The Count of Carcassonne is an expansion for Carcassonne and Carcassonne: The Wheel of Fortune. The function of this expansion is simple enough to incorporate, but it changes the strategic gameplay of the base game quite a bit.
I have played with this expansion 5 times over the past year and a half since I got it. It is not an expansion well liked by everyone in my play groups, but it is fun as a change of pace now and then.
The city of Carcassonne itself is the starting point of the countryside that is built up over the course of the game. Its function is more than just to look good however. Followers in the city can be deployed to features that are scored, which can allow players to share points of completed features they may have had no part of, or to steal them outright. Watch out for the count though, while he watches over a section of the city, no one in that section is going anywhere.
12 tiles of the same quality as you would expect from Carcassonne. The tiles are numbered in the back and replace the start tile from the base game. The 12 tiles make up a 3x4 start tile and are always arranged in the same way. If playing with The Wheel of Fortune, the bottom side of the city lines up perfectly with the top side of the wheel to make one large start tile.
Also included is a large purple meeple that acts as the count of the city.
The way this expansion works is simple. Anytime a player places a tile, and that tile causes another player to earn points while the current player receives 0 points, the current player may place a follower into the city. The city has four sections, with each section referring to one of the 4 main features, cities, cloisters, roads and farms. The follower must be placed in one of these 4 sections. If the current player adds a follower to the city, he may also move the count to one of the four sections.
Anytime a feature is scored, you check the corresponding section in the city to see if followers are there. If so, then starting with the player to the left of the current player, they may choose to move followers from the corresponding section of the city (if they have any) to the feature that is being scored. Continue clockwise with the current player having the final option to add followers. Once this is done, the points for the feature is then awarded to the player(s) with the most followers in that feature.
If the count is in the corresponding section of the city when a feature is scored, then players may not move followers from that section.
This movement of followers from the city to the feature occurs as cities, roads, and even cloisters are completed during the game. At the end of the game, they may also be moved from these sections to incomplete features as they are scored.
The end of the game is the only way to move followers from the farm section of the city, since farms are only scored at the end (unless playing with Abbey & Mayor where the barn piece can cause farm scoring throughout the game).
In my experience, this expansion is quite a game changer. Instead of competing and attempting to build large cities and roads, it becomes a game of everyone completing each others features to get followers into the city for deployment later, when something better comes along. However, it usually isn't worth trying to build something better unless you have enough followers in the corresponding section to be sure you are going to get the points from it. Or if the count is in the corresponding section to prevent others from taking your feature and you want to risk that he won't be moved before your feature is complete.
While I say 'feature' in the above paragraph, it usually refers to cities. Cities are the main section of the city that players will place followers in, at least for the first half of the game. And then it becomes a race to fit in as many followers as possible to the farm section of the city, so that at the end of the game, they can control the farms and get all the points available at the end. And because large cities are rarely built out of fear of them being taken over, there are many small cities all over which makes farms even more desirable. Of course, if the current farm owner is lucky, he can move the count to the farm section near the end and protect himself that way.
Cloister and road sections of the city are usually left alone. Roads never get enough points to make it worthwhile (except in rare instances if using Inns & Cathedrals). And cloisters aren't numerous enough to bother.
As you can see, this game becomes a battle over features, but in a completely different way. It takes some planning and lucky timing to make your followers in the city pay off, but they are a must to protect yourself from the other players' followers. It takes a whole new way of thinking to play this expansion well. I enjoy this expansion now and then, but as you can see from my play count, it is definitely not essential, or even used that often. I say to get the most out of this expansion, use it alongside other expansions that boost up features' point values, such as Inns & Cathedrals and Traders & Builders. It makes the battle over features more exciting.
Following the BGG guidelines for ratings, I give this expansion a 6.
A Year With My Games has more reviews of games and expansions I've had for at least a year if interested. Thanks for reading!
I agree. It's a total game changer, and can be very brutal when you steal fields.