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Carcassonne Expansion 1: Inns & Cathedrals

RRP: £19.99
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Carcassonne: Inns & Cathedrals is the first expansion set (of many) for the phenomenon tile-laying modern classic that is Carcassonne. We should mention straight away that in order to play Inns & Cathedrals, you’ll need a copy of the base game of Carcassonne – this is not a standalone title. Inns & Cathedrals is the perfect expansion for those that love Carcassonne a…
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  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • You can now play with six players
  • Lots of new tiles that add new gameplay quirks

Might Not Like

  • Can get stuck with non-scoring features
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Carcassonne: Inns & Cathedrals is the first expansion set (of many) for the phenomenon tile-laying modern classic that is Carcassonne. We should mention straight away that in order to play Inns & Cathedrals, you’ll need a copy of the base game of Carcassonne – this is not a standalone title.

Inns & Cathedrals is the perfect expansion for those that love Carcassonne and are looking to add some spice into the mix. The core concepts of the base game remain – it’s still a tile-laying game where players place square tiles (with either roads, castles, fields and cloisters) into an ever-expanding kingdom, inspired by the fortified French city. Players have a limited number of ‘meeples’ (wooden workers) that they can sit onto tiles the player has just placed. When a road or castle is completed, for example, the player retrieves the meeple and scores points, depending on the size of said road or castle.

The new components that come with this expansion are a range of additional tiles and a larger meeple. Some of the roads now have inns on them, and if you place a meeple on a road with an inn along it, when the road is complete and the player retrieves the Meeple, road tiles are worth two points each (instead of one point each, compared to base Carcassonne). However, unlike a regular road that scores regardless, if a road with an inn along it is not complete come the end of the game, that road scores zero…

Similarly, there are some cathedral tiles, which are four-sided city squares. If a player can complete a city with a cathedral within it, each segment is worth three points each (again, worth more than regular Carcassonne). Also, if the city is incomplete come the end of the game, the player scores nothing. Both of these offer a high risk-versus reward strategy, especially when placed in the second half of the game. Sometimes players might gamble by adding a cathedral into a rival’s city as a means of sabotage, in the hope that they never complete it!

Inns & Cathedrals also provides one large meeple for players to go alongside their regular-sized meeples. This is placed the same as any other meeple, but it is classified as two meeples with regards to scoring. Therefore it settles tie-breakers, in case a rival tries to muscle in on a castle or road (or, more likely, farmers claiming fields). There is also a sixth colour of meeples (plus one big meeple) included in this expansion, meaning that now six players can play.

There are an abundance of further expansions for Carcassonne out there (many are by the same designer, Klaus-Jürgen Wrede). Expansion 1: Inns & Cathedrals is a fantastic option for players looking to take their love of Carcassonne up a notch to the next level of complexity.

Player count: 2-6 players
Time: 60 minutes
Age Rating: 8+

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.

Final Thoughts.

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? 

Carcassonne is one of the most popular board games in modern history! Visual-wise, it’s based on the French citadel, famed for its medieval castle walls. Tile placement is the key mechanism at play here. In the base game, your turn consists of you placing a tile into a communal, ever-growing array. There’s different types of features that score points, such as winding roads, monasteries, and walled cities, themselves.

If you can’t get enough of Carcassonne, I’ve got great news for you. There’s a bucket-load of expansions for it! Mastered the art of placing down farmers? Played the base game and the mini modules The River and The Abbot? Still hankering for more? What you need is the Carcassonne: Inns & Cathedrals expansion, and I’m here to teach it to you!

Read this far, but pulling an ‘Eh?’ kind of face? You need to click here to read the Zatu ‘How To Play Carcassonne’ Guide. In that blog I talk you through how to play the base game of Carcassonne. This How To Play guide assumes you know how to play the basics of Klaus-Jürgen Wrede’s classic.

Three New Modules

Carcassonne: Inns & Cathedrals doesn’t reinvent the wheel, as such. It’s more a case of it injecting extra layers of strategy into the base game. You’re still competing with other players to score the most points by the time the tiles run out. You’re still placing one tile on your turn, and deciding if you want to invest a meeple onto that tile. You’re still targeting to finish (and thus, scoring) features. In doing so, you retrieve the meeple you placed there.

