Now that I’ve brainwashed some of you folks on the recent (within the last 10-15 years) renaissance experienced in board games, I’m going to talk in annoyingly long detail about our favorite family game, Carcassonne.

For the basics, you can go here.

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About the ONLY game that has more expansions than Carcassonne is Magic The Gathering. Carcassonne has an ever increasing expansion list, and many of these expansions can’t even be found in a standard US game store (local or on-line) because its manufacturing company, Hans Um Gluck, is in Germany. As such, getting the latest expansions before the US release can be an expensive challenge.

Unlike Magic the Gathering, the concept of rarity is not one of market driven scarcity, but one of “they haven’t released this in the United States yet, so where on the Earth can I buy this where the international shipping fees won’t kill my interest for this expansion set”? (Hint: Where the French hosers … uh… hose.)

But that’s why I’m here. To tell you what the Carc Maniacs over at Steelaraza like, so that you can hunt it down yourself! So if you like Carcassonne like we do, here’s how to spruce it up!

If you don’t like Carcassonne, I gotta ask: Seriously, what’s WRONG WITH YOU??? STOP READING THIS!!! Otherwise your eyes will roll-over in your skull and bad things will happen. I’ve seen it before. It’s not pretty.

Those that are interested, read on…

So I’ve got the list of expansions broken down by “Stuff We Own and Play With”, “Stuff We Own and Don’t Play With”, “Stuff We Don’t Own but if We Did We Would Play with It” and “Stuff We Won’t Buy and Why”.

Expansions:

We’ve Got These and MUST play with them when we play at home

The River I and II— These are starting tiles that “split” the French landscape a bit and separate farmer fields on either side… until the farms reach around the end of the river!

It also has a certain aesthetic feel to it when the game reaches toward the end and you survey what you’ve created!

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Inns and Cathedrals

Inns (small inn with a little lake next to a road) make a 1-pt road a 2-pt road… but only if it’s completed! Similarly, a Cathedral added to a completed city makes each tile worth 3-pts rather than the usual 2, but if it’s unfinished at the end of the game… The Carcassonne Points Nazi says: “No partial points for YOU!” Lastly, there’s a BIG but still proportional meeple that counts as 2 followers in a feature, which helps to break ties or ‘steal’ other people’s existing cities/roads/farms.

Traders and Builders

For completed cities – certain tiles give a “utility” of ribbon, wine, or wheat. Whomever has the most of any one utility gets 10 points at the end of the game.

Builders – add this to an existing incomplete city with a follower, then any tile that’s added to that incomplete city gives you an extra tile to place that turn!

Pig – Pig added to an existing farm gives an extra point per city!

Abbey and Mayor – An abbey is an orange tile that can only be placed when there is a + pattern missing its center. The abbey completes all features in it, can operate as a cloister, and also closes off fields accordingly.

The Mayor (We nickname him “Hammer Pants” over here at steelaraza central) counts as 1-follower per pendant in a city. So he’s ONLY good in a city, but for those Mega-o-polis multi-tiled cities, the Mayor is a great guy to use to get color majority and take the whole darn she-bang.

Additionally, a wagon adds a point to each road, can be used as a follower elsewhere, and when a feature is completed, it can actively transition to an incomplete feature nearby.

Lastly, a barn can be placed in a field, forcing premature scoring of farmers and higher scoring of cities and castles later.

Bridges, Castles and Bazaars

Bridges can extend a road over a tile or feature. While we play with them about half the time, we rarely actually USE them. (We’re just not Carc Road Warriors).

Castles, however, next to huge farms, are used frequently in our games. Castles can be formed with the “football” cities of 2-tiles of back-to-back. Rather than take the four points, the Castle takes a knight and duplicates the points of the next completed feature in the 2×3 tile pattern around it.. Usually placed next to a mega-o-polis, unless another player starts hate-placing to get the castle to complete on a nearby tiny road (or even stranger, HELP the city complete EARLIER so it DOESN’T GROW TOO BIG), the points from that mega-o-polis then DOUBLE UP. Castles are HUGE in our games.

Bazaars – (“How Bizarre, How Bazaar!” – sorry, another in-joke) These tiles are placed per normal rules. Then a tile per player is pulled out and players start bidding victory points on the tiles based on their perception of usefulness. Yes, you can bid “0”.

