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Carcassonne» Forums » Variants

Subject: Variants to reduce tile drawing luck rss

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Andrew Wilkins
United States
Michigan
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Carcassonne was recently released on Board Game Arena with a "strategic variant" option which allows all players to keep 3 tiles in hand at all times effectively reducing the tile drawing luck.

I also found a "draft variant" where 5 tiles are laid out in a row at the beginning of the game and each turn the active player can place the tile on the right for free. Placing a different tile in the row would cost 1-4 points depending on its position in the row. Once a tile is chosen, a new tile is placed at the end of the row.

Both of these variants seem interesting to me and I was wondering if they are official variants. I'm curious as to what others have tried and found to work well to reduce tile drawing luck or to make the game a little for strategic.
 
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Dusty S
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Cheney
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I haven't seen these as official variants.
I often play with a house rule where each player holds two tiles in their hands, so similar to the first variant you mentioned.
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Sterling Archer
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The "keep 3 tiles in hand" variant is pretty common. People tend to hold onto their meeples longer. It also creates more defensive/blocking moves. In my family, we like to have fun, lighthearted games with the kids so we don't do it this way. If we're feeling more cut-throat (maybe a 2P game at night with the wifey), we'll try this one but it's rare. It also tends to make the games longer, which is probably not what you're looking for in a game of Carcassonne
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PJ Cunningham
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Greenfield
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We occasionally played with a hand of 2 tiles, and I like the variant. However, because we typically use multiple expansions, placement options open up very quickly, so having multiple tiles to consider increases AP a bit.

Thus we usually stick with one tile at a time these days. Low downtime means the pain of a bad draw passes quickly and you're on to the next tile.
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Jeffery Hudson
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We played the three tile variant once. It made for a more strategic, more vicious game. I loved it but the rest of them didn't (but then again, I love the towers expansion for the same reason...and they hate it for the same reason).

If players really don't like the luck of the draw, the three tile variant is a great way to balance it.
 
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Hinckley
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Play several games and the 'luck of the draw' evens out. Easy enough to do in quick-time playing with just the original 72 tiles. The variants are interesting in the effect they have on game-play to be sure, but evening-out luck is better done by playing more games. The added benefit of that approach is that you play more games!
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Ri
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For me (and my group), the luck of the draw aspect is what makes it enjoyable. We play Carcassonne when we are in the mood for something lighter. If we want something with a bit less luck and/or a bit more strategy, we'll just play a different game that we enjoy. In this way, we are able to get more games to the table that (for us) serve different purposes. We like variety.
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Tomello Visello
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Reston
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andwilk9176 wrote:
Carcassonne was recently released on Board Game Arena with a "strategic variant" option which allows all players to keep 3 tiles in hand at all times effectively reducing the tile drawing luck.

Two threads that I could locate quickly do not necessarily represent an exhaustive search

Hand of 3 tiles improve the game?
I'm thinking of playing Carcassonne with a hand of tiles, any advice?

 
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Tim Schmitt
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South Portland
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The luck of the draw can be mitigated a fair amount -- for example, place your meeples with an eye towards making a wider variety of future tile draws valuable to you.

But by all means, play the way that works best for you.
 
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Walt
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Orange County
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At one point, the hand of three tiles was an official variant.

I think publishers find variants confuse some players who want one and only one rule for playing.
 
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Desiree Greverud
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we like the "draw to 3 in hand" variant to have a little flexibility and reduce "luck of the draw"

I'm curious about a drafting system where there is a row/pool of tiles available to everyone but paying based on position in the row seems to be an added time that would really drag the game down
 
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Robert Bracey
United Kingdom
London
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I have played Carc quite a bit with different groups and have occassionally come across this sort of variant but quite rarely. I was surprised to see it implemented on BGA.

It does not reduce the 'luck of the draw', you are just as likely not to draw a cloister during the game (the biggest bit of bad luck you can get in the basic game) or not get the three city side with a road piece you need to finish the big city. The odds of those things are totally unaffected by having future tiles in hand.

What it does do is to make it a little easier to put the right tile down at the right moment which can make it a little bit more cut-throat. I've never been a particular fan of blocking, though it is a big part of some variants of the game (including the basic with its many missing tile types). And stealing, the other thing it encourages, is a the play of okay experience players.

The big thing it does alter is that it gives weak players a buffer against being punished for their own mistakes, allowing them to defer pieces they cannot score without placing a meeple (especially cloisters) until they recover one from the board. In that sense it will work well with moderately experience players, who like the stuff I mentioned in the previous paragraph but are still not good at meeple management (which is hard and I still blunder on, though I've played for over ten years).

If you want a more 'strategic' variant the way to do it is to increase the number of tiles each player gets. So in 4 player basic you get 18 tiles each. If you raise that to 22 then managing your meeples becomes a much more difficult task. Of course if you worry about luck of the draw you should also avoid swingy expansions (Robber, Prince, Inns, Cathedrals).

But one of Carc's great strengths is just how variable a game it can be because of the variety of possible rules variants.
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Liallan G
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RobertBr wrote:
It does not reduce the 'luck of the draw', you are just as likely not to draw a cloister during the game (the biggest bit of bad luck you can get in the basic game) or not get the three city side with a road piece you need to finish the big city. The odds of those things are totally unaffected by having future tiles in hand.


I was thinking this exact same thing. I'm right now playing this variant for the first time and am finding it doesn't seem to help with the luck issue. We're towards the end of the game and I'm now getting 3 and 4 sided cities, which can't be finished off at this point. (Although it's a really close game and I can still use the points.) Also only just now got my second cloister. (My opponent has completed 3 and will be sitting on a 4th at game end.) It'll be a very close game so not a good time to get crappy pieces. It's also only my 2nd time at the original Carc (used to H&G) so I don't know the tile distribution at all.

But even despite watching it not helping the luck factor, it also occurs to me that you're still getting the exact same tiles you would if you didn't have 2 in advance. (IOW, duh.) Sometimes it helps in managing them and useful knowing ahead you've got something you need. But during my past few turns, that hasn't been useful at all. The tiles still are what they are. (Although I'm sitting on a tile that's exactly what I need to hook back into a farm and make that even. It is somewhat fun knowing I have that and my opponent not knowing, especially after his brilliant move trying to block it. )
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Tom Little
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Corinne
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I use a drafting mechanic where you lay out 1 more tile than there are players. So in a 4 player game there are 5 tiles. The first player picks from the five. Then second player chooses from 4 and so on until there is one tile left and it is the first players turn again and they select that tile. The next player get first choice from the new five tiles laid out for selection. I have loved this little variant. I love the original but this seems to eliminate the luck of the draw.
 
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