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Subject: One of the Best Intro Games rss

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todd barker
Canada
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Carcassonne is a game that helped open the doors for Euro Games for many people, it was one of the first games I started with and in the beginning I made sure to get the latest expansion. However there are so many great games that come out every year and my life got so busy that I forgot all about this wonderful game and my copy ended up...well I actually have no idea where it ended up.

I borrowed a copy from my local gaming store and showed it to a couple friends last night. Other than scoring details I didn't have to even look at the rules it all came back to me fairly quickly but much to my surprise I ended up placing last? This is one of the greatest intro games around and this review is going to explain why.


Gameplay:

The gameplay is really very simple, you turn over a tile, place it somewhere so that all of its edges match up (a road cant run right into a field and your castle cannot have a field for a wall, etc) and you then have the option of placing a wooden man on the tile or not. Where you place the man determines how you will score points. Here are the options for placing your workers:

Castle: A completed castle is worth 2 points for every section as well as 2 points for every 'shield' or pendent. Only the player with the MOST workers will score points, if there is a tie players will split the points. Completing a castle results in your men inside being returned to you. At the end of the game every incomplete castle tile and pendent is worth 1 point.


Road: Each section of road is worth 1 point to you, if you complete the road your men on it are returned to you. At the end of the game unfinished road sections are worth 1 point each.


Farm: A well placed farmer can turn the entire game around. Your farmer is not returned and once you place him you cannot get him back until the end of the game. However at the end of the game every castle inside your farmer's field will score you 3 points. Fields are separated by roads, other tiles and non existent tiles. You simply trace the field around and any castle inside of it scores you 3 points, I recommend scoring farming last and using your wooden people that you are not using anymore to mark castles so you make sure to score them all and make sure not to double score one.
The sideways men mark which castles are inside the farmer's field

Monastery: When you place a monastery you are trying to form a 'cluster' that is all the areas adjacent to the monastery including diagonals. If you finish your 'cluster' your man is returned and you score 9 points. At the end of the game unfinished clusters award 1 point for every adjacent tile and 1 point for the monastery tile itself. It is a good idea to hold 1 worker back in case you draw a monastery tile.


Components: The tiles are solid quality as are the wooden men that have become a staple for euro games. The base game comes with a free 'river' expansion. If you want to expand your Carcassonne collection there are mini expansions that include a few tiles and meeples and expansions that include a wheel of fortune, a tower, a catapult. Although the artwork seems a little outdated and does look a little old Carcassonne is more than 10 years old now, its a classic and remains a great starter game.

Who is going to enjoy playing Carcassonne? Simple. Everyone.

Family Gamers: There is no conflict or adult themes in this game, you are simply placing tiles to complete different structures and placing wooden men to claim the structures as your own. The mechanics in the basic game are simple enough that anyone can play so its fun for kids and adults. There is no text involved so simply explain the different ways to score and I can almost guarantee Carcassonne will be a hit!

Casual Gamers: Carcassonne hits a number of points on the head for casual gamers. It is light (there are not a ton of rules) it is fast playing (our game was about 30 minutes with 2 people having never played) but there is still enough to the game that it leaves you wanting to play again. Even with the simple mechanics there are still a ton of choices to be made and different ways to score this gives options and options get people hooked. Carcassonne is a great game on its own and can be used as a great bridge to get into more advanced games.

Gamer Gamers: There are tons of expansions out there for Carcassonne and adding a couple of the right ones can make the game more complex for advanced gamers. Plus for people with strategic minds there is a lot more going on, you can look at the number of tiles left and plan if you should try to finish your castle or bother starting something new, you can use your pieces to block other players and if you play your tiles right you can sneak into a castle that someone spent the last 10 turns building. There are a ton of options and if you add the expansions you can turn Carcassonne from an intro game into something much much more.
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Matt
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Dothan
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Quote:
The base game comes with a free 'river' expansion.


I don't know if the expansion just started being given for free, or if they used to do it and just stopped, but I bought Carcassonne a few weeks ago and it's just the base game. Since you did borrow it from a game store, are you sure they didn't just have the river expansion tiles thrown into the base box?
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Duncan
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vyran wrote:
Quote:
The base game comes with a free 'river' expansion.


