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Topics - kothmann

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Anything Else / R.I.P. Klaus Teuber
« on: April 06, 2023, 04:28:54 AM »
Sad day.

Nice tribute here.

Other Games / Favorite Tile-Laying Games
« on: March 23, 2023, 12:50:00 PM »
I am interested in other tile-laying games and want help from anyone who is interested.  First a bit of background....

I found this great thread with a lengthy index of tile-laying games:

In fact, it was the last post in this thread that led me to Land vs. Sea:

And from there to Fjords:

And then to double-sided Carcassonne and double-sided Fjords:

I am in the process of making double-sided variants of Tsuro and Days of Steam, though I was also persuaded by @danisthirty (Tsuro Review) to give the official version of Tsuro another try, and did enjoy it.

I prefer tile-laying games where there is no board, and a minimum of extra "equipment".  Land vs. Sea can be played with nothing but the tiles, for example!  Tsuro has only a single dragon marker per player.  Fjords has only 2 types of wood bits, and they are placed in distinct phases of play.  Days of Steam has a bit more complexity, and is my least favorite (it seems to have a dead Forum on BGG, and having only just bought a copy, I think I see why).

I prefer the randomness of the game to come only from the tile drawing.  And I like a lot of player interaction, not "simultaneous solitaire" (though I think this aptly describes Chinese Mahjong, which I do very much enjoy).  And I prefer each turn to present a reasonable number of choices, with clear risks and rewards and some tactics, but with enough randomness and complexity that it won't be useful to over-think things, so you can make a decision in a few seconds most of the time.  (As you can tell from all of this, Carcassonne is by far my favorite game!)

So...what tile-laying game should I try next?  I would be especially interested in games that meet most of my preferences but perhaps have a hand of tiles, because I think games like this are candidates to be improved by eliminating the hand of tiles and making the tiles double-sided!   >:D

Thanks in advance to anyone with suggestions.

Reviews & Session Reports / I Love the Landscape!
« on: March 01, 2023, 06:33:50 PM »
Inspired by the I Love the Postman thread, I thought it would be fun to start a thread for posting end-of-game photo(s).  Add whatever details you want, or just the photo(s).  No game is too big or too small--all Carcassonne Landscapes are beautiful!  Also feel free to add photos of the players if you have them--all Carcassonne players are beautiful, too!

I'll start with tonight's game against my daughter using my Updated Double-Sided Tiles.  Here is the landscape just before and after final scoring.  She (Gray) won over me (Yellow): 199-172.

Hi-Res Version

Hi-Res Version

Strategy Guide / Tactical Tips for Ferries
« on: February 13, 2023, 11:19:18 AM »
I like the Ferries more than I thought I would.  It’s a bit chaotic but fun.

The obvious new tactic is simply to use a ferry to join an opponent’s valuable road.  More than some other expansions, I like this because the opponent often has a chance to kick you out before the road is completed.  So player interaction and tension rise.  Fun.

But are there other more subtle tactics?  I’m especially interested in ways to combine multiple ferry tiles in interesting or unexpected ways.  (I think 8 ferry tiles is too many so I’m thinking of splitting up my set into 2 groups in an irreversible way.  But before I do that, I’m wondering if I might end up losing out on something that is really cool.)

Thanks in advance for any tips.

General / Some Carcassonne Dice Game Observations
« on: December 19, 2022, 02:56:36 PM »
I recently bought the Carcassonne Dice Game on eBay.  As I said in the Postman thread:
My wife and I ... simulated playing a 4-player game, and we discovered the profound value of the "keep a meeple" option!  After two players do this, only 7 dice go to the 3rd player, who will typically throw at least one catapult, making their maximum possible score only 10 points, but it is trickier to build a 6-dice city, so then they end up keeping a meeple too.... My preliminary conclusion is that the game gets interesting and exciting with 4 or 5 players!

A few days later, I started experimenting with the dice, just to see the best way to get a high score.  My process was to roll all 9 dice, then set aside the catapults, as required by the rules, but always re-roll the meeples: I was just trying to get high-value completed cities.  I did this 30 times, and here is a histogram of the resulting number of dice in the largest city (graph from

As you can see, one-third of the time, I did not complete any city!  The average score for my 30 turns was 7.35 points, but the standard deviation was 8.33 points!  (Scoring is 1 point for 3 dice, 3 points for 4 dice, 6 for 5, 10 for 6, 15 for 7, 21 for 8, and 28 for 9.)  Scoring is extremely volatile!  And it would only be more volatile if those scores are doubled because of a reserved meeple!

