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Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers
English language edition of Carcassonne: Die Jäger und Sammler
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More than a thousand years before the great city of Carcassonne was built, the area was settled by stone-age tribes. These people hunted wild animals, gathered nuts and berries, and caught fish in the nearby streams to provide themselves with the basics. Even today, there remain fantastic cave paintings and archaeological finds that provide evidence of their existence and give us an understanding of their lives.
As with Carcassonne, the game of the year in Germany in 2001, the players play land tiles to create a beautiful landscape, with scattered wild animals like mammoths and saber-toothed tigers. They populate the landscape with hunters and gatherers and build huts to live in. Rivers, filled with fish, snake through the landscape. The game also includes rare, but very useful special cards. There are many new things to discover in this prehistoric Carcassonne.
Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers is brand new, but retains the challenge, fun, and excitement of the original Carcassonne. Players who know Carcassonne will pick up this new game quickly. Others will learn it as quickly as players learned and loved the original.
Players: 2 - 5
Time: 30 - 45 minutes
Ages: 8 and up
Weight: 880 grams
All-Time Sales Rank: #40
Language Requirements: Game components are language-independent. Manufacturer's rules are printed in English. This is an international edition or domestic edition of an imported item.
- 79 land tiles
- 12 bonus cards
- 5 scoring cards
- 30 wooden tribe members in 5 colors
- 10 wooden huts in 5 colors
- 10 green wooden discs
- 1 scoring track
- 1 rulebook
Average Rating: 4.5 in 25 reviews
Well I've just recently purchased the final chapter in this fantastic series of games from Rio Grande and Hans im Glück. This I believe was the first spin-off from the parent game, Carcassonne, but I may be mistaken? I have so far reviewed most of the Carcassonne family, I'm just now getting around to finishing off the expansions (major and minor) as well as some other games I've recently played and/or purchased. So with that said, I can offer the casual gamer this word of advice, if you're interested in this series, there is no one bad entry, except perhaps Carcassonne: The Castle, which I think is the poorest attempt of the bunch, other than that you won't hurt your game closet to get any Carcassonne game that's out there.
I really like this version, it's primitive, instead of Castles, you build Forests, instead of Farms you build Pastures for hunting, and instead of Roads, you build River Systems (and segments) for fishing. If you have the one and only expansion (a minor expansion) you can build an extra "Gold Nugget" or bonus tile when you close a forest possessing a nugget. The mechanics are exactly like those of the original, and strategies are equally as similar. The tiles are pretty, a summer theme as opposed to the latest incarnation (New World) which has a fall template. Most of the other versions have a "weather neutral" theme but, one could argue that Carcassonne has a "spring" template. In any event the game plays well, is simple to learn, and is very portable. I don't recommend it as a camping, hiking or travel game, but you could certainly take it over to Grandma's for the holiday festivities. Scoring works very much like the original game, with one exception, the Hut. The hut scores on river systems only, and once down stays down until the end game scoring.
In a word, this game rocks on so many levels, there's a Carcassonne theme to fit every gamer, and like I said, the whole series is a knock out triumph from Europe, with the exception of one poor entry.
And remember, you can't pass GO if you're not playing the game!
For those new to the Carcassonne 'franchise', there is plenty to like with Carcassonne Hunters & Gatherers: nice graphics, fairly straightforward rules, tons of replayability, etc. For those who like and play the first Carcassonne -- myself included -- they may find this sequel to be far better, less luck, and more interesting 'parts.' Sounds good, don't it? You betcha!
You know the old adage: 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it', and that maxim is nearly as true in board games as it is with movies and their own sequels. So, let's get it out in the open: Hunters & Gatherers is quite derivative of the original Carcassonne. For example, where in Carcassonne (we'll call it 'CC') made large cities and placed knights on them, in H&G (Hunters & Gatherers) you now build forests and place, well...uh...knights on them (well, their called gatherers now, but we're not fooled! =) There is a lot of the same elements here as CC: cities became forests, roads became rivers, and fields became fields (sort of.) There are some significant changes though, don't get me wrong, and all for the better, I think. For one, the scoring system for each of the elements has been altered (all for the better), so, while familiar, new tactics must be employed.
