Carcassonne: Inns and Cathedrals was the first major expansion for Carcassonne. I say major because when you dig into the subject, Carcassonne expansions are plentiful and of varying sizes. Ranging from the very small, just a few tiles to the major ones like this one. This expansion introduces the pink player pieces for a six player game and yes, you guessed it, inns and cathedrals.
Where would we be without our beloved Carcassonne? It was a game that ushered me into the hobby and one of the first games I bought with my own hard-earned cash. Also, it is my other half's favourite game, we have a lot of Carcassonne and when I say a lot, I mean A LOT!
A Nice Bit Of Risk VS Reward
Both the inn tiles and cathedral tiles of Carcassone: Inns and Cathedrals add a level of risk vs reward to the standard rules of Carcassonne. The inn tiles, which look like little watering holes along the various roads in the game, net you double the points - but beware! If you fail to complete it, you get nothing. Nada, zilch, Niente. It is the same with the cathedral tiles, which sit inside sprawling cities and make each city tile and crest in your cities worth three points. But again, if you fail to complete it you are awarded nothing.
I like these tiles, they add little depth to the game's standard rules. Do you go for a massive sprawling city with a cathedral in it for massive points? Maybe, but beware; other players will add to your city in an attempt to render your efforts wasted, leaving you with no benefits from it. These simple yet great tiles add tactical decisions to a simple game but still manage to keep it from being complicated for new players. These tiles are the best part of this expansion and they alone make it worth buying.
Along with these new feature tiles you also get a handful of what I like to call “weird and wonderful” tiles. You know, the tiles you always need but were never in the base game. Weirdly shaped city tiles, a tile that has four city edges in it and an all manner of bizarrely shaped features. They all help to complete that city you never thought you would after one of your kids slung a road next to it. Another small but very welcome addition in this expansion.
A Few Added Extras
You also get a few tiles to help keep track of scoring when your meeple does a full lap of the board, which is nice. Though we have so many tiles and expansions now that, during the game that was played to refresh me of this Carcassone: Inns and Cathedrals contents, my score massively surpassed these new scoring tokens functionality. With the amount of Carcassonne we have at this point, their usage seems moot. They are nice to have though if you have a "normal" amount of Carcassonne stuff, which most people will have.
Another new introduction is the bigger meeple. This meeple is slightly larger than your others and is worth two meeples, instead of the normal single meeple, when scoring tile features. Why, you ask? Well, you know when you're making a massive city and someone places a city piece not quite connected to yours and you end up amalgamating your cities and sharing the points? Well now with your bigger meeple, you can add what is effectively 2 meeples at once to break these slightly irksome ties, or just straight-up steal someone’s stuff from them. Again, a nice little feature to mix up the standard Carcassonne rules.
Overall, I think this expansion, Carcassone: Inns and Cathedrals, is great. If you like Carcassonne I would say it is even essential. It adds just enough to spice up the fun while still being accessible for new players. The sixth player is good, as is the pink colour and I adore all the new tiles and features. It's cheap, fun and can be just thrown straight into your base Carcassonne box. What’s not to like?