Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Carcassonne Catapult

I asked to play this only because I managed to convince my wife Michelle to join me for a game session at Carcasean. Michelle is a non-gamer, although one who likes and has played 49 games of Through the Ages, and 360 games of Race for the Galaxy. Lately she has been less interested to join game sessions, and more resistant about learning new games. We still do some 2P games. So when I convinced her to accompany me to a game session at Carcasean, I knew I should stick to easy-to-learn and not-too-long games. Carcassonne was a staple for us when I started in this hobby, so playing one of its expansions should be pretty low-risk.

It worked out well. The rules were easy to pick up, and we had fun. That day, we played 5 different new games in total, within 2.5 hours. That's the most number of games I've played within the same visit to Carcasean among my recent visits.

The Game

The Catapult expansion adds twelve tiles to the mix, and they all show a catapult. When you draw and place a tile with a catapult, you choose a catapult action, and every player executes the action, starting with you. All four of the catapult actions involve using the wooden catapult and some small markers that come with the game. The actions are:

  1. Catch ball - Place the ruler (which also comes with the game) between yourself and the next player. You catapult a marker across the ruler, and your opponent tries to catch it. You gain 5pts if you can spring the marker across the ruler and your opponent doesn't catch it. Else he gains 5pts.
  2. Target practice - Use the catapult to throw a small round marker as close as possible to the catapult picture on the newly placed tile. Whoever's marker is closest gains 5pts. These two are just fun mini games and have no impact to the game other than the 5pt bonus. The next two do have impacts.
  3. Banish - Try to hit followers (a.k.a. meeples) on the board. Any that are hit are returned to their owners. This applies to your own followers too.
  4. Swap - Land a marker on the board, and if you do that successfully, you swap the closest opponent follower (to the marker) with one of your own from your supply.

The catapult, a ruler, and the four different markers for the four different mini games to be played with the catapult.

The Play

We played with just the base game and this expansion. No other expansions mixed in. The game progressed just like any other Carcassonne game, only with the occasional diversions that required playing with the catapult. We tried all four mini games, but as the game progressed, we mostly did Banish or Swap, since these could have big impacts, especially to the fight for control of the largest farm.

The catapult is quite unpredictable. You don't really know where the marker will go. You don't have much control. You can try to position it well, but sometimes the marker simply doesn't go where you want it to go.

This was the Target Practice mini game. We actually did use the ruler.

See the catapult tile on the right.

There were some funny moments. Once Michelle managed to swap one of her followers with Chong Sean's. She didn't have any follower in her supply, so she could choose one on the board to swap with Chong Sean's. She not only replaced one critical follower on a big farm, she also moved that victim to a city that wouldn't give points because I had more followers there. And that city was very hard to complete. That was one nasty move. Eventually Michelle won the game by a large margin because she was the sole winner of the biggest farm. I was in last place, losing to Chong Sean by only one measly point.

The Thoughts

It's good for a laugh. And that's about it. I find it distracting and I won't add it to my Carcassonne set. I think the novelty will wear off pretty quickly. The target audience for this expansion is definitely not me.

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