One example is the forests. Where before, in CC, a city might grow to be a sprawling metropolis with many players vying for control, H&G tends to produce small forests (cities). Why? A small tweak in gameplay: if a forest has gold in it, whichever player FINISHES the forest, even if he has no one in it, gets an extra turn which is often a high scoring tile. So players are constantly finishing others' forests to acquire the extra turns. It makes for more checks and balances, and means that a player will very rarely take a 20 point boost from a stolen area (something that happens all too often in CC.) The price is a little less interaction. In my playings, players are far less likely to involve themselves in a competition for forests as they used to for cities.
'Farming' has gotten a lot easier to score and keep track of, which is worth a lot to my enjoyment of the game. Throw out the whole farmers-servicing-cities concept. Now you simply get two points for every animal in your field (farm) except tigers who eat deer. Easier to score, easier to keep track of. This makes it easier to introduce to new gamers, and makes the game less swingy, since now their is a way to contain runaway field points -- keep adding tigers to your opponent's fields. =)
The most original and enjoyable change is how rivers work. Like the CC roads, you score one point per section of river, with the river (CC: road) ending in either forests (CC: cities) or lakes (CC: intersections) but now you also get bonus points for the number of fish in any lakes at either end. Chances are good you can pick up extra points by extending rivers out of lakes.
And the best change is the addition of huts. Thse wooden huts are played on rivers like regular 'meeple', but they score for the ENTIRE fish population of a river system -- all continguous rivers and lakes conected by water to the hut. Really fun scoring system for that, and no equivalent in the original game.
All in all, this game has slightly less 'teaming up', but far more tactical play, closer scores, and more interesting gameplay. Anyone who owns CC may think that they are getting so much of the same game in H&G as to not be worth the purchase. If you are on a tight budget and have CC, I suggest trying H&G before buying, but I do suggest trying. If you don't own CC, H&G is, im my opinion, a far better game. And another catch is that for CC to get interesting, you really need to get the 2nd expansion, Builders& Traders. With H&G you get a better game that doesn't need a $10 expansion!
I rated the original Carcassonne a 4: accessible and cheap, and niec to look at. I give H&G a 5. It is one of the best games I've played, plays well 2-5 players in about 30 minutes. A no brainer for every collection.
While the original Carcassonne is a good game, it has some flaws. Most importantly, the robbers and monks are not worth enough. Also, depending on how people play, the winner is often the one who owns the largest farm. This makes the farmers dominate play.
These flaws have been eliminated in Hunters and Gatherers by replacing the monks with 'huts' and replacing the robbers with fisherman. Both the huts and the fisherman tend to score more points than their counterparts from the original game. Also, the farmers have been replaced with hunters which are not nearly as dominating since the tigers can take away some of their points.
My only suggestions for improvement are that 1) the shrine card be eliminated and 2) the number of tiles should be adjusted so that no one gets an extra turn. Both these suggestions are easy to incorporate.
Carcassonne H&G is the most popular game in our family.
1. As long as one person can read the rules, it requires no reading or English to play the game
2. The tiles are attractive
3. The fields are not 'blank' as they tend to be in the original, so players tend to develop their own favorite strategies, which is fun in family play.
4. We have a few games that are very unsatisfactory until the 'extensions' are purchased. Trouble is, an 'extension' set tends to add to playing time, which in family life is often limited by other commitments and childrens' stamina. We DO play H&G together with the original game (Sir, there's a mammoth at the gates...), but H&G plays in under an hour by itself - perfect! The original seems to have more complex pieces, interesting to look at, but strategy is no more difficult than for H&G. If you are not going to have half-day sessions with multiple extensions, H&G is a great choice.
5. It is easier to cooperate, helpful when very young or new players join in.
I have played this game during lunch break at work about 3 times a week for the last 12 months, and it still has me wanting to play it again. There is so much depth in the strategy/tactics... yet despite this, it is also an excellent *light* game or *filler* game.
It is also the perfect (better than settlers) way to introduce non-gamers to 'real' games (i.e. something better than monopoly), because it is actually fun to place the tiles and score points along the way, but not so simple, because you have to balance that with the longer-term hunters and huts.
Two-player is very cut-throat (which I like), and three-player fun, whilst still very skill based. Having four or five players changes the tactics completely, makes it even more fun, but introduces more luck.
