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Carcassonne: Expansion 5 – Abbey & Mayor» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Abbey & Mayor - A Review rss

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Matthew Harper
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Introduction
When Abbey and Mayor - the fifth 'large' expansion to Carcassonne - was announced, several sites enticingly indicated that it was apparently an 'adult version'. This was most likely due to a misreading of the German abbreviation 'Erw.': normally it would mean 'Erweiterung' - meaning 'expansion' - but somebody seems to have taken it to mean 'Erwachsenenversion' - meaning 'adult version'. It should come as no surprise to learn that Abbey and Mayor is still good, clean family entertainment; but in fact describing it as 'adult' may not be far wrong. The expansion adds a number of strategic elements to the game which, although much appreciated by the author, are almost certainly to be avoided when playing with the smaller members of the family.

Abbey and Mayor is a fan's expansion, deepening the strategy of the game, whilst at the same leaving the core strategy intact. It's probably the nearest Hans-in-Glück have come to an essential expansion to Carcassonne since Traders and Builders. But it's not for the kids.

New tiles
The 12 new tiles are what those of the GQ expansion should have been (one of them is actually the same a tile from the GQ)- new configurations which add an element of surprise when they come up in the deck. My favourite is a tile with a well in the centre, surrounded by a road, with three roads leading off that. These roads are actually unbroken, and can only be completed when all three branches are closed off, forcing the player to think a little more carefully than usual when the tile is drawn.

Helpfully, all the tiles are marked with a 'barn' symbol representing the expansion, in the way that all the tiles in the Big Box were.

New meeples
Similarly to Princess and Dragon, the new expansion has several new game elements which can be used independently of each other. They are all variations on familiar elements, all are purely strategic (no luck whatsoever) and are added to the player's supply at the start of the game. This means that it's more difficult to run out of meeples than before, having strengthened your troops considerably; and also that the main game-play elements are not diluted as more expansions are added into the mix.

The four new elements break down as follows:
- Abbey - super cloister
- Mayor - super knight
- Barn - super farmer
- Wagon - super deployment

The abbey
My initial impression was that this special tile was nothing more than a gap-filler - literally. Wherever the is a 'hole' in the playing field (a hole being defined as having one tile above, below, left and right) a player may choose to place this tile instead of drawing one from the deck. The tile may be placed in the hole no matter what the edges of the other tiles are - it finishes all the segments, be they road, city or farm. And you can deploy a monk to the abbey, just as you would to a cloister.

I had expected something a little more powerful than what is effectively a glorified cloister - maybe adding points to any future cloisters which are completed. But the real function of the abbey is to provide you with a tile at precisely the point when it would usually be most difficult to come by the right one. As such, it helps you to avoid being locked into a dead-end city, and speeds the game up a little. Still you have only one, so use wisely.

The mayor
Only able to be deployed to cities, and not quite as large as the big meeple, the mayor does nevertheless seem to be wearing enormous trousers. While the big meeple is 'worth' the same as two normal meeples when calculating the majority, the 'worth' of the mayor is dependent on the number of pennants in the city. So the mayor could well end up being worth no more than a usual meeple, or even nothing at all - while being potentially worth a dozen or more.

This variability means that the mayor is basically a strategic piece. More specifically, it seems tailor-made for the kind of cut-throat play which I enjoy - building onto other player's cities and, at the last minute depriving them of reaping the reward of all their hard work. The bigger the city, the more pennants it is likely to have, and the more powerful that mayor is likely to become. Like the abbey, the mayor is not likely to get much use in the average game, but will prove to be exactly the right piece every so often. And to increase the likelihood of that occurring, several of the new tiles have pennants - one of them even having two.

The barn
Without a doubt, the most powerful new game element. The barn can only be placed on the intersection of four farm segments, and immediately forces all farmers on the farm to be scored (3 points per adjacent city) and removed. No further farmer may be deployed to the farm, and if another farm containing farmers becomes connected to a farm with a barn, the farmers are again scored immediately, this time scoring only a single point for every adjacent city. The barn cannot be removed by the dragon or a tower, and scores 4 points per city at the end of the game.

So the barn allows you to secure a farm, and claim it for your own - the only antidote being for another player to connect a farm with a barn to your farm, and then you share the points equally. Now, while this seems perhaps overly powerful, placement of the barn is a little tricky, but it does actually simplify scoring, by effectively 'fixing' a farm - there'll be very little fighting over it later in the game, and probably fewer farmers around in any case. In a game of five or six players, there could easily be only barns in play, and no farmers at all.

Mind you, the barn will only help to simplify scoring if you're using 3rd edition rules - but more on that later.

The wagon
The special power of the wagon is that it can be redeployed to an adjacent feature after scoring. Imagine, for example, that you place a tile with a road (which completes another) which leads to a cloister: you can choose to deploy the wagon to the road, pick up a couple of points, and then immediately move the wagon to the cloister. This redeployment can only occur after scoring a feature; and otherwise, the wagon functions in exactly the same way as a normal meeple, except that it can't be deployed to farms at all. Still, like the abbey and the mayor, it's also likely to be exactly the piece you need on occasion.