Since I wasn't trying to keep any meeples around, the only interesting decision I had to make was almost always of the form shown in this photo, with one roll remaining (though it could also be the first roll):

Here there is a 6-dice city that could be completed with the CFCF die, scoring 15 points for a 7-dice city.  Or, I could re-roll the CFCF die and the meeple in an attempt to get an 8-dice city worth 21 points.  I spent an hour or so doing my best to sort-out the math, and I concluded that you should essentially always accept the smaller city.  In other words, even if could have a 5-dice city worth only 6 points, don't roll 2 dice try to get a 6-dice city worth 10: the odds are not in your favor.

I suppose a game-theoretical optimum strategy is to be much more conservative than I was thinking would be best.  You probably need to try to get 3 meeples on most turns, and only go for a big city when you roll a lot of good city segments on the first roll?  But it isn't too hard to get an 8-dice city, so I don't think most people will play that way, and you will run out of turns before someone wins?  The game feels like it is too likely to be won by "shooting the moon" as opposed to at least a somewhat methodical build-up of points with calculated risks and benefits.

Now, I have not yet played a real 4-player game, so I can't say for sure.  But I'm less optimistic that the official rules will turn out to be fun than I was on that first night when I opened the box.

Fortunately, I have developed a variant that we have been playing, and it seems to be quite fun.   >:D

Details forthcoming...

General / Interesting Wagon-Abbot Tactical Interaction
« on: December 10, 2022, 11:51:34 AM »
I almost always use only regular meeples and I only have C1 tiles.  Although I have a set of Abbots, I have very rarely used them, because, as described in this old post by @CarcinFool, there is a simple optimum strategy when using Abbots in a C1 game.  The post also describes how Abbots and Magic Portals combine in what seems to me an undesirable avalanche of points.  (See also the discussion of Abbots in the excellent Element of the Week series.)

But recently I've been experimenting with a variant where all the meeples I have get used, except the regular meeples, and I've discovered what I think is an interesting interaction between the Abbot and the Wagon!

If there is a monastery occupied by an Abbot, you should try to place your Wagon nearby, so you can jump into the monastery if the Abbot leaves.  In a recent play-test, after a monastery with a Wagon was completed, I was able to jump the Wagon a second time into another monastery!   >:D  To me, this seemed to make the Abbot strategy much more interesting and subtle, because you should be even less likely than usual to put your Abbot in a monastery (see footnote), for fear that an opponent's wagon will end up there when you leave.  Unless you were pretty confident that you could get your Wagon onto the monastery before your opponent?!  Or if the only good spot for your monastery is near an opponent's wagon, you would have to try to complete your opponent's Wagon feature before you removed your Abbot?  It just seems like there are many more interesting possibilities than playing without the Wagon.  I will definitely consider adding these two meeples to my games now!

I suppose my "discovery" is kind of obvious and probably something that is already widely known among regular Abbot / Wagon players?  But I searched the Forum and didn't find any threads that mention the Abbot-Wagon interaction.  I did find the Wagon in the Element of the Week, and a link from there to a very nice discussion by @MrNumbers of basic Wagon tactics.  I had previously collected Abbot threads here.  Based on this thread, the Wagon rules changed around the time the Abbot was introduced (with C2? circa 2014?), and most of the Forum posts I found were evidently before that change, I think.

Anyway, I thought this might be of general interest and of course would be interested in others' thoughts or experiences combining these two meeples.  Thanks!

footnote: I assume that since only the Abbot can go in a garden, but any meeple can go in the monastery, you should generally be less inclined to place the Abbot in a monastery than in a similarly valued garden?  After all, if you place the Abbot in a garden and the next tile is a monastery, you can still claim the monastery, but it won't work if the draw order is monastery-garden and your Abbot is in the monastery.  I haven't played C2, so this is just logical inference / conjecture.

General / Goldmines with Magic Portals?
« on: November 28, 2022, 08:09:52 PM »
Does anyone play Goldmines mini with Magic Portals?  Since I never play the full Expansion#3, I have separated the 6 Magic Portals as their own expansion.  I thought they might be really useful with Wheel of Fortune (after the plague), but it seems like the abandoned features are usually roads or small cities, which are easily reoccupied, so the portals are almost never used.