Games can last two hours if you let them, but most seem to last about 40 to 60 mins. I've played with a chess clock too, and finished two games in under 55 mins!
I have played with mixed groups (experts and newbies) and it is still fun for everyone despite the skill-gap.
This is a great game by any standards... add this one to the collection, or buy it as your first game.
This is one of the better - even amongst the best - freeform family table/board games we've played. Whilst it seems a little befuddling, the rules and gameplay are incredibly simple, but end up producing a challenging, interesting and (as has been said) a beautiful game as the tiles evolve into a complex landscape.
The multi-layer point scoring is fun, inducing an intricacy into the tile laying which makes you think. The tight limits on 'pieces' (which can be hunters or gatherers or fisherfolk) able to be placed adds to the interest. Do you get a quick score now or place a piece for later? Will it be wasted? Indeed, one of the nice parts of the game is the ability to place a tile, lay a piece and score immediately - it adds to the game play.
Overall - one game and we were hooked!
Okay, I'm not German, but I do love German/foreign games. I've gamed for years, but lost interest until I discovered the world of foreign games with Settlers of Catan...I've been hooked ever since, buying every new game that gets translated.
This one (great price too) is fantastic, simple to learn, visually fun, and quick to play. Some may accuse the game of too much luck or being too cute, but after awhile, due to all the tile combinations, strategy takes over and luck is limited.
I win 80% of my games and I personally do not believe I am a lucky player, but a skillful one.
Variations: choose three cards at once and play the one you want and return the others (or keep them to play in your order), this reduces luck.
Granted it has an element of luck and long-term play the strategy level is limited, but if you like the concept of puzzle building and want to play in an hour, this game is amazing fun.
Never judge a game after one play, trust me, some of my favorite games, I disliked on the first play...also the crowd you play with makes a difference. Make sure you have a good size table and no cats.
Good Gaming. -JDM
Allow me to be one of the apparently rare people who had never played the original Carcassonne before picking up H&G...mainly due to recommendations on this web site I decided that the more appealing theme of the original wasn't worth the less balanced game play, thus, this review is from the perspective of a Carcassonne virgin.
I think it's understandable but unfair for people to give this game bad reviews in light of it's derivative nature. While that gives a fair perspective to people who already own the original it's not giving newcomers a balanced view of the game, and it's not helping them to pick which version is better for their needs.
Anyway, on to the review...
H&G is such a simple game to learn...draw a tile, lay a tile, possibly lay a meeple, score some points, rinse, repeat. The interesting point is trying to get creative with tiles that don't look as though they're immediately useful. Especially in larger games you can get a lot of use of 'bad' tiles by using them to interfere with your opponents carefully thought out landscapes.
I never get the sense that any of the scoring mechanisms are overpowered in H&G...fisherman score very little, but they score quickly. Gatherers are a bit more difficult to complete, but score more, and give you bonus tiles in most cases. Hunters are best used with caution because of your limited number of meeples, but can score massively in the right plain.
Reading something of the play of the original Carcassonne I have to say that I don't even need to pick that version of the system up to say that I'd like it less. One of the excellent elements of H&G is that forests, though they score a lot, can easily get out of hand and be forced to a table edge or to a 'you need this *exact* tile to complete it' situation. This is a balancing factor, and I dislike the idea of scoring incompleted forests (cities in the original) to the extreme, as it would unbalance the game.
I additionally think that the 5 meeples is plenty to keep the scoring going, but also to put the thumbscrews on the participants. You have to think long and hard before laying a hunter down, and the danger of having your meeples stranded for an inordinate amount of time can keep you out of competition for forests that are going to be worth 20+ points, but only if tile z happens to arrive before the end of the game. This lack of excess meeples also makes competitions over plains extremely interesting in larger games, how much is too much when the plain in question is worth 30 points? What if Stonehenge comes up? And so on down the line.
The only minor gripe I really have with the game is that some of the bonus tiles aren't all that spectacular. While the 'Stonehenge' and 'Flaming Tiger' tiles as well as the 4 fish lakes can be incredibly useful some of the others are less than inspired. I wish a bit more thought would have been put into these to make them all stand out a bit more.
Overall though the game is fantastic. I originally picked it up to have something to play with 2 players as my collection is currently 3-5 player game heavy, and I ended up really getting into this to the point where I trot it out for larger groups as well to break up heavier fare on long afternoon gaming sessions.
