Thoughts on the Carcassonne games
Bobby Warren
United States
Glendale
Arizona
flag msg tools
designer
badge
La cheeserie!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Recommend
24 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
I did a Geek List which talked about the various expansions for Carcassonne (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/16923) and someone said I should incorporate the various games into the list. The type of analysis and descriptions for each of the games would have been quite different than the formatting I used in the other list, so I decided to do it as another Geek List.

I rushed through this over several days and my formatting of each entry isn’t as consistent as I would like it to be, but I promised to have it up on Monday and here it is.
Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: carc [+] [View All]
  • [+] Dice rolls
1. Board Game: Carcassonne [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:161] [Average Rating:7.42 Unranked]
Bobby Warren
United States
Glendale
Arizona
flag msg tools
designer
badge
La cheeserie!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
For those who don't know, Carcassonne is a fairly simple game for two to five players. There is no board. It is formed by tiles which the players draw and play during the game. Each player gets eight figures (called "meeples" by most Geeks), and puts one on the scoring track and keeps the rest in front of them as a supply. A special start tile is placed in the middle of the table.

The basic rules are a player must draw a tile then place it next to one of the other tiles such that the features on the tile being placed match the features of tile which it is being placed next to. The player may then place one of their meeples on one of the features on the tile that was just played.

The player then checks to see if there was any in-game scoring caused by the placement of the tile. If so, the scoring is marked and the meeple which scored is returned to the owning player. The next player then takes their turn and this continues around the table until the last tile is played. Then there is end-game scoring.

There are four tile features: roads, cities, cloisters, and farms. Roads, cities, and cloisters each can score during the game as they are completed. If they aren't completed by the end of the game, they will still score during end-game scoring. Farms only score during the end-game scoring.

A meeple may not be played on a feature which already has another meeple on it. It is possible for multiple meeples to end up on the same feature through tile placement which joins previously separate features. In this case, the player with the most meeples scores the feature. If two, or more, players are tied for the most meeples on a feature, they all score the points.

Here is how the features score:

Roads: Roads are complete when there is a definite beginning and end cause by either a city, cloister, or a road intersection. When completed, they are worth one point per tile. During end-game scoring, incomplete roads are worth one point per tile.

Cities: Cities are complete when they are completely surrounded by city walls and there are no gaps in the wall or any area within the wall which does not contain a tile. When completed, cities score two points per tile. Some of the city tiles have blue and white shields (called pennants) on them. Each pennant in the city is also worth two points. There is an exception to this: cities comprised of exactly two tiles are worth only two points. During end-game scoring, incomplete cities (and any pennants) are worth one point each.

Cloisters: Cloisters are complete when it is completely surrounded by tiles. This means all eight adjacent tiles, orthogonal and diagonal, have been placed. It scores one point for each adjacent tile and one for the cloister's tile, for a total of nine points. During end-game scoring, incomplete cloisters score one point for the cloister plus one point per adjacent tile.

Farms: Farms only score at the end of the game and don't need to be complete. Farms really don't score. What scores is each completed city. Each city is worth four points to the player who has the most farmer meeples which can trace an uninterrupted path from their position on the board to the city.

Hans im Glück changed the farm scoring rules, once between printings, then again in their (second and?) later printings of the game. Rio Grande Games stuck with the original farmer scoring rules and these are the ones I play by. You can find the optional scoring in the forums and in some of the files on the Geek.

 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
2. Board Game: Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:443]
Bobby Warren
United States
Glendale
Arizona
flag msg tools
designer
badge
La cheeserie!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
After the amazing popularity of Carcassonne and the release of the Carcassonne: Expansion 1 – Inns & Cathedrals, Hans im Glück and Rio Grande Games released this new, stand-alone game based on Carcassonne.

Each player has five meeples to place and also two hut pieces.

The game play is the same. Draw a tile, place a tile, place a piece. Score.

Instead of cities there are forests. Forests score two points per tile segment when completed and there are a few forests in the bonus tiles (more about them in a minute) which have mushrooms in them which score like the pennants. Unlike cities, incomplete forests do not score at the end of the game.

When counting the number of segments in a forest, it could happen that the same forest is on a tile multiples time with unconnected segments. Each of the segments will score two points when the forest is complete.

There is a new step which appears to have been introduced to encourage players to complete forests. Many forest tiles have gold nuggets in them. If a player places a tile which completes a forest with a nugget in it, they get to draw one of the 12 bonus tiles and immediately play it. These tiles are usually very good versions of the normal features of the game, but a couple of them have special abilities if the player places one of his meeples on them.

