Your ultimate guide to the best Carcassonne expansions large and small. The iconic title that helped usher in the modern board game and popularize the tile-laying game has also launched many expansions. There are so many that if you wander in a game shop you might see an entire shelf dedicated to the multitude of Carcassonne content out there. It can be very intimidating so do not worry, sit back, relax and let us tell you all you need to know. This is our comprehensive guide to the best Carcassonne Expansions.
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LARGE EXPANSIONS (10 TOTAL)
#10 | Expansion 7: The Catapult (2008)
The least popular and definitely not topping the list of the best Carcassonne expansions is the 7th major expansion to launch, The Catapult. 12 new tiles with a faire symbol are added to the game. When a player draws a faire tile, they place it and then a “catapult round” begins. For the first time, action/dexterity is added to the Carcassonne series. In a catapult round, players attempt to launch special tokens with the wooden catapult. Players have one each of four different kinds of tokens that determine what kind of catapult action is to be taken. There are better dexterity games out there.
#09 | Expansion 10: Under the Big Top (2017)
At long last, the circus is coming to Carcassonne. The ringmaster has organized a night full of stunning acrobatic routines that will leave you speechless, while the most talented artists show their latest tricks. Followers can now be trained to perform human pyramids, and a circus tent will attract the people of Carcassonne, while the ringmaster keeps things organized and visitors calm and quiet. When thinking about the rankings, this is another one to quickly pass over on the list of the best Carcassonne expansions if you are short on time.
#08 | Expansion 6: Count, King & Robber (2007)
This one was actually just a combination of three small expansions never before offered. It is like in cartoons when kids stand on each other’s shoulders, put on a large jacket and pretend to be an adult. They try to fool people, but everyone knows. That is how this expansion feels, its ok but there are better places to put your dollars first.
#07 | Expansion 4: The Tower (2006)
Tower segments are added to the game, as well as some new actions. Instead of placing a Meeple as usual on their turns, players can now either place a tower segment on a tile with a space for a tower, add a tower segment to a tower already standing, or place a Meeple on top of a tower (which “finishes” it). Placing a tower segment allows you to capture other players’ Meeples, so long as they are in view of the tower in an orthogonal direction.
#06 | Expansion 9: Hills & Sheep (2014)
Now players get to be shepherds on the hills in addition to the usual thieves, knights, monks and farmers. By placing the tiles in this expansion, players build hills and vineyards, trying to plan ahead to claim the sweetest meadows for points — bringing sheep and shepherds while keeping watch for the wolf that waits to be drawn among the tiles. Features here build off one another. Hills, for example, are placed on another tile to elevate them up.
#05 | Expansion 8: Bridges, Castles and Bazaars (2010)
Halfway through the list of the best Carcassonne expansions ranked, now is where you want to start to pay attention. This one brings three new options into the game. Bridges may be used to continue a road over a field tile, thereby allowing an incomplete road to technically run into a field segment. Castle tokens are placed atop 2-segment cities and allow players a chance to cash-in on the next completed adjacent feature. Bazaars are a new type of tile that allows players to auction off tiles in exchange for points.
#04 | Expansion 3: The Princess & The Dragon (2005)
As the list of the best Carcassonne expansions heats up, we get thrown into the fantasy space. The land around Carcassonne is being visited by a dragon, making life very difficult for the followers. Brave heroes venture forth to face the danger, but without the aid of the fairies, their chances are not good. In the city, the princess seeks help from the knights, and farmers build secret passages to move about undetected by the dragon.
#03 | Expansion 5: Abbey & Mayor (2007)
Abbey & Mayor adds 3 new wooden piece types, 6 abbey tiles, and 12 landscape tiles. The Abbey tiles act as Cloisters but do not have to match adjacent tiles and they complete adjacent features when placed. Mayors can be placed only in cities, with their strength determined by the number of pennants in the city. Barns allow players to score fields during the game rather than just at the end. Wagons are placed on roads, cities, or cloisters, and can move to an adjacent open feature when their current feature is completed. This middle of the Carcassonne history release makes a well deserved high up appearance on the list of the best Carcassonne expansions.
#02 | Expansion 2: Traders & Builders (2003)
The runner up spot on the list of the best Carcassonne expansions goes to the second one released. Traders & Builders contains 24 tiles with new features such as Bridges and Cities. Some tiles also feature symbols for the goods Wine, Cloth and Wheat. Players collect one of these goods when the feature that has it on the tile is scored. Players with the most of each type of good gets bonus points at the end of the game.
#01 | Expansion 1: Inns & Cathedrals (2002)
Rightfully at the top spot on the list of the best Carcassonne expansions is one that is a terrific companion to the base game. There are a couple of completely new kinds of tiles – the inns and cathedrals. There are also new tiles that present cities, roads, and cloisters in new shapes. Additionally, each player gets a “big meeple” which counts as two regular meeples. Another whole set of meeples means 6 players can now enjoy the game. Finally, a set of scoring cards helps make score-keeping a little clearer.
SMALL EXPANSIONS (17 TOTAL)
Each of the small Carcassonne expansions offer a little twist here and there. It really comes down to your preference, they could all be hit or miss. Here is the list of all the best Carcassonne expansions in the small category, because they are all worthwhile to try.
The River (2001)
King & Scout (2003)
The Count of Carcassonne (2004)
The River II (2005)
Cult, Siege, and Creativity (2008)
The Crop Circles (2010)
The Festival (2011)
The Phantom (2011)
The Flying Machines (2012)
The Messengers (2012)
The Ferries (2012)
The Gold Mines (2012)
Mage and Witch (2012)
The Robbers (2012)
The Crop Circles II (2012)
The Wind-roses (2012)
The Watchtower (2016)