But while playing recently, I noticed that the 4 monasteries on the Goldmine tiles are often unoccupied because the player wants to make a quick grab of the gold bars by completing a road or city on the tile.  So it seems like a great opportunity to include the Magic Portals.   >:D

Just curious if anyone else has combined these elements and how it worked out.  Thanks!

General / Does Anyone Play with Shrines?
« on: October 12, 2022, 12:05:15 PM »
I have been experimenting with the official rules for Shrines, and found that they are rarely interesting and often cumbersome.  Most of the time, a player who would be initiating a challenge will have fewer surrounding tiles at the moment the tile is placed, so will be at a disadvantage, and thus decide not to challenge.  Or the challenge ends in a boring tie.  The result is that the rules mostly just restrict placement of tiles.  These are not new observations, and the problems seem to contribute to an overall low ranking for Count, King, and Robber.

I have been searching for variants, but not found much, save one interesting (as usual) idea from @Leven that makes use of the Cemetery expansion.

So, I guess I'm wondering if anyone has a different point of view about official rules for Shrines, or can suggest a variant that is worth a try.


General / Wheel of Fortune: Tips for Tactics & Best Expansions to Use?
« on: August 02, 2022, 12:13:53 PM »
I'm hoping to have a few games with the Wheel of Fortune soon, and I'm wondering about tips for tactics and also what expansions work best?

Here are my thoughts, but would love advice from those who have actually played.

Adjustments to Basic Play:
  • Be more eager than usual to have two knights in a city, particularly when there are multiple pennants in that city.
  • Place farmers earlier--you will probably have chances to remove them later and they can bring you points from the wheel even if you aren't winning that field.
  • Similarly, be more likely to place monks, because you can get points from the wheel and have a chance to remove them.

Placing a Meeple on the Wheel:

I started with some math.  The distribution of pig motion distances are: 11 one tiles, 5 two tiles, and 3 three tiles.  So, the chance that the pig hits the next space around the wheel when the first wheel tile is drawn are 11/19, or 58%.  The chance that it hits the second space on the first tile is 5/19, or 26%, but it will also hit the second space on the second tile 58% of 58% of the time (33%), so the total chance for hitting the second space on the first two wheel tiles is 59%.  By similar math, the chance of hitting the third space on the first time around is 65%.

Since you don't want to wait too long to get your meeple back, you should always pick the first or second spot after the pig, preferring the one that pays 6 points if there is no other meeple on that spot?

Expansions to Use
  • Magic Portals Because of the Pestilence wheel space, there will be empty features, so these should 6 tiles should be useful?
  • Traders & Builders Because 17/19 wheel tiles are roads, it would be good to make cities more exciting?
  • Flying Machines Because of the city-heavy Traders tile mix, it might be good to add some more roads and open fields, as well another way to sneak into features?
  • Shrines Still more tiles that are heavy on roads and fields and create empty features after a challenge? (I'll actually be using the volcano tiles from P&D as surrogate shrines.)

Looking forward to hearing other thoughts.  Thanks!

Other Games / Fjords Tile Distribution & Drawing Odds
« on: July 15, 2022, 12:18:57 PM »
After @Decar convinced me to get a copy of Fjords, it was inevitable that this post would happen.  But it isn't mere compulsion: I think the information is also interesting.

Here are the tiles, organized by topology of features (Plains / Mountains / Oceans):

The lovely artwork varies on repeats of a given tile type, but the feature connectivity is always the same on a given tile type.  Unlike normal Carcassonne and Land vs. Sea, the topology here is best described by focusing not on the edges, but rather on the corners of the tiles, like the 45-Deg Rotated Carcassonne variant of @wolnic.  So, the tile in the top right is PMMPOO.  Incidentally, in my limited experience, focusing on the corner compatibility makes it much faster to figure out where a tile can fit on the landscape.