The barn controversy
Well, it was bound to happen. RGG have steadfastly clung to 1st edition farm scoring, and it was inevitable that at some point an expansion would come out which, being based on 3rd edition scoring, would prove incompatible. The only surprise is that it's taken this long.

Basically, the RGG rules use third edition scoring for barns. That is, when you place a barn and remove a farmer, the farmer scores three points for each adjacent city. At the end on the game, the barn scores three points for each adjacent city. But the RGG rules for Abbey and Mayor do not actually suggest that this is now the rule for how farms should be scored, but rather imply that it is an exception, only occurring when barns are involved. We'll have to wait until RGG republish the basic game or the Big Box to find out if they do indeed plan to abandon 1st edition scoring; at the moment, though, current adherents of 1st edition rules will have three choices:

- 1. use 1st edition for final scoring, and 3rd edition for barns (which will prove unbelievably complicated)
- 2. switch completely to 3rd edition rules, regardless of what RGG decide in the future
- 3. not use barns at all

If you're going to give barns a shot at all, my advice would be to try either 2. or 3.; going with 1. would be unfair and not give you a real basis on which to judge the expansion. It would hardly be surprising that barns don't work with rules they weren't intended to work with, kind of like putting diesel in a petrol car.

Final word
If this review has been anything like successful, it should have made you think 'Aha - I know that situation! That tile/meeple would be perfect there!'. Because that's what this expansion is about. It provides solutions for situations which should be familiar, which should enhance game-play without dramatically changing it (the barn possibly excepted). Most of the elements are likely to come into play in the middle or late game, and then rarely. But the expansion succeeds where Princess and Dragon failed - in offering us more of the game we love, but without including randomising or distracting features. It's not an expansion you'll want to bring out for noobs or kids, but seasoned players should definitely find it worthwhile.

Final Final Word
For anyone who's interested, I'm currently updating the Complete Annotated Rules to include all the feature and tiles for Abbey and Mayor. HiG seem to be out of the office at the moment, but I should have a new version finished by the end of next week…

Disclaimer
This review also appeared on CarcassonneCentral.
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brian
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I am very excited about this expansion and see it joinng the ranks of I&C and T&B to become my "base" Carcassonne whenever I play. Farms have always been a heavily contested area in our group and stealing large cities a close second. This expansion should prove to spin those situations on their respective heads!

Thanks for the awesome review!
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David Kahnt
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It's fun, it's healthy, it's good exercise. The kids will just love it. And we put a little sand inside to make the experience more pleasant.
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Just out of curiousity can you put two Mayors in a city? (ie, blue player and then yellow player?)

-DK
 
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Matthew Harper
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I reckon so. The rules say that "the usual rules for deployment apply" - so you can get two mayors into a city by building on to it, just as you can with normal meeples.
 
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Jari Keinänen
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But thanks for the nice review, it was helpful.
 
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Matthew Harper
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Hope that's okay!

EDIT: I changed the graphic slightly so that it doesn't require a scroll bar anymore.
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Jari Keinänen
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Oh yes it is! Thanks again
 
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J B
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mjharper wrote:
I reckon so. The rules say that "the usual rules for deployment apply" - so you can get two mayors into a city by building on to it, just as you can with normal meeples.


I thought it said you couldn't put a Mayor into a city with another follower in it.



Also, where can I find the latest rules for farm scoring? These fabled third edition rules?
 
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J B
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mjharper wrote:
I reckon so. The rules say that "the usual rules for deployment apply" - so you can get two mayors into a city by building on to it, just as you can with normal meeples.


I thought it said you couldn't put a Mayor into a city with another follower in it.



Also, where can I find the latest rules for farm scoring? These fabled third edition rules?
 
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Susan F.
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jcb231 wrote:
mjharper wrote:
I reckon so. The rules say that "the usual rules for deployment apply" - so you can get two mayors into a city by building on to it, just as you can with normal meeples.


I thought it said you couldn't put a Mayor into a city with another follower in it.


Not directly - but you can put the Mayor on a tile in a neighbouring city then connect the two cities.

jcb231 wrote:
Also, where can I find the latest rules for farm scoring? These fabled third edition rules?


Third edition rules for farmers = treat each field separately. Whoever has the most farmers in a field gets 3 points per completed city touching the field. In this way, a city may score for more than one field.
 
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J B
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Rusty567 wrote:
jcb231 wrote:
mjharper wrote:
I reckon so. The rules say that "the usual rules for deployment apply" - so you can get two mayors into a city by building on to it, just as you can with normal meeples.


I thought it said you couldn't put a Mayor into a city with another follower in it.


Not directly - but you can put the Mayor on a tile in a neighbouring city then connect the two cities.

jcb231 wrote:
Also, where can I find the latest rules for farm scoring? These fabled third edition rules?


