Ok, so it hasn’t been all that long since I reviewed Carcassonne and if you recall I was rather lukewarm about the whole thing…
Introducing the fix… Traders and Builders!
What is it?
Traders and Builders in an expansion for the core game, but it is one that you will always play with once you introduce it (like the River) rather than something you might add or take away.
T&B is the second expansion to the core game, but the first one I’ve bought, check out the unboxed section below for the reason why.
What does it do?
As the title suggests T&B adds traders who work out of completed cities, builders who help complete the sprawling roads and cities of Carcassone and, of course, Pigs (Pigs???), which allow the knights to snack on bacon strips and increase the farmers prosperity.
Of course, as with regular Carcassonne none of this really happens, it is all abstracted with little wooden pieces and cardboard chits, but that doesn’t stop it making the game more fun.
How does it do it?
So the game comes with, surprise surprise, more tiles. But these tiles have on them little symbols that indicate trade goods. There are 5 Cloth, 6 Wheat and 9 Alcohol, completing a city with any of these symbols in it gets you a token for each symbol. At the end of the game if you have the most tokens in one type of resource you score 10 extra points. This can be a good way to earn a lot of bonus points. It also gives you an incentive to complete other players Cities so you can collect the trade goods. Sure you might give the player some points but if you let them complete the city they will get the points and the goods!
Builders and Pigs can only be placed in places you already have Meeples. They are also placed instead of a Meeple (you can’t place a Meeple and a Builder/Pig in the same turn) and they do not “count” as a Meeple for the purposes of controlling a farm, road or city.
Pigs can only be placed in fields but if you control that field at the end of the game each city is worth 4 points rather than 3.
Builders can be placed on Roads or in Cities. Every time you add to the road/city with a builder you get another turn.
So, in the box you get:
- 24 Land Tiles (9 Wine, 6 Grain, 5 Cloth, 4 without Goods)
- 20 Trade Good Tokens (9 Wine, 6 Grain, 5 Cloth)
- 6 Pig Followers (1 x 6 Colors)
- 6 Builder Followers (1 x 6 Colors)
- 1 Cloth Bag
- Rules Sheet
The quality of the tiles and Meeples is, as always, excellent. The bag itself is nothing special but it means the game is set up as soon as you open the box. It also means you can add the original starting tile to the mix of tiles because no one can see the different coloured back. It also helps to stop people picking their tiles OUT OF TURN! Sorry… that used to happen a lot! The rules are pretty clear although they make the builder sound more complex than he is.
So why did I buy the second expansion first? Well look at all that stuff you get! The first expansion has 18 tiles and a total of 11 Meeples for £10. I bought the core game for £15 and that has 84 tiles and 40 Meeples. The cost just doesn’t seem right to me.
So why the Fun?
Why has Carcassonne hit the table so much since adding T&B? I guess it’s partly because it’s new, but also because I find the game more fun. I used to get Carcassonne out because it was quick and it meant I didn’t have to player Settlers for the third time that evening. Now however the game is actually really enjoyable. T&B adds a ton of City pieces which gives you a good chance of finishing that huge city you’ve built. Also the addition of the Builder gives you the incentive to build bigger more impressive structures and be rewarded for it.
Although the pieces are still abstract they defiantly have more theme about them than the Knights and Thieves in the core game. Theme is important to me and T&B adds this to Carcassonne.
T&B also adds a lot more strategy to the game. It is easier to join in other people’s cities to share the points. The bonus points for trade goods mean that completing other players cities is a positive for you. The time for the game remains pretty much the same, but the fun factor and ability to screw with your opponents definitely increases.
Traders and Builders defiantly gets a big thumbs up from me!
Don’t forget there is still a week left to vote in this week’s poll… Which is better Risk or Dust?