tom moughan
United States
Rochester
New York
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ahh....I love the smell of a stack of sketchily placed animals in the morning!
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In my ever growing need to add that extra bit of “screwage” to a game of Carcassonne, a friend recently picked me up a copy of the newly (U.S.) released expansions for the base game and we got right into it the following night. Having wanted a copy of Die Katharer (aka Siege) for some time now, I have been following the release of this collection for some time. I had just recently saw the Cult tiles and was also intrigued as I am always looking to expand Carcassonne in a new and unique way.

In order to do a proper review of this suite of mini-expansions recently released in the states by Rio Grande Games, we added very little to the base game to check it out: Just the base game, Inns and Cathedrals, The Cult, and Siege. Inns and Cathedrals was added on purpose to take into account the full scope of the Siege rules, which are explained below.


ABOUT THE EXPANSIONS

The Cult

The Cult is a small expansion containing 6 “Cult” tiles, each showing a picture of a Cult altar place. A player may opt to man that cult place or any other feature on the tile, as they are not obligated to use the Cult feature. A Cult tile may never be placed next to multiple Cloisters, according to the vague rules, and may not compete with multiple Cloisters.

As far as mechanics, when a Cloister and a Cult are adjacent, a player may opt to man the Cult and challenge the existing laid (and manned) Cloister. The Cult is completed in the same way as a Cloister, surrounding it by 8 tiles completely around it for scoring. Should neither feature be completed by the end of the game, players will get their usual partial scoring for their features.

The bottom line “screwage” : The player who first circles their tile gets 9 points, the other player receives nothing and both meeples are removed from the board and returned to their owners.


Siege

Siege is a small expansion containing 4 tiles, which essentially allows you to lay siege on a city of your choice. Siege is an intriguing expansion as it acts as a double edged sword.

How Siege hurts you:

When a Siege tile is added to an existing City, it only yields 1 point per tile rather than 2. If you are playing with Inns and Cathedrals, any completed City with a Cathedral scores 2 points per tile rather than 3. Adding additional Siege tiles to a City does not amplify this effect, and the tiles remain at their reduced rates of value.

To sum it up…If someone plays a Siege tile into your City, you are considered besieged for the game and you will receive reduced scoring, or worse, no score for incomplete besieged cities.

How Siege helps you:

So someone has laid a Siege tile in your City or perhaps you have done it yourself…not to worry! It is possible to use this expansion to your advantage as well.

If a Cloister is placed adjacent to a City tile of a besieged City (either by you or another player) and is unmanned or previously completed, you may, once on your turn, extract a meeple from the besieged City and return it to your supply. I found this feature to be especially helpful should you land yourself a wonderfully huge City which, thanks to your lovely friends, is impossible to complete unless you draw that one special tile that there is only one of (I know all you Carcassonne players know what I am talking about!) If you have multiple meeples, you can extract one per turn until the City is empty. Fairly unclear in the rule set, I am certain that you can only remove your meeples from a besieged City, and not other players.

Screwed with a besieged City? It may be in your best interests to farm the land adjacent to any besieged City (may not be your own), as it reaps DOUBLE the amount of points in end scoring. So that means you will receive 6 points instead of 3 and with the Pig in play, 8 points instead of 4.


Creativity

Creativity is simply two blank tiles to use to create tiles you feel your Carcassonne game needs, or to plan your own mini-expansion for your games. Remember: Skillful artistry is not required since only you will have to play with your bootleg looking tiles! So have fun with this one! Perhaps in the future, Rio Grande or another publisher will come forward and hold a contest for new “out of the box” Carcassonne expansions for only 2 tiles! (or at $6 US, you can buy another set of this collection and have more of all!)


PLAYABILITY/BOTTOM LINE:

Both Siege and the Cult played fairly well for us, but honestly, we had to consciously incorporate their functions into our game play to truly make them effective. Unlike previous expansions that fluidly alter game play, these expansions can be placed with little effect to game play should you choose to do so. After a few plays, careful strategic use of these tiles may benefit an experienced player, adding points to their coffers and stripping quite a few points from other players. Certainly laying a Siege tile in a huge City that is not your own is a great way to even the playing field, or working in a Cult tile next to a Cloister on the leading player here and there and quickly out building them could reap you some desirable results. STRATEGIC PLACEMENT OF THESE EXPANSION TILES ARE KEY.


IS IT WORTH THE MONEY?

For 6 US dollars you really cannot buy too much these days! So for what it is, I feel it’s a good investment if you are a Carcassonne completist or want to add a new element to your game. It won’t add a whole lot of new bells and whistles, but when utilized creatively, you could screw other players a bit and add some points to the scoring board in your favor! Have fun!
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(ʇllıʍ)
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A great review. I picked up a copy of Carcassonne: Cult, Siege and Creativity earlier this week for less than $4, but have not yet had a chance to play with it.
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Thanks for a really detailed review. I was wondering whether this would be worth buying, other than for completeness' sake, and from the sounds of it, yes!
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