I got the base game for my birthday a couple months ago. I was thinking of acquiring an expansion or two in the coming months. For those people that have played multiples, which one(s) would you recommend to spruce up the base game? I am willing to try any expansion as long as people recommend it.
I've played 3 expansions. In order of awesomeness:1. Traders and Builders.
This expansion has 24 extra pieces, most of which are city pieces. It introduces Commodities, which spice up the game. The city pieces of this expansion each have a barrel, a textile, or a wheat on them. There are 20 total Commodities (9 barrels, 6 wheat, 5 textile). Commodities go to the person who completes
the city with commodity pieces in it. So if you have a city with 2 barrels, 1 wheat, and 2 cloth (nice sized city!) and I play the last piece to complete it, you score the points for the city, but I get all the commodities. I guess they were intended to encourage city completion? The person(s) who have the most of each type at the end of the game get 10 points each. Ties still allot a full 10 points to each leader.
This expansion also introduces the pig and the builder. The pig can be placed in any field that you have a follower in, and the pig adds 1 point to each completed city (they are worth 4 instead of 3).
The builder does not count as a follower (he does not increase your control of anything). Instead, he is placed on a road or city that you control. Every time following, if you play a road or city piece on the structure that your builder is on, you get to take a second piece (limit once extra piece per turn). He is fantastic for city building. Players that utilize their builders well have a very good chance of winning.
The city pieces in this expansion (and the two below) also make many new ways to keep others from joining in your cities. In the original Carcassonne game, it is so easy to join someone else's city and piggyback on their work. The newer expansions give ways to keep people out.2. Inns and Cathedrals.
Inns and Cathedrals adds about 18 new pieces I believe. Included are two Cathedrals and 6 Inns. Cathedrals are 4-sided city pieces. Normally a city is double or single - double points for completion, single points if not completed. Cathedrals make cities triple or nothing - triple points for completion, worthless if not finished. Inns are on roads and make the roads double or nothing. I personally find both to be very valuable, and even more so if you get them early on. At the end of the game, they can be played on opponents to make their structures possibly worthless.
This expansion also adds a 6th color (Gray) and a Big Meeple. The Big Meeple is worth 2 Meeples, so you can control structures (or take structures from opponents) easier. He still scores the same though - you don't get extra points for a Beeple. (smush name for Big Meeple)3. Abbey and Mayor.
Abbey and Mayor adds only like 10 or so pieces. But it has a lot of cities with pennants, because of the Mayor. The Mayor is a Meeple that is worth 1 Meeple for each pennant in a city. He can't take roads, monasteries, or fields, because he would be worth 0 Meeples. But he is awesome for big cities.
The cart is exactly like a regular Meeple, except that if he completes something, he can jump to an incomplete structure on the same piece. He can allow you, for example, to complete an unclaimed road with a roaded monastery and then jump onto the monastery.
Barns are very powerful, if used correctly. Barns must be played on an intersection of 4 fields (four corners of pieces that are all fields). They instantly score that field, so the farmers and pigs come back. Then, barns score 4 points per city at the end of the game as well! They also basically prevent anyone from taking that field in the future.
Finally, Abbeys are pieces that must be played so that all 4 sides are touching other pieces. However, each person starts with 1, and they can choose to play an Abbey instead of drawing a tile. Abbeys finish every structure they touch. They also can have a follower placed on them, just like a monastery (and they score like a monastery). These are awesome for finishing big cities that need a hard to find piece (or maybe if the piece doesn't exist).
Those are the only ones I've played. I've read up on some of the other expansions, and they sound like they add some randomness and luck to the game that I'd rather not experience. Although Carcassonne can be based on luck if you draw very good tiles, often the game goes to the better players with the expansions above.