I don't know if the expansion just started being given for free, or if they used to do it and just stopped, but I bought Carcassonne a few weeks ago and it's just the base game. Since you did borrow it from a game store, are you sure they didn't just have the river expansion tiles thrown into the base box?


A lot (possibly most) of printings have included the river, I've had mine for years and it did. I don't know the details of editions of the game that haven't had this expansion in but obviously there is one which doesn't.
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Matt
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Dothan
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Strange. I wonder if the box that includes it actually specifies the bonus expansion (I imagine it does) or if it's just a freebie for picking out the right printing.
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todd barker
Canada
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I've never heard of the base game not including the river expansion for free but I do know you can buy the river separate so I imagine it would have had to been printed without the river at some point
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Peter
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Well for what it's worth:

In the Netherlands, my copy of the base game came without the River expansion. And I'm pretty sure the River expansion was included with the first expansion, which is simply called 'The expansion' (in dutch), but is in fact Carcassonne: Inns & Cathedrals.
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Warren Davis
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Jacksonville
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This is an AWESOME starter game. I highly recommend it, it's girl friendly, & just. plain. rocks. Meeple on, brother!!! meeple
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Adam Kazimierczak
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My base game came with the River and it said it would in fine print on the box.

This is still the quintissential gateway game and the only euro my wife ever agreed to play.
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Nick Shaw
United Kingdom
Sarratt
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My copy of the base game, from Rio Grande, purchased Dec 2010, didn't come with River expansion. And still doesn't on the version you can buy from Amazon (at least here in the UK) or in the shops (again in the UK). I bought my copy of River 1 from ebay for £4. It's good for growing the game play area very rapidly, but I find it makes for massive farms around the river.
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Matt
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Dothan
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hermeticmage wrote:
it's girl friendly


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Mark L
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toddbarker wrote:
I've never heard of the base game not including the river expansion for free but I do know you can buy the river separate so I imagine it would have had to been printed without the river at some point

It didn't come with the River initially, of course, because the River (being an expansion) didn't come out till after the base game! But for years the Rio Grande version did come with the River included (though AFAIK it always said clearly on the box if it included it).

My copy, bought just over 3 years ago, did include it. But not long after that, they stopped including it. A couple of months ago, Rio Grande lost the licence, and Z-Man Games have started printing it with the River included again (but of course some older copies without the River are still floating around).

So the English language version didn't, then did, then didn't, and now does! meeple

Other expansions have at times been included in other versions of the game (eg. Corn Circles in the current German edition, The Festival in the 10th anniversary edition) ...
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Matt
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Quote:
So the English language version didn't, then did, then didn't, and now does!


That's about as much sense as I figured it would make.
 
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todd barker
Canada
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I would have thought they would have tried to keep things consistant but I guess the important part is that the river is included once again
 
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Matt
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I just visited the store where I got Carcassonne, and sure enough, the vanilla Rio Grande version has been replaced with the Z-Man version including the rivers. Guess I just had poor timing.
 
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Kim Possible
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Rio Grande initially printed Carcassonne without the River, then added it, then removed it to save printing costs (preventing a price hike for the game).

The new printing by Z Man Games includes the river expansion once again.
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Dice Man
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WereIdes wrote:
Rio Grande initially printed Carcassonne without the River, then added it, then removed it to save printing costs (preventing a price hike for the game).

The new printing by Z Man Games includes the river expansion once again.


they should have put both rivers in it
 
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John Goodhand
United States
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Sooo... besides the RIVER expansions (#'s I & II ), what is your favorite other expansion to add to the base game???
 
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Mark L
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Johngee wrote:
Sooo... besides the RIVER expansions (#'s I & II ), what is your favorite other expansion to add to the base game???

That's a commonly asked question, just because there are so many expansions out there! Answers vary, of course, but the two that are most commonly recommended are Inns & Cathedrals and Traders & Builders.

