Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Spin-off - Star Wars and expansion 1

2015 marked release of another Carcassonne spin-off. Coincidentally day of release correlate with release of Force Awakens movie. That leads to suspicions that this is just another attempt to squeeze few additional bucks from the famous franchise. Is it only that? Does Carcassonne:Star Wars defends by itself? Would mechanics that were up this moment used to lay down rivers, road and meadows fit the galactic struggle? Carcassonne in its roots is an abstract game and all theme is just an excuse to paint something on tiles, so why not?

Components

Tile set consists of 76 tiles. Reference list can be found in download section. Distribution closely match the set from classic Carcassonne base set, with few exceptions, so the faction symbols distribute evenly among similar features. Faction symbols (Rebel Alliance, Empire, Bounty Hunters) are painted on some of the tiles. Usage of those are described later.

Few of the tiles



Each player chooses one of five characters, well known from the Star Wars original trilogy. Those are assigned special markers. Every one of them is aligned with one of three factions. Every player owns six meeples, one of them is bigger and more useful in galactic wars. There is a set of stickers to be put on the meeples to make them more attractive than generic plain ones.

So that you do not forget who you play as
Meeples example



Standard rules


Tiles are played out in usual manner. Terrains that we set up are asteroid fields (cities), trade routes (roads) and planets (monasteries). Fields are represented by empty void of space (where no one hear your scream). Asteroid fields score 2 points per tile (with additional, while trade routs score 1 point. This is actually where similarities end and many differences appear. As may or may not expect empty space do not bring any points.

Additional or modified rules

Please make sure that you more than skim the manual before playing. One of the most obvious unique mechanic in this spin-off is the possibility to fight. Every time meeples of two or more players find themselves on the same feature the fight is started. It includes throwing  dices against each other. Chances may be improved by using big meeple or presence of faction symbols. In the end no feature can be shared. In galactic war there can be only one winner.

Dice set


Gameplay and strategy

Pew, pew, this is all about firing lasers at the opponent, so do not calculate your chances to much, just attack opponent as much as possible. Even if you loss a combat, you get  number of points equal to number of dices that you rolled. This is especially important in case of planets. For claiming a planet player gains as much as  9 points and he needs to commit his meeple for come time. By every lost attack you can gain 2 points, so it easy to level the advantage in points.

There is no "farmers" in this spin-off so there is less impact on long play and strategy in this version.
This is first Carcassonne game where team play is proposed by designers. Two teams of two assign themselves the roles of dark and light side of the force. Points are earn together.

Expansion

Release of Carcassonne:Star Wars expansion 1 was released year after the base game. Each player is distributed with a blaster and light saber, which help in fights. Beyond that, there are naturally additional tiles with some new setup of features. Sixth player is introduced with a role of Kylo Ren. Nothing much to be said here, there is no revolution or another dimension brought by this expansion. If you like the base game, this is a must buy. This expansion is explicitly numbered "1", so we could expect new expansion in the future. On the other hand there were no expansion released at the time of latest Star War movies, so probably this spin-off did not sell as expected.

Additional components


To buy or not to buy

This is the first installment in Carcassonne world where there is direct combat, which is refreshing and only spin-off where component of luck is so evident, with the addition of dices. Without any doubt this is targeted for younger audience, with the approach ranging from stickers on meeples to fighting dices. This one is all about fun, less than mathematical thinking. Points are gained one be one, rather then planned ahead.

If you have kids, that you play with, this is must buy for you. Unless you do not like star wars, then there is special place in hell for you.


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