It seems to play best with 2 or 3 players, though 4 isn't beyond the realm of reason. The nasty thing about it is that with more players it gets more and more dangerous to get involved in large projects, or into situations where you need an exact tile to finish, because your chances of drawing go from 50/50 to 3:1 to 4:1. Bonus tiles also seem to become more important. In two player games it's almost never worth it to finish the opponents forest for the bonus tile unless you need something in particular (i.e.: Stonehenge) deperately. In larger games, with less draws over the course of the game, in many cases it doesn't hurt to finish a forest or two for the trailing player to get the bonus. Thus you need to completely change your strategy depending on the number of participants. In small games you can afford to go for elaborate, huge scores. In larger games you're usually better of going for quick scores, and fighting for possession of valuable landscapes, after all, if you're on it with another person that's *2* players who'll be trying to complete it instead of just 1.
H&G is excellent in that it's a game that adapts itself to the people who are playing it. It has enough strategy (especially with 3 tile 'hand' variants) to be good for hardcore strategy gamers, but it also is light enough to be enjoyed by people who like the social side of gaming, but don't have an easy time with in-depth games like Princes of Florence or their ilk.
I really can't recommend this title enough, good for almost any group, young or old, hardcore or normally party game only. It's appeal is just as broad, if not broader than Settlers in my experience, though it's also a tad lighter than your average import. Unless you despise any element of lightness in your games I doubt you'd take issue with H&G.
This game is definitely 5 stars for anyone who has no previous Carcassonne experience. I'm not sure if the game play balance issues of the original are enough to convince owners of that box to pick H&G up, but for the rest of us this is undoubtedly the way to go, and you can't beat the price.
This game is quick to learn, but strategy and luck make it different every time. We learned how to play this last week-end and it sucked in all of us, from the precocious 5 year old to the 38 year old. We wanted to play over and over again to try different strategies. Rare gold tiles add a twist that can change the outcome (13 year old steals win) in an instant. Fun, fun, fun.
I thoroughly enjoyed Carcassonne as a family game, but always felt there was a huge luck factor given the cloisters and the incentive to only build on your own interests (which often led to relatively unproductive draws). Hunters and Gatherers has proven to be a far better game for the strategy gamer for many reasons, including those listed below.
1) There is rarely a 'useless' tile drawn during your turn. This is because there are so many ways to cycle points (quick forests, rivers that score a quick 4-6 points, capping other forests for a bonus tile, etc.).
2) More emphasis on resource management. To score well in this game one should seek to be invested in forests and rivers simultaneously, and one does not have a plethera of pieces to do this with. Forming 'partnerships' is often far better than competing for a resource, as you usually cannot spare the extra piece to win outright control. Getting into another players forest or river can be a very productive strategy as there are more reasons to permit a multiple score than to deny one. Also, knowing when to forego the quick score for the long term play, of which you can afford only a few, adds to the decision making process.
3) Tiles have more options. Often tiles can be used in multiple positions or places effectively as compared to the relatively plain tiles in Carcassonne.
4) The bonus tiles. The bonus tiles absolutely make the game for me. Unlike a previous reviewer, I have found the bonus tiles to be a nearly essential strategy, played properly. It is often worth it to cap someone elses territory to draw a particularly valuable tile (Stonehenge, the quadruple fish tile) that dramatically improves your position. I have found this to be particulary true in a five player game where one gets less turns over the course of the game and the extra tile or three can make the difference between a good effort and the winning score.
5) More tiles. The 91 total tiles add just the right amount of length to the game compared to the original. The game plays in just over an hour with the added tiles, which makes it a great filler game or end-of-the-evening game.
To summarize, Hunters and Gatherers is a significant inprovement over the original for those looking for a, well, meatier game. Having just returned from a gaming convention in Charlottesville VA, I found this to be the near unanimous opinion among gamers playing both versions. Also, it has a very attractive price tag whether for yourself or as a gift.
You'll want to play this one over and over--we did! It's fun and easy to understand. Trying to figure out a strategy, and creating different countrysides is what brings back again and again. Our children always ask if we can play it together, and everyone has had the opportunity to win!
