Carcassonne : Traders and Builders is the second large expansion to the Carcassonne Series of games and probably my favourite expansion to the game. It adds two new scoring options that adds a slight shift in strategy, new ways to speed up the game and my favourite, a cloth bag to keep all the tiles in. What the expansion does miss is the lack of direct player confrontation that is hallmark of Carcassonne.
Appearance: Carcassonne : Traders and Builders comes in a small rectangular box. As with Carcassonne, there is very little to comment on in terms of artwork – it is terrain features after all. The pig is somewhat confused, looking very little like a pig but then again, meeples don’t look much like humans.
Rules / Ease of Learning: Rules for Carcassonne : Traders and Builders are easy to learn, and because they come in three component parts, can be selectively added to the base game.
Goods are represented on both city tiles and as punched-out markers. Players who complete a city with a good marker on it win the specific good marked (wine, cloth or grain). Players with the most goods of a specific type at the end of the game get 10 points.
The Pig is a small addition to the game which can be placed on an existing controlled farm. That means you’ll need to have your farmer placed already. A pig adds 1 point to each city scored for the farm.
The Builder must be placed after a meeple is placed like the Pig, but is dedicated to a city or road. The builder allows players to play another tile immediately after adding to the city or road that the builder is on. That is, when a road which a Builder is on is extended, the player may automatically draw a second tile and play it anywhere on the board as per normal rules. And no, you do not get a third turn.
Actual Gameplay: Traders and Builders adds a slew of expansions, some with varying success. The Pig is the least game-altering addition, adding only a single point. Farm centric players will love it, others will find it mostly a miss. In our games, we found it to be generally a non-feature – it was useful, but nothing special.
The Builder was the most disappointing in actual game-play. While the concept of having multiple turns to ‘build’ on a feature, in a 5 player game at least, by the time a Builder was in play, the actual benefit was minimal. After taking 1 turn to place a meeple, a second to place the Builder, you then had to be lucky enough to draw a road or city (whichever it is on). Quite often, you would only get to use it once or twice before another player shut the feature down, forcing you to start the process again. Of course, our experience might be due to the number of players involved (5) and how aggressive we were at shutting down each other.
The Goods feature was probably the most popular addition to the game. While adding only 30 points, it provided a twist to gameplay as players would compete to get the goods as much as points. Quite amusingly, in at least one city, players were purposely increasing the size of the city as 4 goods were available and no-one wanted the city to be scored.
Possibly the best addition was the bag – instead of having tiles spread all across a table, you now had a simple and efficient way of keeping all your tiles together. Probably my favourite addition and for anyone who has a small table or who wants to make the game easily portable.
Conclusion: My favourite expansion of Carcasonne thus far, a more comprehensive expansion that both changes the game and adds to it. Well worth the cost for nothing more than the Goods and Cloth Bag in my opinion.