Thursday, 27 July 2017

Carcassonne Expansion - Under the Big Top Review and Giveaway

Ever since we've played Carcassonne game, it became one of our favourite board game! Even Clay is getting the hang of it now and enjoyed the game right until the end. He has been asking if we can play it again, so we are bringing it with us on our holiday today!

The ever so lovely PR from Esdevium Games knew that we absolutely love the game, so have kindly sent us the latest Carcassonne Expansion Pack - Under the Big Top to play and review (and 1 to give away!). The new added elements has certainly changed the way we play, especially for the competitive ones!

Carcassonne Board Game, Carcassonne Expansion Under the Big Top, best board games

Carcassonne Board Game, Carcassonne Expansion Under the Big Top, best board games

Carcassonne Expansion - Under the Big Top (RRP £17.99, suitable for players age 7 and above) is the 10th expansion pack for Carcassonne created by Z-Man Games. It requires Carcassonne Base game to play. The expansion will add the following to the base game:

12 Circus Tiles
8 Acrobat Tiles
16 Animal Tokens
1 Big Top playing piece
6 Ringmasters playing pieces (including a pink one for those who already have the first Carcassonne Expansion pack - Inns & Cathedrals, which will allow for a 6th pink player)

The expansion pack also comes with instructions on how to play Carcassonne using the expansion pack.

Carcassonne Board Game, Carcassonne Expansion Under the Big Top, best board games

The quality of the tiles and playing pieces are as sturdy with a great finish and beautiful illustraion as the base game.

The instructions and rules took us a bit longer to understand that the ones for the Carcassonne base game, but we understood them as soon as we started playing with the circus and acrobat tiles.

Basically, 3 things are added to the expanded game:

Carcassonne Board Game, Carcassonne Expansion Under the Big Top, best board games

1. A travelling circus will arrive an area temporarily when a circus tile is placed. An unknown animal is performing (animal token placed upside down on the circus field) inside the tent (with the big top playing piece sitting on top of the animal token to indicate that it's currently running), and the circus will leave the area when a new circus tile is placed.

When the circus moves on, the animal token from the previous circus tile is revealed with a score. Any surrounding meeples (who have enjoyed the show within the area covered by the 9 tiles, including the circus tile itself) will be awarded the score. So if 1 player has 2 meeples nearby, the player will get double that score.

Our experience:
(Note in the picture that the blue player aka my husband was piling all his meeples around the circus and scored a whopping 25 points when it left.)

This has affected our strategy on where to place our tiles and meeples. We would try to lay our tiles as close to where the current circus with the Big Top is, hoping that we can still squeeze in a few more meeples before it moves on.

We also tried NOT to complete features around it, which will return the meeples back to us. So we ended up with quite a few unfinished features in an area where we no longer want to develop (the circus is somewhere else!), and had to decide whether we should start completing them or continue chasing the circus!

Carcassonne Board Game, Carcassonne Expansion Under the Big Top, best board games

2. While the circus is on tour, meeples caught the trend and instead of finding a job (monk, knight, highwayman and farmer), they tried to get themselves on the nearby acrobat tile to show off their own acrobatic skill (yes I sort of made the story up haha).

When a player places an acrobat tile, they can claim a road on the tile, or place their meeple on one of the 2 acrobat patch. Any players who places a tile around the acrobat tile (the 8 tiles around it) after can forfeit claiming features on the tile they have just placed and get on an empty acrobat patch too.

The acrobat tile holds 3 meeple though, because they have great acrobatic skills! The 3rd meeple can get on board by hopping onto the 2 meeple's shoulder (it might not stack very well on a shakey table so we just put ours behind the 2) to create a pyramid.

Unfortunately, since the acrobats wants to show off so much, players won't be able to claim points straight after the pyramid is completed. The points can only be scored when a player places another tile around the acrobat tile, or if forgotten (it happens!), the players the meeple belong to will still get the full score at the end of the game.

Our experience:
The rule for acrobats was a bit harder to understand until we walked through it completely. However, since whoever gets on the acrobat patch will get scored at the end of the game anyway, we didn't ponder for too long.

Giving up on claiming features that could potentially score us more points than being on the acrobat tile (if you only have 1 meeple on it, you will score 5 points, but you could easily score more than that with a completed city) was a hard decision to make, but this added feature has certainly make strategy plotting more interesting!

3. Ringmaster:
While the circus is touring, the ringmaster, for some reason, has been wandering around and have fun on his own!

