Derek Whaley
New Zealand
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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
For such a aesthetically beautiful expansion, the Count of Carcassonne really is a huge let-down for me. When I think of counts, I don't think of a large purple guy wondering around a city and blocking regions from being used. Sorry, that just doesn't seem to me the role of a count in any scenario, game or otherwise.

In fact, the historical count of Carcassonne was a rather powerful lord in the 8th and 9th centuries. He was one of many regional nobles, often of Visigoth descent, who was instrumental in pushing back the Moors when they sieged Toulouse in 721. From that point forward, Carcassonne began to decline. The Moors were pushed back over the Pyrenees and Carcassonne becam just another Catalan-Provençal region in southern France. The title of count went into disuse after 1069 when the county was sold to Raymond Berenger I, count of Barcelona. It continued for another two centuries as a viscounty of France under the leadership of one of the count of Barcelona's sons but France finally annexed it in 1247 since it was French lands under Argonese control.

For those of you following, that means that during the period that the game Carcassonne takes place, roughly the 12th and 13th centuries, there was no count of Carcassonne, rather it was a viscounty or province of France. But that's okay. Most games these days seem to ignore historical settings. Carcassonne also has a Tower expansion (which would belong better in northern Italy), a Crop Circles expansion (which would belong better in the rural United States), and a Princess & Dragon expansion (which belongs more in fairy tales). The Count of Carcassonne expansion should really be called the City of Carcassonne, but that title was already taken by another spin-off game from the same franchise.

That being said, the focus of this expansion is clearly the city and not the count. The count figure is a large purple meeple and a very unique one at that. If you need a large unique purple meeple, this expansion is already close to worth it. The city is a whole other matter. After constructing it (all the tiles have numbers on the back) it creates a large 3x4 starting tile that serves double as the abode of the count. In addition, one of its sides meshes perfectly with the Wheel of Fortune expansion so you can combine them to create a 4x7 super start tile!

Now, the actual rules of the expansion are rather simple yet have tons of FAQs. Check out Matt Harper's translation and FAQ sheet for the expansion for all the answers to your questions. The concept is quite simple. There are four non-apparent regions of the city that relate to the four basic features on the Carcassonne board — cloisters, roads, cities, and farms. During your turn, instead of placing a follower on a feature, you may place it in one of these four regions of the city. Now, here's the confusing part, whenever someone finishes a feature that matches the building your follower stands on in the city, you can take that follower and place it on the just-completed feature. That means you get to share the points with the person who would normally score for it. If you have two followers on that city space, you can actually steal the feature! This can get very dangerous in regards to farms since farmers waiting in the city can steal someone else's farm.

There is only one way to stop people from stealing features. The count roams around the city and if he stops on your building, you cannot leave it when the time comes. The count moves whenever someone places a follower in the city. That player must then move the count to another building. Thus, the count is controlled by any player placing followers in the city.

I do not like this expansion. It adds an element of unpredictability that is very hard to counter. Sure you can put your own followers in the city to move the count but it rarely is worth it. Plus, I always forget to move followers from the city to the features. And when I do, the other players get angry. It is definitely an anger-causing expansion. The city is very pretty and I'd actually recommend people playing with it as a start tile regardless of whether they play with the expansion. But the expansion itself is very divisive in the Carcassonne community and I am on the "don't like" side of that divide.

Playability: B+
Affordability: A
Compatibility (with other expansions): C
Aethetics: A
Learning Curve: B-

Carcassonne Small Expansions Ranking
10. Count of Carcassonne
9. The River
8. The King & Robber Baron
7. The Cathers (Siege)
6. The Cult
5. Crop Circles
4. The Tunnel
3. The Mini Expansion
2. The River II
1. The Plague
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