Carcassonne is already a riveting tile-game that’s great for both kids and adults. The popularity of the original board game has promoted several Carcassonne expansions. There are over 30 expansions and mini-expansions that allow players to add new features to the base game.
These expansions include various improvements such as new meeples with special abilities, different geographic features, and improvements to farms, gardens, and cities. This is why choosing the best Carcassonne expansions can be confusing. Our opinion is that Traders and Builders is the best addition to the base game overall. It adds a moderate number of extra tiles and few extra meeples that can be used in creative ways and the new game mechanics are easy to learn.
Related post: Simple Carcassonne Strategy Tips
- Best Carcassonne Expansions
- Best Overall – Carcassonne Expansion 2: Traders and Builders
- Best for Extra Points – Carcassonne Expansion 8: Bridges, Castles & Bazaars
- Best Budget Option – Carcassonne Mini 5: Mage and Witch
- Best for Creating A Unique Landscape – The River
- Best for Strategic Gameplay – Carcassonne Expansion 1: Inns and Cathedrals
- Best for Historical Accuracy – Carcassonne Expansion 6: Count, King & Robber
- Best for High Adventure Fans – Carcassonne Expansion 4: The Tower
- What to Consider When Buying a Carcassonne Expansion
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Carcassonne Expansions
Best Overall – Carcassonne Expansion 2: Traders and Builders
Traders and Builders was the second expansion developed for the game. It is one of the most extensive but the least complicated. The new city tiles have different features that allow players to create, expand, or cut off other cities and pastures. This invites creative gameplay for completing various features and for scoring extra points. For example, players claim resources by finishing cities that contain the designated resource tiles even if they don’t have a meeple there.
Pigs help the Farmers. They are placed in pastures the player already controls to claim extra points at the end of the game. Builders allow players to draw two tiles per turn when constructing roads and bridges. This makes the game more interesting and helps speed up gameplay. Time can be a factor when playing Carcassonne especially when the game is enhanced by several expansions.
Best for Extra Points – Carcassonne Expansion 8: Bridges, Castles & Bazaars
The Carcassonne Expansion 8: Bridges, Castles & Bazaars includes extra tiles, wooden bridge pieces, and castle tokens. All of these new pieces are dedicated to scoring more points by using new and existing features. Players can connect roads, place castles in completed cities, and build bazaars to auction off unwanted tiles in exchange for points or more valuable tiles.
Virtually all of these actions are related to scoring more points. Two roads that were previously completed and scored can be combined using a bridge and counted again. The bazaars add an element of challenge and strategy if a player needs an elusive or rare tile, provided they can afford it.
Best Budget Option – Carcassonne Mini 5: Mage and Witch
Add some suspense and surprise to the game with one of the smallest and most economical expansions. The Carcassonne Mini 5: Mage and Witch expansion is simple, concise, and easy to learn how to use, but the stakes are high.
When placed in a city or on a road, a wizard will double the points acquired upon completion but the witch will take half the points away. The player that draws a tile with a wizard's hat can decide where they want to place the special meeple and choose between enhancing their own strength or exploiting an opponent's weakness.
Best for Creating A Unique Landscape – The River
The River was the first mini-expansion ever developed. It was given away as a bonus feature at trade shows, so it’s classified as a promotional expansion. It’s possible you already own it, as it’s been included in most boxed versions of the game from 2001 onwards.
Instead of starting off a single designated tile, with part of a city and a road, a river forms and the rest of the board develops around this central feature. The River includes cities, roads, and a monastery. This seems insignificant, but it allows players more freedom to build larger pastures and longer, more varied roads. Choose this option if designing a landscape is a priority as opposed to scoring points.
Best for Strategic Gameplay – Carcassonne Expansion 1: Inns and Cathedrals
The Carcassonne Expansion 1: Inns & Cathedrals includes several new and unique tiles that add higher risks and bigger payouts for players that love building. It also gives players an extra-large meeple that counts as two, which can make that big city or road construction more secure against opponents looking to steal some easy points.
The special times from which the expansion takes its name are used to double the score that players can get for both roads and cities. An Inn doubles the points from a road and a Cathedral doubles the points for a city. Building and claiming these structures come with a risk, however. Any incomplete feature at the end of the game that includes Inns or Cathedrals will reward no points. Combine this with the Bridges, Castles & Bazaars and players can auction off these valuable pieces rather than risk using them.
Best for Historical Accuracy – Carcassonne Expansion 6: Count, King & Robber
The city of Carcassonne is a real historic place complete with many medieval features like walls and castles that are visible in the game. The Carcassonne Expansion 6: Count, King, & Robber expansion combines the features of several mini-expansions, including tiles that represent that actual city of Carcassonne in place of the usual starting tile.
Using the city of Carcassonne as a central feature changes the game mechanics and gives plays more options and rewards for building. The King and Robber Baron tiles are used for keeping track of who built the biggest city and the longest road, and the Count prevents other players from para trooping into your space.
Best for High Adventure Fans – Carcassonne Expansion 4: The Tower
For those adventurous players that want to add a fantasy element to their base game, The Tower is the most obvious choice. This vertical feature is unique among the Carcassonne expansions which are usually two-dimensional. The foundation is made up of 18 extra tiles and there’s a handy box included that keeps them hidden until they’re drawn.
Meeples that are placed in the feature can guard the countryside and actually capture their opponents’ followers, jailing them until the prisoner can be ransomed or exchanged. As you can imagine, adding The Tower can make the game a bit savage for those who want a high-stakes challenge that requires a strategic eye.
What to Consider When Buying a Carcassonne Expansion
Age and Interests
The expansions are a handy venue that players can use to customize their games at home. One of the best examples is how easy this makes it to tailor the game to growing children or a group with diverse interests. Using expansions that include more and complex tiles with different rules might make the learning curve too steep for younger players while it presents a worthy challenge to teenagers or adults.
Consider the location and size of your gaming space. If tabletop space is limited, choose expansions that include fewer tiles or tokens that can be used instead. The array of mini-expansions available gives players some excellent choices for enhancing gameplay on a limited budget or in a small space.
The more expansions you add to make board games more interesting, the longer the time you need to complete it. Games that take more time to play aren’t always the most fun or entertaining. Consider the attention span of the players when choosing expansions, as a fast game that requires players to think on their feet can be better than a long game that requires strategy or planning.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you play Carcassonne with all the expansions?
Every tile used with Carcassonne, including those used for the expansions, is designed to be compatible. It would be an epic game that would take several hours, however.
What’s the difference between a regular expansion and a mini-expansion?
Regular expansions include 12 or more tiles, while mini-expansions are no bigger than 12 tiles. Regular expansions include major structures like cathedral tiles and extra city pieces, while mini-expansions include extra features like bridges, rivers, or ferries.
What is the biggest expansion, and how many tiles does it include?
The biggest expansion is Count, King & Robber, which is a combination of an original expansion and three mini-expansions. It includes a total of 38 extra tiles along with two extra-big tiles for cities along with two King tokens and two Robber Baron tokens.
Last update on 2021-02-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API