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How To Play – Carcassonne: Traders and Builders

traders and builders

The second expansion to Carcassonne is in my opinion one of the must-haves for any avid Carcassonne player. Introducing three new elements, as well as a bunch of new tiles and even a bag for them all to go in, Traders and Builders really is the expansion to have.

Carcassonne rules have always been great for me – I think they’re laid out really well, and in general are easy to understand. Talking to some of my fellow gamers, however, it seems that not everyone feels the same way. Carcassonne expansion rules are notorious for leaving some loose ends untied, and for people like me, it can be really annoying not knowing whether you’re playing the game properly. So in this How to Play, I endeavour to lay out the rules in a more traditional manner, and hopefully explain some things better to prevent new players from having to spend more time searching online for explanations than actually playing the game. In these rules, I will assume that you are using all the expansion modules offered by the game, but just in case you’re not, I’ll add the components associated with each module at the start of the explanations, so you know what to remove if necessary. Now let’s jump in!

A Note on Tiles

As with all Carcassonne expansions, Traders and Builders brings with it some new tiles for players to discover. Some tiles feature goods symbols (explained later), others feature newly shaped cities which open up interesting placement possibilities. I will leave you to discover most of these new tiles on your own, however I will talk briefly about the bridge-road tile. This looks like a four-way crossroad at first glance, but one road is actually carried over the other with a bridge, so the tile actually contains one road running from left to right, and another from top to bottom. Do note that if you are playing with fields, this tile still splits into four fields despite the presence of the bridge.

Setting Up

Set up is simple. Add the land tiles into the bag with the base-game tiles and any other expansions that you’re playing with. Give each player a builder and pig in their colour, and place the goods tokens in a pile by the scoreboard.

As I mentioned before, there are three main expansion modules in Traders and Builders, so let’s take them each in turn.

Module 1: The Builder

The Builder allows you to be rewarded for adding to your city or road, and allows you to build faster and secure points quickly.

Components: ‘Builder’ Meeple

Builders may be placed onto cities or roads only. In order to place a builder, you must already have a ‘normal’ meeple of your colour on that feature, but once you do, you can place the builder onto any new tile you add to that feature. If, for whatever reason, you have no more of your ‘normal’ meeples on your feature (other expansions introduce ways this can happen), your builder is removed from the feature and returned to your supply.

Whenever you add to a feature with your builder on, you may immediately draw another tile and place it as normal. Note that adding this new tile to the structure with your builder on will not cause you to draw another bonus tile, and completing a feature with your builder on returns the builder to the supply, and you don’t draw a bonus tile.

Multiple builders can be on the same road or city, but you only receive the bonus tile if you were the one to place a tile connecting to a feature with your builder on it – if you place a tile on a feature containing someone else’s builder, they don’t get an extra tile, even if you do. Please note that when scoring a feature containing the meeples of multiple players, the builders never count when deciding who has the majority control (see the rules of the base game regarding control) of said feature.

Other expansions may affect how the Builder plays, but these aren’t detailed in Traders and Builders rules, so I won’t be covering them here.

Module 2: Goods Tokens

With the huge cities you have built, new opportunities for the trade of resources such as cloth and wine arise. But only the best traders shall reap the rewards…

Components: ‘Goods Token’ City Pieces

You will likely have seen that some of the new tiles depict images of cloth, grain, or barrels (wine). These tiles can be placed into your cities just as you would any other, and only have an effect when the city is completed and scored.

When a city containing goods tiles is completed, points are scored as normal by the person/people with majority control of the city. However, the goods are instead collected solely by the player who completed the city (i.e. placed the last piece), even if they didn’t also score the points for it, in fact, they don’t even need to have had any meeples in said city at any point during its construction. Whoever is entitled to the goods then takes one good token from the supply for each corresponding symbol on the city, and stores their haul throughout the game in front of them.

Goods tokens are scored at the end of the game. All players compare the number of each type of goods token that they have received during the game, and the player with the most of each receives 10 points for their success! For example, if you’d collected the most wine and grain tokens at the end of a game, but your opponent had collected the most cloth tokens, you’d receive 20 points and your opponent would receive 10.

Module 3: The Pig

The Pig helps you to lock in extra points on your fields, which can be a game-changer when fighting over valuable land.

Components: ‘Pig’ Meeple

When you place a tile that connects to a field you already occupy with a farmer, you can place a pig into that field. Once you’ve placed your pig, it remains there till the end of the game. When you’re scoring your field at game’s end, any cities bordering it are now worth 4 points instead of the usual 3, provided that you have majority control of the field (note that pigs themselves don’t count towards this), or share it equally with another player(s). If you don’t have this control/shared control, the field, and consequentially the pig, are worth 0 points.

Some expansions change the scoring abilities of the Pig, or bring opportunities to return it to your supply, but since these again aren’t covered in the rulebook, I’m not going to explain them here.

Conclusion

I hope these rules have been helpful in explaining the ins and outs of Traders and Builders, and I hope that as you play you realise why this is one of my favourite expansions to Carcassonne. I’d also recommend giving the rules included with your copy a read as they contain some more detailed rules on The Builder that I chose to omit as they are only needed should questions arise during the game, plus the rules surrounding the field seem to change a lot with Carcassonne, so who knows what lies I might be telling if you’re reading this a couple of years into the future (hello from 2024!). All this aside though, you can finally pop down your virtual rulebook, safe in the knowledge that you know everything there is to know about Traders and Builders. Happy playing!