Sunday, February 19

One, Ah, Ah, Ah...

So, I got my first taste of the Count of Carcassonne today in a couple of games with the wife. In the first game we didn't really comprehend it, and failed to use any of the new game mechanics, in the second I forced myself to go against my instinct to use the new mechanics just to see how it worked.

The new tiles and wooden piece are just as attractive as the original pieces, and the new mechanics give you a method of treating your limited number of followers as reserves, placing them in the city of Carcassonne where you can use them to help you claim cities, farms, roads and cloisters as they are completed. You can choose which to claim as they are scored, rather then when you place the tile which reduces the speculative nature of placing followers. In addition, the fact that you can only place a follower in the city when you have given your opponent points means that you change the way you interact with the other players which also makes things more interesting.

The main downside is that it definitely increases the complexity of Carcassonne, and its fixed starting position (not one but twelve tiles!), reduces the variation between games.

I'll have to play it a bunch more times before I can firmly make a call on it, but the early impressions are it'll be nice to play once in a while, but I think I'll still prefer the basic game most of the time.

In summary, the new mechanics noticably change the play of Carcassonne, it becomes a totally different game, and while this will increase the longevity of the game it definitely makes it more complicated. Carcassonne has always seemed a game you won't bore of, it plays quickly (30-45mins), it's very simple and yet there is a great depth of strategy involved and you usually feel that games are won or lost by your moves rather than your luck. Is the Count worth it? Well it only cost £3, so probably yes, but it doesn't significantly improve the game - just changes it.

Saturday, February 18

New Look, New Games

What do you think? The wife has gone to town on the design and boy does it look gorgeous :-)

In other news, I bought Puerto Rico from Rio Grande Games, and the Count expansion for Carcassonne today, hopefully I'll get a chance to play them tomorrow when we go round to friends for dinner - look out for some feedback soon.

In yet more news, I've spent a little time working on Codename: Dollyo again, so I will try to post about some design in the next couple of days.

Sunday, February 12

Carcassonne extensions: first impressions

Hello. Mal here. Jack’s been kind enough to invite me to join the gaming party.

So, without further ado, and for a change, it’s Carcassonne. Specifically, the Carcassonne extension packs, The Count of Carcassonne and The King And Scout. I bought both of these packs yesterday and they seem to be of wildly different complexities. I’ve yet to play with them, but here are my first impressions from a skim through the rules.

The Count of Carcassonne
Muckle rock hard to understand! You get an extra 12 tiles to start the game, placed in a pre-ordained arrangement. These tiles form a large city, the city having 4 quarters (districts rather than literal quarters). The Count, a purplish meeple reminiscent of the "One! ah ah ah, Two! ah ah ah", Sesame Street character, is placed in one of these quarters and... oh, I don’t know... he, like, controls either cloisters or roads or farms or whatever.
I’ve probably got it completely wrong already, but suffice it to say your meeples can be placed in the city along with the Count and the position of said purple fella affects the scoring of the various ’trades’. As I said, it’s not a simple thing. Once I’ve had a game or three, I’ll write it up properly, but for now, I think I’m gonna ease myself in with...
The King and Scout
Or, more accurately, The King. This extension pack is actually 2 separate extensions: one for the original Carcassonne; and one for the Hunters & Gatherers edition. Given that neither Jack nor I have the latter, it’s the King part I’m interested in. To say that this extension is simple would be an understatement. All it boils down to is a few new tiles (just 5 of them!) and a couple more scoring mechanisms. These new scoring mechanisms are simply Longest Road and Largest City bonuses. In other words, the person with the longest completed road at the end of the game gets one extra point for every completed road in the game, regardless of who ’owned’ it. Same thing for the largest city. Whether I needed to buy the extension pack to get these variations in the game is a matter I’ll be chatting to my wallet about.

As I say, I’ll write up a proper review of these two once I’ve had a shot with them. Hopefully then I’ll actually be able to explain the Count, ah ah ah!

Thursday, February 9

Buntu Circus!

Jochen came round this afternoon for a few games and we ended up playing 'The Buntu Circus' by The Buntu Circus Ltd. a great game I got about 6 or 7 years ago, and haven't played for ages. The game is interesting, and very different from anything else I've got, it certainly provides a mental challenge and is a nice balance of skill and luck.

After that we played four games of Carcassonne - it's great!

Monday, February 6

More Carcassonne

Got a few more games of Carcassonne in last night before Mal left, and I finally won one. The key to Carcassonne is definitely the farmers, you need to pick the area you farm though, in one game, Mal and I both ended up with four farmers on a single field - which severely limits the number of men you have available for other point-winning schemes.

I'm thinking of buying a new game soon, not sure what though. I'll probably go for a 'Spiele Des Jahres' winner as I've come up trumps with them in the past. Anyone got any suggestions?

I'm hoping to get another game of Twilight Imperium 3rd Edition in soon, it's a fantastic game, the downside is that it takes a whole day to play, and because it's so complex, and we play so infrequently, you spend most of the day trying to remember the rules :-(

Sunday, February 5


This new blog serves a dual purpose, allowing me to post about progress with the board games I'm inventing, and to allow my friends and I to review and recommend board games they've played.

Off the bat, I played several games of Carcassonne from Hans Im Gluck games last night with The Wife and Mal, and then just Mal. I lost them all, but I'm still loving Carcassonne - it is a truly excellent game that doesn't pale with lots of play.

Carcassonne was a winner of the prestigous 'Spiele Des Jahres' German board game award, and I'm finding that to be a reliable indicator of a game's quality.