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Subject: Deep Meeple Analysis rss

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Sheamus Parkes
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Meeples for me and meeples for you! I know there are many reviews for Carcassonne, but I wanted to put out something closer to an analysis.


Description:


Carcassonne is a well known game of meeples and tile laying. Players take turns drawing and placing tiles into the country of Carcassonne. They match up the new tile to the old one like dominoes to form cities, roads and farms. Each turn they also have the option of placing one of their meeples on the tiles. The different cities, roads and farms pay out points to the players who occupy them with their meeples. The player with the most points at the end wins.


Pros:


1. It really is a unique game style. There may be many clones and spin-offs now, and people may claim similar games came before it, but it really is the first tile laying game many people are going to play. There are no dice and there is no money. There are just tiles and meeples.

2. The game is very aesthetically pleasing. The tiles piece together to make a majestic countryside. It’s always a treat to see what shaped cities will emerge (very similar to cloud watching). The meeples themselves are so cute as to be iconic.

3. It follows many of the good eurogame conventions. Keeping the farm scoring obfuscated until the end does a great job of covering up any runaway leader issues. The actual rules can be simplified into “place a tile and maybe place a meeple.”

4. There is a great balance of randomness with skillful play. There is no catch up mechanic, and adults can generally beat kids, but it doesn’t feel like a chess champion playing an amateur. Sometimes a newbie is just going to draw all the right pieces at the right time. On the other hand, an experienced player will know the distribution of tiles and anticipate how likely it is to get the tiles he needs.

5. There are many solid expansions and variants to enhance the game play. These do a great job of adding some spice to the game play. If you don’t like Carcassonne, then these won’t change your opinion, but if you do like it, these will keep it from getting stale for quite some time. Here’s a quick list of my favorite expansions:

a. The River expansion spreads out the start tiles.

b. The Inns and Cathedrals expansion raise the value of the roads.

c. The Traders and Builders expansion encourages completion of more cities.


Cons:


1. Carcassonne has jumped the shark. The base game and the first few expansions are great. The next 20 expansions and 10 alternatives are quickly adding diminishing returns. For those of you who have been burned trying to play the entire “Carcassonne Big Box” at once, I suggest going back and just playing the original game a couple times to remember what made it great.

2. Carcassonne does not scale well beyond three or four people. Each tile can be placed in many places and sometimes this will lead to a bit of analysis paralysis. This wouldn’t be so bad if you could be engaged during other players’ turns, but in reality there is very little planning ahead you can do. I suggest never trying to play this game with a full six people. (Yes, I know you can add auction variants or keep a hand of tiles, but I think these variants add planning at the expense of game length.)

3. Some of the scoring can be difficult to explain to new players. The farmers in particular are often too complicated for children to understand. This really hurts its status as a gateway game. There have been rules revisions to adjust for this, but that adds its own problems. Experienced players now have to decide what rules revision will be the flavor of the day.

4. There is a reasonably low level of player interaction. Farm stealing is pretty much the only conflict you are going to see in this game. Many of the expansions deal directly with this flaw, some to better effect than others.


Conclusion:


After all is said and done, I still enjoy Carcassonne more than your average game. I like it best when:

1. I’m playing with my wife and maybe one other friend.
2. We play with at most one expansion (beyond the River).
3. We play to have fun and enjoy ourselves, not to win.
4. We don’t play it to death day after day.

As long as I keep playing under the above scenarios, I see a large amount of enjoyable Carcassonne in my future.
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3. We play to have fun and enjoy ourselves, not to win.


Then you're not playing a game. You're putting tiles on a table. The only way to play a game is to try to win.
 
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Sheamus Parkes
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2ndinBeautyContest wrote:
Quote:
3. We play to have fun and enjoy ourselves, not to win.


Then you're not playing a game. You're putting tiles on a table. The only way to play a game is to try to win.


May I refer you to this nice article:

http://www.boardgamenews.com/index.php/boardgamenews/comment...