With three feature types on a six-sided tile, someone who understands Burnside's Lemma (not me) can tell you that there are 92 possible corner configurations, excluding rotational symmetries (assuming I googled it correctly).  But the photo above shows only 23 types of tiles!  Pretty interesting that the gameplay allows such a limited set of tiles: mountains and oceans are essentially just dividers for the plains and all tiles have a single plains region (except the MMMMMM).  Rather than estimating quantities from the shadows in the image above, here is a table of the distribution (some tiles are marked with a small "3" or "4" indicating the minimum number of players for which that tile is to be used):

The rules require that all tile placements touch at least 2 other tile edges, which means they touch 3 corners.  So, here is a table of the percentage of tiles on which each of the 27 possible three-corner sequences occur:

One potentially useful fact: if a tile is to connect oceans and mountains, there must be plains between them.  Also plains alone or any non-alternating combination of plains and mountains (PPM, MPP, PMM, MMP) are roughly 50/50.  One limitation of the table is that you are not allowed to create a disconnected landmass, so even if a tile fits, it might not be playable (e.g., a POOOOO tile cannot be placed in a 2-tile OOO hole, because the land would be a new island).

I haven't played enough yet to glean much else from this.  The only other observation I'll share is that the revised (2022) rules call players to choose a tile from a "shared hand" of 4 tiles placed face-up on the table.  Having watched several YouTube videos of games being played, this really seems to slow things down.  I'm going to start learning and playing with the original Carcassonne-like rule of drawing one tile and discarding it if it cannot be placed.

Curious to know if anyone with more experience has other insights about the tile distribution.  Thanks.

Other Games / Land vs. Sea (Hex Tile-Laying Game)
« on: July 11, 2022, 07:15:55 AM »
Wife and I finished first game with official rules last night:

The game is elegant and beautiful and quite a lot of fun.  Think Carcassonne without meeples!  Simple summary:
  • Players maintain a hand of 2 double-sided tiles and take turns placing a tile. Some tiles allow a player to take 2 turns (like the builder) or "steal" a tile from their opponent's hand.
  • Players score 1-point/tile when their type of area (Land or Sea) is completed.
  • The player who completes an area scores 1-point for each "X" in the area. (Like trade goods except immediate points.)
  • The Sea player scores 1-point per connected coral tile when either player places a tile with a coral edge that joins another coral edge.  Land scores for connected mountain tiles.

There are also optional rules for Ship/Caravan and Waypoints, but we didn't use these.  Interestingly, when these rules are omitted, the final board position contains all the information to determine the score [Edit: this is wrong; see reply]!

Tile Description & Distribution
There are 60 double-sided tiles in the box, with 58 tiles placed in two stacks for "drafting" into the players' hands.  You can see the top side of tiles in both stacks when drafting, so you have partial information.  Players must keep their tiles in front of them with that side face-up, but they may look at the back side.

The two non-drafted tiles are:
  • Start Tile: this is a LLLSSS tile on both sides.  I thought it would have been more clever to put a LSLSLS tile on the reverse side, to allow a choice of beginning conditions, particularly because there is no LSLSLS tile in the game!
  • Vortex/Volcano Tile: this is the only LLLLLL/SSSSSS tile in the game and it is placed automatically any time a player creates the corresponding hole.  I thought this was clever and novel and might be an interesting Carcassonne variant, perhaps with the Cathedral and a RRRR cloister.

There are 14 ways to place two edge types on a hexagonal tile.  Here is the distribution, showing both sides of the tiles, as well as the total number of each of the 14 combinations.  The non-drafting tiles are omitted, so there are a total of 116 = 2*58 combinations:

I made this figure before playing the game, hoping to get some insight.  But it turns out that it didn't seem to matter very much during play.  You have four tile sides to choose from on most turns, and my crude "probability of getting a matching tile" analysis showed that the odds are generally very good, so having the right tile is not nearly as important and exciting in this game as it is in a typical Carcassonne game.  At least as far as I can tell so far [Edit: this is misleading; see reply]

Notes on 2-Player Game Play
  • Upon reading the rules, I really disliked the two-tile hand.  Experience with Carcassonne suggested that this could slow the game terribly, particularly with a few members of my extended family with whom I might try to play the game.  I also just thought it was inelegant and unnecessary.  I was wrong.  I discovered through self-play testing that without the two-tile hand, areas are too difficult to close and the game devolves to a battle to close one huge area.  So, we played official rules, as noted above.  It turns out that often having the tile you want actually allows play to move plenty fast.
  • The "X" rule is great.  You can often complete an opponent's small area to minimize a loss, or even score a small win, because some tiles have 2 or 3 X's on them.  Note that 5X's represents a 10-point swing in relative score.
  • Although the Coral/Mountain rule is optional, it is really essential.  Building a Reef/Range really racks up points: in the game shown above, Sea scores 2+3+4+5+6+7+8=35 points total for the 8-tile Reef, while Land scores 2+3=5 several times for Ranges.  The threat of a massive scoring run should compel an opponent to block a growing Reef/Range, leaving a player time to complete a large open area, particularly if they get a "Play Again" tile.
This last point and many others are in an amazing post on BGG, by someone who is somehow associated with the game.  In addition to a nice summary of tactics and strategy, the post says that a strategy book is in development as well.

