Carcassonne: The Princess & the Dragon
English language edition of Carcassonne: Burgfräulein und Drache
List Price: $17.50
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In this expansion for the prize-winning Carcassonne, we move into the realm of fantasy. The land around Carcassonne is being visited by a dragon, making life very difficult for the followers. Brave heroes venture forth to face the danger, but without the aid of the fairies, their chances are not good. In the city, the princess seeks help from the knights, and farmers build secret passages to move about undetected by the dragon. We hope you enjoy this special trip into the land of Carcassonne!
Here is one of the cooler expansions, this is what I call a major expansion. Major because it adds new game functionality, new game mechanics, and/or new game pieces, and this supplies all of that. Although we no longer observe the rules to play the dragon, we've played it enough times to know the value of this expansion.
This expansion helps you outscore your opponents while at the same time saving you from a potentially handicapping maneuver. The dragon "bumps" meeples back to their owners pool, so if you're building a huge feature, and someone tries to "horn in" on your stuff, you can try to fly the dragon to them and kick them OUT! I like this feature a lot, and it's just fun to fly the dragon along. I think Hans im Glück got the idea for this from Drakon? It sure seems like the way the Drakon dragon works. In any event you can also send the dragon over to your own meeple, just in case you've been "boxed in" and can't get out. Like I said, helps get the fudgies out! One of the most coolest aspects of this however is, during such a move, if you knock your opponent's meeple out of a feature where only his builder remains....the builder comes off the board too!!!! So the potential to really screw someone up in multiple ways is afforded to you with the purchase of this nice little number. And even if you eventually abandon the dragon rules entirely as me and my gaming buddies have, you can still use the awesome new landscape tiles to great benefit in future games. I give this one a 4 star rating because the mechanics aren't overpowering, the new landscape tiles can be used even if the dragon rules aren't, and the new tiles themselves have some very kewl features.
Remember you can't drop the DRAGON in someone's lap, if you're not playing the game!!!!
(I'm assuming that those reading this review already know how to play basic Carcassonne)
I have to admit that I'm a sucker for expansions to Carcassonne - the basic system is great, and each succeeding expansion has added to the game. While each expansion certainly isn't necessary to enjoy the game (in fact, I'd recommend new players to get Carcassonne: the City first), they add enough options to make the game interesting. Even with all of the current expansions added to the game, Carcassonne's complexity isn't that high.
But you're here to read about Carcassonne: the Princess and the Dragon (Rio Grande Games, 2005 - Klaus-Jurgen Wrede). It adds a level of confrontation hitherto unknown in the Carcassonne universe - one that will please many people and possibly annoy others. It certainly raises the "mean" factor of the game with meeples being removed from the board. There are some who don't enjoy this added level of harshness, but for me it adds just enough confrontation to make the game fun. A small level of chaos is added to the game with the entrance of the dragon, but more choices are also allowed.
1.) Dragon: By far, the dragon, a large wooden "meeple", is the most intimidating part of the new expansion. There are six volcano tiles included in the expansion - a normal tile with a volcano on it. When a player adds one of these tiles to the game, they immediately place the dragon on the tile, rather than one of their meeples. There are then twelve tiles that show the picture of a dragon on them. When one of these tiles is added to the board, play pauses for the dragon to move.
The dragon moves six spaces, with the following restrictions:
- The player who placed the tile moves the dragon the first space, with each player taking a turn in clockwise order.
- The dragon cannot go to the same tile twice. This may mean that he may hit a dead end and be unable to continue six spaces.
- The dragon may not enter the same space as the "fairy" meeple.
- Every meeple piece, regardless of type, that is on a tile that the dragon comes through "dies" and is returned to their owner.
This, of course, makes the dragon a very dangerous entity. If multiple players are playing, they can gang up one person who is building a "mega city".
The dragon makes the meeples who control the huge farms not quite so dangerous. Players must always be on the lookout for the dragon and keep tabs on its location - so as to avoid getting killed. At the same time, I've seen players kill their own farmers, pigs, etc. just so that they can use them in other locations. Some people hate having their meeples killed, but they can either use the fairy as protection or try to avoid the dragon altogether.
2.) The Fairy: The expansion is called the PRINCESS and the dragon, but the most interesting piece in the game is the fairy, a little white meeple. Whenever a player plays a tile but places no meeple on that tile, they may place the fairy next to any of their meeples on the board instead.
The fairy protects that meeple from the dragon, as well as giving the player who controls the meeple three extra points when scoring the farm, city, road, or cloister that the meeple is on. Also, if a player starts their turn, and they already control the fairy, they gain an additional point! No one wants to see anyone else pick up a free point each turn, so the fairy gets moved around a lot. This gives players a decent amount of options. No longer will players complain when they don't draw the tile they need (okay, I'm kidding here - the complaining will always occur), because they can instead choose to move the fairy.
The fairy is a desperate maneuver to protect your meeple in the "mega city" and also a way to get extra points.
3.) Princess: Six city tiles have a picture of a princess on them. When a player places these tiles in a city, they must remove one of the meeple knights in that city from the game. While the dragon is annoying, at least you can see it coming. The princess is EVIL and cannot be defended against by the fairy. I really don't have much of a problem with using the princess, however, because she causes players to focus on roads and cloisters a little more, instead of trying to score myriads of points from cities.
4.) Magic Portals: Six tiles show a magic portal. When a player draws one of these, they can place their meeple either on that tile or on any feature in the game that is both unfinished and unoccupied. This adds a neat twist to the game and makes these some of the most valuable tiles there are. See an empty cloister that's almost surrounded? Now your meeple can "warp" in thanks to the portal tiles.
5.) Other tiles: Some of the dragon tiles have some cool features - like a cloister in a city and a road that goes under a city. Others have good combinations that allow holes in the grid to be filled. Still, better combinations have occurred in other expansions - the dragon and fairy are the reasons to buy this set.
6.) FAQ: I saw a few complaints about how the Princess and the Dragon were confusing when combined with all the other expansions. Apparently there was a necessary FAQ on the internet that was long, detailed, and annoying. So I looked up and read the FAQ online, and was surprised at how short, simple, and easy it was. In fact every question that was asked I had already figured out the correct answer for! Yes, compared to the shear simplicity of regular Carcassonne, this expansion is more complicated - but only a little.
I really enjoyed this expansion; it's my favorite so far. The competitiveness of the expansion, and the fact that the board becomes less static, makes it a much more interesting game for me. No longer will the largest cities win the game. No longer will farmers dominate in huge fields; the dragon eats all alike with no mercy. The dragon and fairy meeples look cool on the board, and the new tiles fit in seamlessly with the rest of the game.
If you like Carcassonne, but wish it had more of a "take that" feel, then this expansion should be your first choice.
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