It also works in terms of “hate drafting” if you KNOW your opponent needs that last tile for that farm/mega-o-polis, but word to the married folks that play this game – this is the sort of thing that can send you to the couch later. 😉

The Phantom – The Phantom is the ONLY meeple that can “break” one of the basic Carcassonne rules – namely, it can be placed as a second meeple on a separate feature at the time of playing a single tile. It’s best used on things that are small but immediately completed points… getting the Phantom back means you can use them again… and again, and again. Playing against your opponents, if you can make a feature harder (or impossible) to complete, then they can’t get the Phantom back and you deny them future points. (Another spouse-to-couch maneuver, but only if you’re obvious about it.) 😉

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The Minis – This was the set that I mentioned hadn’t seen US release at the time that I purchased it. There are six sets, and once the whole six are acquired, a seventh set is also available. I’ll let my BGG review speak for itself.

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Cult, Siege, and Creativity

Cult – it’s an anti-cloister. If the 3×3 grid shares squares with the 3×3 grid of a cloister, only ONE of the two can be completed. If it is by “itself”, it’s basically a cloister.

Siege – makes the cities 1-pt per tile, but farms that service the sieged city make more points off it. One of Valerie’s recent favorites.

Creativity – blank tiles. Make your own! (We haven’t yet.)

More basic pieces! – nobody never said you couldn’t get more meeples and tiles! So we took advantage of a ding and dent sale at Black Diamond Games recently and got another basic Carcassonne set.

We Own These, but rarely play with them

The Tower — you can kidnap and trade already-on-the-ground meeples, which would be great to shut down Valerie’s farmer strategy, which I suspect is why we don’t play with this!

The Count – we played with this guy once, but as starting tiles, we prefer the River

King and Scout – it’s an award – bonus points for most completed cities (the King) or roads (Scout), so the accounting gets to be a bit much

The Princess and the Dragon – another dragon-meeple eater expansion – move the Dragon around, eat other meeples! There’s also a “magic portal” warp feature to the tiles that’s just odd. Since we’re not about active meeple denial, we don’t play with this one much.

We Don’t Have These Yet

The School — (a promotional tile only available at last year’s Spiel Des Jahres)

The Catapult — (available, but seems silly – catapulting meeples?)

The Wheel of Fortune — (haven’t tried this yet, but heard it adds a bit of luck to the game, which is weird)

The Tunnel, The Corn Circles and The Plague – these expansions have a sad story for US/Euro game distribution. The US distributor (up until recently) was Rio Grande Games. The German distributor recently changed up its US distributor, and in doing so, prevented the release of this expansion through Rio Grande. Very frustrating, especially since the German expansions were released one at a time.

Available in the spielbox game magazine (and don’t have these yet)

The Mini Expansion – this one I totally want, if only for THIS. A River end tile that splits the farms around the end!

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Don’t Know Enough about these, but they are out there… somewhere

Little Buildings

The Festival

The Windrose

Acquiring said expansions:

First of all – the easiest and cheapest way to get the meatier expansions, especially if you don’t own Carcassonne yet, would be to run to your online retailer and get the Carcassonne Big Box Edition. There are three (with a fourth on the way), and each one comes with slightly DIFFERENT expansions. The one currently in print is Big Box 3.

For those expansions that are only available internationally, I must recommend looking no farther than Godboma, a great on-line board game store in Quebec. We purchased Carcassonne The Minis from them (as a set of six).

That’s right, those wacky French Canadians finally did something right for their neighbors down south! They have a good source of German-made board-games about the French Countryside while keeping a much cheaper international shipping cost than Europe. So thanks, hosers!

 

Keeping it all Together:

In order to figure out how these all interact together, as well as a one place for ALL the rules file, click this link and load this PDF up into your mobile device.

Finally, once you start expanding your Carcassonne tile collection, one major suggestion I’d make would be to go to a art supplies store (Beverly’s, Michael’s, …) and get one of those big translucent plastic boxes with multiple cubby hole boxes. The one Valerie found was IDEAL in holding everything together, plus it’s very transportable.

In terms of putting it all BACK in the same place, the expansion tiles all have a small icon (or some other graphic) indicating which set it belongs to.

Lastly, if you play with as many tiles as we do, you might want to consider adding more players! Other meeple colors exist! You can find them here!

That’s it! Carcassonne is a great game, and playing it with a large group of expansions is truly a EuroGame Calvinball at its finest!!

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