A ringmaster can have other professions (knight, monk, highwayman, and in another mini expansion, farmers, etc), unfortunately he has 0 acrobatic skill! So he won't be able to help players claim a spot on the acrobat tile.

If he remains near a circus and/ or acrobat tile however (ie the circus and acrobat tile itself and the surrounding 8 tiles), whatever feature he is in that is completed, he can help score an extra 2 points!

Our experience:
We were so engrossed in our game that we didn't read the part where he had to remain around a circus or acrobat tile (which makes sense), so our ringmasters has been enjoying themselves exploring in lands far away, while stealing 2 points here and there where they shouldn't. Ehem.

And here are some pictures of our Carcassonne game, using the river expansion from the Carcassonne Base game and the Carcassonne 10th expansion pack - Under the Big Top:

Carcassonne Board Game, Carcassonne Expansion Under the Big Top, best board games

Carcassonne Board Game, Carcassonne Expansion Under the Big Top, best board games

Clay really had fun playing with us!

Carcassonne Board Game, Carcassonne Expansion Under the Big Top, best board games

This hole was hard to fill and I was giving up on it (I was yellow), but we did it! Hubby was reluctant to fill it though as that helped me get closer to him on the score board haha!

Carcassonne Board Game, Carcassonne Expansion Under the Big Top, best board games

The end of our game. We definitely need a bigger area to play with the expansion, but it was so satisfying! We went around the score board so many times that we had to find new ways to indicate which round we were in (standing up in the first 50, lying flat for the next, and standing on the side for the 3rd haha)!

We'll be getting the first Carcassonne Expansion Pack next because it comes with scoring tiles to help with this situation!

When we put all the land tiles and the new circus and acrobat tiles together, we got really excited because there were so many of them! We do think that the land tiles in the base game isn't enough for a satisfying game for 4 people, so we would highly recommend getting at least 1 expansion pack with it for 4 players.

Abby wasn't having much luck with getting the good tiles from the pencil case (she kept getting road tiles!), and was a bit upset when everyone went pass her twice on the score board! I think if she has listened to our explanation on how to use the circus and acrobat tiles, she would score plenty. When we do a rematch I'll have to remind her that.

Clay on the other hand was having lots of fun expanding his one giant city (he on the other hand kept getting great tiles!), which scored him 36 points! I've also tried to guide him into building near circuses (I tried to guide Abby as well but her tile pulling luck was just not there!), so he had some bonus points without realising, but it had kept him happy and he never once moaned about the game being too long or not winning.

It was quite hilarious for me and hubby as we both tried to pile as many meeples as we can near an active circus! Later on he was so distracted by something else that I was quietly building around circuses on my own! He still won at the end though.

We love the on-the-go feature (where the circus keeps travelling around the board), and I'm really looking forward to playing it with our family when we meet up next. The adults like to sabotage each other or creating alliances, with the Big Top going around the board, it will be very interesting to see how this will change their strategy. I bet it'll be hilarious!

~~~ GIVEAWAY ~~~

And here is your chance to win a copy of the Carcassonne's latest expansion pack - Under the Big Top! Please do note that you will require the original Carcassone starter game to play this.

Good luck! x

Prize: Carcassonne Expansion - Under the Big Top x 1

Giveaway ends: Sunday 13th August 2017 Midnight (where 00:01am is Monday)

Terms & Conditions:
  • The giveaway is open to the UK only
  • The prize cannot be exchanged and no cash alternative will be offered.
  • The prize is for the Carcassonne expansion pack - Under the Big Top ONLY. It requires Carcassonne starter pack to play that is NOT included in the prize
  • To leave a comment, simply do so by either leaving it in this post's comment section (Disqus) or on Facebook under the giveaway's post. For Disqus, please make sure that you are not leaving comment as Anonymous, as I will not be able to check whether you've left one. If you have to comment as Anonymous, or if your Disqus ID is different from your Rafflecopter entry name, please add a means of ID on your comment that I can use to link it to your Rafflecopter entry. Unfortunately if I can't, your entry won't be counted.
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  • All entries will be checked.
  • Winner will be drawn by the Rafflecopter randomly
  • Winner will be announced by Wednesday 16th August 2017 on here, Twitter and Facebook.
  • Winner will have to respond to my email by Tuesday 22nd August 2017 noon. A new winner will be chosen after the deadline.
  • The prize will be posted by the PR. I cannot be held responsible for missing parcels, but if you have any enquiry do let me know and I'll try my best to help
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