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Darius I – 73rd Great Khan of the Illustrius Barbarian Horde, Duque San Lorenzo, Marquis de Feltón, Chief of the Zayante, Baron von Whaleyland, Lord Kennedy
Oh the joys of purchasing a game that you already own for a measly new expansion! If you already own Carcassonne and have just purchased Wheel of Fortune, that is exactly what you've just done! But not all is bad in the land of Fortune. With this set, you get some stellar tiles from various expansions, which means you are getting a somewhat new tile set from the base game. Also, you are getting a second set of all your followers (except gray) so you can finally have replacements for the one your dog chewed on. Finally, you are getting an awesome new score board that has a cool crown symbol on the start space. Did I mention you get a pink pig with this game? Yeah, it's pretty nifty.
Sarcasm aside, I purchased this game just for the 17 tiles, giant 4x4 Wheel of Fortune, and the pink pig animeeple. The other 55 tiles have sat in my Big Box's Tower since I purchased the game, and I don't see them heroically reviving anytime soon unless I play a mega game. Approximately $20 is a lot to spend on a relatively small Carcassonne expansion, and quite honestly, you don't get a lot for your money except nice new tiles and replacement pieces.
The real power of this game is the expansion. It is both the focus of the game and the only value it has for an owner of Carcassonne. The concept is extremely simple, although the rules make it sounds somewhat complicated. The pig starts the game on the Fortune tile (it has a pig with an arrow on it). Over the course of the game, 17 random tiles will be drawn that have numbers on them. Those numbers tell you how many spaces to move the pig around the wheel. There are a grand total of six spaces on the wheel, and all of them give a bonus to someone except one.
• Fortune – The player who moved the pig so it lands on this gets three victory points.
• Tax – Every player scores points for every shield in their cities and for every knight in their castles. The knights remain in the cities. (Rules are mum about mayors.)
• Famine – Every player has a farmer scoring round, except they only receive one point per farmer rather than 3. The farmers remain on the board. (Rules are mum about Barns.)
• Storm – Every player scores points equal to the number of followers in their supply. (Followers should include Big Follower, Mayor, and Wagon.)
• Inquisition – Every player scores two points for each monk in play. The monks remain on the board. (Rules are mum about heretics.)
• Plague – Every player must remove one follower from the board and return it to their supply.
That's pretty much it. The rules are silent about numerous expansion interactions and I wouldn't expect Hans im Glück to release any FAQs anytime soon. Robbers are the only follower completely unaffected by the Wheel of Fortune (except regarding the Plague). What I find especially strange is the use of negatives terms — tax, famine, storm, inquisition — to give positive bonuses. And obviously plague was done before any plans for The Plague expansion were finalized. Still, it is rather fun to have random scoring rounds throughout the game, especially for the farm, so I'm not entirely opposed to how this wheel functions.
One other thing the Wheel of Fortune does is it allows the players to gamble. Around the edge of the wheel there are little places to set followers on top of. Whenever the pig stops at a place where a follower is placed, the player collections points — three of it is a three space, three if it is a six space but another follower is on it, six if it is a six space and there is only one follower on it. There is an element of gambling here, since the randomly drawn numbers may skip past certain spots, but it can be fun. The problem is three-six points is hardly worth sacrificing a follower for. I mean, most roads score more than that, and they are often guaranteed to get done. So again, Hans im Glück misjudges the value of a new feature. It counts as your follower action to place a follower on the wheel space, and followers left on the spaces at the end of the game score nothing. So you have to be having a really bad game to gamble on those spaces.
Honestly, my favorite aspect of the wheel is the very fact that a giant 4x4 tile is the start tile of the game. As opposed to the tiny four-sided tile the base game comes with, 16 sides are available to start the game from. Sure the rules don't actually state if the wheel feature ends a road or blocks a field, but we'll all assume it does for the sake of argument. Also, one side of the wheel matches perfectly with one side of the Count of Carcassonne, allowing an even larger starting tile.
In the end, I can't say I recommend this expansion for your everyday Carcassonne player. If you already have the base game, you need to think long and hard on if this expansion is worth the cost to you. You don't need the extra tiles, in most cases. In case you are wondering, all the tiles are marked with a "Wheel" watermark, so you can still sort them apart from your base game. If you read German, buy the German version since it comes with a book, which increases the value of the game immensely.
If you don't own the basic Carcassonne game and don't want to spend $50+ on a Big Box, then this is a great opportunity! If you buy this, you get a base game (by not playing with the wheel rules) and you get an expansion (the wheel) for roughly the cost of the base game. It really is a win-win situation and I would recommend it to everyone who wants Carcassonne and doesn't have it.
As base game:
Compatibility (with expansions): B
Learning Curve: B-
FINAL SCORE: B+
As expansion (just wheel and 17 tiles):
Compatibility (with expansions): B
Learning Curve: B
FINAL SCORE: B-
Carcassonne Big Expansions Ranking:
9. The Catapult
8. Wheel of Fortune
7. Count, King & Cult
6. The Tower
5. Bridges, Castles & Bazaars
4. Abbey & Mayor
3. Traders & Builders
2. The Princess & the Dragon
1. Inns & Cathedrals
- Last edited Mon Feb 7, 2011 7:05 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Mon Dec 20, 2010 9:58 am
Just a note for you. In my box there are 19 wheel tiles, not 17. I thought there was supposed to be 18... who knows?