of the boardgame competitions at the UK Games Expo as well as their own separate events.

This year they will be hosting two of their own events; the MSO Grand Prix (online event) and the Mind Sports Olympiad 2022 (in-person event). Full details of both events can be found by clicking here.

The online MSO Grand Prix will be held between Friday 15th April and Sunday 29th May, while the in-person Mind Sports Olympiad 2022 will run from Sunday 21st August to Monday 29th August. Both competitions are international events meaning that boardgamers from all around the world are very welcome, and encouraged to join the fun. But if travelling to London in August isn't up your street, hopefully the online event will be considering the vast selection of games due to be played:



Having taken part in several of their tournaments previously I can vouch for their standards and professionalism, and am already looking forward to seeing how things go with their Carcassonne and Carcassonne + expansions events, as well as a number of other games... :(y)

14
News and Events / Carcassonne Everywhere - a request for photos
« on: January 28, 2022, 04:31:34 AM »
A great friend of mine - Melvin Quaresma - who came second in the 2021 Carcassonne World Championships and is a key member of the Carcassonne Brazil fan community, is a professional photographer. He is currently working on a project relating to Carcassonne and the fact that it is played by all kinds of people, all around the world. Melvin always set the bar very high for himself with everything he does, and this project is no exception in terms of the creative and original ways that he will find to use these photos to share our love of Carcassonne to those who will appreciate them most.

But enough pre-amble; the main reason for this post is to request your assistance in providing more photos of you and/ or your regular gaming group/ friends/ enemies/ partner(s)/ pet(s) playing Carcassonne. Any number of players is welcome. Any number of expansions is welcome (including zero). All we're interested in is seeing photos of people like you playing Carcassonne! People like these:



The only details you'd need to provide are the ones included in the example above: where the game was played, the names of the players (just first names is fine), and which expansions were included (if any).

I hope to see as many people as possible contributing to what is sure to be a hugely successful celebration of Carcassonne's international success, but please don't feel obliged to share anything you don't want to. I'll be sure to share details of his finished project when he is ready for it to be shared! Thanks :(y)


15
General / Tile Counting Apps/ Programs
« on: January 19, 2022, 08:41:55 AM »
If you ever play Carcassonne online either through BGA, JCloisterZone, other websites or any of the phone/ tablet apps I'm keen to hear your thoughts and opinions about the use of tile counting apps. Does their existence spoil the competitiveness within Carcassonne, or do they simply serve to level the playing field between players who can count the tiles in their head and those who struggle to do the same?

Speaking as something of a purist, I like to play competitive Carcassonne online in the same way as I would if I were playing against someone in person, so I stay away from anything that separates Carcassonne when played in person from Carcassonne played via a computer. Naturally this means that I'm not in favour of any kind of artificial assistance, and will avoid them even if they're built in to the app that I'm using to play them on (like on "Quick Games" via the old iOS app that I still play and love). I have plenty of reasons for this, but I've shared the main ones below:

1) Some day I'd love to win the UK Carcassonne Championship, or perhaps even the World Carcassonne Championships 8) so I don't want to get used to anything during practice games that I'll come to rely on and then won't be able to use during championship matches.

2) Tile counting is a mental skill that is part of the game. For me, my knowledge of the tiles, and which are left, is as much a part of the game as deciding where to place whichever tile I've drawn. Having something automatically telling me which tiles are left is akin to someone else telling me where to put the tiles! :(n)

3) This only really applies in certain situations where some people might use a third-party or external tile counting app that isn't provided as part of the platform that is being used to host the game, but it would feel very dishonest under those circumstances to be going above and beyond what's provided by the platform to improve my chances of beating my opponent. For me, a win is meaningless unless both players are playing under the same conditions.

I'd love to hear from you if agree, disagree or have anything to add to the discussion as I know that mine isn't the only opinion. And also, let's be clear, this isn't the place to judge anyone for what they would/ wouldn't do to get their next win. We're all friends here, so let's just have an open and honest discussion about where you think the boundaries of acceptable/ unacceptable online play are.

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