Tag Archives: Carcassonne: Winter Edition

16th December 2021

Ivory, always excitable when it comes to Christmas, was first to arrive, shortly followed by Blue and Pink, with armfuls of crackers, parcels, party poppers and Golden GOAT voting forms. It was our first visit to The Jockey since the retirement of the Charles and Anna, but Michelle and John made us very welcome on their first full day, and were very understanding of the noise mess we inevitably made.

"Un-Christmas Party" 2021
– Image by boardGOATS

We started with the crackers, frantically chasing dice, chocolates, and meeples all over the place, and then suffering the flock of appalling goaty jokes with which they were filled. As people munched the chocolates from their crackers they filled in their Golden GOAT voting forms, then Pine and Pink collated the results.  There were lots of nominations for GOAT Poo, but the runaway winner was Dingo’s Dreams.  This is probably quite a clever game that we would normally enjoy, but we played it online with lots of people, none of whom had any idea what they were trying to do.  As a result, the complete chaos made for a very un-fun experience all round.

Dingo's Dreams
– Image by boardGOATS from boardgamearena.com

Discussion surrounding the Moment of the Year included reminiscences of the time Lime accidentally joined an online game of 6 Nimmt! with a bunch of Frenchmen, but that was last year and therefore not eligible this time round.  Pine and Pink fondly remembered the pasting they gave to Burgundy and Blue when they played Ticket to Ride: Heart of Africa, but the winner was the online game of Niagara when Pink won by stealing gems from everyone else—an event that still lingers in the the memory of those who were robbed and are even now dreaming of revenge.

Niagara
– Adapted by boardGOATS from image by
BGG Contributor El_Comandante

With all the online gaming, there was less competition than usual for the Golden GOAT award.  Indeed, the 2019 winner, Wingspan, was very nearly the first game to win the Golden GOAT award twice, but much to Green’s obvious delight, it was just pipped to victory by Praga Caput Regni – quite an achievement given that only four people in the group had even played it.  We spent our winnings from the quiz on appetizers and with some having a full three-course dinner, we weren’t finished till quite late.  There was just time for a game or two though…

Golden GOAT - 2021
– Image by boardGOATS

Pine was keen to play Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries, but after the Heart of Africa experience nobody else was enthusiastic to join him.  Ivory was keen to play  the “Feature Game” which was Santa’s Workshop, so Pink, Blue and Burgundy joined him.  This is a medium-light weight worker placement game, similar to Stone Age, Lords of Waterdeep or Viticulture, but with a festive theme.  Players operate teams of elves making presents for Santa to deliver on Christmas Eve.

Santa's Workshop
– Image by boardGOATS

On their turn, players can send elves to collect wish-list items, mine for coal, visit the metal, wood, fabric, plastic and assembly workshops, or train their elves so they work more efficiently.  Players earn Cookies for every gift they make, and every three days, Santa carries out an inspection and the teams that have made the most gifts get more Cookies.  The elves can also visit the Reindeer Stables to get help and more Cookies—the player whose team of elves has earned the most Cookies by the end of Christmas Eve is the winner.

Santa's Workshop
– Image by boardGOATS

The game is played over the nine days before Christmas, appropriately from 16th December (the date of our “Un-Christmas Dinner”) up to and including Christmas Eve.  Each gift card shows what it is made of and how much assembly it will need, as well as how many Cookies it will earn when it is completed.  One of the things that makes this game a little different to other worker placement games is that players are unable to store resources:  elves must first acquire the gift card, then the materials to make the gift (wood, plastic, fabric and metal), and only then can the elves assemble the gift.

Santa's Workshop
– Image by boardGOATS

The idea is that the elf is taking the pieces to the assembly room and making it there, so timing is everything.  If a player visits receives five pieces of wood, but can only use three, the other two go to waste. Players can improve their situation by getting some of their elves trained—this costs a turn, but a visit to the School Room means they can use this additional skill to produce more material or assemble things more efficiently.  The question is whether this is worth the effort as the game is played over just nine days with only three turns per day (or four at lower player counts).