I definitely recommend Inns & Cathedrals; it changes the game deeply yet subtly, so that it doesn't really feel different, just better. It feels incomplete without it to me now!

Traders & Builders is also excellent but IMO isn't at its best if you only have 2 players.

Of the small expansions, I'd say far and away the best is The Phantom. There's not a huge amount to it, but it really adds an interesting and fun twist to the game. I don't actually think the rivers are all that great, but of course opinions vary.
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John Goodhand
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xipuloxx wrote:

Johngee wrote:

Sooo... besides the RIVER expansions (#'s I & II ), what is your favorite other expansion to add to the base game???

That's a commonly asked question, just because there are so many expansions out there! Answers vary, of course, but the two that are most commonly recommended are Inns & Cathedrals and Traders & Builders.

I definitely recommend Inns & Cathedrals; it changes the game deeply yet subtly, so that it doesn't really feel different, just better. It feels incomplete without it to me now!

Traders & Builders is also excellent but IMO isn't at its best if you only have 2 players.

Of the small expansions, I'd say far and away the best is The Phantom. There's not a huge amount to it, but it really adds an interesting and fun twist to the game. I don't actually think the rivers are all that great, but of course opinions vary.

I totally agree with your statement above, which I bolded (if that's a word?). I've played Carcassonne so many times over the years - trying out each expansion as it became available and introducing new players into the fabulous world of Euro style games via its meeple placement, that it doesn't FEEL complete without the I&C and B&T expansions included.

Whenever I attend a local gaming event, I bring along a large briefcase that holds my FOUR versions of Carcassone. Then if I meet someone from CANDYLAND who has never played any board games besides MONOPOLY and LIFE then I bring out #1, my vanilla copy with only the River-1 expansion which takes less than 45 minutes. If I am with family members who have played it before, and just want something quick and light hearted after dinner, then #2 hits the table. It includes expansions: River-1 and River-2, Inns & Cathedrals, Traders & Builders, King & Scout (which should have been called "King and Robber Baron"), The Phantom, and the seven new mini's (The Flier, The Messages, The Ferries, The Goldmines, Mage & Witch, The Robber, and The Corn Circles 2) ...are also in this box. One or two of these might be added in for variety, but not always.

Now if I am with friends who are quite familiar with most of the expansions' mechanics AND they are in "The Mood" for some serious Carcassonne-ing, then I'll bring out #3 which has the basic game of course and in addition to both Rivers, I&C, T&B, K&S, and The Phantom, it has The Cult and Seige (without the still blank Creativity tiles), The GQ#11 tiles, The Princess and Dragon, The Tower, and The Catapult. A funny story about The catapult expansion: there is only one person I know that can accurately use this device to land one of those stupid tokens even cose to the game board, so we have relegated it to kitchen duty as an extra set of salad tongs and come up with this House Rule - if you draw a tile with the carnival tent, place it and either play a follower normally on a feature OR immediately score 5 points if you have an available meeple that you can send to the circus for some R&R. However this makes the phantoms extremely powerful and we might have to rethink the value of this new feature. These games usually last all evening, about 3 hours.

I also have a 4th version that contains all the same expansions in #3 plus: The Abbey and Mayor, Bridges, Castles & Bazaars, and The Count, which has gotten a bad reputation among the people that I game with. Hmm, it seems that I have not been keeping up with the latest news as I was not even aware of The Tunnel, The Plague, The School, The Houses, or The Compass Rose expansions, which the competionist in me says that I must acquire. I am looking forward to the day that I can find five other people willing to toss all of these cardboard tiles into a gunny sack or pillow case and keep playing into the wee hours of the morning with an abundant supply of snacks and adult beverages close at hand.

It is really hard to say which expansion is my favorite, they all add a new dimension to the game and keep it interesting. It would depend upon whom I was playing with and how competitive they wanted to be. Analysis Paralysis really annoys me. I enjoy playing for FUN and place my tiles almost intuitively, sitting back, and watching the metagame unfold. You can learn a lot about a person's personality by the way they act and react while playing Carcassone.
 
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