Close up photo of Carcassonne game with the dragon meeple standing on the same tile as a yellow meeple.

French Cities and God Powers

Sarah and Jobby play another couple of their challenge games, both of them tile-laying games…

Expanding, Ever Expanding

Our first game in this blog is the mighty Carcassonne, the classic tile-laying game that gets its name from the famous French walled city. We opted to play this game in our challenge with all the expansions we own: The River (well, it came in the box), Inns & Cathedrals (ups the scores), Merchants & Traders (speeds up play) and Princess & Dragon (provides opportunity for messing up opponent).

The game begins with players taking turns laying out the river from a stack of shuffled tiles. Once the river is out, the game feels like it begins properly with players taking tiles out of a bag and adding them to the map. Players put their meeples on features (cities, roads, cloisters and fields) so that when the features are complete they get points. A player is not allowed to add their meeple to a feature which already has a meeple. However, by adding a meeple to a feature, say a city, and then joining that city to a city that your opponent has a meeple in you both get the points! Do this a couple of times with the same feature and you steal the points. This is where the brutality of Carcassonne comes in.

Close up photograph of Carcassonne game. The fairy is sharing a tile with a red meeple. The dragon lurks in the background.
The fairy protects one of Sarah’s meeples from the dragon!

We were playing with the dragon, let’s call him Delbert. Delbert appears when a volcano tile is placed. Then, when a tile with the dragon egg is placed Delbert goes flying with players taking turns to move him. Any meeples he encounters he ‘eats’ and they are returned to their owner. This is another way to steal points of a player: eat their meeple and then occupy that feature in a following turn. It makes things more brutal!

There is a defence: a fairy flits from player to player protecting one of their meeples. Delbert won’t go near that fairy and so the meeple is protected.

Close up photo of Carcassonne game with the dragon meeple standing on the same tile as a yellow meeple.
One of my guys gets eaten by the dragon! Argh!

The game went on as a lot of our Carcassonne games go: we both seem to end up doing things on opposite sides of the map and only really interfering with each other’s plans when a particularly juicy city or farm came up.

Sarah seemed to be building up plenty of goods by completing cities, cities with her meeples in so more points! And she had a few good cloisters on the go. I was just trying to finish any kind of feature I could!

Close up of Carcassonne game with a city containing a cathedral completed. A pig stands nearby.
Completing the first city with a cathedral. Yay! Lotsa points!

Feeling rather behind with everything I noticed that one of Sarah’s farmers was looking to score big by the end of the game. Sarah has a knack of finding the best field in the game and scoring big from it. So I secretly managed to connect up one of my farms so I could share the points. Thus began the big battle of the game. Once Sarah noticed my encroaching farmer she managed to attach another of her farms. Then I attached another. I think at one point Delbert was employed to eat one of my farmers!

Completed Carcassonne game with tiles laid in a roughly rectangular shape. Yellow and red meeples are on the tiles.
The completed map at the end of the game. Now who controls that big farm?

Ultimately, Sarah won the battle for the farm. She also won all the majorities on the goods. In fact, she thrashed me 328 to 277. 🙁 Game to Sarah.

In the Hands of the Gods

Our next game was Gheos.  This is a bit of a favourite game of mine and doesn’t get the love it deserves. It’s like Carcassonne’s far more brutal younger brother. Whereas Carcassonne players are gently and friendly adding things to the map, Gheos players are actively tearing up the world causing wars and famine. Oh, and the triangular tiles’ corners are really sharp!

During a game of Gheos players take turns to lay a tile from their hand and then either start a new civilisation or take a follower of an existing one. They may then score their followers with each follower being worth the number of cups on the land it’s civilisation is on. The key is that a player may only do this a maximum of three times during the game – do it too early and your followers are becoming worth more and more without you being able to score them; too late and the game ends before you can use all your scoring opportunities.

Part way through a game of Gheos. Several tiles laid and yellow, white and blue discs are on the map representing civilisations.
Early in the game, a few civilisations have sprung up.

As I said, this is one of my favourite games, probably because players can be pretty brutal with each other. When Sarah and I play these challenge games we up the meanness and really try to go for the win so Gheos fits perfectly.

In this game, the meanness was certainly cranked up to 11. I was happily building up the green civilisation and nearly all my followers were green. I was planning on making them worth just a little bit more before scoring them. Before I could do that, Sarah sets up the blue civilisation so it had lots of swords and then joined them to the green civilisation. Result? The greens are wiped out, I lose all my followers and Sarah’s blue followers are suddenly worth loads.

It took me ages to build up a civilisation to defeat the blues. Perhaps I concentrated on this too much and should have worked for point elsewhere but I was so incensed with the need for revenge! I did have my revenge but by that time Sarah’s blues had scored her a lot of points.

This game was surprisingly short. Basically, the game ends when a player draws the 6th Epoch tile (in a 2 player game). The first tile came up in the first one or two turns, the second Epoch tile followed shortly after. Before we knew it six Epochs had gone and we each had used only two of our scoring tokens.

Once again, Sarah soundly thrash me: 49 to me and 75 to Sarah. Game to Sarah.

Results so Far

This brought us to no matches won yet and four games to me, four to Sarah.

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