Santa's Workshop
– Image by boardGOATS

Blue and Burgundy started fast and took the bonus Cookies for the most productive team at the end of the 18th December, but by the end of the Christmas Eve, Ivory and Pink were getting the most Cookies for being the most productive while Blue and Burgundy’s attentions were elsewhere. Ivory started out making a lovely wooden music box, but then moved rapidly into making plastic tat.  Selling coal to Santa was also highly lucrative (Santa always needs coal to give to naughty children).

Santa's Workshop
– Image by boardGOATS

Blue did the reverse, starting by making Lego bricks with lots of plastic and then moving on to making dressing up clothes and a lovely teddy bear which she failed to assemble.  Burgundy also struggled with his assembly and spent quite a lot of time visiting the stable and petting Comet (to take the first player marker) or Donna (to obtain the assistance of Zelf to get extra material).  Pink similarly struggled and felt it was important to prioritise being the first player at certain points during the game.

Santa's Workshop
– Image by boardGOATS

It was a very close game and the final few turns were really critical as players tried to make sure they completed everything they could and most realised they couldn’t finish  what they wanted to.  Ivory thought he might just make it and gambled on getting enough visits to the assembly room to do what he needed.  In contrast, Blue pragmatically took the Cookies from Dasher’s stable and gave up all hope that she might be able to assemble her gifts.  And that made the difference, giving Blue victory, finishing ten Cookies ahead of Ivory, with Pink just behind in third.

Santa's Workshop
– Image by boardGOATS

Although not an exceptional game, Santa’s Workshop is unquestionably one of the best festive games we’ve played—all the more so as it has a genuine Christmas theme rather than simply being “snowy”.  Sadly, the pieces lack a little something, especially Santa, but we made up for that by stealing the bits from Christmas Penguins, which we played a couple of years ago and had great bits, but lacked something in the game-play.  The game itself was purchased in a couple of years ago and sent on by a friend in Australia, but first got caught in the bush fires there and then playing it was delayed by Covid when last year’s Christmas Event was online; the verdict was that it was worth the wait though.

Santa's Workshop
– Image by boardGOATS

On the next table, the rest of the group settled down to play Carcassonne: Winter Edition.  This is essentially the same as the original “blue box version” of the tile playing game, Carcassonne, but with a pretty snowy scheme, which everyone agreed they preferred to the usual version.  So, as with the original, the game play is very simple:  on their turn, the active player plays a tile, adding it to the map (ensuring all the edges agree) and then optionally place a meeple on the tile before scoring any completed features.

Carcassonne: Winter Edition
– Image by boardGOATS

The features on the tiles include city segments, roads and cloisters.  Players score two points for each tile in a city or road they own if it is completed during the game, or one point at the end if incomplete.  Similarly, Cloisters score nine points when completely surrounded or one point for the central tiles and each surrounding it at the end of the game.  The clever part of the game is that while players cannot add a meeple to a feature that is already owned by another player, these can be joined together and then shared so that both players score.

Carcassonne: Winter Edition
– Image by boardGOATS

This time, the group also included the the Lebkuchenmann expansion.  This consists of additional Gingerbread Man tiles mixed in with the base game; when drawn, the player moves the brown Gingerbread Meeple to an unfinished city of their choice.  Before he is moved, however, the current city containing the Gingerbread Man is scored.   Each player receives points for the number of meeples they have in the city multiplied by the number of tiles in the city.  Thus, even players that only one meeple in the city when their opponents have more get a few points.

Carcassonne: Winter Edition
– Image by boardGOATS

The Gingerbread Man also leaves the current city when someone adds the tile that completes it and the Gingerbread Man is scored just before the normal scoring.  This means it is sometimes desirable to finish someone else’s city, in order to move the Gingerbread Man or to make them earn fewer points for it.  The clever part about the Lebkuchenmann expansion is that it can be played in both a friendly and a spiteful way.

