Bruce's Carcassonne Variants & Wonderments

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Variant #14: Archabbot

Bruce Kothmann
United States
Pennsylvania
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From gallery of kothmann

Definition (What?)
The Abbot becomes an Archabbot with the following changes in rules:
• The Archabbot may be placed in a city, road, or field, under the same conditions for placement, and with the same effect on scoring, as a regular meeple.
• On any turn when the player does not place a meeple, the Archabbot may be removed from any incomplete city, road, or field, scoring no points.
• The Archabbot retains the power of the Abbot with respect to placement and scoring of monasteries and gardens.

Examples (How?)
In the image below, Yellow places a monastery and deploys an Archabbot. Red scores 5 points for the completed road and the Red Archabbot is returned. The Yellow tile placement has left a CFRF hole, which cannot be filled in a game using only the base tiles, so the Yellow monastery will never be completed. Thus, on the first subsequent turn in which Yellow does not place a meeple, they should remove their Archabbot and score 8 points for the incomplete monastery. Black's regular meeple is trapped on the incomplete road, but Black's Archabbot farmer still has a lot of good prospects, despite the permanently incomplete city at the center of the board, so Black may decide to leave the Archabbot in place. If Blue leaves their Archabbot knight in the incomplete city until the end of the game, it will share 5 points with Red. At the early stage of the game shown, it would likely be best for Blue to give up on the 5 points and recall the Archabbot on a subsequent turn in which Blue places no meeple.
From gallery of kothmann

Explanation (Why?)
We like the idea of each player having one meeple that is immune from trapping. No matter the situation, a player will always have at least one meeple that can be made available for deployment. Allowing the Abbot to escape from all features while also scoring points would be an Omnipotent Abbot, which is too granting too much power.

Options (What if...?)
This variant can be combined with Variant #1, the Large Abbot, and/or with Variant #2, the Absolving Abbot.

Interactions (With Whom?)
We don't play with the expansions that involve removal or capture of meeples, so we don't know how to manage this variant with the dragon or tower. But otherwise, it seems to present no new issues.

Discussion
As I wrote the last dozen or so blog posts, I realized that I really don't care much for all of the specialized meeples in the Carcassonne expansions. Perhaps the Abbot is the exception that proves the rule.

To be fair, we do usually play with the Large meeple from I&C, but, perhaps as a result of playing a good bit of Carcassonne für 2 lately, I may be ready to abandon "Mr. Big". The Builder from T&B is our second favorite, because it is tactically interesting. But I have come to prefer Variant #9, Mason's Lodge: in general, I think "fixed wood" that modifies a feature for all players is more interesting and elegant than a specialized meeple, especially in a game with a relatively small number of tiles.

So why the Archabbot? We like to play what many people call an aggressive, or even hostile, game. In general, players should make the move that maximizes the point differential in their favor. For us, a big part of the fun of any game comes from figuring out the best move and how it changes with circumstances. But we also recognize that trapped meeples and incomplete features are a bummer, especially for players who don't want to think too hard. Variant #7, Walls & Gates, gives players a couple of useful "get out of jail free" cards. And the Archabbot is another.

Games should be competitive and interesting, but also fun.

Updates
2021-04-19: Original Post

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