There are many personalities of gamers out there, we're not all Spikes. I can appreciate the people who play it all for the win, but I find my life seems better if I play for the experience. There's room for all types out there. I hope my review at least held some information in the pros and cons section that benefited you.
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Stephanie Gill
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If I only played games to win, I'd never play games with my children.
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Ice Hensley
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I think there's a difference between playing to win and playing to win at all costs...of course I play to win but if I don't, I certainly don't get pissy or upset about it. The experience of playing with others is what I like. To me, winning is icing on the cake but not the whole enchilada... ;-)
 
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Nathan Cope
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I must have either the Dragon or Tower expansion to enjoy Carcossonne to its max. Without those, there is just to much luck in the game (all depending on if you pull that one tile at exactly the right time). At least the dragon and tower add some extra strategy of placement for protection and quickening the completions for sure scoring. The fact that somebody has control in a city and never gets bumped out is not as fun as devouring their every hope with a meeple thirsty dragon. I know you can sneak your way into incompleted cities by way of merging, but Ohhh to take away!!!!devil
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Jonathan Morton
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This statement:

Quote:
There is a reasonably low level of player interaction.


Flows directly from this statement:

Quote:
We play to have fun and enjoy ourselves, not to win.


If you play to win, Carcassonne is a vicious battle of constantly trying to steal cities and trap enemy meeples and avoid having your own meeples trapped. I enjoy it that way with my brother and when playing online, and I enjoy the non-competitive approach when playing with my nephews.

Note: I've played very little Carc without Inns & Cathedrals and Traders & Builders. It's possible that my take doesn't make sense when talking about just the base game.
 
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Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
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Isamoor wrote:
Farm stealing is pretty much the only conflict you are going to see in this game.

We still use the first edition scoring for farmers. That is what we like best, so quite some competition there. But we also see a lot of City stealing. At least as much as Farm stealing.
 
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Branko K.
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It's funny how many people put "low level interaction" as a negative side of Carcassonne, and then invariably follow that with proclamations how they basically play the game as non-competitively as possible, because that is "the way they like it".

Carcassonne can be played very competitively if you choose to play that way. You mention farm stealing is "pretty much only conflict". Yeah, right. What about city stealing, trader box-in, big meeple-bullying? What about later expansions - which you dismiss basically as fluff - designed directly with introducing more cutthroat gamepley? If you want conflict, you can get it. If you explicitely play to AVOID conflict, why then complain about the lack of it?

Your review is ok, but some parts sound pretty much like "I like pizza with as few toppings as possible. There are plenty of toppings now available, but ketchup and cheese is basically all one needs. I like eating the crust, the middle doesn't attract me much. Pizza is great food, but it tastes kinda plain."
 
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Quote:
May I refer you to this nice article:

http://www.boardgamenews.com/index.php/boardgamenews/comment...

There are many personalities of gamers out there, we're not all Spikes. I can appreciate the people who play it all for the win, but I find my life seems better if I play for the experience. There's room for all types out there.


Thanks. I read the article. The three character types you identified all "try to win" just in different ways so I think it supports my point not yours. You specifcally state that you play "not to win" which is completely different and what I disagreed with. Playing "not to win" must involve consciously performing moves you perceive as being less than optimum because the "best" moves you perceive (according to the game's rules) sometimes fall outside some arbitrary personal line and are considered, by you, too competitive and cut-throat. Essentially you are trying to burden a game with a moral sense which is nonsensical and pointless. I certainly agree that there is room for all types out there including people who want to simply put tiles on a table one after another. I have no objection to that and I wish you much joy in your tile placement. Just don't say you're playing a game. Because you aren't.


Quote:
If I only played games to win, I'd never play games with my children.


I see what you're getting at here. I would argue that you aren't really playing the games in these cases you are teaching them.


Quote:
I think there's a difference between playing to win and playing to win at all costs...of course I play to win but if I don't, I certainly don't get pissy or upset about it. The experience of playing with others is what I like.