Of all the games I own, none have generated as much buzz as Carcassone. The game appeals to people of all different strategy levels, from the cerebral type to the person that just wants to kick back and enjoy a game. I feel that the only problem with the original is that whoever gets the monasteries wins. The luck involved with drawing them was undeniable. I loved the game though, so I kept playing, toughing out the cases where a newbie would win because he drew four of the monasteries.
Then hunters and gatherers came out. This game solved the only major problem with the original, and solved a few problems that I didn't even notice. The only con that I see with this new version of the game is that it rewards planning a little too well; a game with one person really thinking and two that aren't will have over a 100 point difference in scores. I personally don't see this as a con, but some of you that value luck in a game might.
I feel this game has one of the best strategy/luck scores I have seen. Not only that, its fun and relatively fast paced. An excellent buy.
If you don't have the original, get this one instead. This is an improved iteration on the basic mechanics of the original game. Fewer men makes for more tense resource management and more incentive to finish forests and rivers. When all's said and done, it often comes down to hut placement and getting all of your men deployed as hunters before the last tile is played.
I have all of the 'Carcassonne' editions, including the expansions, and they just seem to get better and better! I strongly disagree with some of the previous reviews concerning the fact that 'if you already have one, you don't need to buy the other'! Nonsense!!! The 'original version' and 'Hunters and Gatherers' have their own distinct idiosyncracies and game mechanics, objectives, strategies, etc. In addition, the 'river tiles' and the 'expansion' version have their own little twists. Each new feature which is added or taken away as a result of the different versions are all wonderfully unique in themselves. If you like one, buy them all!! You're in for a real treat!!
Incidentally, I hope the 'Carcassonne Syndrome' takes off like 'Catan' did, that is, with multitudes of expansion versions. Think of what can be done with this concept!! I am thinking of a whole host of future versions depicting this same concept applied to different periods of history, or even contemporary and space age scenarios, etc. Boundless possibilities! Great series!! Keep making different versions!! I will collect and avidly play them all!!
The scoring is more balanced here than in the original.
Roads were 1 point per square, not very good--now rivers get to add the fish at either end and are worth doing.
Large sprawling cities used to dominate the score--forests never get that large. (Some reasons: First, other people have an incentive to finish your forest for you because they get a free tile. This is not as good a reward as it may seem; I won a game simply by starting lots of cities and letting other players finish them. Second, in the old game a large incomplete city was still worth big points at the end. Not so for forests, which are worthless if not completed. Third, the new version has fewer men available to place so you can't leave as many out for city speculation. To build up a good score, you have to cycle your pieces faster, especially if you want to leave a couple in meadows. Fourth, size two forests are not halved in scoring as were size two cities. Fifth, the 2 point mushrooms are scarce compared to the 2 point shields which boost city scores.)
Eliminating cloisters takes away the unbalanced luck factor of those games where the same player happens to draw most of them.
There seem to be more meadows produced here for hunters than there were fields for farmers, and the scores for each are therefore smaller.
The river systems don't seem to grow huge, since it isn't hard for other players to cap them off. Capping an opponent's river system does not lose you a scoring move, since you usually place and immediately score a fisherman when you terminate a river.
Everything usually scores in the 6 to 12 point range whether forest, meadow, river or river system, with the occasional 4 point quickie.
So the main difference is: The Original was a fight for the really big city or the very extensive field with the winner having a good shot at winning the game. The Extra Crispy version depends more on incremental collecting of points and making each turn count. Both work in their own ways. The new version is much less likely to result in 'stealing' points from an opponent by a cunning tile play, so to that extent it might be considered a little less interactive. I suspect the way to screw over an opponent in the new version is to place tiles in such a way as to prevent completion of a forest or river so he can't get his pieces back and twists slowly in the wind while everyone else racks up their scores.
I think the other reviewers have done a nice job describing the mechanics of the game. Now, is it worth buying? We love and play Carcassonne so often that we actually seek variety out of just changing the number of players in the game. (Let's play 6 player it has a different dynamic than 3 player, etc.)
The new game is similar enough to be familiar but different enough to be a different game.
Is it worth buying? Absolutely. When we play poker we play 5 card draw and 7 card stud. Would I complain that 7 card stud is derivative of 5 card draw and not worth playing? Not at all. Variety is the spice of gaming.
This is a welcome relief from some of the duller variants or expansions we have seen in recent years. And for $20 its cheaper than a pizza and a six pack.
