Derek Whaley
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Darius I – 73rd Great Khan of the Illustrius Barbarian Horde, Duque San Lorenzo, Marquis de Feltón, Chief of the Zayante, Baron von Whaleyland, Lord Kennedy
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Carcassonne is 10 years old this year and, in celebration, three new mini expansions are being released. While The Phantom is a complete stand-alone, using the new plastic meeples of the 10th Anniversary Edition to introduce a new thematic element, the Festival is included as an exclusive part of the 10th Anniversary Edition of Carcassonne. This makes this expansion extremely hard to obtain outside the box since Hans im Glück has decided not to allow a separate release of the tiles.

However, I digress. This report is about this new expansion included within the Carcassonne 10th Anniversary Edition, and it goes something like this...

Why Carcassonne Needs a New Marketing Team
* Crappy Things Come in Pretty Boxes – I've actually purchased three copies of this game because the first two boxes I ordered through Amazon.com were broken. You see, the cute meeple-shaped box is actually a terrible idea because it doesn't fit on shelves and has a strong tendency to tear along the edges since the only thing holding the box together is the blue sticker coating on the outside. The quality continues to decrease as you open the box only to realize that the new tiles (not just the expansion tiles) are all about 80% the thickness of the standard Carcassonne tiles (and most of its expansions). Thus, when playing with a stack of these mixed in with other expansion tiles, they will stand out. Don't be playing with the tile tower from The Tower with these tiles else you'll see the expansion tiles coming!
* Bad Expansion Icons Continue – The 10th anniversary has adopted this little cute logo of a "10" with fireworks over it. Very cute and it has graced a number of Carcassonne-themed items this year. Gracing your tiles should not have been one of them. Instead of opting for a cool little scene of people outside cheering or JUST fireworks on a tile, we get a rather large "10 with fireworks" icon on every expansion tile. No watermark stating that these tiles are part of this expansion. No need! You'll know in an instant even more recognizable than the River tiles. Yup, Carcassonne's tenth anniversary will live forever on these tiles that won't let you forget when Carcassonne ran out of ideas for making cool tile icons.
* Simplicity is rather simple – The expansion introduces only one new rule though it pretends to introduce two. The first rule allows you to use the tile as it is normally used. That is generally the same option given to any tile, expansion or otherwise, and thus really does not need to be stated at all. Indeed, the first rule SHOULD have made the tile act like a Phantom since this version of the game is relatively incompatible with the Phantom expansion, unless of course you buy six wooden meeples and use them as THE LIVING DEAD!!! In either case, the first part of the rules are unnecessary.

When Simple Concepts Work
Logic 101 – When something works and you want to expand it, make sure the expansions also work. This has been something that the Carcassonne team has failed to do many times in the past four years. With this expansion, as well as the past three, however, logic is finally returning. There is a sweet simplicity to rules that simple state "return 1 of your followers from anywhere on the map back to the supply." It makes sense and is logical. Sure the terminology ("map") is wrong but you can even look past that! Return a follower from the board. You tried to build that cloister but now the meeple is stuck? Return the follower! You wanted to make sure that city was yours but your opponent never ended up trying to claim it, take one back! It just makes sense!
* We Love the Carcassonne Day – Just like in Civilization, where fireworks rise over cities that are happy, the fireworks of this expansion rise above 10 new tiles, a few of which have never been seen before. Despite the poorer quality of the tiles and the terrible icons, new tiles are new tiles and no one should really complain about that.
* Clarity – Through one small sentence beneath the rules, the aspiring gamer can calmly realize that the only followers that cannot be returned are those captured by another player with the Tower. Carcassonne has, in other words, finally recognized it has expansions and done a quick answer to a future question. Thank you Hans im Glück for anticipating our concerns.

Inconclusion
There is much to weigh when purchasing this expansion. First and foremost, is the expansion worth the cost of another base game? Yes, if you don't own the game. The meeple-box is cute and will be a conversation topic. Just don't expect the box to last forever. The new tiles and rules will provide an easy introduction to far more complex expansions later. If you already own a base game (or two), this expansion is probably beyond your reach. The new tiles don't really add much to the aesthetic quality or variety of Carcassonne and the inferior quality of the entire box would only diminish the quality of the collection as a whole. The only reason I got the tiles was because I purchased them for a door prize at my wedding and swiped the ten expansion tiles in the process. Had I not had a wedding, I would probably have given the set to someone who did not yet have it. I mean, it is unique with the five sets of eight transparent meeples. But I'd recommend giving it to a casual gamer to preserve the integrity of the box. In any case, the expansion does add a very necessary simple rule to the game that, especially for large games, could help keep a constant flow of meeples available.

Playability: A
Affordability: B- (must buy 10th Anniversary Edition)
Compatibility (with expansions): A-
Aesthetics: C
Learning Curve: A
FINAL SCORE: B+

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