I don't understand the difference between "playing to win" and "playing to win at all costs" - could you elaborate (unless "playing to win at all costs" involves breaking the rules in which case I agree with you.) I agree that you should try to win and accept defeat graciously if you don't. And of course playing with others is the most important thing but if you're not trying to win you're not playing.
 
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Sheamus Parkes
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Goodness gracious, I do seem to accidentally stir the pot when it comes to competitiveness. (To see what I mean, may I refer you back to this jolly thread: http://www.boardgamegeeks.com/article/1349102#1349102 ) I think next time I'll make specific sections for people who play competitively and people who play casually.

Dom, I always play a game to have fun. I don't always play to win. Yes, I have intentionally made sub-optimal moves just to keep scores closer. Hell, I do it quite a bit. I've held off finishing a Ticket to Ride game for three turns just to let other players complete most of their tickets. I've intentionally given myself incorrect change in Modern Art to keep my total lower. I don't ever let the other players know I'm doing this. And yes, generally when I do these things, it's to move myself out of first place. By my personal definition, I am still "playing a game." By your definition, I'm not. We're each entitled to our definitions.


Or, how about this interpretation: If everyone's goal is first place, then there's only one winner. If everyone's goal is to have fun, then everyone is a winner.

Call me fruity, but I actually enjoy a world where everyone is a winner.
 
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By my personal definition, I am still "playing a game." By your definition, I'm not. We're each entitled to our definitions.


We are indeed. It just so happens that one of our definitions is not compatible with playing games - let me try and demonstrate why.

Quote:
Yes, I have intentionally made sub-optimal moves just to keep scores closer. Hell, I do it quite a bit. I've held off finishing a Ticket to Ride game for three turns just to let other players complete most of their tickets. I've intentionally given myself incorrect change in Modern Art to keep my total lower. I don't ever let the other players know I'm doing this. And yes, generally when I do these things, it's to move myself out of first place.


OK, Sheamus, now I want you to imagine that you are at a gaming table with four people who adopt the same approach you use. Each of you is not concerned with winning but with keeping the scores closer and ensuring everyone has "fun" and you are all prepared to play sub-optimally or even cheat yourself to achieve this. What happens? As soon as someone takes a lead in the game they feel is too large they automatically begin to play badly until they are overtaken. Then the person who gains the lead does the same. Then the next person does. The whole game collapses into ludicrousness as everyone tries not to win.

So, the only way your approach can avoid ludicrousness is if the other players at the table are unaware of your approach which you make clear above is normally the case. Sheamus, I don't think you can get round the fact that this is disingenuous. What happens now is that the four other players adopt my approach and try to win and assume your attitude is the same but it isn't. You just want the scores to stay close and so you sneakily influence the whole game in order to achieve your desired outcome - I accept you think you're doing it for their benefit but that's a patronising attitude (only justifiable with young kids really) because they might prefer an honest game where they get heavily beaten than a dishonest one where they come a close second or achieve an "artificial" win. Because whatever your intentions by deliberately breaking the rules (your Modern Art example above) you make the game dishonest.

Now I'm guessing that your rebuttal would be but there's no "fun" in Sheamus beating everyone time and again at Ticket to Ride or Modern Art because he's much more experienced as a gamer and they are newbies and will get put off the hobby if they spend hour after hour losing hopelessly. That's quite possibly true. And there's a simple solution. Disadvantage yourself at the start but do so OPENLY with the other players agreement e.g have one less destination ticket, five less trains, whatever you want. But from then on try and win. Then everybody knows what's going on. And it's fair. Your approach is anything but fair and the exact opposite of "fun".

Quote:
Call me fruity, but I actually enjoy a world where everyone is a winner.


Sheamus, I think you may be beyond fruity.
 
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Sheamus Parkes
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Okay, this whole thread is turning fruity. Go play some games, however you may define that. And give Carcassonne a try if you haven't already.
 
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Matthew Harper
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First of all, I want to say that it's quite a nice review, although of the 'Cons',. point 1 & 4 are subjective.

