David McMillan
United States
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If you’re unfamiliar with Carcassonne or just need a review, then check out my review here.

Ah, the Tower. This expansion to Carcassonne can be brutal or completely insignificant. I’ve seen it go either way. In the Tower expansion, you get to build towers in an effort to capture your opponent’s pieces, but beware, the towers can be turned against you. There’s no faster way to shut your opponent down that to ensure that they not only have zero meeples in play, but they haven’t got any in their supply either.

Here’s how it works:

- At the beginning of the game, each player is given a certain number of tower pieces based upon how many people are playing. These tower pieces come with the game.
- The Tower tiles are shuffled in with the other Carcassonne tiles and are drawn throughout the game. The Tower tiles are also included with the game
- Instead of playing a meeple on their turn a player may choose to place a tower piece onto any tower tile that is in play
- Upon tower piece placement, that player may look in any of the cardinal directions (north, south, east, or west) from the tower (as well as the Tower tile itself) and, if there are meeples in the tower’s ‘shadow’, that player may select one of these meeples to take prisoner
- The amount of spaces to look depends on how high the tower is. Each tower piece extends the tower’s ‘shadow’ by one extra space in any direction. For instance, if you have a tower that is two tower pieces high, then you may capture one meeple that is within two spaces north, south, east, or west of you or, if there is a meeple on the tower tile itself, you may take that meeple prisoner. No more than one prisoner can be taken.

As you can begin to see, it would be reasonable to imagine a game in which each player has captured the other player’s pieces and the two players are glaring at each other over an empty game board with no way to get their pieces back. Fortunately, this will never happen because there are some prisoner exchange rules in place.

If player A captures player B’s meeple and player B already has one of player A’s meeples in captivity, then a prisoner swap happens immediately and both players get their meeples back. Additionally, any player may pay another player 3 victory points as a ransom to buy at most one of their meeples back. The player who is paying the ransom moves themselves back three spaces on the scoring track and the person receiving the ransom moves themselves up 3 points.

But, wouldn’t it be nice if you could just shut down that tower’s growth permanently? Well, there is a way, but it’s going to cost you a meeple. During a player’s turn, instead of placing a meeple on the tile that was just placed, they may choose to place their meeple on top of a tower that is at least 1 tower piece high. As long as that meeple remains there, the tower cannot grow any further.

And that is the Tower expansion in a nutshell. This expansion, much like the Princess and the Dragon, is all about being aggressive. In fact, these two expansions pair together very well. It’s like they were made for one another. You can use the dragon or the towers to clear your opponent’s pieces out of a city or off of a road and then use one of the warp tiles from the Princess and the Dragon expansion to move your meeple onto it. I call expansions like these "divorce expansions".

If aggressive, competitive play isn’t for you, then you’ll want to avoid this expansion. However, if you’d like to be able to shake things up and make life more difficult for your opponents, then this expansion is right up your alley. This is my second favorite expansion after the Princess and the Dragon. I enjoy the delicate strategy that evolves as you try to avoid the tower’s ‘shadow’ while trying to lure your opponent into it. Nothing beats the feeling of watching your opponent being one piece away from capping off a 30 or 40 point city and then using a tower to take their meeple off of the board. It’s even better when your very next draw is the piece that you need to cap the city. At least, that’s what I think anyway.

Some tips:

- When you draw a tile piece try to place it next to something that you know your opponent isn’t willing to lose. Forcing them to waste a meeple to cap off the tower is missed opportunities for them in the future

- It is possible to use one tower to remove a meeple from another tower. I have used this tactic a few times to get a meeple that I was after

- If you’ve got a meeple that’s stuck on a feature that you’re probably never going to score for and you wish that the meeple were scoring points instead, then consider taking your own meeple prisoner
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Rukebar The Challenger The Challenger
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Actually you can't use the towers to capture other Meeple's already on towers. It states in the rules that come with the game that Meeple's on towers are safe from being taken as prisoner. Although when I play with my girlfriend and were using the dragon expansion, we make it so the dragon knocks down any tower to just its foundation and as normal the Meeple is returned as eaten.
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