Carcassonne: Winter Edition
– Image by boardGOATS

Very early in the game, Green, Purple and Lilac all found themselves with cities which looked all but impossible to close out.  Black went for an early “Farmer”, making snow angels and Green followed suit.  “Farmers” only score at the end of the game, giving points for the number of cities the field supplies, but they tie up the meeples for the rest of the game and, if placed early can end up being cut off yielding a poor score.  So, only time would tell whether this would prove to be a master move or a waste of a good meeple.

Carcassonne: Winter Edition
– Image by boardGOATS

Lilac was building herself a nice big city, obtained the first Gingerbread Man and placed it into her growing metropolis.  This attracted the attention of Pine who set up camp in a small city across the open divide.  On his next turn he got exactly the tile he needed (a city tile with two opposite open ends), and joined the two together.  When the city was completed shortly after, both Pine and Lilac scored, not just for the city, but for the Gingerbread Man too. This put them both out into a commanding lead on the score board, with Pine half a dozen points ahead—a lead he would not relinquish for the rest of the game.

Carcassonne: Winter Edition
– Image by boardGOATS

In the meantime, the rest of the group kept drawing road tiles.  The Gingerbread Meeple was very handy to get some of the awkward, incomplete cities to score at least something, as he hopped around the board giving out gifts.  As the snowy scene expanded and grew, more farmers were placed, more cities were completed, and roads wiggled their way round the landscape joining areas previously separated.  As one of his last moves, Green found the one tile that would fit into the gap next to his first city to complete it. This did something else, too, that would have a game-changing impact, though nobody realised it until scoring.

Carcassonne: Winter Edition
– Image by boardGOATS

With the last tile placed everyone scored their uncompleted cities, roads and cloisters.  At this point Pine was still in front, with Lilac not too far behind in second—the Farmers were going to be key.  Black and Green had managed to maneuver two Farmers each into the same massive field, but sadly Purple’s lone farmer got booted out.  Lilac had a couple of farmers on the other side of the board, one gave her two cities and the other gave her three, just enough to push her ahead of Pine (who had eschewed the whole farming in the snow business as being too cold for him).

Carcassonne: Winter Edition
– Image by boardGOATS

Green’s and Black’s Farmers had amassed a total of huge total of ten cities for their shared field, which brought them right into contention.  Scores were just about to be added to the board when Black pointed out that his (and Green’s) field went further round and actually swallowed Lilac’s farmer with three cities due to the tile placed by Green to complete that city.  So Lilac lost nine of her points and Green’s and Black’s new field total was for thirteen cities giving them thirty-nine points each.  This leapfrogged both of them ahead of Pine and Lilac, with Green coming out a few points on top.  A close game, everyone enjoyed.  This edition is a worthy edition with the Lebkuchenmann expansion a perfect little festive addition too.

"Un-Christmas Party" 2021
– Image by boardGOATS

Learning Outcome:  ‘Elf and Safety is everyone’s business.

10th December 2019

The evening started with people arriving in festive attire and snow, glitter and other detritus all over the table, as people pulled crackers and party poppers.  While we waited for food everyone amused themselves writing “Secret GOAT Christmas Cards” and contemplating the voting possibilities for the Golden GOAT Awards (by far the most enjoyable poll of the week).  In the interlude between courses, people completed and submitted their voting papers and Blue and Mulberry conducted the count.  As the results came in, it was clear that there was only going to be one winner.

"Un-Christmas Party" 2019
– Image by boardGOATS

Although Key Flow put in a very strong showing to come second, Wingspan, already winner of the Kennerspiel des Jahres and Deutscher Spiele Preis, took the most coveted award of the year, the coveted Golden GOAT.  The GOAT Poo Prize was less clear cut – almost everyone said that for them there wasn’t a stand-out game deserving of the award.  In the end it went to 7 Wonders, which is a bit of a Marmite game among the GOATS – some people are very fond of it, but nearly a third of the group nominated as the least enjoyable game of the year.  Eventually, everyone finished dessert, but everyone was in festive mood and nobody seemed desperate keen on playing anything.

