Review of Carcassonne: Inns & Cathedrals
(This review assumes you already know how to play Carcassonne.)
Carcassonne: Inns and Cathedrals (Hans Im Gluck and Rio Grande Games, 2002- Klaus-Jurgen Wrede) was originally titled the unimaginative Carcassonne: the Expansion. That seems a bit laughable now, as there seems to be no end of new Carcassonne expansions. If I could get just one expansion for Carcassonne, this one would probably be it. It adds a lot of useful options and rules...
1.) Sixth Player: Gray meeples are added so that a sixth player can play - something I enjoy. I often have groups of six players, and Carcassonne is a game I often can bring out. Some people complain that the sixth player slows the game down, but to them I say “bah!” There’s not a noticeable difference, and competition for cities, farms, and roads gets that much more intense.
2.) Giant Meeples: A large meeple of each color is included, which each player can place, just like a normal meeple. The only difference is that a large meeple counts as two small meeples when determining who controls cities, etc. This makes the large meeple a very useful figure. Some folk, like myself, use him defensively, putting him in a large city to defend it from others. Other players use him to take over lucrative features that other players are controlling. The “Geeple” (Giant meeple) is a very useful addition.
3.) Point Tiles: This is a small addition, but a useful one that probably should have been included in the basic game. Once a player point marker passes the “50” space on the scoreboard and laps around, the player receives one of the point tiles, placing it with the “50” side face up. If they pass the start yet again, the tile is flipped to the “100” side. This helps all players see at a glance the point total of each player. I really enjoyed these - and notice how they come standard in all new Carcassonne-type games.
4.) Cathedrals: Probably the most influential tiles added - these two all-city tiles have a picture of a cathedral on them. If a cathedral is in a city, the controlling player gains three points per tile. The flipside is that if the city is not finished, the controlling player gains no points. Cathedrals are very effective against other players; a player can add a cathedral to another player’s city, hoping that they won’t finish it (quite possible) and score no points. On the other hand, if you score a large city with a cathedral in it, the resulting points can be quite lucrative. I really like these tiles, but will admit that they give the player who draws them a good bit of power.
5.) Inn on the Lake: Six tiles have a small inn and lake picture on them that border an adjacent road. These inns score the controlling player of that road two points per tile, but also cause the player to score no points if the road is unfinished. These are useful tiles, but don’t affect the game as much - mostly because roads don’t play as big of a role as cities.
6.) Other tiles: Besides the Inns and Cathedrals, there are several other “normal” tiles included with the expansion. They have different combinations of cities, etc. (one neat one has four separated city segments), that serve to help break of farms, and add more variety to the game. These tiles are great; and even if a player decides to ignore the other options in the game (and I don’t think that’s necessary), they are worth adding to the original mix of tiles.
7.) Newcomers: I generally ignore some features of the set when playing with newcomers, such as the Geeples, and the inns and Cathedrals. Rather than remove the tiles, however, I just use them - just ignoring the pictures of inns and cathedrals. This helps ease people into the game (don’t like to give too many scoring options at once), and then I mention them for the second game.
I really enjoyed this expansion; it added a few necessary things (point tiles, sixth player), some extremely interesting things (inns, cathedrals, new tiles) and the Geeples (which are fun, but weren’t entirely necessary). They do have their uses at the bottom of the inevitable meeple pyramids that people build, though.) If a player doesn’t like Carcassonne, this expansion will probably do nothing to change their mind; the changes are good but don’t affect game play that much. If a player enjoys Carcassonne, then this expansion is a must-get.
“Real men play board games.”