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Carcassonne with Expansions – Play for Free Online at AsoBrain.com

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Today I’m doing a little follow up on two of my previous article, the one about Introduction to Carcassonne and the review on AsoBrain: Xplorers. First part of the article will be about Carcassonne with expansions, specifically first two expansions; and the second part will be about how the Carcassonne gameplay is executed online on AsoBrain.

I’ll be looking into the first two expansions, as those are the ones that are available on AsoBrain. Others expansions will have to wait until I get my hands on one of those compilation boxes, where there are multiple included.

Inns & Cathedrals

Sometimes simply known as The Expansion, this was released in 2002 and is the first of many expansions. It brings three new elements to the gameplay:

  • A large follower who counts for two points when determining which player scores points for a feature. He comes very handy when contesting cities, roads or pastures with other players. When the feature is completed, he scores the same points as a normal meeple, not double, though. So, he’s just about contesting for features (maybe usee him for that big city you plan to build).
  • Special Inns tiles. These are road tile with an inn pictured by a lake. Inns double the points of a completed road. If the road, however, is not completed, player gets no points for that road at the end of the game. It’s an element that makes road building a bit more attractive and adds more strategy to it.
  • Special Cathedral tiles are part of city tiles. A cathedral adds one point to each of the city tiles. Like an inn, a city with a cathedral will score no points at the end of the game if it’s not completed. Again, another layer of strategy added to the game.

Traders & Builders

Just a year later, second expansion was released, again with three new elements making an appearance:

  • A Pig follower. Pig can be placed alongside one of your farmers and increases number of points you get from each city on that pasture by one. You must have the most followers on that pasture for that to come into effect, of course. The Pig, however, does not count towards this.
  • A Builder follower. This one is particularly interesting (my favorite feature of the two expansions) as he allows you to draw a second tile in a turn. You can place him on a city or a road on which you already have a follower. Then, each time you add to that feature (extend that road or that city), you get a free tile (maximum one per turn). When the feature is completed, the builder is returned to you, ready to be used again. As the pig, the builder does not count towards the number of followers in a feature.
  • Trade goods. Some city tiles will have an icon of cloth, wheat or wine on them. When a city is completed, they are collected by the player completing it (not by a player scoring the city). Idea behind this is to encourage players to finish cities. Player receives tokens for the goods collected, which are scored at the end of the game.

toulouse-lobby

Toulouse at AsoBrain.com

I assume you are familiar with AsoBrain by now. If not, read my previous article. On AsoBrain, Carcassonne is called Toulouse. You are using the same account as for Xplorers, only the client is different (still Java based). Ranked and Practice servers are available with Tournaments available occasionally (rarely rather).

You can join an existing game (although a bit harder to find as on the Xplorers’ client) or create a new one. There are options to play the base game, to include Inns & Cathedral (simply called The Expansion), Traders & Builders or both.

No other expansions are available (not even The River mini expansion, which is by default now a part of base game in the tabletop edition), which is a big shame. It would be great if the game would receive some love and developement, as there are a lot of expansions for Carcassonne available.

Bots are readily available, but for the skilled player, they are a bit weak. They don’t focus on the pastures enough. You can increase the challenge a bit with adding more of them. That makes your influence on the board smaller and makes the game more even. Robots do act fast and are an ideal spare partner for a quick game. One can be finished in 5 minutes.

Humans pose more of a threat, but the game is still smooth and fast. Most of them know what they are doing, since this a very niche online board game, therefore mainly good players play it. Expect more of a challenge here.

User interface is simple: left click to select a tile, right click to rotate it, then left click to place it. Color around the tile will tell you if it’s legal to place it. After that, you have the option to place a follower. Very fast and effective, without unnecessary complications.

regular-vs-large-follower

Regular and large follower on Toulouse should be a bit more distinct.

Visuals are functional, but not much more than that. For example, the tabletop version is really stunning compared to this. Pastures are just one big green plain without any textures or details. Zooming out is done automatically as the board gets larger. Nice feature is the ability to hover your mouse over a pasture and it will show the exact boundaries of it and how many followers each player has on it. It works similar for roads and cities.

This is also a great training tool, as understanding the borders of pastures is something new players struggle the most in Carcassonne.