I agree with previous reviews that Hunters and Gatherers is just a minor modification to the original Carcasonne. The changes, I think, are improvements, but if you already have Carcasonne you will probably feel you got ripped off if you pay good money for this one. If you don't have Carcasonne, get this one instead -- don't get both. The things I think are improvements are:
- the monks and monestaries are gone; I thought they had too much influence
- the highwaymen became fishermen and they now get points for both the number of tiles the river (formerly road) crosses as well as the number of fish found at the terminal points; this fixes the fact that the highwaymen had too little influence in the original
- there is now an advantage to completing a forest (formerly city) when you don't have the hunter (formerly knight) that occupies it
- farmers became gatherers and their importance is now variable based on what animals are in the meadow (formerly farm). In general, their influence is less than before, which I think is also a slight improvement
- there are now huts (formerly non-existant) that make up for the loss of the monks and work slightly differently than anything in the past
Other than that, everything works pretty much as before. I have to rate it at five stars because I would rate Carcasonne at five stars and this is an improvement. However, it is not enough of an improvement to warrant buying it if you already have Carcasonne.
I finally got Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers yesterday in the mail. Barbara, Jason and I played a couple times and I tell you, the game didnt end well. The gameplay is similar to the original Carcassonne game but instead of farmers, you have hunters; instead of thieves, you have fisherman; instead of knights, you have gatherers. Cities are replaces with forests, roads are replaced by rivers and farms are now meadows. Thats all fairly straightforward but now theres a new rule that says if you finish a forest that contain a gold nugget, you get to draw and place a bonus (special) tile. This happens if you finish any forest, even you dont own it. Heres what happened during the first game:
* * *
Amy: [Sliding a finishing tile piece toward a forest that Barbara has placed a gatherer in.]
Barbara: Great! Just finish off my forest! Ive only picked up ONE bonus card since the beginning of the game! You guys have gotten them ALL.
Amy: [Tile freezing 4 cm from placement] Barbara, Jason and I have only picked up two each Theres a whole bunch left. Besides, youre going to be getting- two, four, six twelve points for the forest after I complete it.
Barbara: Whatever. Just finish it.
Amy: [Moving tile away] Maybe Ill just put it over here.
Barbara: Jason! GO! Its you turn.
* * *
You see, these bonus tiles inadvertently turned my sister into a bitch. If youre going to play this game, be forewarned: the bonus tiles may provoke jealousy. Also, she bitched about me taking long turns during the second game of Hunters and Gatherers, asking if I going to see if that tile piece fits into ALL the open areas? HURRY UP!! I think it's easier to place your tiles faster in the original game. In this one, the forests are shaped wierd, you need to take the animals into consideration, your hut and stream placement. The turns take longer, deal with it and don't freak out at the other players.
And theres a loophole in the scoring that Jason abused to the maximum. Instead of finishing the game in the respectable 45-65 point range, Jason finished the first game with 101 and the second with 123. We referred to putting down a half-assed fisherman or gatherer to collect and return to your pile in one turn as pulling a Jason. Not cool. I don't like the idea of this, but it showed someone doing it in the rules, so Jason jumped all over it.
This game, while I hesitate to say it is greater than the original, is definitely on the same level. The hunting adds in a neat twist to a great game. Also, the S.Y.N. score goes up as a result of the addition of the saber tooth tigers. A great game. If you don't have Carcassone, or want a new way to play, go for it.
Hunters and Gatherers is a lot more fun, out of the box, than Carcassonne. For me, that's saying a lot as Carcassonne has been my family's game of choice for a couple years now.
The bonus tiles add a ton of dynamic play and can swing the end scoring very quickly - especially when it comes to scoring hunters at the end of the game (compared to farmers in Carcassonne).
I heartily recommend this to Carcassonne lovers and to folks new to games as well.
If you bought the first instalment of Carcassonne, and the River expansion pack, then even at the low price this might disappoint you. The gameplay is incredible, it's a ton of fun, but there isn't enough to seperate it from the original product. If you don't own Carcassone, then this is the version to get. The rules and play mechanics have been streamlined. But if you do own it, I'd let someone else in your play group front the bill.
I have enjoyed this game as a companion piece to Carcassone with its Expansion. If you like the former, and want more, then for the money, its worth it.
