Carcassonne: Traders & Builders
English language edition of Carcassonne: Händler und Baumeister
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In this 2nd expansion to Carcassonne, 24 new landscape tiles not only offer new terrain such as bridges and bent cities, some tiles also contain goods symbols. Players use these to acquire wine, cloth and grain. The best traders can get additional profits at the end of the game.
Builder tokens are also new to the game -- when placed in a city, a second tile may be played when expanding the city or roads leading from it.
Pig markers are also new -- these can be placed with a farmer to enrich the value of a farm.
Also included is a cloth bag for the tiles, making it easier to shuffle and draw them during the game, as well as making the game more portable. The expansion has components for 6 players and is completely compatible with the first expansion. Thus, players may play with the original Carcassonne, with Carcassonne and the 1st expansion, with Carcassonne and the 2nd expansion, or with Carcassonne and both expansions!
Traders & Builders is a good expansion set. The builder adds an extra dimension of fun - it encourages players to build where their builder is to get a 2nd tile on their turn. Probably the best thing about this expansion are the goods tiles. Because of the value these tiles bring, they encourage players to finish cities to get these tiles. This encourages players to not be so focused on completing their own cities because there is incentive in finishing others's cities. This cures one of the faults of the original Carcassonne. The only thing I don't feel is too necessary is the pig. The value that the pig adds to farms doesn't seem to make much of a difference.
My wife and I just played a game of Carcassonne with the Traders and Builders expansion (along with the Inns and Cathedrals expansion). We would agree with other reviewers in that it didn't change the dynamics of the game significantly, but the twists were interesting and novel (especially if you haven't tried the Hunters and Gatherers version yet). At first, we were going to keep the expansion separate from the original game, but after playing once, we decided to add the tiles to the mix, combining all the expansions with the original in one box. This expansion is well worth the money, and we don't think we'll be going back to playing just the original for the forseeable future.
After the first time of playing the original Carcassonne (with the River Expansion) at some friends of ours, we were hooked. A couple of weeks after playing it, I went out and bought the original, and the 2 expansions (Traders & Builders and Inns & Cathedrals). Both sets are excellent. Add both expansions together to get a superb game! The only downside to the expansions are the difference in colours on the backs of the tiles (very slightly). The Traders & Builders edition makes up for this though, as it has a cloth bag included in the game, to place all the tiles in.
The latest expansion to the original game features 24 new tiles, including Bridges and more unusual shaped City tiles. The rule additions allow for two new types of character in the game besides the basic pawn. The builder can be placed after a road or city has been started and populated by a control marker. Subsequent extensions of this city or road will allow an additional tile placement anywhere on the board that fits. This can be very powerful, as it allows a double move to improve or close off a position.The second "character" is the pig, which works in conjunction with the farmer, increasing the value of the farms associated with that field if the pig's owner controls the field at the end of the game. I haven't found this as valuable yet, but obviously a large field with multiple completed cities would make the pig a useful point scorer. The builder is probably the more valuable, as when the road or city is closed off, he is made available for play again. This makes the other players think before closing off a road, because of the need to limit the potential damage that a second tile could do if the player is able to play their first tile to extend the area where the builder is placed. Other new features in this expansion are goods symbols that appear only on the some of the new city tiles. When placed they have no particular significance, but when a city is completed, the person doing so picks up all the goods tokens shown in the city. The player with the most of each type of goods scores a bonus at the end of the game. The bonus points seemed quite large when reading the rules, but in play they did not overbalance the scoring. The final addition is useful - a cloth bag from which to draw the growing volume of tiles. So how does it compare to previous editions and the original? Well, the best ideas and greatest innovation with games of this sort are usually found in the original, but there are always new ideas that can be added. This time we are given greater variety (which I like), but the scoring could get more unbalanced (which I don't like). In an extreme case, which I have yet to encounter, one person could play their builder at an early stage; continually increase their road or city, while the other players cannot draw the right tiles to prevent this. The building player would then be placing more tiles than anyone else and presumably be scoring more points. As I said, this is a possibility that is not present in the earlier versions. The interesting aspect to the goods is that the closer of the city gets the bonus. This is an improvement as it encourages more cities to be closed, but it needs to be balanced against the farmers rubbing their hands with more points arriving (and the added value of the pig), as well as the points scored and the markers released for the players in the city. So, some interesting issues to consider from this rule addition. Having expressed some mild concerns about the builder, I must say that I like this rule. Yes, there is a chance of more wonderful scoring, but it works both ways. Other players can be just as wary of your builder as you are of theirs. Maybe the issue of the luck of the draw is now more exaggerated as the tiles that extend where your builder is placed either prevent or allow you to have a great turn. The same argument holds for everyone though and drawing the right tiles at the right time was always important in the original and subsequent versions. Finally, the bridges allow roads to cross without ending either road, which is OK, but not that exciting, and the more esoteric city shapes can cause you alarm or hilarity depending when they arrive. The growing number of tiles now available increases the game length, and this is not necessarily a good thing in my opinion. I think the first game did it all, and subsequent expansions have added options without making the game better. So you take your choice: if you like Carcassonne, you'll probably buy the extra expansions for the variety, and this one certainly adds more interesting options. I wonder what will happen next. Finally, if you like the original Carcassonne, I can highly recommend the computer version. Yes, it's heresy to mention the "c" word, but the production is very good (in German), but anyone knowing the board game will enjoy the computer version, with a 4 player game playable in 15 minutes.