Third edition rules for farmers = treat each field separately. Whoever has the most farmers in a field gets 3 points per completed city touching the field. In this way, a city may score for more than one field.


Thanks...is there a pdf of this somewhere?
 
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David Kahnt
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It's fun, it's healthy, it's good exercise. The kids will just love it. And we put a little sand inside to make the experience more pleasant.
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Rusty567 wrote:
jcb231 wrote:
mjharper wrote:
I reckon so. The rules say that "the usual rules for deployment apply" - so you can get two mayors into a city by building on to it, just as you can with normal meeples.


I thought it said you couldn't put a Mayor into a city with another follower in it.


Not directly - but you can put the Mayor on a tile in a neighbouring city then connect the two cities.

jcb231 wrote:
Also, where can I find the latest rules for farm scoring? These fabled third edition rules?


Third edition rules for farmers = treat each field separately. Whoever has the most farmers in a field gets 3 points per completed city touching the field. In this way, a city may score for more than one field.


Thanks... yeah I suppose you are able to build the city (somehow) with two mayors... perhaps the word in German for the translated "Mayor" means more "noble-person of importance." In English the word 'mayor' is misleading... a city cannot have two of them...

make for an interesting variant though...

-DK
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Just call me Erik
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mjharper wrote:

Hope that's okay!


Why is the Mayor wearing hammerpants?
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Matthew Harper
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@ J B
The Annotated Rules (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/file/info/22896) should be able to help you out there (I hope)

@ Erik Warnes
unixrevolution wrote:
Why is the Mayor wearing hammerpants?

The first thing I thought of when I say the myaor figure was a sketch from Blackadder:
Blackadder the Third, Sense and Senility wrote:
Prince George and the actors are at supper.

Mossop:
Sir about costume. Any thoughts?

Prince George
Well, enormous trousers certainly. Then I thought perhaps an admiral's uniform, because we know what all the nice girls love, don't we. Tell you what - why don't I go and try them on for you?

Mossop
What a super idea.

Prince George
Help yourselves to wine - you'll need a stiff drink when you see the size of these trousers.

Prince George leaves.

I can't look at the mayor without thinking of that at the moment.
 
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unixrevolution wrote:
mjharper wrote:

Hope that's okay!


Why is the Mayor wearing hammerpants?


because he is...

...wait for it...

2 legit, 2 legit 2 quit!
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Just call me Erik
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vandemonium wrote:
unixrevolution wrote:
mjharper wrote:

Hope that's okay!


Why is the Mayor wearing hammerpants?


because he is...

...wait for it...

2 legit, 2 legit 2 quit!


Variant Idea: Play the basic game, but with the Mayor in place of the big meeple. The mayor counts as a single meeple, but if you place the mayor on a feature, your opponents "Can't touch this". If 2 or more mayors end up in the same feature, you need to stop (Hammertime) and score as-is.
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leonardo balbi
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I find this expansion great !
Here at home, we always , always play with Trade and Inns added .
And we always play with 3 points per city (farm) and 4 points for small cities (2 tiles).
So , no problem with the barn...

I love the Mc Hammer Mayor . I love the barn and the wagon...

They are so cute !!!!meeple

haauahau....
 
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Martijn vR
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I really hate the barn! Usually the mid/endgame centers about scoring for farmers and trying to sneak some of your farmers in your neighbours super-big-meadow. The barn ruins it all. By placing it, the competition ends and worse, if you manage to place it in your own super meadow, you'll get points twice (once for the farmers, once for the barns) and you could usurp other players meadows as well, giving them only minimal points. That wouldn't be bad if there were a counter measure you could take, but sadly, there isn't. The only thing you can do is to place you barn and share points.
I think I'll never use those barns.

Anyone else got some thoughts on this?
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Matthew Harper
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VladNL wrote:
The barn ruins it all. By placing it, the competition ends and worse, if you manage to place it in your own super meadow, you'll get points twice (once for the farmers, once for the barns)

When you place the barn, all the farmers on that farm have to be removed - including your own. So I'm not sure I see how you could score twice…
 
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Lucas Hedgren
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Cuz the farmers score when removed. Then the barn scores at the end of the game.
 
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Matthew Harper
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Well, okay, if you put it like that…
meeple
 
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Martijn vR
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Yep, that's what I meant.
 
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Jake Conde
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What if you had a rule you can only place a Barn on a meadow you can't score at the time? (Note, big problem with this if you have the count, with the enough followers you can always score a farm).
 
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If the barn scores twice, and only gives 1 point per city to the player who linked his farm to the barn, isn't the barn too powerful?

I'd say, let the barn score once, or let it score 3 points per city to any adjacent farms.

The company has provided some great ideas in their expansions, but they always fail to do it 100% correct. The fairy ruined the previous expansion because one needed to track her every turn. The new abbey could have worked like a boosted monatsery: 18 points when scored (9x2) or 0 at the end of the game when not finished. Etc.

This expansion looks better than all previous sets, save the (basic) expansion, yet due to its shortcomings I'm not inclined to buy it.
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