Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The post formerly known as ""

For no particular reason, things last night were a little ... different.
We were all being a little silly...

Our first game of Carcassonne took a beating for it.

We threw in the "King and Scout" and "Inns and Cathedrals" expansions. Kozure was siting out, but HilzaCanuck (the lovely better half of our very own Shemp Duchamp) joined in. The game was sort of a disaster from the get go. I can't explain it, but between a constant stream of bad jokes and strange tangents we wound up with the most tortured landscape I've ever seen in the game. Almost nothing was finished. To put things in perspective, just before scoring the final endgame points (King/Scout, farmers,etc) the average score was roughly 12! It was sad.

Then, we moved on to ToG. Things got serious real quick.
Whereas our earlier games were characterized by lots of bidding and rash spending, this game was decidely stingy. If a bid made it ALL THE WAY to 20, well that was an event. Entire turns went with only one bid, and offers for 5 or 10 were the rule. In fact, if any player ever got the sense that you actually WANTED a certain action, there was no way in hell you'd get it. I seem to remember that we broke the bank last game.. we did NOT this time.
I started the game with the idea that I would concentrate on delivering messages, but I simply couldn't make it work. I then tried to gather a few Privilege cards for endgame dollars, but again didn't get too far (I managed 5). ToG is a hard game to control, and the more I play it, the more it seems like the kind of game where the player who can make most of the moment will come out on top. Each individual deal is more important than the over reaching strategy. Missing a turn is deadly, and not maximizing your profits as the owner of the tower is even worse.
If there's a sure fire way to win this one, I don't know it! (and my final score, tied for last, shows that pretty clearly)

We closed of with a second game of Carcassonne. This time we added "The Count" expansion to the mix. Where "King and Scout" expansion seemed to steal an idea from Settlers of Catan (Longest Road, Biggest City), "The Count" steals from El Grande. "The Count" expansion adds the City of Carcassonne as the starting point for the game (It is 3 tiles high and 4 tiles wide). A purple marker, the Count, is positioned on one of 4 stations. Whenever a player scores points for another player, without scoring any for him(her)self, that player may place a follower into a location in the city. Later, when something is scored (road, city, cloister or farm), any Meeples in the appropriate section of the city can be "parachuted in" to help win the majority (similarly to the Castillo in El Grande). Another similarity to El Grande: The count prevents any Meeples from entering or leaving the area he is in.
This expansion REALLY changes the feel of the game. Weighing the pros and cons of helping other players in order to put Meeples into the city is not easy. Planning ahead to make sure you won't suddenly be outnumbered by an other player's cavalry is not easy. Farmers, in particular, a very powerful in the city, since they aren't locked to a specific place they are easy toto send to the farms which need them the most (of course, this is easily offset by the danger of losing them all if the Count is in their space at the end of the game). Fun addition, but certainly not a light one. Good for people who want to ratchet up the strategy in the game.

Until next time...


  1. Hmm ... going avant garde, and leaving off a title, eh? I don't know about that - I don't know about that at all.

    On to the games - Carcassonne - yeah, that first game was wierd. I'll just chalk it up to warming up. The second game was very interesting - I like the "Prince" variation a lot, but don't have a good handle on what would be a good strategy, as yet. When combined with the "King & Scout" set, the two expansions set up a tension between opposing incentives. The Prince motivates you to help your fellow players complete cities or roads, and the usual thing to do would be to help them complete low-scoring cities and roads. HOWEVER, the presence of the King and Scout amplify the value of little cities and roads for whoever holds the King or Scout. I've not yet formulated a way to surf that dynamic. I do plan to, though, in the near future.

    ToG: Yeah, nowhere near our scores of last time, and we were only four players instead of five, so the bank was not threatened. Last time the high score was over 800, and there were at least 3 players with scores above 600, which was enough to win it this time. I was impressed with how close the game was - a margin of only 5 between first and second should inspire further stinginess next time, I would guess.

    Two observations: I definitely timed things incorrectly, because by the time the last round rolled around, I had NOTHING LEFT TO DO, and wasn't goig to spend any extra money to get a task I was unlikely to fulfill. So time management needs to enter into my calculations next time - I had a whole round without any real profit opportunity. Secondly, I agree that one needs to maximize profits on one's turn controlling the tower. I ended the turn early a couple of times, for strategic reasons, and it really hurt my bottom line.

    Lastly - I thought it was interesting that everyone is finally trying to get in on the Cathedral action. It really changes the feel of things.

    Great picks, Easy!

  2. Shemp,

    First, the Carcassonne expansion is titled "The Count", not "The Prince".

    Second, what do you mean by "Cathedral Action" in ToG... I super happy I got in on it, but I don't know what it was...

  3. You know, Cathedral action! Usually you are the only one getting building tokens, or at least the only one doing it aggressively.

    This time, everyone was going that route.


    And: Count, Schmount, Prince, Schmrince. Royalty, Schmroyalty.

  4. Hey, I missed a rating: Let's give the Count expansion of Carcassonne and EIGHT.

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