Board Game Review: Carcassonne

Quick description from Board Game Geek:
Carcassonne is a tile-placement game in which the players draw and place a tile with a piece of southern French landscape on it. The tile might feature a city, a road, a cloister (monastery), grassland or some combination thereof, and it must be placed adjacent to tiles that have already been played, in such a way that cities are connected to cities, roads to roads, etcetera. Having placed a tile, the player can then decide to place one of his meeples (aka followers: wooden markers) on one of the areas on it: on the city as a knight, on the road as a robber, on a cloister as a monk, or on the grass as a farmer. When that area is complete, that meeple scores points for its owner.

 

Players: 2-5 (2 is ideal) (3, 4 is good) (5 is playable)
Play Time: 45-60 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Learning Curve: Medium
Price: $20.89 per Amazon, $10 on Xbox Live, iDevices $10
Best Place to Learn: Xbox tutorial

 


Review:
Carcassonne was the first of the designer board games I was introduced to. (Quick sidebar: They’re called designer games because the designer’s name is on the box. They’re also known as “German-style board games or Euro Games). I first discovered Carcassonne through Xbox Live. I highly recommend the game to players who are interested in playing the more complicated board games that I will be talking about throughout this series. The easiest way to describe the gameplay in Carcassonne is that it plays a lot like dominoes: you are matching up tiles and creating a large map on the table. The difference, however, is that instead of the goal being to get rid of your tiles, you’re trying to score points with them.

Carcassonne ends up taking up most of your table

Unlike a number of the other designer board games, Carcassonne is best played with only two players. The reason for this is twofold. First, while the game is skill based, it also contains a healthy amount of luck in terms of what tiles you turn over and where you are in the game when you get them. Having fewer players helps to even out the luck by giving you more opportunities to get all the different pieces. Second, and perhaps most important, a lot of the strategy in Carcasonne involves deciding when to place one of your followers or when to hold on to it. When playing with a large number of players, the general strategy is to place a follower on almost everything, as you won’t receive all that many tiles. A two-player game means each player gets more tiles and thus makes more decisions.

Overall, I like Carcassonne a lot. The fact that the game is better when played with just a few people comes in handy when you are unable to get a big group together. I highly recommend it to newcomers to designer board games, as it has an easy learning curve and the games go by quickly. The Xbox Live version or iDevice version at $10 is very reasonable and can help newbies learn quickly.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve played Carcassonne and what you think of it!

Carcasonne
Components 3 The wooden followers are cool and the tiles are decent, but there’s just not much here.
Skill
5 Carcassonne relies a great deal on which tile you pick up and when. There is a fair amount of skill in where you place the tiles and when to place followers, however.
Replayability 8 The randomness of the tiles does allow for multiple playthroughs, and I have played this almost as much as Catan through Xbox.
Complexity
6 Carcassonne is fairly easy to learn but takes a while to master. At the end of the day, however, there’s not a ton of complexity in the game.
Fun 8 As this was one of the first new strategy games I played, I tend to give it the benefit of the doubt. I still enjoy it today.
30 Per my metric, Carcassonne gets a score of “good.” It’s still a fun game, but I would rather play others. Overall it’s the best game for introducing new players to the new breed of board games.

 

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