Multi-Player Variants
I haven't tried the asymmetric 3-player game yet, nor the 4-player team version.  Since I strongly prefer to play Carcassonne as a multi-player game, I'm really interested to see how this goes.

I know a lot of folks on the Forum prefer Carcassonne as a 2-player game, and I think many of you would really enjoy Land vs. Sea as well.

Reviews & Session Reports / Father's Day (US) Game with Family
« on: June 20, 2022, 10:14:18 AM »
First time to play since our game in Scotland, this time we were scattered around the US, so we used Zoom plus my gameroom again.

Usual 61-tile Old-City variant.  Here is the landscape before final scoring:

Final Score (proportional farm points): Blue 84, Black 82, Yellow 62, Red 56.

Reviews & Session Reports / Family Game in Oban!
« on: June 06, 2022, 10:24:40 AM »
In late May, my family travelled to the highlands of Scotland.  It was the first time the four of us were together in 2022 and our first time in this lovely part of the world.  While we were in Oban, we made time for one game of Carcassonne, with 73 tiles and some variation of my old city rules.  Lots of fun, and not just because of the wonderful local whisky.   >:D

Reviews & Session Reports / Great Game with Family on
« on: April 23, 2022, 10:27:19 AM »
First the online venue: I know a lot of people play at various sites that "know the rules" of Carcassonne, but we prefer to use  This is an interesting free site that lets you host a great variety of games and you can totally customize the setup!  So, I made a "deck of cards" that is Carcassonne tiles, and then added a "board" that is just an 11x11 grid and some pawns to represent meeples.  The site knows nothing about the rules of the game and this is perfect for us, because we play house rules!  You also need your own chat or video: we use Zoom.

You can check out the setup we played today:

That link will expire if no one uses it for 30 days, in which case you can use the toolbox menu on the site to import this configuration file.  It includes all of the tiles from the base game, I&C, T&B, K&S, plus a couple others.  You can use the toolbox to set how many of each type of tile you want in the game.  It is really quite nice!  The interface has been improved so you could replace the pawns with images of meeples, and make other things fancier, but we just want the great gameplay.

Now the game: Had a great game with my family today: kids joined from Virginia and Houston.  My wife prefers a small game, so we used a mix of 60, with 5 regular meeples and 1 Large meeple per player.

House rules: proportional scoring for farms and the Cathedral city, plus one bridge and one gate/wall.

Here's the end of the game, before final scoring.  Yellow ended up winning by just 2 over Black and 4 over Red, with Blue a not too distant last place.

General / A Very Nice 177-Tile Mix
« on: April 02, 2022, 07:39:48 AM »

(High-Resolution Version)

I’ve been playing with this mix of tiles and I think it gives a very balanced game.  I thought it might be fun just to see the tiles sorted by edge combinations, so here it is.  The 176 tiles + start tile is in line with @Christopher’s 2016 definition of a “normal large game”.  We often play with a timer, taking 2 more turns when time is up, rather than going through the whole tower (which these tiles nicely fill).  Because of the large number of tiles and inclusion of at least 2 of all edge types, it is a bit as if the tiles are drawn from an infinite supply with some statistical distribution, so counting is pretty unimportant, which is good for our group.  Anyway, here is the list of tiles:
  • Wheel of Fortune Base (72)
  • Exp#1 I&C (18)
  • Exp#2 T&B (24)
  • Exp#3 P&D (30)
  • Flying Machines (8 )
  • Hills (9)
  • Wind Roses (5+1 Start Tile)
  • King & Scout (5)
  • Belagerer (5)
I originally had Das Fest (10) and Games Quarterly (10) in place of Flying Machines and Hills, bringing the total to 179.  But if you look at the tile mix, DF & GQ are both VERY heavy on roads ending in cities and distinct edge combinations (for example, those two include 3 additional CRCR tiles).  Flying Machines & Hills are really great for restoring the balance, so DF & GQ went into my “small game” box with the base game and some other minis.

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