Three modules await inside Inns & Cathedrals. (No prizes for guessing what two of them are…!) In this tutorial, I’m going to explain how to play them all. You can play with any one, two or all three of them at once. If you’ve played a game or two of Carcassonne before, it’s not overwhelming to play with all three. It goes without saying that you’ll need a copy of regular Carcassonne to play Inns & Cathedrals. This is an expansion, not a standalone version of the game.

Setting Up Takes Seconds

Inns & Cathedrals comes with 18 extra tiles. (Some of these feature inns and cathedrals on them, shock, horror!) They’re all light-back tiles, rather than dark-back – the latter being starting tiles. The new tiles from Inns & Cathedrals have a tiny meeple icon on them. This means you can separate them from the original tiles, in a simple fashion. Shuffle these 18 in alongside your tiles from the base game. Arrange them in a few stacks, face-down.

Give each player their meeples in their chosen colour. Inns & Cathedrals comes with pink meeples, which means that now a sixth player can join in the fun! (There’s also a pink Abbot meeple included, which is for The Abbot module.) Give out a noticeably larger meeple to each player in their corresponding colour, too.

Place the score board near the middle of the table, as per usual. Decide if you want to start with the default starting tile (dark-back), or with The River module. Have everyone place one of their regular-sized meeples on the zero on the score track. You’re ready to begin!

That Bigger Meeple Stole My Lunch Money

No doubt your ears pricked up when I mentioned the larger meeple, above. If playing with this module, every player receives an extra meeple of their colour. This meeple is head and shoulders bigger than the regular-sized ones.

Your turn occurs as normal. You pick up a tile and place it, adding it to a current (or starting a new) feature. If you want to place one of your meeples to the tile, you can – so long as no other meeples occupy that feature. So far, so Carcassonne. But if you place a large meeple on a tile, it counts as two meeples.

You don’t want to waste this one! If you’ve played Carcassonne before, you’ll know that placing tiles to combine two features into one is a clever way to share someone else’s points. If you do this and use your large meeple, you could eclipse them all together. Or, if you place your large meeple down early, it might intimidate other players. No one wants to be the sacrificial lamb that gets sucked into a tile placement war!

You can use a large meeple to act as a highwayman (road), knight (city), or a farmer (field). There’s no point using it as a monk, because only one player can ever claim a monastery on the turn it’s placed.

Inn For A Penny, Inn For A Pound

On six of the new tiles, there are inns. They’re not the easiest icon to spot, but they’re a red-roofed building, sitting by a road. (You can also tell it’s an inn because they have small lakes next to them.) Inns sit on roads, so they’re connected to placing a meeple as a highwayman, with the intention of scoring it as a road.

There’s nothing new to worry about with placing a meeple as a highwayman onto a road. Inns do, however, come into their own with regards to scoring roads. Usually, when you complete a road, it scores one point per tile that the road passes through. If you’ve placed a meeple on a road that has one (or more) inns on it though, then it’s worth double the points. It’s worth two points per tile that forms said road.

Beware, though! At the end-game scoring in the base game, you score your roads regardless of their completion or not. Here, if you have not completed a road with an inn on it by the end of the game, you score nothing. Of course, you can use the large meeple (explained above) on an inn road.

Cathedrals: A Blessing Or A Curse?

Two of the new tiles are cathedrals. They’re city tiles, but without any walls. This means it’s a tile that requires a minimum of four city tiles around it to close it in. That’s easier said than done, though!

Carcassonne: Inns & Cathedrals offer the opportunity to net mega-points. If you can complete a city that houses one of these tiles, you’re laughing! You’ve played Carcassonne before, so you know how cities usually score. (Two points per tile that the city spans across. Any coat of arms present in the city are worth another two bonus points each, too.) Finish a city with a cathedral in it though, and the scores increase. Now each tile is worth three points each instead of two. Coat of arms are worth three points each as well as two, so you can net major-league prizes!

Again, don’t get too excited! If you fail to complete a city that houses a cathedral by the end of the game, that city scores nothing. This feels like a painful loss if you’ve spent a lot of time and tiles into make a ginormous citadel! Sometimes players might even place a cathedral into a rival’s city. The penalty is they’ve made it harder for that player to complete it. But the risk is if it does get walled in, it’s going to pay out big dividends for someone…

Editors note: This post was originally published on September 1st, 2020. Updated on June 29th, 2022 to improve the information available.

Zatu Score


  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • You can now play with six players
  • Lots of new tiles that add new gameplay quirks

Might not like

  • Can get stuck with non-scoring features