But I also wanted to add that 2ndinBeautyContest has a clear precedent for the type of argument being proposed. For Kant, lying is wrong because it contains in its heart a contradiction - it presupposes that everyone else thinks you are telling the truth. As such, you can't possibly intend that that mode of behaviour should be adopted by everyone. Now that isn't to say that there aren't circumstances when lying might be better (for everyone) than telling the truth - it just can't be considered equally valid.

I realise that I've just made the thread even more fruity, but still… I suppose the final question is, how would someone feel if they realise that they'd only won the gam because you'd let them? You apparently hinder your game so that others can enjoy the game more - but how much enjoyment would they have if they knew what you were doing?
 
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That Kant guy is always stealing my ideas.
 
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I think it's silly to play "not to win". That can make the game enjoyable if you play with kids and enjoy seeing them all happy and everything when they win, but that is really just you being a good parent and it has nothing to do with playing the game.

On the other hand, I think it's also silly to ALWAYS play to "win at all costs" - it is often the case you play with people who aren't really at your skill level, and sometimes some "holding back" may be required to make the game enjoyable.

Of course, the most enjoyable games are those which push your skill and wits to the max. But ANY game can be enjoyable, and everybody truly has fun, it's really not important are your moves optimal, slightly sub-optimal or downright abysmal.

P.S. But still, it's really strange to proclaim that the game's negative side is that it has "low player interaction" when you actually play a low-interaction game an purpose, claiming you prefer it that way.

 
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Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
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When playing games try to think about what Reiner said: The object of the game is to win, but it's not the winning that is important
 
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Brian Cherry
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2ndinBeautyContest wrote:
Quote:
3. We play to have fun and enjoy ourselves, not to win.


Then you're not playing a game. You're putting tiles on a table. The only way to play a game is to try to win.


hmmm... my dictionary lists many meanings for the word game, including:
- an amusement or pastime: children's games.
- a competitive activity involving skill, chance, or endurance on the part of two or more persons who play according to a set of rules, usually for their own amusement or for that of spectators.

nope, nothing about having to win.

Dont get me wrong, I love to win games. I often try to win. But it isnt important that I win. Sometimes I purposely lose, to my wife. If I win too much, she wont play anymore. So, it becomes a game to try and loose.

When I play CCGs I purposely put together decks that utlize a theme, so its more fun than loading a deck with multiples of cards that more-or-less guarantee a win. According to your "logic", once you build an unbeatable deck, you should never build another, but instead be content to win every time.

Tell me, do you enjoy playing games? Or just winning them?
 
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Matthew Harper
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the1jugg wrote:
2ndinBeautyContest wrote:
Quote:
3. We play to have fun and enjoy ourselves, not to win.


Then you're not playing a game. You're putting tiles on a table. The only way to play a game is to try to win.


hmmm... my dictionary lists many meanings for the word game, including:
- an amusement or pastime: children's games.
- a competitive activity involving skill, chance, or endurance on the part of two or more persons who play according to a set of rules, usually for their own amusement or for that of spectators.

nope, nothing about having to win.

Let's not start on the definition of a game, or I'll have to bring Wittgenstein into this. And you don't want me to do that, now do you?

Blimey, this really has turned into deep meeple analysis meeple
 
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John Smith
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mjharper wrote:
First of all, I want to say that it's quite a nice review, although of the 'Cons',. point 1 & 4 are subjective.


I know he was writing a review, and I also know that reviews are about opinions (it is part of the definition).
I know that everything that he found enjoyable was subjective to his experiences only.

What you are probably saying by disagreeing with his views is that your opinions differ. Nonetheless, they are all opinions though.

Oh, if you like Kant then remember his separations between object and subject: a priori (before experience), a posteriori (after experience), analytic, and synthetic. Objectivity lies solely in the two divisions of "a priori," while subjectivity, like his experiences with this game, are all "a posteriori."
 
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John Smith
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2ndinBeautyContest wrote:
Quote:
3. We play to have fun and enjoy ourselves, not to win.