What I have found in placing tiles is that the 'board' tends to spread out a lot more and is not as compact as Carcassonne. That's not a criticism, but it has lead to players trying to control areas rather than attempting to gain access into other's territory.
The new scoring mechnasims are distinctive enough to give this game its own flavour. So while it is clearly derivative of its ancestor, it remains enjoyable.
I have found that Carcassone has a high replayability factor for our family, and I expect the same to be true for this game.
I risk writing a review that might prove unpopular, but something that someone poised to purchase this game might want to read. For those new to Carcassonne there is plenty to like here: nice graphics, fairly straightforward rules, etc. For those who like and play the first Carcassonne -- myself included -- they may find this sequel game to be merely adequate.
It's not that this game is bad, it is just that it is quite derivative. For example, where in CC (Carcassonne) you made large cities and placed knights on them, in H&G (Hunters & Gatherers) you now build forests and place, well...knights on them, sort of. There is a lot of the same stuff here as CC: cities became forests, roads became rivers, and fields became fields (sort of.)
There are some significant changes, don't get me wrong. For one, the scoring system for each of these has been altered, so while familiar, new tactics must be employed.
One example is the forests. Where before a city might grow to be a sprawling metropolis with many players vying for control, H&G (Carcassonne Hunters & Gatherers) tends to produce small forests (cities). Why? A small tweak in gameplay: if a forest has gold in it, whichever player FINISHES the forest, even if he has no one in it, gets an extra turn which is often a high scoring tile. So players are constantly finishing others' forests to acquire the extra turns. It makes for more checks and balances, but seemingly less interaction. In my playings, players are far less likely to involve themselves in a competition for forests as they used to for cities.
'Farming' has gotten a lot easier to score. Throw out the whole farmers-servicing-cities concept. Now you simply get two points for every animal in your field (farm) except tigers who eat deer. Easier to score, but seems a bit less interesting to me.
A nice change is how rivers work. Like the CC roads, you score one point per section, with the river (road) ending in either forests (cities) or lakes (intersections) but now you also get bonus points for the number of fish in any lakes at either end. Chances are good you can pick up extra points by extending rivers out of lakes.
And the best change may be the addition of huts. Played on rivers like regular 'meeple', they score for the entire fish population of an entire river system for all continguous rivers and lakes conected by water to the hut. Really fun scoring system for that.
All in all, this game just seems to have less interaction somehow. Tile play may be a bit more interactive, but building big and competing just seems to happen less often (except for huts at the end which does have its moments.)
Anyone who owns CC may find that they are getting so much of the same game in H&G as to not be worth the purchase. If you are on a tight budget and have CC, I suggest trying H&G before buying. If you don't own CC, H&G is quite interesting, and still fun, but feels to me like it lacks something special to put it in the same league as the original. Maybe it's the visuals, or maybe the recyled-ness, but I'd have to pick CC over H&G if I were only picking one.
I rated the original Carcassonne a 5. I give this one a 4 if you have never played Carcassonne, and a 3 if you have played/own the original and are expecting an interesting sequel. I'll be curious to see what the reaction to this game is over the next 3 months.
First, let me tell you I am a fan of the original. However, the big fault with this one is the luck of the draw. It is not uncommon for someone to jump on an unclaimed river and get 6 points just by picking up the right piece. Now, for the original, you generally wouldn't get more than 2 pts (for a 2 piece city). Stick with the original and its expansions.
Is Carcassonne the next Catan? Fans of Germany's 2001 Game of the Year, as well as newcomers, will enjoy another leisurely yet challenging tile-laying interlude. The tiles illustrate segments of rivers, meadows (teeming with mammoths, deer, and tigers), and forests. Each turn, reveal a random tile, add it to the array, and optionally place either a hut on a river or a Follower on a river, forest, or meadow.
Score when you place tiles forming closed rivers, or forests surrounded by meadows, provided that Followers are present. If the forest segments illustrate gold, draw and place a tile from the Bonus stack: These can add points to certain scorings. Return Followers to supply.
When tiles are depleted, score one point for each fish in rivers on which you have placed a hut Followers in meadows earn points for mammoths and deer there, after the number of ravenous tigers is deducted. Highest score wins. Heartily recommended to families hunting fine games.
