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Carcassonne: River I - Board Game Box Shot

Carcassonne: River I

| Published: 2009
Expansion for Carcassonne
609 11 3

This is the original river expansion for Carcassonne. It was included for a time in the basic game, but has been removed to make it available separately for those who want it.

It is 12 tiles, each with a portion of the river. It replaces the starting tile for the basic game in game play.

River I is not a complete game, but must be played with Carcassonne.

User Reviews (14)

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Critic - Level 5
Professional Advisor
Expert Reviewer
Marquis / Marchioness
54 of 61 gamers found this helpful
“Expands starting options for Carcassonne”

When I play Carcassonne, I always use the River Expansion, I much prefer it to the single starting tile that comes with the base game.

The River consists of 12 tiles, each depicting, you guessed it, the river. The first tile shows the starting point, and the final tile shows an ending pool, with the other 10 tiles all having a waterway that enters one edge and leaves another. Different tiles will also contain the other Carcassonne features you’ve come to know: fields, roads, cities, and even a cloister!

Playing with The River adds a few simple rules that will be easy for any experienced (or even non-experienced) Carcassonne player to understand.

When starting the game, the river source is placed. Then, players take turns drawing and placing tiles from the river, until it is completed. When you place a tile, as usual, you may play one meeple on one of the tiles features, following all placement rules. There are two placement restrictions: (1) the river must be continuous (you can’t place a field side against a river side) and (2) the river may not double back on itself.

I like using The River because it opens up the game. It takes ~1 minute to have it setup, adding little to the play time, but now gives a larger surface from which to expand on subsequent turns.

One recommendation I would give, if playing with The River, decide as a group how you will count a farm/field going around the inlet of the stream. Some groups play that the field goes around the river source, allowing one farmer to farm both sides. Other groups say the source tile has a field on each side, which are not connected. If you decide at the beginning, you’ll avoid arguments/confusion later.

If you want to add some variety to Carcassonne, and allow players more options of where to build their tiles from early in the game, The River is a great (cheap) addition to your collection!

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Critic - Level 2
Amateur Reviewer
40 of 46 gamers found this helpful
“Good expansion for frequent Carcassonne players”

The river expansion works by placing the river tiles before playing any of the normal game tiles. The “starting tile” is removed from play and a new starting tile comes with the river expansion. After the river is complete, game play resumes normally with the original games’ tiles.

The river adds a new layer of complexity for Carcassonne veterans without burdening the game with many additional rules.

As I use Carcassonne as a “gateway game” to get others into board gaming, I rarely use my river expansion as I teach the basic game first and the people I teach are usually ready for a more advanced game by then.

However, for people who play Carcassonne often or have kids, this is definitely a worthwhile expansion.

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42 of 49 gamers found this helpful
“Not interesting, but we nearly always use it”

12 river tiles that must be played first, they create both a flow and a barrier in the game.

It integrates exceptionally well with the original and adds very little time to the game (which is positive in my opinion)

Although the playing of the river at the beginning seems artificial, and a little boring, I like the effect it has on the game. The complex barrier it creates adds interest to the farming aspect and makes me think a little harder (again, quite welcome). If I am given the choice, I always choose to use it, despite it’s effect on the start. It has subtle effects on the rest of game play that are worth the disjointed & boring start.

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I play red
40 of 49 gamers found this helpful
“Can't decide? Build the river!”

Have you ever had a tough time deciding which tiles to build first? Well, look no further because the river makes these decisions for you!

Placing the river is done at the start of the game with the special river tiles, and this expansion adds nothing else to the game. However, I have found when playing with newcomers that this is a good entry-level explanation for the rules of the game. The limited nature of this initial placement, though, quickly grows stale.

This expansion comes into play about 20-30% of the time, not enough to warrant classic status like the basic game.

Fun, though, and essential for the completist!

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I'm a Real Person
Treasure Map
Video Game Fan
43 of 53 gamers found this helpful
“Decent expansion...”

This expansion came with my edition of Carcassonne. I have played with and without it. It is a decent expansion that allow you to have a starting point for your Carcassonne game.

Building off the river tiles is a decent way to begin the game. I don’t know if I would have bought this expansion separately, but it is good to have anyways.

Whether you use it or not is up to you. I gave it a 7 our of 10, because we use it more than not in our games.