Golden GOAT - 2019
– Image by boardGOATS

Lime threatened to head off without playing anything as he had a long drive in the morning, but after some discussion about perhaps playing the Winter Edition of Carcassonne or repeating the snowy Nordic version of Ticket to Ride that we played last year,  eventually, he joined Mulberry, Blue, Pink and Ivory to play the “Feature Game”, Christmas Penguins.  This is a cute little game, with some interesting ideas, but proved to need more development and more complete, precise rules.  The premise is that players are naughty penguins trying to steal gifts from under the Christmas Tree, while trying to avoid being captured by Santa.

Christmas Penguins
– Image by boardGOATS

The rules for the second edition were only available in German and had been translated by Blue, so some aspects might have been missed, but the idea is that the round is started by Santa who rolls his die and moves accordingly, trying to catch one of the naughty Penguins. Then each Penguin takes their turn trying to get to the Christmas Tree to steal one of the presents under it.  If they manage to steal a pressie, Santa moves the tree to another location.  Penguins cannot pass through a space occupied by another Penguin, instead, playing a sort bumper-car game, they push the occupant onto an adjacent unoccupied space.

Christmas Penguins
– Image by boardGOATS

If a Penguin lands on a space with an Event Stone, by design or because they were pushed onto it, they take the stone and keep it until they need it.  Event Stones come in different colours which have different effects, but these primarily involve swapping places with other characters. To use an Event Stone, the player can call “Stop!” at any time and then carries out the action by spending the stone.  Rolling a one, has the additional effect of invoking the Polar Bear, who moves one space at a time, but if he ends on a space with a Penguin it drops a parcel and runs away to an unoccupied adjacent space.

Christmas Penguins
– Image by boardGOATS

One of the clever ideas is that when Santa captures a Penguin, the owner of the Penguin takes over the role of Santa and the player who had been Santa places their Penguin in Santa’s workshop.  The turn order was a bit of a problem, however, and may have been one of the things that didn’t make it from the German translation, certainly it was one of the things that mean the game didn’t really gel for us.  Another thing that our group found lacking was the fact that there was no mechanism for the Event Stones to return to play, which was a shame; perhaps we would house rule it that every time the Christmas tree was moved a stone would be left in its place.

Christmas Penguins
– Image by boardGOATS

Ivory started out at Santa and we went at it with a will.  Ivory quickly caught Lime, who looked most unimpressed.  Unfortunately, thereafter, every time Santa caught a Penguin, the upset it caused to the turn order confused everyone.  There was one other aspect of the game that we completely failed to use, which was the rivers—each player can place or remove one river piece per turn.  These cannot be crossed by Penguins, Polar Bears, or even Santa himself and are clearly designed to add an element of strategy to the game.  In practice though we just forgot they existed, only using them very occasionally.

Christmas Penguins
– Image by boardGOATS

The game ends when the final parcel is taken from under the tree, in our case, by Blue, which just left the scoring.  Even this was a little more complex than it needed to be: players get one point for each present they’ve stolen and bonus points are awarded in a Point Salad way to the player with the most parcels of each colour and the player with the most different colours.  It is almost as if this game doesn’t know what it is meant to be, silly fun or strategic, which is a great shame because it feels like it should be a good seasonal game. So, over the Christmas period, we’ll have a go at house-ruling it to try to improve it for our group.  This time, in the end, Blue and Ivory got a bit of a lead and Blue eventually put everyone out of their misery.

Christmas Penguins
– Image by boardGOATS

It wasn’t clear how bonus points should be awarded in the event of a tie.  In our first attempt, we decided that bonus points would only go to the person with more than anyone else, but this led to a three-way tie which was about as unsatisfying as the game.  So we decided to try friendly ties, which did at least give us a winner, with Lime just sneaking into the lead.  With that, Lime and Mulberry took themselves off leaving Ivory, Pink and Blue to play Christmas Lights, the game that was going to be the “Feature Game” until Pink had commented that he didn’t like it.