I had the opportunity to see this new Carcassonne sequel at the recent Spiel show in Essen, complete with actors dressed as a caveman and cavewoman explaining the game. It was hard to ignore their approaches since they were carrying large clubs - which upon closer examination proved to be plastic toys! Since I knew that I would ultimately purchase this new version, I didn't make the effort to try to play it during the convention, but immediately purchased a copy once the Rio Grande edition became available.
The game is not a variant or addition to Carcassonne; it is a stand-alone game that can be played without owning or even having played the original Carcassonne. However, there is no mistaking its similarities to the original as the mechanics are essentially identical. The setting is a bit more distant, though, as players travel further back in time and are concerned with acquiring food for survival.
Since almost everyone is familiar with Carcassonne, I'll concentrate on simply explaining the major differences between the two versions of the game. The tiles are of the same sturdy quality and depict various types of terrain, including forests, rivers, lakes and fields. Some tiles also depict animals, which are ultimately worth points to the player who has the most hunters in those fields.
As in Carcassonne, players choose a tile and place it on the playing area. They then have the option of placing one of their five tribe members (those little 'meeple' figures) onto one of the terrain features of that tile. The meeple figures here are a bit more sociable than in the basic version, as each figure has one arm raised up in an apparent friendly wave! Since players only have five 'meeples' in this version, the game requires players to be a bit more judicious in their use and placement. Like farmers, the meeples placed in the fields (referred to as hunters) will remain in place until the end of the game, but can potentially yield considerable amounts of points. Meeples placed on other types of terrain will be returned to the owners for reuse provided the patch of terrain they are on is completed during the course of the game.
Players earn points for controlling rivers and forests once those particular features are finished. Rivers earn one point for each segment (like the roads in the original Carcassonne) and one point for each fish in any lakes that are part of the river. Forests earn two points per segment. However, the player who finishes a forest that is larger than 2 tiles draws one of the bonus tiles and may immediately play that tile to the board. There are four types of bonus tiles:
- Fire: This chases all of the tigers out of a field. Tigers are nasty as they devour the deer. For some reason, the other animals don't seem to be bothered by fire.
- Mushrooms: These are placed in a forest and add two points to a completed forest. Comments about 'magic mushrooms' are sure to be rampant with this tile!
- Aurochs: Add two points to the scoring of a field.
- Shrine: If a player places a meeple onto the shrine, he will automatically control the field that it is connected to, regardless of whether the field ultimately contains other meeples (hunters) or not. This is a very powerful tile, but one must work to develop the field or connect it to an animal-rich existing field.
In addition to five meeples, each player also possesses two huts. These are placed onto (or beside, actually) lakes. This allows the player to control the entire river system connected to that lake, awarding the player 1 point per segment and 1 point per fish present in the lakes that are part of that system. Other players may still have meeples on the actual rivers and the presence of a hut does not affect their scoring. The idea here is to create a long and winding system of connected rivers and lakes. Of course, your opponents will likely do their best to bring that system to an abrupt end.
The game ends when the last tile is placed. At this point, river systems containing huts are scored and each field is examined and scored. The player possessing the most meeples in a field scores 2 points for each deer, mammoth and auroch in that field. As mentioned, each tiger present in a field negates one deer for scoring purposes, with wooden tokens being provided to assist in the tallying of these points. Liks the 'hut' river systems, meadows do not have to be complete in order to score.
The game seems to offer a greater variety of placement and scoring options than the original and, as such, seems to cause a tiny bit more downtime as players carefully analyze their options. There also seems to be more 'cruelty' in this game, as you can interfere with the plans of your opponents more readily than in the original game. Depending upon your tolerance for such hostile actions, this could be a good or bad thing.
The new tiles do take a bit getting used to, however, as they are more 'busy' than the tiles in the original game. The artwork isn't as crisp or clear and some tiles have caused a bit of confusion. Still, this is minor and doesn't really present an obstacle to enjoying the game.
I, for one, have found myself pleasantly surprised by this new version. I was expecting a 'more of the same' feeling and figured the sequel wouldn't match-up to the original. After numerous playings, I now find myself reaching for this version as opposed to the original. I am sure this is for the most part attributable to the "newness" of this version, but I do feel there is enough new and different here to warrant keeping both games in my collection.