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James Barton
Australia
Melbourne
Victoria
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"Carcassonne: The River" is a small expansion for the base game "Carcassonne". It requires none of the other expansions to play, and is a simple and cheap expansion to the original. I won't go into a description of how Carcassonne is played; that can be found elsewhere.

As mentioned previously, "The River" uses none of the icons from the other expansions. Thus it can be used as the only expansion and everything will match up with the base game. This fact is NOT true with the "River II" expansion, which does use some of the expansion icons.

First, some of the good aspects of this expansion. The expansion does not change the game or make it any more complex. You merely play the river tiles first, finish the river, and then start playing the rest of the tiles. There is one very small rule to help the river finish, but it is a trivial addition. Because of its small size it is also a very cheap expansion.

However, for such a simple expansion we found it adding something we quite liked to the game: it spreads the starting meeples out. Everyone starts spread over twelve tiles before beginning to close features. Thus, early on, there is less early competition over the same cities and roads. So the start of the game is less confrontational and players can have their own areas of growth if they want. Of course, it doesn't remove the confrontation altogether, but it does allow players to chose whether the fight for what is there or start something new.

Now, for the slight negative aspect we have found. The lake and spring at either end do not stop the fields. Because of this feature we have had some very large fields going over both sides of the river, and so one player would often monopolize a lot of the farm points. It has also proven deceptive, as often people expect the field to stop, but it doesn't. The "Carcassonne: The River II" and the "Carcassonne: The Mini Expansion" have added some closed ends. See their pages for more details. There is also and interesting thread discussing this feature and some of the house rules: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/137357

Overall, we have enjoyed this expansion. It doesn't fundamentally change the game, or add any new rules. If you are looking for such an expansion then "Carcassonne: Expansion 2 – Traders & Builders" might be a better bet. However, we have found that we really like how it changes the early game. Thus we have added it and never really thought about removing it.

P.S: I can't believe I wrote so much about 12 tiles.
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Laurence Koehn
United States
Champaign
Illinois
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jman11 wrote:
Now, for the slight negative aspect we have found. The lake and spring at either end do not stop the fields. Because of this feature we have had some very large fields going over both sides of the river, and so one player would often monopolize a lot of the farm points. It has also proven deceptive, as often people expect the field to stop, but it doesn't.


Our house rule is that the lake and spring are considered to extend to the ends of the tiles, for farm scoring purposes. It's still pretty easy to extend a large farm around the ends, but you have to do so explicitly.
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Mike Adams
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jman11 wrote:

Now, for the slight negative aspect we have found. The lake and spring at either end do not stop the fields. Because of this feature we have had some very large fields going over both sides of the river, and so one player would often monopolize a lot of the farm points. It has also proven deceptive, as often people expect the field to stop, but it doesn't.


We had that happen when we started using the River. It didn't last too long as it became the job of everyone else (starting with, um, me) to isolate any farmers placed along the river as quickly as possible. It's been some time since I've actually seen anyone place a farmer on any of the River expansion tiles at all. It's too risky that early in the game.

Now if the River expansion didn't have any roads crossing it at all, it would be a different story. And sometimes all the roads show up toward one end of the river making a larger tempting area for farmers to start out, but it also increases the potential area for adding farmers to steal a large farm. I think it all balances out overall.

In the end, I really like the River. I almost always use it.
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