Then you're not playing a game. You're putting tiles on a table. The only way to play a game is to try to win.


Your not writing about his review, but attacking him, and perhaps you are taking this too literally. He says that the game is somewhat luck (or chance) based (I have played it and concur). If you play a game to "win" and it has the variable of chance, then, do as you may, you still might not "win." If your only goal is to "win" then you won't have fun with this game as the luck is an inherent factor in the game. Dom should try chess or something that minimizes this luck factor.

Finally, if winning is all that is important about playing a game, as it is what makes a Dom game "fun", and it defines what is a game then I would recommend Dom never play a game.

For, if winning was all that was important about a game, then it would be the only fun in a game (i.e. you couldn't just play to "enjoy" the game). If Dom did play a game with other players (who would also have this definition, or the "game" somehow disappear hehe) he would find that his chances of winning all games are very slim. I would hate for him to find that his time wasted on gameplay that ended so futilely in a loss and without any fun!

But, perhaps what Dom really means by "win" is that the importance in a game is the "attempt at winning" (and perhaps I have to much time on my hands hehe). Thus, you could enjoy your time in the attempt. Yet, how would you be enjoying your time? I assume it would be on the future thought that you would win. But that would be just as disappointing, if not more so, for if you lose you would have not only lost the game but also have lost your hopes and former feelings of happiness.

Anyway, I find myself happy, even when losing, when I can recognize a brilliant play by an opponent. Generally, I find myself happy when I see that others are enjoying themselves (especially if I introduced them to this fun). I find games that I always win as no fun at all (example: when I play chess against someone who is worse) which seems to contradict the importance of winning as the only true motive. So, then what is the purpose of a game?

Be it through luck or skill, CHALLENGE, yes competition is in the true heart of any gamer. If Sheamus Parkes finds himself to far ahead against other players then let him sacrifice to raise the competition, if so he wishes. But recognize that, more IMPORTANTLY, it is with other players that this competition arises, and if they have no fun (continually losing horribly, rude players, sore winners/losers), then so will your fun end.
Finally, don't think the importance in life is just the "winning."

By the way, this is all only opinion. Yes, logical opinion, but opinion just the same. Also, Dom what gives you the right to criticize people and objectively define the terms fair, fun, and games as should apply to everybody? (plz answer)
 
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Matthew Harper
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brerlapine wrote:
mjharper wrote:
First of all, I want to say that it's quite a nice review, although of the 'Cons',. point 1 & 4 are subjective.


I know he was writing a review, and I also know that reviews are about opinions (it is part of the definition).
I know that everything that he found enjoyable was subjective to his experiences only.

What you are probably saying by disagreeing with his views is that your opinions differ. Nonetheless, they are all opinions though.

Oh, if you like Kant then remember his separations between object and subject: a priori (before experience), a posteriori (after experience), analytic, and synthetic. Objectivity lies solely in the two divisions of "a priori," while subjectivity, like his experiences with this game, are all "a posteriori."
That's probably fair enough. All of the points raised in the review are subjective. But still, the use of 'jumping the shark' is one which is particularly subjective, it seems to me - the notion requires a single event which can be pin-pointed, which at least offers some kind of consensus. 'Jumping the shark' is not merely a a synonym for 'diminishing returns', and using it the way it is in the review is a kind of misuse. I called that subjectivity - incorrectly, to be sure - but I was attempting to highlight the more spurious nature of that particular objection.

The fourth point simply flies in the face of my personal experience of the game, and is possibly down to the authors dislike of the later expansions. We play reduced mega-carc - that is, all expansions mixed, but using the tower dispenser to divide the tiles into a manageable quantity - and there is almost constant player interaction on a number of different levels. And, although much of these mechanics have been added in expansions, even in the original it was possible to 'leech' cities off other players using knights. But the author makes no mention of that.

Compare as well with Con 3 - 'some of the scoring can be difficult to explain to new players'. That's barely subjective - in the loose sense I'm using - since this is a problem acknowledged by almost everyone, not least Hans-im-Glück, who keep revising the scoring (and indeed rules) to simplify the process.

