Carcassonne is a game that helped open the doors for Euro Games for many people, it was one of the first games I started with and in the beginning I made sure to get the latest expansion. However there are so many great games that come out every year and my life got so busy that I forgot all about this wonderful game and my copy ended up...well I actually have no idea where it ended up.
I borrowed a copy from my local gaming store and showed it to a couple friends last night. Other than scoring details I didn't have to even look at the rules it all came back to me fairly quickly but much to my surprise I ended up placing last? This is one of the greatest intro games around and this review is going to explain why.
For a complete review complete with full size images go to toddsboardgames.blogspot.ca/2013/01/carcassonne.html
The gameplay is really very simple, you turn over a tile, place it somewhere so that all of its edges match up (a road cant run right into a field and your castle cannot have a field for a wall, etc) and you then have the option of placing a wooden man on the tile or not. Where you place the man determines how you will score points. Here are the options for placing your workers:
Castle: A completed castle is worth 2 points for every section as well as 2 points for every 'shield' or pendent. Only the player with the MOST workers will score points, if there is a tie players will split the points. Completing a castle results in your men inside being returned to you. At the end of the game every incomplete castle tile and pendent is worth 1 point.
Road: Each section of road is worth 1 point to you, if you complete the road your men on it are returned to you. At the end of the game unfinished road sections are worth 1 point each.
Farm: A well placed farmer can turn the entire game around. Your farmer is not returned and once you place him you cannot get him back until the end of the game. However at the end of the game every castle inside your farmer's field will score you 3 points. Fields are separated by roads, other tiles and non existent tiles. You simply trace the field around and any castle inside of it scores you 3 points, I recommend scoring farming last and using your wooden people that you are not using anymore to mark castles so you make sure to score them all and make sure not to double score one.
The sideways men mark which castles are inside the farmer's field
Monastery: When you place a monastery you are trying to form a 'cluster' that is all the areas adjacent to the monastery including diagonals. If you finish your 'cluster' your man is returned and you score 9 points. At the end of the game unfinished clusters award 1 point for every adjacent tile and 1 point for the monastery tile itself. It is a good idea to hold 1 worker back in case you draw a monastery tile.
Components: The tiles are solid quality as are the wooden men that have become a staple for euro games. The base game comes with a free 'river' expansion. If you want to expand your Carcassonne collection there are mini expansions that include a few tiles and meeples and expansions that include a wheel of fortune, a tower, a catapult. Although the artwork seems a little outdated and does look a little old Carcassonne is more than 10 years old now, its a classic and remains a great starter game.
Who is going to enjoy playing Carcassonne? Simple. Everyone.
Family Gamers: There is no conflict or adult themes in this game, you are simply placing tiles to complete different structures and placing wooden men to claim the structures as your own. The mechanics in the basic game are simple enough that anyone can play so its fun for kids and adults. There is no text involved so simply explain the different ways to score and I can almost guarantee Carcassonne will be a hit!
Casual Gamers: Carcassonne hits a number of points on the head for casual gamers. It is light (there are not a ton of rules) it is fast playing (our game was about 30 minutes with 2 people having never played) but there is still enough to the game that it leaves you wanting to play again. Even with the simple mechanics there are still a ton of choices to be made and different ways to score this gives options and options get people hooked. Carcassonne is a great game on its own and can be used as a great bridge to get into more advanced games.
Gamer Gamers: There are tons of expansions out there for Carcassonne and adding a couple of the right ones can make the game more complex for advanced gamers. Plus for people with strategic minds there is a lot more going on, you can look at the number of tiles left and plan if you should try to finish your castle or bother starting something new, you can use your pieces to block other players and if you play your tiles right you can sneak into a castle that someone spent the last 10 turns building. There are a ton of options and if you add the expansions you can turn Carcassonne from an intro game into something much much more.