Next up are the rivers which are similar to roads, except they begin and end in springs or in lakes. Each lake has a number of fish in it. If a meeple is places on a river, the owning player will score one point for each river segment plus one point for each fish in each of the lakes on the ends of the river. Incomplete river segments do not score at the end of the game

Instead of placing a meeple on a river, each player may place one of their huts on the river, claiming the entire connected system. A hut may be placed on a river which already has a meeple and vice-versa, but another hut may not be place on a river system which already has one. Like other features, it is possible to join river systems so multiple huts end up being on the same river system. Huts only score at the end of the game and are worth a number of points equal to the number of fish in the lakes on the entire river system.

Instead of fields, there are meadows. Scoring these is where the game was really simplified. The player who controls a meadow scores two points for deer in the meadow, minus two points for each saber-tooth tiger, with a minimum of zero points. They also score two points for each mammoth and auroch (buffalo). The saber-tooth tigers do not cancel out points scored from these larger animals.

Like all the variations of Carcassonne, the meeples in Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers are not the same shape as the original meeples.

This is where the concept of laying the end-game-only scoring meeples down on their sides was first introduced. Doing this really helps by giving a quick visual cue which figures to leave on the board until the very end. We now use this convention when playing basic Carcassonne for the farmers.

I really liked Hunters and Gatherers when I first played it, but lately I've become more aware of how much the game seems to hinge on who draws the most river and lake tiles during the game. It can be very frustrating for the players who end up being unlucky in their draws, more so than in the other games. I'm not as likely to pull it out these days with so many other options available.

1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
3. Board Game: The Ark of the Covenant [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:1395]
Bobby Warren
United States
Glendale
Arizona
flag msg tools
designer
badge
La cheeserie!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
This is a version of Carcassonne with a religious theme added on for religious bookstores and which also is distributed into the hobby game market. It plays like a combination of the original game with a smattering of Hunters and Gatherers and Inns & Cathedrals.

Like Carcassonne, each player has seven meeples to place. Each player also has a larger meeple which is called a Prophet, and there is a cardboard counter with a plastic stand which represents the Ark of the Covenant.

Game play is the same: draw a tile, place the tile, choose whether or not to place a meeple, score anything that is completed. However, there is an extra step which a player may take and that is to move the Ark.

The Ark of the Covenant is placed on one of the tiles of the first city that is completed by the player who placed the tile which completed the city. During any player's turn, they may choose to move he Ark one to five tiles instead of placing a meeple or their Prophet. The Ark scores one point for the owner of any meeple on a tile which The Ark passes through. The Ark may not move through any space which it already passed through in that turn and may not end up on, or move through, the space it which it started that turn.

Instead of farms there are fields which are scored like the fields in Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers. Each sheep is worth two points and each wolf eats one sheep. Though it doesn't implicitly state it, the rules do read like you cannot net a negative score for a field.

The roads score like in Carcassonne but there is a bonus. For each oasis along the road the person scoring the road gets one bonus point.

Cities work the same except instead of shields which score an extra two points there are scrolls. Also, two-segment cities score the full four points instead of only two points.

Prophets are placed like normal meeples and score only once when a city is completed and are then removed from the game. Should the owner of the Prophet score the completed city, then every tile and scroll in that city are worth four points each. They only count as one meeple in the city. If the city with the Prophet doesn't complete, then the city scores at the end of the game like it was a regular meeple ([/i]i.e.[/i], one point for each tile and scroll).

Instead of monasteries there are temples which score quite differently than monasteries. First, you don't actually place your meeple on the temple. You may place it on any other feature on the tile, if it is a legal play. For instance, you cannot place it in a field which already has a meeple in it. A temple is completed when it has tiles on the left, right, top, and bottom of the temple tile. In other words, it forms a cross. At that time you first score any other features that were completed by the tile that was placed to make the cross and remove any meeples that scored. Then the player with the most meeples on the temple tile and the four orthogonally adjacent tiles scores seven points and the meeples are left on the board so they can score the feature they were placed on.

End-game scoring is as follows. First score the incomplete temples which are worth three points to the player with the most meeples on the orthogonal tiles, then score the rest of the features. Fields are scored as mentioned above, cities and scrolls score one point each, and each road tile and each oasis along a road score one point each.

This is the exception to the rule that the meeples in each game look different. These are exactly the same as the meeples in Carcassonne.

This may be the easiest version to teach new players. The only part which isn't straight forward are temples because they break the cardinal rule of Carcassonne which is a meeple is placed on the feature which scores. I have thought of trying the game scoring the temples as monasteries just to see how it would work. You could also play without the Ark and/or the Prophet if you were trying to keep the game as simple as possible.