Of course, computer takes over all the scoring calculations, so that’s one time-consuming element of the game taken care of.

toulouse-board

Verdict

Main positives:

  • free to play,
  • fast and simple gameplay,
  • bots are always available.

Main negatives:

  • long registration waiting period,
  • visuals could be better,
  • not many people online,
  • only two expansions included.

Overall: 8/10

Conclusion

Toulouse on AsoBrain is a great place to learn and refine your Carcassonne skills. Personally, after a couple of games, I find a bit dull. Lack of players and expansions make me lose interest. But for some reason, the next day, I’m always back for more, even if it’s just for quickie against bots.

This is all completely free, let’s not forget. There is nothing stopping you from trying. Well, except the 5-day waiting period.

If you have any comments on Toulouse, Carcassonne in general or this article, please leave them below. Also comment if you would like an invitation to AsoBrain to shorten that waiting time.

Vasilij

16 thoughts on “Carcassonne with Expansions – Play for Free Online at AsoBrain.com

  1. Great post! I like your unbiased reviews. The game really sounds nice but the 5 days period could be improved.

    I also think they should make more effort in encouraging people to be more online because the biggest fun part is to be live with other players and play together.

    But overall Carcasonne is a great game.

    Thanks

    1. It’s a very thin field of players that play on AsoBrain, mainly enthusiasts. I doubt AsoBrain is in it for the big money, that’s also why they don’t advertise anywhere.

  2. Interesting to know about another expansion on this asobrain website. Well, I registered on it already and I am still waiting to be approved before I get started with the gaming on it but then, still feels good to know another part to the games on it. This Carcassonne expansion should be interesting to see how it lays out. Thanks

    1. I guess you didn’t quite understand – Carcassone is a different game entirely. You’ll see when you get into AsoBrain what I’m talking about. 🙂

  3. I absolutely love Carcassone: I’ve been playing it on and off for years (I got distracted by Civilization on Facebook for a few years until they binned it) but every time I go back to it I find something new about it, or some new aspect of strategy that I hadn’t thought of before. Of course, now there are sites like this one which discuss these things, and I love reading about how other people see a game because it often surprises me and gives me ideas that I wouldn’t have thought of myself. I very much like to trade and tend to neglect building, and I haven’t really explored the use of the pig perhaps as much as I could. Thanks for the review, you’ve given me lots of great ideas!

    1. And thank you for the comment. Pig is not a very interesting addition, you just put him on your largest pasture. It’s the builder who creates a lot more strategic options for you.

  4. When I saw the photo on the top of the website I got really excited cus I thought this was a review for Catan, I love that game! But this is about another game. Your website does have pretty extensive content on Catan though, so that’s great!

    For the game in this article, since it’s a pretty old vintage game I’m just wondering how many people are actually still playing this. I doubt there will be many judging by how rapid the gaming world is evolving, not many people would stick with vintage games when they can play with all the new gadgets and consoles. Hopefully this post will reach out to more people so they can know about this game!

    1. People are still playing, of course. There is a lot of novlty coming out every year, and among that is also a lot of bad games.

      The best games tend to survive the test of time.

  5. This is a nice article i am a lover games and Carcasonne is a great game.but the 5 days period could be improved.and also encouraging people to be more online because the biggest fun part is to be live with other players and play together it help you improve and also helps you strategy wise

  6. Hello Vasilij, one more great review! I am really enjoying reading it as you always go in detail. My son is interested in playing Carcassonne and I am really glad this game doesn’t stop to exist. I found the biggest disadvantage for me is that the registration period, I hope they will speed up the process someday.

  7. I like the game and it’s pattern of play even though I’m yet to play it. Asobrain is very good and I love the kind of games it camps but I really feel that not everyone can have the patience of waiting for about 5 days to get approved for an online gaming website, I really hope that is improved as soon as possible. My husband plays a couple of games online wnd I’m sure he’ll love this, I’ll share it with him.

  8. I think I saw your review on the aso brain but I have not given it a try yet at all but now looking at this, I feel like it is something that I should give a try. I see that the Carcassonne game is also available for free on there but I initially thought that it was a board game. I also notice that asobrain does not do any advert. Why is this?

    1. I don’t know for sure what their policy is, but if I speculate, I’d say they get their income from other sources (donations etc.) or are just entusiasts that don’t care that much about profit.

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