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Android Review: Carcassonne

Mark Webb
United States
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Let's Go Pens!
The Stats:

Current Price: $5.71
Developer/Publisher: Exocet Games
Version: 2.0
Size: 19554 kb
Multiplayer: Pass and Play
AI: Yes
Info link:
Android Market link:

The Good:
- It plays Carcassonne accurately.
- The graphics look like Carcassonne.
- Includes River II Expansion.
- App2SD Support.

The Bad:
- Zero Network play options.
- Not on par with iOS version.

Carcassonne is a tile laying game where players place square tiles with the roads, grass, cities, and cloisters of Carcassonne landscape printed on them. Tiles must match on any sides adjacent to tiles already placed, sort of like playing a four sided domino. When the player places the tile, he or she must decide if he wishes to deploy one of his or her meeples, and places that meeple on the one of the features on the tile, in order to score future points for that type of features. Placing a meeple in a city area of a tile, the player would want to complete that city by placing other tiles later that would complete the outline of that city and all the space within. Placing on a road, the goal is to complete a long road with two endpoints, scoring based on the length of the road. The goal of placing on cloister is to completely surround the cloister tile with 8 other tiles. Lastly playing ones meeple on the grassy area is to play a farmer, which the object is to complete as many cities that border the field, as that farmer is not scored until the end of the game.

When a feature is completed the person with the majority of meeples on that feature is the one who is awarded points for it. However. when meeples are placed on a feature such as a road, no one else including that player, may put more meeples on that feature. That does not mean that the person who puts the first meeple on a feature has the automatic majority; instead strategic play of tiles to empty spaces may connect what previously was unconnected causing more than one person’s meeples to be on the same road or in the same city. Once a feature is completed all the meeples are returned to the players and the points are awarded. Ties in number of meeples on a feature share points.

Implementation of this game is rather straightforward. You are presented with your tile and the game shows you only the legal moves for placing that tile, by displaying grey boxes on all possible places. Also, if a spot on the able is not able to be filled with any of the remainig tiles in the game, it fills that in with a “broken” grey box. Selecting a box to place in, you are then given the ability to rotate the tile if other valid orientations of the tile are available. Any non legal orientations are skipped. After placing and orientating your title, a button is clicked to confirm you tile placement. Before you confirm with that button, you have the ability to move your tile to another location, if you discover a better spot. After confirming that tile placement, you then have the option to place you meeples. The game highlights the different features on the tile where a meeple can be placed with a dashed outline of a meeple. Like tile placement, you can move the meeple placement, until you confirm with a button. Once you confirm meeple placement, scoring happens automatically. Then it is the next player’s turn.

The graphics are okay. The tiles and meeples look just like they came out of the box from Hans im Glück Verlags-GmbH. You can pinch and zoom and move around the board, which is almost standard to quality board games on iOS or Android. There is a small area at the top of the screen with an cartoon avatar of you and your opponents showing score and meeples that have not been deployed on the board. This area shifts around if the phone is moved into a landscape orientation. So you can play in whichever orientation is more comfortable to you. It also has a quick reference card showing the remaining tiles not yet played. There don’t seem to be any lag or performance problems in my phone or mentioned by other online reviewers.

The gameplay is ok. It plays up to 5 players, either human or computer AI. It adjudicates the rules properly. The AI doesn't cheat, or any noticeable flaw in the playing of the game. It is Carcasssone plain and simple.

So why am I so hum drum about this app? This is something where I do not know where to place blame. I don’t know if it is Hans im Glück Verlags-GmbH, who is the owner of the property, or Exocet Games the developer. Basically why I am less than flattering is because I have played the iOS Carcassonne. Exocet Games have done other Android board games, such as Catan, and Hey That's my Fish, which are very close to their iOS counterparts in look and features than this is to iOS Carcassonne. It is easy to explain the closeness in Catan and Hey That's my Fish, in that Exocet developed them both and put the same things in for both platforms.

But the iOS app for Carc was not developed by Exocet, instead it was developed by The Coding Monkeys. I know in the business world, there are the issues of if something was a work for hire, or who owns the rights to what, etc... I know it may not be as simple for Exocet to make this app the same as the iOS version. I don’t know what control Hans im Gluck has over the look and feel of the apps. All I know is that as a player of the games, I am disappointed in “their game” of Carcasssonne on Android. The average player shouldn't have to worry about intellectual property and contact law when deciding to buy a game.

It is not simply styling of the app. That, I could live with. The biggest difference, is that the iOS version has many styles of network play. Two types of online play, with friends, and a quick play mode. Also, bluetooth and wifi local play. In addition, there is also a solitaire mode, which is a tile placement puzzle type game.

That is what is making this review very hard for me. Comparing with the iOS version, even if the developers could not make it look the same, they still should have had the iOS as reference. When your competing product has a feature as notable as online play, and a little bonus of a solitaire puzzle, how could you not try to achieve feature parity, or put something in different to make it notable. In the update notes in the Apple App Store, the Code Monkeys mention that they are making some code updates in order to support a soon upcoming Inns and Cathedrals update to their app on iOS. Is this a feature that Exocet will keep up with, or will the divide between the apps become farther apart. That is yet to be determined.

This app feels like it is missing something to me. The "Analog Version" of Carc is one that many, including myself intro to new players to the hobby. For digital board gaming on iOS, I mainly show off Carcassonne and Bang! For Android however, Carc is not that app I pull out to show off the platform with.

App2SD Support:
Yes, Carcassone can be placed on the SD card.

I bought this app because I like Carcassonne. I would have bought it no matter what, just so that I can play the Carc anytime I want on my phone. And it does play the game, very well. In a vacuum, this would be a pretty good game and worth playing. Keep in mind that you can only play pass and play or play against AI at this time. That is also something that can be added in the future. Unfortunately, this isn’t a vacuum. Not everyone wants to buy an app for more than one platform like I have done. This app is like saying your Mazda is a fast sports car, and then the iOS Ferrari pulls up. Right now, it earns a 3 star from me...If they would do something to add punch or to come closer to parity with the iOS version, it would earn the 4th star.

Rating: 3/4 Good
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