1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
4. Board Game: Carcassonne: The Castle [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:547]
Bobby Warren
United States
Glendale
Arizona
flag msg tools
designer
badge
La cheeserie!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
What do you do when you have the hottest game franchise going? Get one of the biggest designers to contribute to it, of course.

Reiner Knizia designed this two-player only version of Carcassonne which breaks lots of Carcassonne conventions while keeping the game play similar.

Each player gets six meeples to play on the board as well as a keep piece.

The first thing which may seem odd to veteran Carcassonne players is the play area is limited by a frame which represents the walls of the castle and also serves as the score board. Also placed along the wall on each of the corner areas is a face-down bonus tile which will be given to a player whose meeple first stops on the space.

Along the wall there are seven spaces which look like partial tiles. These are the starting spaces. When a tile is drawn is can either be placed next to a tile or it can be places next to any of the starting spaces on the board. These areas on the border also count as a tile when scoring. This means there are up to seven areas on the board that will be growing towards each other instead of having one area expanding as is normal in the other games in the series.

The biggest difference in the game over the previous games in the series is that a tile does not have to be placed such that all the features on the sides of the placed tile match the ones they are played next to. The only rule about matching up features is paths (roads) must line up to paths, other than that any feature on a tile edge may touch any other tile feature.

The various features are paths, houses, and towers.

Paths score one point per tile, unless there is a well on them then they are worth two points per tile. Towers score two points per tile. Houses score one point per tile. Another difference in this version is if there is a tie for control of a feature, no one scores. At the end of the game, incomplete features are not scored.

When a player completes their first house, they place their keep piece on it. Each time a player completes a house, they check to see if it is larger than the house which the keep piece is currently on. If so, the keep is moved to that house. At the end of the game, the player with the largest house scores a bonus which is equal to the number of tiles which would fit in the largest open area inside the wall.

Courts work similar to meadows in Hunters and Gatherers except there are no minus points. During end-game scoring each market in the court is worth three points.

The bonus tiles seem to encourage people to score features for a small number of points during the game because there are several of them early on in the game. Each of them covers two scores and the player who lands on either point total gets the tile. There are tiles which allow a player to score one of their incomplete features of a certain type, make the markets in one court area worth four points each, give a player a double turn, allow scoring double points for one house or tower, make the size of the house with the keep larger at the end of the game, or just give five points.

You'll want to make sure you are getting at least a few of the bonus tiles as they are an advantage, but getting more than the other player doesn't seem to be an indicator of who will win the game.

Any of the Carcassonne games to this point played well with two players, but this is enough of a change of pace to make it worthwhile to break out and play on a fairly regular basis.

1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
5. Board Game: Carcassonne: The City [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:599]
Bobby Warren
United States
Glendale
Arizona
flag msg tools
designer
badge
La cheeserie!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Carcassonne: The City took some of the concepts introduced in Carcassonne: The Castle and ran wild with them.

The game comes with a bunch of wooden wall sections and towers, a city gate piece, and eight meeples per player (one is for the scoreboard). The tower pieces are divided up equally among the players.

When setting the game up, the tiles are divided into three stacks: one of 30 tiles, one of 25 tiles, and one of 20 tiles. The game is played in three phases with each stack of tiles being used in a different phase. The first phase is like most other Carcassonne games, that is a tile is drawn, played, then the player may choose to place a meeple, then the tile is score. In this game, a player cannot place a meeple on a feature which is completed by placing that tile.

There are three feature types: residential areas, markets, and streets. Like Carcassonne: The Castle the only features which have to match when placing a tile are the streets. All other features may touch any other feature on a tile edge.

Streets score one point per tile if the street is one to three tiles long. If the street is four or more tiles long then they are worth two points each.

Markets are green areas which have one of three market types (colors) in them. A completed market scores the number of tiles that comprise the market times the number of types (colors) in the market. In other words, the markets score the number of tiles time one, two, or three points.

Residences only score at the end of the game and they score two points for each market area which is adjacent to the residence at the end of the game. Some of the residence areas on the board have one or two white buildings on them and some of them may have a scroll with the name of the building on them. These come into play later.

So, what about these wall pieces and the different phases of the game?

First, there is no start tile. The starting player draws the first tile from the stack of 30 tiles and places it to start the game. The players take turns drawing from the first stack until it is depleted. Then the second stack is used. The first player to place a tile which causes any player to score points will take the gate piece and every other player will take a wall segment.

