The Other Carcassonnes
Steve Kennedy

New Hampshire
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My wife and I sort of caught the Carcassonne bug a couple of years ago which led to our renewed interest in board games overall. Since then we have certainly expanded our pallet to co-ops, become Feld fans, and even moved beyond Catan a bit. But, perhaps aside from Pandemic, we will generally grab a Carcassonne variant when we want something that takes little set-up and needs little else. This when we do not have time to pull out all the expansions for a master Carc game.

Here I'm simply ranking the different standalone games that we own which seems appropriate now that ZMan is re-issuing and adding to this classic game.

I am surprised that there is no train variant yet, but who knows what the future holds...meeple
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1. Board Game: Carcassonne: Amazonas [Average Rating:7.18 Overall Rank:1446]
Steve Kennedy

New Hampshire
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The river component in the original Carcassonne really made the game come alive for us. So when this new version which hinges on one of the world's great rivers appeared, it certainly piqued my interest.

The adjustment seems to address the surveyor aspect of New World which did not always work so well. The playing time here says "35 minutes" which is pretty short. It is probably the fastest-paced Carcassonne. You also have to focus essentially on exploring right around the river itself. This depends how soon Amazon tiles come out, but amassing larger villages near the top will be harder to address as the river tiles come out. A really great addition to the series!
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2. Board Game: Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:429]
Steve Kennedy

New Hampshire
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This may be one of our favorite standalone Carc games. The fishing and huts aspects are what makes this work well for a quick game with just enough strategy. We have the tiles from a mini-expansion but just don't use those much at all. I suspect these will be included if Zman decides to reissue this game.
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3. Board Game: Carcassonne: South Seas [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:817]
Steve Kennedy

New Hampshire
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One of the new games that arrived in 2014. It is getting a lot of positive buzz, even making a few "best" lists so it may move up more once we have a chance to try it out.

This ended up being the first new games that we played. The scoring is a bit different, but the strategy shifts are quite interesting for Carc at any rate. We both loved this and it certainly is at the top of variants for us.
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4. Board Game: Carcassonne: The Castle [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:541]
Steve Kennedy

New Hampshire
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This 2-player game is among my favorite 2-player games overall, but my wife does not really care much for it. The aspect of being contained within the walls makes for interesting tile placement. Perhaps not needing to match up more than roads is the part that is the hardest to get over at first.
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5. Board Game: Carcassonne: The City [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:569]
Steve Kennedy

New Hampshire
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I really appreciate the 3D aspect of the walls in this standalone game. This can be a great game as long as you are not playing with folks prone to AP. Decisions here become more important as the walls go up and new players need some reminders that they need a meeple or two handy for those moments.
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6. Board Game: Carcassonne: Gold Rush [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:1330]
Steve Kennedy

New Hampshire
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Another from the new "World" series of games. The tents, mining, and other aspects of the game are already somewhat different from the other Carc variants and make for interesting end-game scoring possibilities.

After our first play, which was rather quick, I felt like it is a perfect 4-5 player game as decisions would be much more difficult and the tent aspect would be a crucial decision changer. With 2 there are potential runaway scoring situations, especially with the farmers (which is perhaps one reason why the rules suggest not using that aspect the first game!).
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7. Board Game: Carcassonne: Star Wars [Average Rating:6.79 Overall Rank:1535]
Steve Kennedy

New Hampshire
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Once you stumble through the way faction symbols count, or don't, the next step is to get ready for a more confrontational game then might be normal for some. The dice are an interesting addition and this can really swing the game unexpectedly.
 
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8. Board Game: Carcassonne: The Discovery [Average Rating:6.50 Overall Rank:1823]
Steve Kennedy

New Hampshire
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The light blue Carc box can really put this further down on one's lists then it deserves. The shift to open water, as opposed to meadows, makes for an interesting shift in the color scheme of the unfolding game play. The aspect of being able to remove a meeple to avoid lower end-game scoring can also be an interesting strategy to navigate.
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9. Board Game: New World: A Carcassonne Game [Average Rating:6.48 Overall Rank:1855]
Steve Kennedy

New Hampshire
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Though the scoring board is a bit frustrating for this Carc variant, it can grow on you as its own game. I think the idea of the surveyors is an interesting one, though you can sometimes get around their ever moving sometimes. The game plays quite well with more than 2 players and is easy enough to pickup for new players. Darker colors make for interesting artwork as well.
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10. Board Game: The Ark of the Covenant [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:1311]
Steve Kennedy

New Hampshire
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Shifting gears just a bit to his loosely-themed "Bible" Carcassonne variant can also be rather fun. Again, its the shift in colors to more sandy browns that provide one level of variety.

We like this because it sort of adds ideas from the "Princess and Dragon" expansion with some of the aspects of the Carc: H&G.
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11. Board Game: Carcassonne: Wheel of Fortune [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:1605] [Average Rating:7.07 Unranked]
Steve Kennedy

New Hampshire
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Technically, this is really just the base game with one new mechanic, the "wheel". We use this variant in alternation with our base game though the central board can be a bit temperamental. This set of tiles works well with some of the expansions that can let you create an almost period thematic game here.
 
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12. Board Game: Carcassonne: Winter Edition [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:850]
Steve Kennedy

New Hampshire
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Basically, this is great for those winter months letting us get in a brief Carc game without all the expansions.
 
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13. Board Game: Carcassonne: Over Hill and Dale [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:2202]
Steve Kennedy

New Hampshire
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For this quaint standalone, scoring is focused on roads, animals, and "farming" (i.e. cities). Using a mechanism of collection that is included in the Traders and Builders expansion, you collect sets and "wild" scarecrow pieces (a very Knizia-like scoring). Another interesting component is the use of a "wandering" person on the road which is an aspect some might want to apply in the regular game. Borrowing the hut idea from H&G, one can put up stables to collect animal points.

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