My comments here are directed to those exploring this game with the prospect of buying it. I trust this offers a helpful understanding of what this expansion contains, and a glimpse at the rules. My hope is that it will be enough to spark your imagination to see how this addition will alter your Carcassonne experience.
To begin with...
The Princess & The Dragon is not a complete game. This expansion can only be played alongside the Carcassonne game. One or both of the previous expansions (“Inns & Cathedrals” and “Traders & Builders”) can also be added. You can even add “The Tower” or any or all of the three smaller expansions (“The River”, “King and Scout” and “The Count”) to the mix for a fuller (and longer) experience.
It is straightforward...
The rules are written clearly and concisely and pose no difficulties to get you started quickly. It will probably take only one game to see how the game is ‘altered’ with this expansion.
This expansion is essentially 30 new tiles, a wooden Dragon and a wooden Fairy. Here is a quick look at the tiles...and a bit about what they do:
6 Volcano Tiles – Whenever a player draws a tile with a Volcano, it is placed according to the rules of Carcassonne. However, a player may not place one of his meeples on this tile. Instead, the Dragon appears and flies from his lair to land on this newly placed tile. In this way, the Dragon changes his location throughout the game each time a Volcano tile is added.
12 Dragon Tiles – Whenever a player draws a tile with a Dragon pictured, it is placed according to the Carcassonne rules. A player may also play any one meeple to this tile. The game is then paused, while the dreaded Dragon moves. Beginning with the player who placed the Dragon tile, the Dragon is moved to any adjacent tile (never diagonally). This continues (clockwise) around the table with each player moving the Dragon to a new tile until he has changed positions six times. Whenever the Dragon tromps his way across fields, through cities, over roads and cloisters landing on a tile that contains a Follower, that Follower is devoured (and removed from the board). After his six steps, the Dragon waits where he stands until either 1) a new Volcano tile is drawn (which whisks him away to a new location) or 2) another Dragon tile is drawn (which allows him to take six more steps).
6 Magic Portal Tiles – When a player draws and places a Magic Portal tile, he may place one of his Followers on this tile...or any other spot on the board (keeping in mind all rules for placement). In this way, if the Dragon has removed an opponents’ Follower from an unfinished city, for example, the player placing the Magic Portal tile may automatically transport one of his Followers across the board to take possession of that vacant unfinished city.
6 Princess Tiles – When a player draws a princess tile, it is placed according to the normal rules. If the tile is placed so that it connects to a city containing one or more meeple (Knights), the player placing the tile removes one of those Knights.
But wait...there’s more...
Also included in this expansion is a small Fairy.
Whenever a player takes a turn placing a tile, but does not place a Follower, he may instead place the Fairy on a tile alongside any one his Followers. The Fairy has 3 effects:
1 – The Dragon may not visit a tile where the Fairy stands, thus she protects and wards off the meeple munching Dragon.
2 – If a player starts his turn, and the Fairy currently resides on a tile with one of his Followers, that player immediately scores 1 point.
3 – When a city, road, cloister, or farm which contains the Fairy is completed, the player whose Follower stands on the tile (with the Fairy) scores a 3 point bonus.
Get ready for change...
This expansion can be a lot of fun but it definitely changes the tone of Carcassonne. It adds an increased element of uncertainty as well as conflict to the game. With two meeple removers – the Dragon and the Princess – players are less likely to complete what they are building. And while there are times when it is actually helpful to have a stranded Follower returned (from a city that can never be finished), it is equally annoying to have a Farmer turfed from a field that would have yielded huge points. I feel that the other expansions add depth and strategy, while The Princess & The Dragon adds confrontation and a “you never know what might happen” flavor. (I do not mean to imply this is bad...I am just trying to make clear the difference.)
A few comments...
I have played this with some who feel that this expansion adds more of a random sense of game play. While others feel that this expansion offers them more of a chance to win...by allowing them to ruin the plans of others. Either way, this does clearly change the game dynamic.
What I enjoy most about this expansion are the Magic Portal tiles. It is a fun concept that adds an entirely new dimension to Carcassonne. (Sometimes I wish there were more than six!) These tiles encourage strategic maneuvering and open up possibilities that did not exist before. As well, this expansion keeps the board far less stagnate as meeples are eaten or pass through a portal to take up residence...on that long road the Dragon just cleared (for example).
One (minor) negative comment would be in regard to the one point bonus for possession of the Fairy. It is very difficult to remember and keep track of.
While I do enjoy The Princess & The Dragon, it is not actually a favourite. When we play Carcassonne we always include The River, Inns & Cathedrals, and Traders & Builders. But only sometimes do we include The Princess & The Dragon. But when we want a fresh change and an entirely new feel to the game, this is how we do it! It mixes things up a bit and keeps Carcassonne from becoming routine. If you are looking for something that will completely alter your Carcassonne experience, this will do it.
Meega, nala kwishta!
AAGH! YOU'RE TOUCHING ME!
Yeah, I gotta agree with you about the fairy. She got placed and then just sat there, we forgot about it most of the time.
As far as the rest of the expansion, I really enjoy the way it can change the game up and make things a little more volatile. Having said that, it's not something I'd want all the time. There are other games that are confrontational and do it much better. This is just a fun and occasional change of pace.
I will not rest until Biblios is in the Top 100. - Steve Oksienik
Well I been watchin' while you been coughin, I've been drinking life while you've been nauseous, and so I drink to health while you kill yourself and I got just one thing that I can offer... Go on and save yourself and take it out on me
I have been playing a lot of Carc online and unfortunately, my skills have far surpassed my girlfriend. I think P&D might give her the tools to overcome my skill advantage. I might have to look into this.
Good review. Thanks for the info!
Totally agree with your conclusion. I've played a lot of Carcassonne and rarely do I feel the need to pull this one out, unless I'm looking for a pretty different experience with the game, one that's far more, "Take that!"
Thanks for the review. I was always a bit on the fence about this set. I have the base carc game along with Inns & Cathedrals and Traders & Builders and I think the three together make an absolute knockout combo. I just tried Princess & Dragon on brettspielwelt and I can conclude that I do not like it. Your review describes it quite well that brings a lot more randomness to the game (which some people may enjoy) as well as more conflict (likewise), but personally, I prefer the more controlled chaos of the sets I own. There's randomness as far as which tile you get, but beyond that, it lets you execute your plans and I think one of the nice things about Carcassonne is that it doesn't have much confrontation as far as screwing around other players. Obviously usurping someone's fields or developments is an important element, but I think that's enough to make it fun to play with my girlfriend or non-gamers. Introducing more aggressive sabotage elements (In my opinion) makes it less desirable for these sorts of games and makes it more geared towards competitive/experienced players. And all that aside, I just don't care for the feel of it as much and I also don't like the fantasy element, but that's totally just my tastes.