I acquired Carcassonne: The Tower from my FLGS a couple months back and only now had the time to play it with my group of friends. I feel it is a great expansion to add in to the game, at least by itself.
To give some background, I have not played with many Carcassonne expansions, yet own Big Box Carcassonne (received as a gift). I do not know if it is a fear of the base game changing too wildly or what, but expansions are not something I had looked to putting in the game before.
Thanks to Carcassonne: The Tower, that has changed.
The Tower provides 18 new tiles that contain a tower base which players can put tower pieces on. These allow a player to take other Meeples that are X spaces away (where X is the number of tower pieces stacked) prisoner, which removes them from the feature they were currently claiming. The pain of seeing your Meeple removed from a 7-city farm or 8-tile city is rather heartbreaking. Conversely, seeing another player's Meeple removed from the same feature is greatly rewarding.
This new element of the game forces players to heavily consider where their Meeples should be placed in order to avoid the danger of losing their claim to the 7-city farm or 8-tile city. All the while the next tile drawn could be your demise.
It also makes players consider whether it is worth stacking a high tower on one tower tile to remove a Meeple, or wait to see if they draw another tower tile that could be placed right next to the offending Meeple.
These two new strategic decisions add greatly to the base game. It is also a great way to learn Meeple management and strategic placing as it forces players to think about tile and Meeple placement in ways they may not have considered or seen before. I know that I have definitely learned a lot about these things from this expansion. Because of this, I will regularly be using different expansions for this game.
The Tower was a great addition to the Carcassonne family. I'm sad I only got to the Carcassonne party last year. I feel that The Tower is a great expansion for new players too, as it shows how different the game can get with expansions without making things too complicated.