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I'm a Gamin' Fiend!
I Walk the Talk!
41 of 51 gamers found this helpful
“Changes things up, but only a little”

The river expansion didn’t leave very much of an impression on me one way or another. It is an expansion in the most literal sense… there are more tiles.

The river is completed first and the usual starting tile can either be mixed in or played immediately after the river is completed. This adds a few more starting points once the base set is in play.

I liked the river expansion well enough, but I wouldn’t miss it. I will probably switch back and forth between using it and not upon future plays.

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Advanced Reviewer Bronze Supporter
43 of 54 gamers found this helpful
“Flawed flow”

“The River” expansion adds 12 new tiles to the game. They all contains parts of a new feature added – he river itself. Players start from the river source and continue up to the lake where the flow ends. The river is being set up at the beginning of the game instead of starting from a standard starting tile. This makes more room for early followers placement especially in multiplayer games, as the meeples may be placed on map features like cities and roads that are present on river tiles. After setting up the river the game resumes its standard shape with no additional rules.

The main drawback of this expansion is creating large farms. It unbalances the game a bit towards farming. The second edition (“The River II”) is improved, but solves this problem only partially. Quite a good solution is added in so called “The Mini Expansion” that features an alternate source tile clearly dividing the meadow into halves.

It is noteworthy that some basic Carcassonne sets include “The River” expansion. If you have one of them – that’s fine. But if you don’t, there’s no need to get it; it’s better to look for its successor “The River II” and “The Mini Expansion” if possible.

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Book Lover
Novice Reviewer
41 of 52 gamers found this helpful
“Adds variety for regular Carcassonne players”

As long as most of the players are familiar with Carcassonne, the River I expansion adds a nice touch of variety to the game without increasing the overall playing time very much. It also has very little impact to the base rules, which makes it a good expansion to start with once you’ve played a couple standard games.

As with any expansion, I wouldn’t recommend using it if the majority of the people playing are first-time players, since in that case it can extend the play time by a more considerable amount.

Before going out to purchase this expansion separately, check your basic game. You may already have it.

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41 of 54 gamers found this helpful
“Make your Carcassonne game start off right”

The River I expansion doesn’t change things up significantly. It just adds a new element to the start of the game.

In fact, I play it all the time just because not only does it keep things more interesting at the beginning but it helps with the decisions. At the beginning of the game, you might not be sure what you want to do. The River expansion really helps with the decisions and eliminates a bit of that indecisiveness.

Based on what is drawn in sequence, you will then decide if you want to be a city builder or something else. Another thing is that it helps balance out the game in the event of “Epic Farmers” by creating some borders to prevent farms from getting too ridiculous when scoring the the open fields.

So I really like the river. More tiles is always better. In fact, I wish there were more tiles in the base game to begin with so this really compliments the game in a good way because it definitely doesn’t hurt it by making it more complex.

Its just one more quick step to make before you start really building.

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Intermediate Reviewer
Novice Advisor
42 of 57 gamers found this helpful
“Great jumpstart for the map”

The river is a new way to start placing your tiles, instead of the regular starting tile you start by building the river. Along the way you find some of the usual objects like roads, and you can place meeples along the way. As the river is finished you have more “loose ends” to build on, and it makes the early game much more interesting if you ask me. Also, the river have som nice impact on the fields where you place farmers.

All in all, I highly recommend it. Nowadays it is usually included in the Carcassonne base set.

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41 of 64 gamers found this helpful
“unnecessary and boring expansion ”

the river just tries to split the game into two halves and doesn’t bring anything better to the standard game , in fact playing the game hundreds of time already on table and on bsw (brettspielwelt germany) , the river makes me look for another game where it isn’t part of the setting-up .

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Count / Countess
Went to Gen Con 2012
I play black
48 of 76 gamers found this helpful
“A nice way start for experienced players”

The rivers are not as simple to use as the single starting tile. Not as elegant either. And I don’t care.

I like the variety. I also prefer the way the river creates a bit of a skeletal structure across the table, in contrast to the amoebae shape you get with the single starting tile.

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40 of 73 gamers found this helpful

I just play this to interact with daughter. We find other games that empty my wallet when we need expansion variability.

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My First Game Tip
40 of 80 gamers found this helpful
“An alright expansion”

I only have this expansion because it came with the game. It adds some variety, but I think it tends to slow down the beginning of the game.


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