My Sea Hag got Sea Hagged... might as well drink my own piss
Recently, I have gotten back into playing Carcassonne after a few years of it sitting on the shelf while newer games were getting played. After playing a few games with my brother over the past couple of weeks, I decided it was time to add another expansion to my collection. I already have The River I, Traders & Builders, and Inns & Cathedrals so the question was where to go from there. I have played with the Princess & Dragon expansion as well as The Tower and dislike the core concept of each: capturing/removing Meeples from the board. After much deliberation and research into the other available options, I decided on Bridges, Castles, and Bazaars.
After reviewing the rules, we were ready for our first game with the new expansion. I had decided, based entirely on what I had read in the rules and here on BGG, that my favorite new element was going to be the Bridges, then Castles, then finally the Bazaars. I wasn't really sure what to expect with Bazaars in a two-player game. I kept my expectations low for them, but also was hopeful that it was more exciting than many people were saying with only 2 people.
Soon after the river the was placed, we were already embarking on our first mega-city. He had placed a follower along with his builder into one portion of the city, while I had my big follower in another city with intentions to connect them and steal the city. A third city was created nearby where my brother placed his big follower, and now with the right piece, all three cities could be connected.
Our first bazaar was drawn by my brother and one of the tiles drawn by the bazaar was the connecting piece for the city. I only bid 6 points the piece (maybe could have gone more, but it was early and it probably wasn't worth trying to save what I could from that city at that point) and my brother decided to buy it and connect the three cities. I had placed a castle nearby in an attempt to cash in on the points of the mega-city if it ever got completed, but my brother finished off a nearby road (with an Inn luckily) for me which completed the castle as well. After a few more turns, I placed a piece to create a "hole" in the city which was going to make it hard to close for my brother.
My tile-drawing luck started to change at this point and it turned out to be one of the best tile drawing games that I had ever had playing a game of Carcassonne. Some of the highlights included drawing what turned out to be the only piece which would have closed my brother's city and placing it elsewhere, drawing a bazaar which then drew the piece I needed to complete a large city which contained 2 cathedrals (I ended up buying it for 8 points, but would have easily bought it for 15-20 points), and the final piece of the game contained the final endcap for a seperate 30-point city that I was working on and completed a nearby castle for me as well for a whopping 60 points on my final turn.
Final Score: 299-153 (slightly disappointed that I didnt reach 300 points )
Final Verdict: Bridges, Castles, and Bazaars is a great expansion to Carcassonne. I ended up liking Bazaars the best as they really add a thinking element to the game forcing you to decide the worth of a single tile. Even with 2 players, it was an important part of the game. Castles can be swingy, but they force you to be aware of what you complete as you might also give away points to an opponent. Bridges were useful, but didn't end up being as game-changing as I thought they were going to be (at least for this game). There was lots of added strategy and fun to go around.