Christmas Lights: A Card Game
– Image by boardGOATS

Christmas Lights is a set collecting card game with a memory element.  The idea is that players have a hand of cards that are “reversed” so players can see everyone else’s hand, but not their own, like Hanabi.  Players are tying to make a string of lights by playing coloured light bulb cards in the correct order to match their cards.  On their turn, the active player first trades a card of their choice with one from any other player.  They then play one card, adding it to their string of lights.  This can be the card they’ve just swapped, or one they’ve had in hand, but if it does not match their pattern card, they must discard it.

Christmas Lights: A Card Game
– Image by boardGOATS

Once they have played a card, the active player then turns over the top two cards and then either adds one to their string, or can trade one of the cards for the one-word answer to a question of their choosing.   With just two players, it feels like the game plays itself, but with three or four players, its sweetspot, there is a more interesting interplay between planning, memory and navigating the event cards which can help or hinder.  This time, Pink was first to complete his first target string, but found it difficult to play the plug card that he needed to connect his first string with his second.  This was made worse by Blue, who stole his once he’d found one, and the fact that he had played a lot of broken bulb cards that needed replacing before he could continue.

Christmas Lights: A Card Game
– Image by boardGOATS

While Pink was struggling to sort out his plug, Ivory and Blue had both caught up and started work on their second string of lights.  With two cards played per turn, it wasn’t long before all three were threatening the end of the game, but Blue got there first, just.  Pink couldn’t quite finish his string and as Ivory had started first, he didn’t get another turn, leaving Blue to take victory without another tie-break.  Meanwhile, on the next table, Green, Black, Purple and Pine were playing a slightly more conventional, tie-break free game in one of our old favourites, Snow Tails.

Snow Tails
– Image by boardGOATS

Snow Tails is a husky sled-racing game where players have a deck of cards from which they draw a hand of five, playing one to three of these each turn so long as the cards played all have the same value.  Each player also has a dog sled with two dogs and a brake.  Forward movement is the sum of the dogs minus the value of the break, with a drift sideways of the difference between the two dog speeds (in the direction of the faster, stronger dog).  Using this, players have to navigate the course avoiding colliding with obstacles including other sleds, saplings and, of course, the wall of the track.

Snow Tails
– Image by boardGOATS

Corners are also a hazard, and players traveling too fast into them or hitting things they shouldn’t, pick up dent cards.  These are added to the players’ hand and stay there for the rest of the game obstructing their planning and management reducing the number of cards they can draw.  The track is modular and there is a “menu” players can choose from.  This time, Lime, on the next table chose the board layout, and picked one of the two double hairpin tracks, albeit one without the sledge destroying saplings.  It took us a couple of attempts to get the track right though, having to make sure there weren’t two red speed limit lines next to each other and adding a couple of saplings either side of the gorge to make it just a little more interesting.

Snow Tails
– Image by boardGOATS

Using a random selection, Pine was in pole position, followed by Black, then Purple with Green starting last.  There was a nice easy run to the first half bend, but those starting last had to make sure they did not crash into the back of the sledges in front.  Within a couple of turns Green had nudged from last to be alongside Black and on the inside of the track so theoretically in the lead.  Over the next few turns Green and Black vied for the lead while Pine and Purple were scrapping for third.

Snow Tails
– Image by boardGOATS

Eventually, Green got a good position for the first hairpin and pulled into the lead.  Although could have let the brake off at this point hurtle forward, he decided that the inevitable dents for breaking the speed limit would not be worth it, so instead slammed on the brake. This allowed Black to catch up, but his track position was not so good and soon found himself boxed in on the outside unable to get across the track fast enough, as a result picking up his first dent.  At about the same time, Pine also found himself sliding too wide at the hairpin also taking a dent, while Purple was taking it slow and steady, avoiding damage.

