Can you believe that Carcassonne is now in its 23rd year!?! Over 12 million copies have since been sold and the game remains a much loved staple within the gaming community. The tile-laying game inspired by the French medieval fortress is easy to learn and is a great way to introduce new players into the hobby of board gaming.
Having spawned several expansions, spin-offs and even video games, the world of Carcassonne has plenty to offer and, due to the vast amount available, it might feel a little intimidating if you are searching for which extra content will best suit your play style. Well never fear, we’re here to help you find you’re next Carcassonne favourite - in this guide we will be taking a look at some of the best expansions and which one is right for you!
For The Sociable Gamer: Inns & Cathedrals
Carcassonne is one of those games that really works well with a high player count. The struggle for control of the land, the risk that someone may end your city or road before you can achieve those high points; it all makes for a nail biting experience. With this expansion you can increase the player count to 6 (say hello to those pink meeples!) as well as receiving a larger sized meeple in each colour that will give you the majority when locked with an opponent for control of a road or city. As well as this, Inns & Cathedrals provides 18 new Land tiles to increase the value of certain roads and cities by adding Inns to the roads and Cathedrals to the cities.
This is a great starting place to expand upon the base game and is a must have!
For The Thrifty Gamer: Count, King & Robber
What’s better than one expansion? How about four expansions? Well that my friends is precisely what you get in this box… Count of Carcassonne, King and Robber, The River II and The Cult. Now we all know that one person, the one who focuses on the biggest city or the longest road to rack up those extra points. In King and Robber that strategy will pay off as never before. Players will be competing to construct the largest city to become King of Carcassonne, or they may choose to set a new record of being the Robber on the longest stretch of road. But wait who is that in purple? It’s the illustrious Count of Carcassonne that’s who! This reprint of an earlier expansion gives you a large Count meeple who resides in the large two tiled city. He will be a great benefit by blocking the movement of other players meeples. If like me you always include the mini expansion ‘The River’ (taken from the base game) then you will love its sequel, The River II. Combine it with the original river to create an even bigger water flow around your medieval landscape. And finally, The Cultists are here to rival the monks of Carcassonne! Their shrines work similarly to the Abbey tiles but they also deny points to players who own the Abbeys. With all this content it’s safe to say that this expansion is great value for money!
For The Competitive Gamer: The Princess & The Dragon
Look at this beautiful city, your little knight meeple is comfortably residing there while you await the final tile to go down and complete the pattern and let you score those big points. But what’s that? A dragon? And it’s coming your way? Before you know it, the dragon has devoured your knight leaving the city open and ready for a new knight to move in. Sounds stressful? It certainly is at that, but dragons aren’t the only danger… the princess is on her way to distract your love starved meeples!
Introducing fairy tale and fantasy elements into Carcassonne was a bold move but it really hits the mark. Add to this a mammoth 30 new tiles and you have a formidable expansion pack! When the volcano tiles are placed, the dragon will be summoned to that tile. But don’t worry just yet, the dragon will sit there until a new tile with the dragon icon is placed. Then each player will take turns moving the dragon one space each. If your meeple gets in its way then unfortunately they’re toast! The eponymous princess on the other hand appears on several tiles and when one of these is played a meeple can be removed from an unfinished city.
If you want to make things more competitive (or dare I say, confrontational!) then this expansion has plenty to offer.
For The Strategic Gamer: Traders & Builders
It’s certainly a common place theme in many strategy board games… goods and materials! In Traders & Builders players be trading in wine, grain and cloth. These goods are shown on several city tiles and only impact the scoring phase of the game. Whenever a player finished off a city that features a goods symbol they immediately become the resident trader of said city. The reward for this is one corresponding token for each goods symbol in the city. At the end of the game, for each type of goods, the player with the most tokens gains a mighty 10 points.
So much for the traders, what about the builders? Each player will be given a special builder meeple in their colour at the start of the game. The rules for playing these meeples is a little different; when adding a tile to a city or road that the player currently owns and instead of adding a normal type meeple, players have the option of placing the builder instead. This means you now have two of your followers in the city or on the road. Not only that but an extra bonus is that you will be able to draw and place a second tile, therefore enjoying a double turn!
Finally, each player will also be granted a little pig meeple. This one is a little more inconsequential but it can be added to a field occupied by your farmer to guarantee that you have the majority vote in controlling the field.
And last, but by no means least, my favourite part of this expansion is the cloth bag! That may sound a little unusual but we now never play Carcassonne without using the bag. Instead of drawing tiles from facedown piles, now players draw from the bag as it gets passed around. It’s purely cosmetic, but it’s a great accessory for the game!
End Of The Road...
With 10 boxed expansions available this is just a little overview of some of our highlights. The difficulty level will increase slightly with some of these expansions but the enjoyment factor is not to be underestimated. Now if you want a real challenge play the base game with 5 expansions at once…. Our table was only just big enough and it took an age but boy was it satisfying!!!