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Being Kind To Be Cruel #1


Being Kind To Be Cruel #1

Simply put, winning at Carcassonne is about making sure you have more points than your opponent(s). Generating as many points as possible for yourself is the obvious way of going about this, but sometimes it can be easier to build a winning lead by reducing the number of points that your opponent will receive when the final scores are calculated. One way in particular that this can be achieved is by merging your opponent's farms. Obviously this will increase his majority of farmers on the farm in question but if it's not something you're competing for, this shouldn't matter and you can easily knock 3, 6, 9 or more points off of his final total. In a close head-to-head game this could be enough to make all the difference.

Consider the following scenario. You're Blue and all of your meeples are in play. You're placing the final tile of the game which is a straight bit of road. Part of the playing area is shown below:

The obvious choice seems to be to extend your own road northwards as this will also score an additional point for the adjacent cloister (+2 points for blue):

However, on this occasion it's actually better to give a point away to Red by extending his road:

Even though it extends Red's road, adding the tile here will make his second farm worthless and the 3 most northerly cities will now be scored once rather than twice.

To understand the kind of difference this could make, let's take a look firstly at what the scores are before the tile is placed:

Blue: 10 (Cloister - 7, Road - 3)
Red: 30 (Farm #1 - 18, Farm #2 - 9, Road - 3)

Now lets look at what the final scores would be depending on which of the suggested tile placements is followed:

- Tile used to extend Blue road (+1) and cloister (+1) gives 2 points to Blue: final score = 12 - 30 (point difference = 18)
- Tile used to negate Red's second farm (-9) and extend Red road (+1) reduces Red score by 8: final score = 10 - 22 (point difference = 12)

So by merging Red's farms, Blue can reduce Red's lead by 6 points over what it might be if he places the tile to generate 2 points for himself.

Feedback?  :D

EDIT: changed wording of summary to clarify final outcome in terms of points


Great stuff! This comes up a lot especially in the end game and your article does a great job explaining the concept that adding to your own features isn't always the best move. The example situation is a great one.

I would suggest a small change in the last paragraph to clarify the math. You had...

--- Quote ---"You can take the 2 points for the road/ cloister and lose 9 points to your opponent's second farm meaning you end up 7 points behind based on the scoring of these features. Or you can leave the two easy points, give your opponent a point but rob him of 9 in the process meaning you end up 8 points ahead!"
--- End quote ---

I know what you are getting at, but I think it's a little confusing to describe the first move as "7 points behind" and the second as "8 points ahead." Sounds like there is a 15-point swing between these moves, but there isn't. Your opponent already has those 9 field points points and will earn them at the end of the game unless you do something to affect that. You are evaluating two possible moves: one that only gives you points and one that both gives and takes away points to/from your opponent.

Suggest something like this: "You could use the last tile to simply take +2 points for your own road and cloister, but the better play is to give your opponent +1 road point while robbing him of 9 field points. This move results in an 8-point swing in the score differential in your favor -- a 6-point improvement over the road/cloister move!"

I guess the simplest way to describe the choices in this situation would be, "I can either give myself 2 points or take away 8 points from my opponent." Perhaps that's the way to state it at the end of the article?

What do you think? Hope this is helpful!

Thanks for your feedback, I too felt that some clarification was necessary so I've reworded the last part of the post...


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