Funagain Games had a good offer of Carcassonne: Hunters & Gatherers for just 10$ if you bought some other game for 25$ so I went ahead and got this. The game reached me almost 8 months back and we just got in one play then. The first play was not entirely enjoyable and somehow the game never found the table. In the last couple of months my wife Aarthi and me have been playing a lot of 2 player Carcassonne and I was keen to get Hunters & Gatherers again to the table. Last night we played the game and I tell you I really really enjoyed the game. This review is mainly intended for people who have played Carcassonne and want to get another game. I really have not played any of the expansions for the original game and so cannot comment on the game. In case you are one of those who have played the original game, liked it, and are considering Hunters & Gatherers you might find this useful
Some initial personal thoughts
Please do not get H & G if you are not familiar with the original Carcassonne. I really consider this game as the next logical step in the Carcassonne ladder of gaming. The game adds just that extra element of complexity to the original to make it more strategic and interesting without compromising too much on the fun aspect. After Ticket to Ride and its Europe expansion I found the original so much more fun. The expansion was more complex but somehow the bounce associated with the fun aspect of the game seemed to have gone out there. But H & G is different. It really is one you should get.
The game adds some nice interesting elements. Instead of the 3 scoring areas like cloisters, roads and cities, we have just 2, rivers and forests. But the role of the rivers get maginified becasue rivers can end in lakes that can give rise to newer rivers thereby creating a whole river system that can be scored again based on the number of fish that are found in lakes. The forests add the strategic element of having gold nuggets in some tiles. This gives you access to picking 1 of 12 different bonus tiles that help score more points. The other area in the landscape are meadows, very much like the farms in the original. Only difference is that the meadows are littered with different animals like deer, sabre tooth tigers, mammoths and aurochs. Tigers can kill deer, while a fire tile can drive the tiger away. One of the bonus tiles has a sacred shrine and the holder of the meeple (hunter) there will score for all the animals in that meadow even if he/she has the lowest no of meeples. So instead of meadows supplying grass to the forests, we score for the number of animals in the meadows. Some bonus tiles have forest segments with mushrooms that add extra points to the completed forest.
Excellent addition to the Carcassonne family. The scoring is more in this game and you seem to be getting a lot of points. There are many river and forest segments to complete and score. We seem to be completing and scoring almost every turn. This kept the game going at a good pace and made it exciting for us. The river system is really excellent and once the hut is placed we work towards expanding the river system as much as possible. The components are superior to the original. Now we have scoring tiles of 50 and 100 points that you can use instead of putting down your meeple after comleting 50 points and trying newer poses for the meeple when you complete a 100 points! The artwork and the land scape that pans out is really beautiful with lovely colours that are pleasant to the eye. Overall a very very enjoyable game.