The player with the gate will now place it next to any tile on the board. Then, in clockwise order, each other player will play their wall piece on either side of the gate, their choice, extending the wall and limiting where city can grow. When placing a wall segment, a player may place one of their meeples on the wall as long as there isn't a meeple on a wall directly opposite from them. These meeples will score at the end of the game.

If a street or market is completed by placing a wall, it is immediately scored. This will not cause another wall-placement round. These only happen when placing a tile causes a player to score points.

Now the player who caused the scoring may place one of their towers at the end of either wall segment. They will score one point for each segment between their tower and the next tower along the wall, or the gate if the tower is the first played on that side of the gate.

From this point on, any time at least one player scores points from a tile being played, there will be a wall-placement round. After the gate is placed, the player causing the scoring will also be able to place a wall piece.

When the second stack is depleted, the third phase of the game starts. From this point on, players will get two wall segments to place every time there is a scoring. Going around the table, each player will place one segment at a time until everyone has placed two segments.

This is also the only Carcassonne game which can end before the last tile is drawn. The game now ends in one of three situations: the last tile is played; the last wall is built; or the ends of the two segments of the wall are within five wall spaces of each other.

Incomplete markets and streets are not score. Residences now score as do the meeples on the walls. These meeples score two points for each white building on the tiles in a straight line in front of them, ending at the opposite wall or at an open space without a tile. The named buildings are worth three points each.

This is, by far, the most advanced version of Carcassonne available. The placement of the walls adds another variable into the decision-making process. Do you cause a scoring so you can place a wall and get the points at the end of the game? Will your causing a scoring be more advantageous to another player? These can be deliciously agonizing decisions which help make this a very rewarding game. I still prefer the original game, but when I am in the mood for a deeper game and still want the flavor of Carcassonne, this is a good choice.

2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
6. Board Game: Carcassonne: The Discovery [Average Rating:6.49 Overall Rank:1940]
Bobby Warren
United States
Glendale
Arizona
flag msg tools
designer
badge
La cheeserie!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The latest version of Carcassonne by Leo Colovini is only available from limited sources in the U.S. and, I believe, Canada and the U.K. because Rio Grande and Funagain Games came to an agreement that caused it to be released it as an exclusive game which is only sold by Funagain. I believe they are now distributing it to some local stores through along with their other exclusives, but I am not sure of the details. There has been a lot of discussion about this arrangement and this really isn't the place for it. Check out the forums for the game to see the details.

In this version, each player only has four meeples to place on the board, so it really makes management of the meeples a major part of the game. The good news is it is very easy to take back a meeple, but will you want to?

Like the other games, a tile is drawn and placed on the board, but this is where things change. After placing the tile the player may not place a meeple on that tile or choose to score any meeple which is already on the board. Completing a feature no longer causes an automatic scoring. Scoring now only happens when a player chooses to take their meeple off the board and score the feature the meeple is on. Being in the majority does not determine which pieces may score. If a there are multiple meeples on a feature, they all may score the feature when removed from the board.

Meeples may even be removed from incomplete features and their player will score the incomplete feature, though at less points than if they waited for it to complete.

There are three features: grasslands, mountains, and seas. Some of the tiles have cities on them which are used in scoring.

Incomplete grasslands score one point per segment (not tile). If complete, each segment is worth two points, unless the grassland is comprised of only two tiles, then it is worth only two points.

Mountains score only for the city in them or for each cities in that mountain or and in all adjacent grasslands. If the mountain is incomplete each of the cities is worth one point, if complete they are worth two points. If the completed mountain is only two tiles then the cities will only be worth one point each.

Seas which are incomplete are worth one point for each city on the sea. Completed seas are worth one point per segment plus one point for each city on the sea. Seas which are only two tiles only score one point per city adjacent to them.

After the last tile has been played, any meeples left on the board score, but they score as if the feature was incomplete.

I was fortunate enough to get to play a prototype of the final version of the game long before it came out and I really wasn't impressed by it. A friend of mine was in the same game and felt the same way, We both now really like the game and we've talked about why we didn't like it and couldn't come up with a reason for the change of heart.

The first thing may be the artwork for the game which is even more unattractive than the Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers graphics, which is hard to do. The next may be the way things are scored. It is very different from what long-time Carcassonne players are used to. Finally, having so few meeples to play on the board takes some getting used to and that might have contributed to the general feelings of dislike towards the game.

Now, I like playing it quite a bit, though still not as much as the original. There are fewer chances to be aggressive in tile placement which can hurt other players than in the other versions, so it might be the best choice if you are having a problem finding a game for someone who doesn't like games with conflict.

It is another solid game in the series which, not counting some of the expansions to Carcassonne, hasn't had a dud.


 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}