Snow Tails
– Image by boardGOATS

At the front Green used his inside track position to start to pull ahead of Black, and continue round the second hairpin, cutting in tight to the opposite half bend, for an easy dodge through the canyon and round the tree towards the finish line.  Black in second place had to manage his damaged sledge through the last corners, but had a good lead on Pine and Purple and was able to easily slide home in second, taking one of the trees with him to the line.

Snow Tails
– Image by boardGOATS

In the meantime, Pine found himself going too fast into the second hairpin and not only crossed the speed limit line too fast, he also crashed in the same accident black spot that had caused Black problems earlier.  Pine’s sledge was so badly damaged that everyone else took pity on him and allowed him to only take a single dent card, although he insisted he should take the lot.  At this point it looked like an easy third place for Purple, but she suddenly began to struggle as she didn’t have the right cards to do what she needed to do.  As a result she was crawling along so slowly that Pine caught her up. It was looking like it might be rather tight for that third place, until Pine’s impossibly damaged sledge finally got the better of him and Purple crossed the line for third.

Snow Tails
– Image by boardGOATS

Learning Outcome:  GOATS love a good party!

21st Movember 2015 @ “The Mix”

Our second drop in gaming session at The Mix in Wantage was once again, a great success.   As last time, it started very quietly, this time with Green fighting to blow up balloons and Pink and Blue struggling to get the ends to meet when building a nice PitchCar track.  Before long, “Grandma” had arrived with her young grandson in tow and they began with a game of the very intimidating Boom Boom Balloon.  They then moved onto Toc Toc Woodman (aka Click Clack Lumberjack), while another couple began a rather intense game of Carcassone: Winter Edition.

Toc Toc Woodman
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor adamfeldner
and bgpov.com

Meanwhile, PitchCar was attracting the eye of visitors as usual, and other people got engaged in games of Dobble, Roar-a-Saurus, Billy Biber (aka Log Jam) and Maxi Bamboleo.  Before long, lunch beckoned and people began to drift off.  The couple playing Carcassonne asked about other, similar games and so out came Ticket to Ride: Europe and Nordic Countries which they liked the look of.  By this time, Grandma and Grandson had moved onto Escape: The Curse of the Temple, with Green (who had never played it before) and Pink making up the foursome.  After losing the first few games, Pink took a break and was replaced by Blue who had played it a lot and suggested they worked in two pairs.  Despite her experience, it was Blue who was last to the exit and seemed completely incapable of rolling the two keys necessary.  As the stress levels rose, she eventually succeeded with a few seconds to spare.

Escape: The Curse of the Temple
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor rassilonsghost

The session finished with Grandma and Grandson playing a final quick game of PitchCar before going swimming.  As it had quietened down, Blue, Green and Pink persuaded the last of the helpers to participate in a quick game of Splendor, which Green won, but with a very creditable second place for the shyly reluctant new player.  Then it was time to tidy up and go home.  As Green headed off in the car, he happened to catch JACKtivities on the radio, advertising a “Beyond Monopoly session at The Mix in Wantage, with boardGOATS“. “Sounds good,” he thought, “Maybe I should go along…”

Splendor
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor TrashcanCity

Save the Date: Mixing it in Wantage II

The Mix in Wantage town centre is a community space that can be booked for use by local groups, organisations, businesses and individuals for activities, fund-raising, meetings, workshops, and presentations etc.  This spring, we held a drop-in gaming session there to try to inspire people to play games.  With winter approaching (traditionally “the gaming season”) and Christmas on the horizon, it seemed an excellent time to do it again.

The Mix
– Image from thewantagemix.wordpress.com

We will be there from 10.30 am until 2 pm on November 21st 2015.  There isn’t an awful lot of space so, as before, the idea is to encourage people to drop in and play a short game or two, so we will be bringing along some of most eye-catching games like PitchCar, Colt Express, Dobble, Turf Horse Racing, Cube Quest, The Great Balloon Race and maybe a few of our favourite winter themed games like Snow Tails, Carcassonne: Winter Edition and The Great Downhill Ski Game.

The Mix
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor punkin312