Author Topic: The Barbarian Report: Searching for a Sign (The Signposts)  (Read 242 times)

Offline Whaleyland

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The Barbarian Report: Searching for a Sign (The Signposts)
« on: April 21, 2022, 01:18:18 AM »
Can someone tell me the way to Carcassonne? No? Okay, well is there a sign somewhere? Oh my... there are signs EVERYWHERE! Or so it seems with The Signposts, yet another annual promotional expansion available exclusively from Hans im Glück. I suppose in a game where road-building is one of the major mechanics, it was inevitable that road signs would appear. But have they really appeared? And who is marring my beautiful landscape with these unsightly arrows?! Darn, I've begun my review already...

Corn Circles III
* Aliens Have Invaded Again – At first it was strange shapes in corn fields – now it is strange arrows beside Roads. When will these strange occurrences end? Carcassonne has long abandoned some of its more visually pleasing elements in favor of blunt gameplay features, but The Signposts are definitely near the top in obviousness. Large arrows sit beside every road of this 12-tile expansion, and they are as ugly as they are easy to read. They less resemble Signposts (which, by definition, require both a sign and a post) than garish painting on an otherwise green lawn. They might as well have called this expansion "The Arrows" and just admit that's what they are.
* Math is Hard – If the arrows don't bother you, the sheer amount of math involved with this expansion may. You see, to make the most of your Signposts, you need to collect multiple ones – one of each type, in fact. But these must be valid Signposts for them to count, so if you have a tile with a Road that goes in the wrong direction or that dead-ends, then that won't work. Confused yet? And don't get me started on the tile with the two curving Roads, or the roundabout Road. Keeping track of what's a valid Road or not on a long Road can produce headaches. Tylenol is recommended.
* Now now, Stop Fighting, Children! – By this expansion – at last count number 761 – there have been a few Road-focused expansions released. You have the Wagon, the Inns, the Robber Baron, The Ferries, The School, German Castles, Bridges, Labyrinth, The Tollroads, etc. Some of these multiply Road points, some redirect the Roads, some give bonuses. And now this expansion encourages you to do some urban planning (in a "luck-of-the-draw"-based game, no less). Indeed, it could directly contradict some of the cards in the more recent The Gifts expansion. And in usual Hans im Glück fashion, the rules instruct you to simply only play this expansion with the base game – any other combination is at your own peril. Woe to ye who tries to play with several Road-based expansions at once!

Roads Get Around
* Expanding Out to the SuburbsCarcassonne has always had a tile balance problem. While the base game had a fairly safe ratio of Road-City–Monastery, most of the expansions have thrown this some to increase the benefits of its own features. Inns & Cathedrals included a lot of tiles that made large Cities and longer Roads. Traders & Builders was all about City-building. Princess & Dragon was more about sheer volume of tiles so that the Dragon could spread out its wings. This expansion is all about Roads, and the designers smartly realized that more Roads were needed to optimize it, so all 12 tiles have at least one Road, and there are some real gems, including a Roundabout and a Road-over-City. There are also balance-correcting tiles such as a new Monastery and Garden, and half the tiles feature City segments. In other words, this expansion is great for someone who wants a whole lot more tiles without imbalancing their feature ratio.
* Clarity Can Be A Blessing – Say what you want about the terrible visual look of the arrows, but at least they are very clear, which is more than can be said about other expansion features (looking at you, 20th Anniversary expansion!). And the different colors help differentiate the directions of the arrows, which is very useful for calculating the multipliers.
* More and More and More – Math is terrible, yes, but multipliers can really be awesome once you overcome the challenges. Carcassonne has never included a proper multiplier feature before, so it is certainly a novel development. If a player scores a Road with one type of valid arrow, they get 1 extra point per valid arrow. If they score a Road with two different valid arrows, each valid arrow get 2 extra points. And if they have all three different valid arrows, they get 3 extra points per arrow. The points can really add up if you make a long enough Road with several valid arrows on it!

Inconclusion
The Signposts is really a mixed bag expansion. The vast number of well-balanced tiles is a wonderful addition to a Carcassonne collection, but the arrows are ugly at best. The rules are also very fiddly, although the potential return in points can make it worth figuring out. Perhaps the price of this expansion is its saving grace: it's quite affordable from Cundco.de and can be added to an order without usually increasing the cost of shipping. So while I can't strongly recommend this expansion, there's no reason to avoid it either.

Playability: B
Affordability: A
Compatibility (with other expansions): C+
Aesthetics: C+
Learning Curve: B-
FINAL GRADE: B-

Linkback: https://www.carcassonnecentral.com/community/index.php?topic=5893.0

Offline dirk2112

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Re: The Barbarian Report: Searching for a Sign (The Signposts)
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2022, 05:47:51 AM »
Good write up!

I agree, but I would have given the aesthetics a lower score.  Those arrows are UGLY!

We have played twice with it and on a shared road we were able to get all 3 sign posts once.  I think twice one of us was able to get 2 different posts.  Mainly we used the tiles to close off other features and the signs were frequently not pointed the correct way.

Neither the wife or I liked it enough to include it frequently.  At the same time we didn't dislike it either. 

Ferries, Inns, and bridges are a lot more fun in my opinion.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2022, 05:50:39 AM by dirk2112 »

Offline Meepledrone

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Re: The Barbarian Report: Searching for a Sign (The Signposts)
« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2022, 07:45:51 AM »
Great review!

I'm dying to see these arrows involved in a Mega Carc game. I imagine they will get diluted in the expansion salad... ???

+1 merit from me.

Questions about rules? Check WICA: wikicarpedia.com

Offline kothmann

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Re: The Barbarian Report: Searching for a Sign (The Signposts)
« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2022, 09:36:05 AM »
Thanks for the review.  +1 merit from me too.

So while I can't strongly recommend this expansion, there's no reason to avoid it either.

Neither the wife or I liked it enough to include it frequently.  At the same time we didn't dislike it either. 
Ferries, Inns, and bridges are a lot more fun in my opinion.

Good tiles + weak gameplay = great candidate for House Rules!  I play only C1 so I don't have the expansion (I play a C1 variant with similar overall "blah" reviews from my family), but here are a few musings:
  • Placement of a road that makes a signpost correct gives the active player an extra turn (like the builder), regardless of who controls the road?  Would you be willing to give an opponent a signpost in order to draw again?  Not the 3rd different one, but maybe the first or second of the same kind?
  • Placement of a road that makes a signpost incorrect causes every meeple on the road to "get lost" and be removed from the road; this would count as the "moving wood" action for that turn (so you can't place a meeple on the tile when you placed that tile in a way that is incompatible with a signpost).  The road could be reoccupied later as long as the tile being placed is not incompatible.  This would make it very risky to try to score a lot of points with signposts, because you could get kicked off?  Actually, all roads become risky... Probably just chaos, but also maybe exciting?
  • Could you require the meeple to commit to being interested in signposts, for example turning sideways or upside down to indicate that he is a "guide" and doesn't conflict with a regular thief on that road?  With different scoring rules.  Or something.  Complexity is often bad but maybe interesting here...
  • Other ideas?!

Thanks again for the review.


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