Ian's Movie Reviews
Short Reviews of Movies, Board Games, and Other Stuff

Carcassonne – The Princess and the Dragon: Carcassonne Gets Cutthroat

Carcassonne has been around for a decade and is one of the most recognizable Eurogames on the market. People love it for its variability and easy-going interactions. Yes there are blocking strategies employed, but its not quite as focused on aggressive competition as a game like Risk. But throw a deadly, meeple-eating dragon into the mix and watch what happens!
Carcassonne is a game with an abundance of expansions, but here they enter new territory. This beloved tile game set in medieval France has now entered the realm of fantasy, with fairies, dragons and magic portals. But along with this deviant theme comes a deviant game-play which is much more vicious and confrontational than the Carcassonne players may be used to.

Additions
As far as components go, you really don’t get a lot here. But you do get the dragon. This monstrous meeple towers over its star-shaped victims and is painted a fiery shade of red. He is simply fantastic. The dragon has the ability to actually remove pieces from the board, leaving destruction in his wake. When the beast is released, players take a turn moving him across the landscape as their followers tremble with the sound of his approach. This is where the cutthroat nature of this game comes into play.
The other wooden addition is the white fairy, the counter to the dragon’s destructive power. If you have control over the fairy you may place him on one of your tiles which will protect your meeple from the dragon’s wrath. This fairy can be controlled by any player who chooses not to place a follower on their turn. Therefore, the fairy is a fickle servant and you must constantly vie for her attention.
Other than these two pieces, you are also given new tiles which dictate when the pieces are used. Volcano tiles are added, even though volcanoes are a rare sight in southern France. Then again, so are dragons, so what does it matter? These tiles set the dragon into motion. There are also magic portals (adding to the fantasy theme) and princess tiles which allow you to remove a competing meeple in a city in which you are also vying for control. However, this circumstance doesn’t come up much, and therefore the princess does not have nearly as much of an effect as her titular companion.

Critique
Historical consistency goes right out the window with this expansion as fantasy invades this medieval Carcassonne theme. However, since fairy tales are common place in these medieval times, I can forgive this thematic shift. The real downfall here is the ability to remove meeples from the board. Things can get real brutal real quick. Carcassonne is a game of finding the best ways to place your followers. The direct competition comes in the tile placing, but now you also have the chance to completely remove pawns. This is too much. It adds too much viciousness and creates a lot of frustration. By the end, you feel like all your hard work was in fact trampled and burninated by the destructive power of the mythical dragon. Its disappointing.
For those who want a more Risk-like attacking quality to their Carcassonne game, then this will certainly do that. For those who appreciate the civilization-building, tile strategy of the game, you will probably find this counter-intuitive.

Expansion –
Base Game –
Base Game and Expansion –

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