Carcassonne: The Flier
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As flying enthusiasts, the players want to actualize mankind’s dream of flying by trying their wings. Flight length and landing places can be troublesome.
I had a few complaints about the farmers in Carcassonne. I changed the scoring slightly to make them less powerful and that worked very well, and the River tiles make it even a bit better, in my opinion. In the original, the early farms in the middle often yielded huge points at gameend. The River helps breaks up the middle of the board which helps contain farms a bit more.
I also play that the mountain at the end of the river goes all the way to the edge of the tile in the one corner where it is illustrated to be close to the corner. I make that another 'fence' for the farmer, not counting the small strip of grass that connects the 'north' side to the 'east' side. That means if the farmer really wanted to get a farm that reached around the mountain to the other side, he has to spend an extra diagonal tile to connect the fields.
Excellent addition. The River is so good that I enjoy Carcassone even without the Expansion as long as I have the River.
I've played Carcassonne many times with and without both expansions. The trick to winning is to compete successfully for farms while keeping in the running with other points-making. Apparently, the river tiles were introduced to keep the game from becoming simply a competition to win the one monolithic farm. In most games I play without the river one significant farm determines the winner, and with most games with the river tiles, this is not the case. Once in a while one huge farm will still spring from a game with the river tiles, but this is usually due to some crafty playing by the winning player, who is then justly rewarded. The river tiles elegantly accomplish their intended use without corrupting the simple yet subtle nature of Carcassonne.
I finally got a chance to play with the river tiles. While they don't change the play of the game, they enhance your options for playing tiles when you first start drawing tiles. The twelve river tiles are placed first. Then, when you start drawing regular tiles, you immediately have a number of edges where you can place each tile.
Carcassonne is great without the river, but even better with it.
For most people, Carcassonne: the River comes prepackaged with the base game of Carcassonne. It’s still considered an expansion in the rule set, having a paragraph mentioned near the end explaining the rules. Early sets of Carcassonne do not include the expansion, and I would recommend it to anyone who likes Carcassonne but is discouraged by huge farmer scores. It was given out for free at one of the Essen fairs, and copies of it are still available online.
The River expansion is made up of twelve tiles, each containing part of a river. One endpoint of the river (the spring) is the starting tile of the game, replacing the original starting tile. The other endpoint of the river (the lake) is set aside, with the remaining ten river tiles shuffled, forming the first ten tiles to be played during the game. Players draw and play these tiles just like normal tiles, with a few rules:
- Each river tile must connect to the other river tiles utilizing the river - not the other edges.
- The river cannot make a U-turn.
- Players may not place meeples directly on the river.
- The river divides farms just like roads do.
The river tiles have cities, roads, and even a monastery on them - just like normal tiles. After the tenth river tile has been played, the next player plays the lake tile to finish the river; and then play proceeds, using the regular tiles.
Aesthetically, the river adds a nice touch, bringing yet another feature to the colorful board. Play-wise, I think the river is also useful, for a couple reasons.
- The biggest and most important is the fact that the river breaks up huge farms that may occur in the basic game. I never found this to be much of a problem, myself, but some folk can’t stand how one farm can really sway the game. Because the river cuts up some of these huge farms, it brings scoring for them back down in the normal range. Farmers are still important, but not quite as powerful.
- The river also gives players more options when starting the game. Since the river tiles have different features on each one that cannot be connected to each other, players have the opportunity to get their meeples early into cities, roads, etc. - all of which should be easily finished. The river also forces these features to be spread out a little more, cutting down on huge cities, long roads, etc.
People’s reactions to the River are quite mixed. Many love it and find it necessary, as I do. It doesn’t change the game that much but really helps the startup to flow more smoothly. The river doesn’t add any real rules to the game, so I almost always include it when teaching the game to newcomers. Some players complain that the river tiles are worthless - and on a glance they might be - but I find that any game I play with them is a much more enjoyable experience.
“Real men play board games.”
The River expansion was produced in short supply, and then had to go back to the printer due to popular demand, as this increases the variety and fun of Carcassonne far beyond what one would expect from just 12 little tiles.
The tiles add a meandering river to the beginning setup of the game, and players must complete it before branching off in other directions. The river serves to provide a variety of new setups at the game's beginning as well as breaking up the inevitably large central farms.
This expansion is now out of print, but happily is being included in all current printings of Carcassonne. I am glad, as this is the way that Carcassonne should be played! Recommended.
This expansion does very little for the game besides making the final map look prettier. The game strategy does not change and the setup is a bit more complicated. It's nice to have this addition because it was free, but I often don't play with it because the set-up is a bit contrived and akward. When we do play with it, we often have one player place all of the river tiles and then we begin the game. I thought the purpose of this expansion was to mitigate the power of the farmers but it doesn't seem to. Although this expansion must have been released for a reason, it doesn't seem to change the gameplay. It's purpose is probably to add value by making the map look better and to help with marketing.
For those unfamiliar with the river expansion, it's a minor expansion of 12 tiles. The river tiles are placed before the other tiles. No pieces can be placed on the river itself, it just acts as a border to tone down farms. It's a nice addition for newcomers, but not essential for those who already own an older version of the game.
I've been playing with the new expansion for a few weeks now, since a friend very generously found me a copy in Belgium. Carcassonne is usually the opener of choice for my regular game group, so we were all keen to try it.
There are 12 new tiles representing a river, starting at a source and ending in a lake, with a few bends along the way. The river tiles are played at the beginning of the game, and they have the same dark back as the start tile to emphasise this. There are a few restrictions:
I've found it's often a good idea to play a farmer near the end of a river, as the lake and source tiles have 3 green sides--it's sometimes possible to get into a meadow on both sides of the river that way.
All in all, the new tiles don't change the game that much, but they're still fun.