I was clumsily drawing attention to my differing opinion about those two points. But I wanted to suggest that those two points were less based in fact than the other points.

Also, I don't think that Dom is quite saying what you think he is.
 
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mjharper wrote:
But I also wanted to add that 2ndinBeautyContest has a clear precedent for the type of argument being proposed. For Kant, lying is wrong because it contains in its heart a contradiction - it presupposes that everyone else thinks you are telling the truth. As such, you can't possibly intend that that mode of behaviour should be adopted by everyone. Now that isn't to say that there aren't circumstances when lying might be better (for everyone) than telling the truth - it just can't be considered equally valid.


How did Kant validate such such ethical reasoning? Through his CATEGORICAL IMPERATIVES!!! (but how did he prove that?) through more RULES!

rule 1: Universal law- states pretty much that if the law should be used by everyone all the time then it is a categorical imperative. You are using the "lie" example: "No one should ever tell a lie."

Contradictary question: Is it more important not to lie then to save life?

Example: "If nazi's knock on your door to find the jew that you are hiding in your attic and they ask you "are you hiding any persons of jewish decent?" do you lie or tell the truth?

Conclusion: It seems that lying can the "just" thing to do at times.

In this case it would be the question "in the context of this game is it more important that everyone has fun or that everyone is honest?" and that answer is up to you. Often games have a lying mechanism built in to them (called bluffing). Is it okay to lie then? Kant would say NO! haha

P.S. Kant has many more "rules" to define his ethics. One of the weakest and important is the second or "humanity as an end in itself" stating that no one should be used as a cause to an end but as the end. As you can already tell the difference between cause and end is very blurred and seems like (damn what is that word! i give up) rhetorical.
 
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John Smith
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mjharper wrote:
That's probably fair enough. All of the points raised in the review are subjective. But still, the use of 'jumping the shark' is one which is particularly subjective, it seems to me - the notion requires a single event which can be pin-pointed, which at least offers some kind of consensus. 'Jumping the shark' is not merely a a synonym for 'diminishing returns', and using it the way it is in the review is a kind of misuse. I called that subjectivity - incorrectly, to be sure - but I was attempting to highlight the more spurious nature of that particular objection.

The fourth point simply flies in the face of my personal experience of the game, and is possibly down to the authors dislike of the later expansions. We play reduced mega-carc - that is, all expansions mixed, but using the tower dispenser to divide the tiles into a manageable quantity - and there is almost constant player interaction on a number of different levels. And, although much of these mechanics have been added in expansions, even in the original it was possible to 'leech' cities off other players using knights. But the author makes no mention of that.

Compare as well with Con 3 - 'some of the scoring can be difficult to explain to new players'. That's barely subjective - in the loose sense I'm using - since this is a problem acknowledged by almost everyone, not least Hans-im-Glück, who keep revising the scoring (and indeed rules) to simplify the process.

I was clumsily drawing attention to my differing opinion about those two points. But I wanted to suggest that those two points were less based in fact than the other points.

Also, I don't think that Dom is quite saying what you think he is.
All very good points that would instruct other players about important aspects of the game that we might have missed.

Would you recommend buying the Big Box Carsassonne or just Carcassonne?
 
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The problem with Big Box is that it dumps all the expansions at once in front of you, and Carcassone works best if you introduce expansions very gradually.

I'd recommend Big Box if you think you have enough discipline NOT to take all the cool components at once but rather can commit yourself to play just a small portion of things aside (initially just Carc and I&C) for a few months or so. Then pull out T&B, play with that a few months and so on.

But if you (and everyone else around you) are Carc beginners, I think it's smarter to buy the original set and then buy expansions gradually. It will give you time to learn all the little strategies and nuances each expansion introduces and to appreciate changes more. Big Box saves you money and space, but somehow destroys the enjoyment - you always want to see what each new expansion brings and it becomes chaotic and overwhelming for everyone.
 
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