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We were playing a game of Carcassone last weekend. We've a pretty large setup with a lot of expansions. One of them was "hills & sheeps".

The day after the game-night I wondered how the rules of the sheep part even make sense. As I understood them correctly it goes like this:

  • place a card with a field-section on it
  • place a shepherd on it
  • immediately draw a sheep-token
  • if it shows sheep good for you, if it is a wolf everything is "undone"

This is the only process to get the sheep-thingy up and running as far as I understood.

What you've gained is a new ability. Every time you add a field card to the field occupied by the shepherd, you are able to draw a sheep token. Same rules apply: displaying sheep good, displaying wolf bad.

This is the first option. But you are also able to just score your sheep. You get your shepherd back, the tokens are removed and you get a point for each sheep.

My issue with these rules is why on earth I would even consider to draw a new sheep/wolf-token? It adds risk while giving no benefits.

Example:

Lucky Guy

  1. Adding card with field
  2. Placing shepherd on it
  3. Drawing a token displaying 3 sheep
  4. Adding card with field
  5. Drawing a token displaying 2 sheep
  6. Adding card with field
  7. Scoring the sheep (granting 5 points to the player)

Unlucky Guy

  1. Adding card with field
  2. Placing shepherd on it
  3. Drawing a token displaying 3 sheep
  4. Adding card with field
  5. Drawing a token displaying wolf
  6. Everything gets reset

Clever Guy

  1. Adding card with field
  2. Placing shepherd on it
  3. Drawing a token displaying 3 sheep
  4. Adding card with field
  5. Scoring the sheep (granting 3 points to the player)
  6. Adding card with field
  7. Placing shepherd on it
  8. Drawing a token displaying 2 sheep
  9. Adding card with field
  10. Scoring the sheep (granting 2 points to the player)

The clever guy example reduces the risk significantly:

  1. You have less chance that the shepherd is not going to get rated (when the game is over, the shepherd doesn't give any points any more)
  2. It's less likely to get points eaten by the wolf. In the clever guy example you secure three points by immediately rating them.

My statement is: it's always more efficient to just rate your shepherd as soon as possible.

Is this true? Am I missing something?

  • Most people are not lucky enough to always get the 3 sheep token on the first go. – bowlturner Nov 30 '18 at 14:26
  • @bowlturner that's irrelevant. It's just an example. Replace it with any number of sheeps. – OddDev Nov 30 '18 at 15:45
  • It's really just a press your luck mechanism. Once you have a Shepard out, is it worth cashing in the next time, and then using a turn to put him out there again? or is it worth trying for more and putting a different meeple out next? a 1 sheep vs 3 sheep points can make a difference in the equation. – bowlturner Nov 30 '18 at 17:46
5

Yes, you are missing something.

'Lucky guy' in your example gains the same benefit as 'clever guy', despite playing fewer field tiles.

Each time you place a tile and cash in the accumulated points for that field you are foregoing a chance to (maybe) increase those points. The optimal number of points accumulated before cashing in depends strongly of the distribution of tiles.

  • Can the player also place a meeple on another feature when drawing a sheep/wolf token? – Jontia yesterday
2

frodoskywalker's answer is correct but not comprehensive. Here are other aspects to consider.

  1. The rules for Hills & Sheep say, "When a player places a tile featuring a field, she may decide to place a shepherd on that field instead of placing a follower..." So you can not ever place a shepherd AND a follower on the same turn. Often, you would be able to benefit from placing a follower during that turn, yet the strategy of your "clever guy" means that he will miss opportunities to score with sheep if he had kept the shepherd active instead of recalling it each turn possible.

  2. The risk/rewards odds on whether to try growing vs gathering your flock when you play a field can be easily estimated by looking at how many sheep and sheep tokens are already in play (thus not in the draw bag) and knowing there are always 2 wolf tokens in the bag. So the more sheep are already in fields, the riskier it is to draw again.

  3. It happens less often, but you can also use shepherds cleverly to score from anothers' large flock or to intentionally sabotage another shepherd. That's because the rules allow, "...fields that were once separate may be joined, resulting in a field occupied by two or more shepherds. All sheep in a field are shared by all shepherds in the same field, regardless of which added them. When one player decides to gather the flock, all shepherds in the field score full points... Likewise, should any player add a wolf, all sheep in that field are returned [unscored]."

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