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Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers» Forums » Reviews

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Erik Gibbons
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If you have not heard of Carcassone, and you are a gamer, you are either a Grognard or have been living without an internet connection for the past five years. Klaus-Jürgen Wrede's award winning classic has been a goldmine that has spawned seeming countless expansions and spin-offs, most of which keep the feel of the original game but provide some twists. So that brings us to Carcassone – Hunters and Gatherers. Instead of medieval France we are transported back to stone-age France. Here your hunters roam the fields looking for mammoths and deer while your gatherers scour the forest looking for food and gold.

Never played a Carcassone game before? They are really simple to learn. There are tiles that you draw randomly (we use a bag) and place orthogonally next to each other matching the terrain types to the tiles adjacent to it. When you have completed an enclosed area you have claimed by adding a wood unit called a meeple (you cannot place a meeple in an area someone else has already claimed, but areas can merge), you add-up the points for the area and record them on the score track. In C:H&G these areas are forests, fields and rivers.

You start with six meeples (one goes on the score track) and two huts. A starting tile that is placed in the center of the board and the game is ready to begin.

Forests are the quickest way to score as they are worth two points per section of tile. You can get multiple points from a tile if there are two or more distinct forest areas that the forest you are scoring are attached to. If you complete a forest that has a gold nugget in it, you get to take one of the twelve special tiles to play immediately after you score the forest. Once these special tiles run out, that is it. You can complete a forest of an opponent and, while they get the points for the forest, you still get the special tile and sometimes it is worth it. When you score a forest, you get your meeples back.

Rivers score when the river segment terminates in a forest or mountain or lake with fish on both ends of the segment and you have a meeple on it. Then you count the number of segments and the number of fish at either end of the segment and take your meeple back. You can also place hut on a river system. A hut allows you score all of the fish in the river at the end of the game.

Fields are the hardest area to wrack up points in, but if done right can score the most points. A field is a plain green area of a tile, some of which have animals in them. The goal here is to get as many animals into your field without being blocked by a forest or river. Once a field is enclosed you do not get your meeple back, it remains until the end of the game when the field is scored at one point per animal. Tigers eat deer in your field at a rate of 1 to 1, so you want to steer clear of putting them in a place that will be in your field (put them in your opponets’ fields). Obviously this sucks up your meeple resources and should only be done if the field has some potential for making big points.

In case of a tie for the total number of meeples or huts in an area to be scored, both players score the area. These twelve tiles are a key part of the game. Most of them are good, some of them are lame. The key ones are the fire (which chases the tigers out of your field) and the Stonehenge which allows you to be the ruler of a field no matter how many other meeples are in the field. The rest are usually worth a good bonus score in points when played in a way that you can score the area they are attached too. Note: If you play a gold tile that completes a forest with gold in it, you do not get to take another gold tile and play again (thanks jgrundy for catching that for me).

Components: Standard good quality cardboard pieces that you would find in any Rio Grande game. The artwork is perhaps this game’s weakest point. The fields are green, the trees are green, the rivers have a pale blue tinge that somewhat blends with the greens. I don’t have a suggestion on how it would be better, but visually the contrast is not exciting.

Rules: The rules are about six pages long. On first play, unless you have played another Carcassone, they can be a bit confusing, but almost everything is explained well when you find it.

I find this game to be a great combination of simple mechanic and thoughtful strategy (certainly not mind wracking strategy). However, there is a definite random element to the game because of the blind tile draw, but there are usually two or three tiles that will get you out of any situation you might find yourself in. No two games will ever be the same because of the random factor which, if you don’t mind the randomness, is a good thing.

Then there is the manners in which you can poach (I usually play two player) your opponents’ fields or forests by placing a meeple in a way that it is in will wind up joining a larger area your opponent is working on. Then there is the race for the gold tiles. Do you close off an opponent’s forest, giving them points, so you can see what that next gold tile is?

Carcassone – Hunters and Gatherers is one of the few games that has not gotten old with a lot of play and I have played it a lot. In the year that I have had it I have played over seventy times, primary two-player with my wife. At $15-$20 that is a lot of game for the buck.

The last part I want to mention about C:H&G is there are not a pile of expansions for it. There is one, the Scout which does not add tiles, but adds roles and special abilities for the players. The people I regularly play with all view that as a distraction to the game, thus maintaining it as a good 30-45 minute game.

Power to the Yellow Meeple Peoplemeeple
 
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Joe Grundy
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One point. Very explicitly in our rules, you can get a most of one bonus tile per turn. If you close a forest with a bonus tile you don't get a second bonus.
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Erik Gibbons
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Huh, imaginge that. We've been playing it wrong for a year now. I have changed the body of the review to account for my error.
 
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Chris Shaffer
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One other point. In the river scoring example, you shouldn't just count the number of tiles. Instead, you should count the number of river segments. If a river loops back to its starting tile, that tile counts twice in the score. The same applies to forests.
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Erik Gibbons
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Kewl. I changed the text for rivers and made the forest scoring more clear.
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