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Subject: Double Dime review of Carcassonne (with some expansions) rss

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Darth James
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Double Dime review of Carcassonne (with some expansions)
Reviewing all my double dimes (and then getting more double dimes)

This is unnecessary. If you’re here, either you’ve played Carcassonne (and therefore have formed your own opinion about it) or you’ve played one or more of the many games that owe allegiance to the Mighty Carc (in which case, you don’t really need to know a lot about the game that inspired your favorite tile-pile) or you’re doing some really weird Google searches that led you here (in which case, maybe try your search again without quotation marks).

But for the 7 people on BGG who haven’t played Carc and know nothing about it, and happen to click on this exact review rather than one of the countless others, read on!

Carcassonne is a light Euro game with more expansions than you are probably aware of (which is why I chuckle every time some indignant cube-pushing elitist sneers at FFG’s penchant for expansions) that functions well as an excellent “gateway” game. Or so I’m told. My dad loves Carc but still won’t play Netrunner, so I think the functional definition of a gateway game is one that nongamers will still play, though it will not make them into gamers. You are either born a gamer or you aren’t, John Calvin.

Ultimately, Carcassonne is a game in which 2 or more players take turns placing tiles to make towns, roads, and farms, each of which earn you a variety of points. You can mix and match expansions, but we generally play with Inns, Cathedrals, Traders, Builders, and Abbeys. Because we love turning a 30 minute light filler game into an 80 minute light filler game.

Here’s the breakdown.

Things I love:

1. Simple rules. This cannot be overstated; simple rules get people playing faster. Which means you can drop a pile of meeples in front of your nongamer father, flip over a tile, and have him playing within five minutes. Never forget this, people: your family loves Monopoly (or Apples to Apples or Yahtzee or whatever crap game it is they love) not because the game is great but because they don’t have to learn new rules to play it.

2. Strategic depth. The simple gameplay of Carcassonne supports a wealth of strategic options. Okay, maybe not a wealth, but in general there’s enough strategy involved that the most skillful player will win.

Things I like:

3. Nonconfrontational gameplay. Carcassonne lends itself to nonconfrontation. Sure, you can steal that city from your opponent through some well-played tiles if you want to, but it takes a lot of doing, and it tends to redirect valuable tiles away from more prosperous ventures. While the dynamic of building a shared board means the game is more interactive than a multiplayer solitaire game (*cough* RfTG *cough*), most of our games found us building our own little kingdoms undisturbed. Exception: well-placed farms are bloody battlegrounds and must be defended at all costs.

Things I don’t like:

4. Endgame scoring. I get it, it’s the only way to make farmers work. It still sucks, and I hate counting up all the cities and figuring out how big the farm is exactly and blugh. What’s worse is that most of our games end up coming down to who has the most points in farms, so it’s not just that it’s the worst part of endgame scoring, it’s the worst and most important part of endgame scoring.

Things that sum up the above things:

Despite the lightweight nature of its gameplay, Carcassonne still sees pretty regular play at my house, and is a hit with various members of my family. We bring it to every family gathering. So it must do something right. It just…doesn’t exactly appeal to me on a lot of levels. Since I firmly believe that the text of a review is vastly more important than a numerical score, I assign all my reviews with nonsensical scores. Thus, on a scale of “green meeple” to “blue meeple” I will give Carcassonne a score of “red meeple.”
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Steve Kennedy

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3. Nonconfrontational gameplay. Carcassonne lends itself to nonconfrontation. Sure, you can steal that city from your opponent through some well-played tiles if you want to, but it takes a lot of doing, and it tends to redirect valuable tiles away from more prosperous ventures. While the dynamic of building a shared board means the game is more interactive than a multiplayer solitaire game (*cough* RfTG *cough*), most of our games found us building our own little kingdoms undisturbed. Exception: well-placed farms are bloody battlegrounds and must be defended at all costs.

You've obviously never played with my nephew who essentially looks for sneaky ways to link farms, castles, roads...oh, yeah, pretty much anything. Our only hope was to add the Carcassonne: Expansion 3 – The Princess & The Dragon and Carcassonne: Expansion 4 – The Tower to just try and stop him!

He even found ways to keep barns from getting built by making sure not one four corner area had fields coming together!

Nice overview!
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Eric Knauer
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Most definitely a confrontational game (if you decide to play that way) with the first two expansions.
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