|What comes in the box|
It's hard to imagine a time when Carcassonne didn't have a million expansions available, but seriously, there was one. There was a time when medieval city-building enthusiasts were drumming their fingers on their gaming tables, waiting for the next Klaus-Jurgen Wrede brainwave. And before Carcassonne jumped the shark, there was Inns & Cathedrals.
So what do I think of this expansion-before-the-others? Find out below!
How It Works
Inns & Cathedrals follows much the same rules as the base Carcassonne game (you can read @Futurewolfie's review here, or my review here), but it adds a few minor variations.
The first variation is more of a continuation. Inns & Cathedrals includes pieces to include a sixth player (gray) and several new landscape tiles to account for more situations. These landscape tiles fill in some of the gaps created by the original tile set and eliminate some of the power moves from playing with just the base game.
|This is an Inn-on-the-lake. The shadow meeple denotes |
the expansion so tiles are easy to sort.
The third variation is the bullies, the big meeples. Bullies are played and retrieved like regular followers, but when determining who owns a feature, the bully counts as two followers.
Inns & Cathedrals also includes several scoring tiles to help players determine how many times they've been around the board.
I'm not sure where you fall on the expansion debate (love them? hate them? find them annoying? think they encourage designers to make incomplete games?), but I fall into the "love them" category. Yet even for me, I recognize that most expansions, while perhaps making a game more fun, do not fall into the "necessary" category. But Inns & Cathedrals is the exception: it is necessary to the game of Carcassonne.
Why do I say it's necessary to the game of Carcassonne? Well, first of all, it fixes some of the situations that the base game could put a player in. A malicious player could prevent another player from ever completing a feature through the aid of certain tiles. And while that will always be a possibility in this game, I appreciate the new terrain that at least keeps all players on their toes. "This is a tight spot...but what if Lenny draws this tile?" is a frequent thought at the table.
I also love the Inns and Cathedrals aspect of the expansion. Especially toward the end of the game, it opens a lot of space to mess with your opponents. "There are only a few tiles left in the bag? How about a Cathedral in that city you've been working on all game!" Of course, this is always a gamble. Playing a Cathedral in an opponent's city is awesome if they can't finish it; it's not so great if they do. Inns are less risky as completing a road is a much easier achievement and there are many Inns in the set. The Inns and Cathedrals are also simple enough that I can throw them in the game even with complete newbies and they understand them.
|Bullies and regular meeples for a size comparison. No,|
there isn't a ton of difference in size.
Like I said, Inns & Cathedrals is to Carcassonne what Intrigue is to Dominion. No, it's not the most exciting set, as it doesn't add anything "cool," but what it adds is necessary. You can play the game without it, but I just wouldn't recommend it.
Necessary addition to the base game
Bully adds some fun strategic choices
More Risk/Reward options
Harder to block completion of features
Simply adding Bully gives players too many meeples
No "exciting" additions
Occasionally, @FarmerLenny and I actually agree on something. One of those things is Carcassonne. While it may not hit the table frequently, it's always a welcome guest when it does. And Inns & Cathedrals is, as @FarmerLenny says, a necessary extension.
Everything Lenny said was true, so I don't have much to add, just a few words. I want to reiterate that the most important aspect of this expansion is the set of new tiles. Aside from the pieces you get that fill in more ridiculous holes in the puzzle, the new pieces tend to divide up the playing field as far as farms go. In the base game, things often devolved into players fighting for a huge farm that touched every city on the board. It was just too hard to divide things up, even if you were trying. It was always too easy to circumvent a city or corner a road just so.
|The base game and TWO expansions all fit|
in the original box (that bag is a teaser).
So yes. If you enjoy Carcassonne, Inns & Cathedrals is the next step for you, and it won't even cost you that much.
New tile configurations fill up more gaps
Farms easier to break up
6th player is an unnecessary but nice addition
New rules add a little depth
More tiles means a longer game length
Getting a cathedral placed in your big city too close to game end really stinks