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Subject: First session rss

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Stephen Brealey
United Kingdom
Nottingham
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Having had a resounding success with Ticket to Ride over the Christmas period, I decided to venture further into the Gateway Game recommendations and purchased Carcassonne. My guinea pig this time turned out to be my dear old mum. Not a big boardgamer to start with, and certainly not a strategy gamer. I was a little worried that the eventual, inevitable cutthroat nature of such gameplay would put her off. I needn't have worried...

After a quick glance over the rules we dove into the first game. Both of us were constantly referencing exactly what we were supposed to be doing, and many mistakes were made. There was a bit of confusion over the idea you could complete a segment, pop a Meeple in there, then score it and take him straight out again. That made more sense later when we realised the strategic importance of placing Meeples on potentially lucrative segments vs. keeping them free for opportunistic scoring. By the end of this game though most things had been ironed out. It ended up a draw, 50-50 points.

The second and third games I won quite comfortably, as I'd started to pay more attention to farmers. One thing that did slip us both by though was the endgame scoring of incomplete segments. This also baffled us at first, as it seemed to render the necessity of striving to complete things pointless (roads and cloisters especially, with their 1-point tile values). In fact it was only this revelation that allowed me to win the third game, as I had many Meeples on almost-complete projects.

The fourth and final game was a kicker... I had decided to try a new strategy - something of an 'eggs in one basket' deal - and attempt to build a single large city as a primary focus, with just a few farmers and thieves elsewhere. Well, you can predict how that turned out. Towards the end of the game I was sitting on a potentially 30+ points city, completely unable to finish it off. With four tiles to go (all the bottoms of separate stacks no less, so any of them was available) I needed just one small crescent.

I drew a curved road. Useless.

Mum drew - you guessed it - a crescent city part. Curses!

Two tiles remaining... eeny meeny miny mo... I drew... something (too distraught at this point to recall).

And so to the last tile of the game, fate mocking me further - yes, one last crescent city tile. Mum gleefully placed it somewhere completely trivial. Points were counted up. I was well and truly thrashed.

Overall I was very impressed with the game. After a few fumbles with the finer points of scoring (still a little fuzzy on farmers) it came together quickly. Plenty of opportunity for devious strategies and risky long-term plans, which is always something I enjoy.

Can't wait to play it again
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Billy McBoatface
United States
Lexington
Massachusetts
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You say you're still fuzzy on farmer scoring. Try the German revised rules. Most people agree that they're just as much fun to play, but easier:

Whoever has the most farmers in a single filed earns 3 points per completed city that touches that field.
In addition, two-tile cities are now worth the full 4 points (there is no longer a special case that they are only 2 points).

This scoring system makes farmers score more like the other meeples, plus there usually are fewer fields than cities, so scoring by field is much simpler. These are now the standard rules for the German edition.
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James Davis
Australia
Canberra
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It was a very good session report. this played out pretty much like me and my girlfriends first few plays. After nearly a year of playing this game we have only just got used to the farming.

For better or worse we have chosen not to allow the placement of meeples on a tile that finishes the segment, we tried it and didnt like it. We also dont score unfinished thing at the end of the game because we tried that and felt it also takes away from finishing things.

The problem with carcassonne is having so many different rules depending on what version you have. You just have to find which one works the best for you and your group. That is what we did and it is a fun game that me and the mrs always pull out and give it ago, she is usually the winner!

A suggestion for you is dont buy the expansions until you find the normal game is getting a bit stale. then gradually bring in the expansions, its amazing how complex such a game can get when you plonk in more than 1 expansion at one time.
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Stephen Brealey
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Hmm... that's close to what we were playing (the German rules), except we were scoring 4 points for completed cities bordering the fields. My main sticking point was the actual scope of the fields themselves - whether we should count any stretch of unbroken grass as a field, even if it snakes around the river or several roads before reaching another city. I thought there ought to be a simple tile range per farmer.

I've been out and purchased the Hunters and Gatherers version today but yes, I will hold off on expansions until we're completely happy with how the basic game flows. Considering what James says I think we'll end up with a house rule of no incomplete scoring. It did just feel very wrong.
 
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Billy McBoatface
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Swabbleflange wrote:
Hmm... that's close to what we were playing (the German rules), except we were scoring 4 points for completed cities bordering the fields.
You really need to cut it to 3 with the German scoring. Each city may be touching several fields, so allowing the full 4 points makes field meeples worth too much!
Swabbleflange wrote:
My main sticking point was the actual scope of the fields themselves - whether we should count any stretch of unbroken grass as a field, even if it snakes around the river or several roads before reaching another city. I thought there ought to be a simple tile range per farmer.
Letting fields grow arbitrarily large makes it important to try to predict which fields that will grow big and place meeples there early in the game. If your opponent is playing well, they will do the same. Towards the end of the game, there will often be a huge field somewhere, worth a lot of points, where you have both been dropping meeples then trying desperately to merge them in. I'm not a huge Carcassonne fan, but that is one part of the game that I really do like quite a bit. It has some elements of bluffing (does he really expect to be able to connect that meeple to the big field? Do I have to try to add yet another meeple to the big field just in case he does?), careful management of meeples, etc...so I'd definitely recommend playing with the "fields grow as big as you want" rule!
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Nathaniel Todd
United States
Canton
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Swabbleflange wrote:
Considering what James says I think we'll end up with a house rule of no incomplete scoring. It did just feel very wrong.



I'm a new user here and really haven't been playing carcassonne all that long, but I would suggest you play with the incomplete scoring for a while before deciding to drop it. To me it seems like it fits well with the flow of the game for a couple of reasons:

1. Getting partial credit for incomplete cities, roads, & cloisters rewards you somewhat for a lot of hard work you've done during the game. Perhaps you never got that right tile to complete your big city, but the partial scoring combined with farmers and some other full completions might keep you in a game (and deservedly so, I think).

2. Especially in a 2 player game there is already plenty of motivation to complete features on the board without outlawing partial scoring. If all you do the whole game is have meeples down on big incomplete features, there's no way you're going to win even with partial scoring! This is because you really need to be cycling through meeples--scoring completed features, getting your men back and placing them again--to really rack up the points.

3. Once you decide to expand your set, not allowing partial scoring will limit the rule variations brought in by new expansions (esp. inns & cathedrals)

Anyway, just thought my rambling might help

Play on!
~N
 
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