This is a review for people who aren't intense about gaming and play casually. This is written by a gaming layman, for gaming laymen. For those wondering, in my mind, Gaming layman = casual gamer who doesn't know what terms like "game weight and game components" mean.
They aren't many game bits to this game. You get a stack of tiles, a scoreboard, and little wooden star-shaped people (lovingly called 'meeples' on Board Game Geek). However, all the pieces are really nice.
The tiles are impressive because they are printed on a very thick cardboard-y material. They also have really nice artwork on them. It's simple designs (and sometimes the shading makes my eyes cross when the tiles are laid in certain ways) but nicely done and looks nice when you play. The only drawback is that they are kinda slippery when stacked and tend to go sliding everywhere when you try to stack them. I hate that. The scorecard is the same material and art as the tiles. It's nice, but honestly, a little unremarkable.
The meeple come in 5 different colors: red, blue, green, yellow, and black. They are cute, wooden and star-shaped. They are almost as fun to stack as Settler's of Catan pieces. It's nice wood and nice paint. That's about it. They are really cute though and loved by one and all!
The components would get 5 stars alone for the meeples...but the tiles sliding around annoys me enough that I'm taking a star away.
This was probably one of the easiest games to learn. The rules are simple. Draw a tile, place it where it makes sense to place it (i.e. roads have to connect to roads and cities connect to cities), and decide it you want to spend a meeple to claim something. The rules are written simply and easy to follow.
The scoring rules are, for the most part, just as simple. Finish a city you get two points per tile and pennant. Finish a road and get one point per tile. Finish a monastery and get one point per tile (always equals 9). Farmers get four points per completed city that touches their field (as long as they have the most farmers touching the field). That's it.
So hooray! Carcassonne gets 4.5 stars! I like simple games that are easy to learn and play! So the less complex the rules, the higher the stars!
Play is really fun. Like I said before, it's a really simple game. IT's obvious where you should place the tiles and scoring isn't hard to keep track of, especially with the handy dandy scoreboard that they give you with the box.
You have seven meeples that you use to claim various cities, roads, or monasteries that you are building (there are 8 in the box, but one is used to keep score). When you play meeples, you have to keep in mind that you have to play a meeple on the tile you just played and you can't play a meeple to claim something that is already claimed. Meaning, you can't put a second meeple in a city.
While the play is very fun and easy to do, it only gets 3.5 stars because the game can start to feel repetitive and maybe get a little stale after a few plays. It's a good game, but not a game that you can play over and over again in a short span of time.
Strategy seems to be pretty simple in this game. The only choices are where to lay your tile to give you the most benefit and whether or not to claim a road, city, etc. It's personal choice on what you think will work best.
My strategy is simple. I try to claim as many things as I can. I try to have at least one meeple on hand in case I need to claim something. Usually I start to build a city and I try to make it as big as I can and avoid setting my opponents up to steal my city from me. Also, I tend to lay a farmer down really early in the game to try to claim a massive field. I think farmers are how you win the game. My husband and I fight many a bloody battle over the fields when it comes to the end of the game. Stupid farmers. At the moment, I tend to win 50% of the games I play, so obviously my strategy isn't that bad.
This is one of the few games that I will play more competitively. In most games I simply just try to score as many points as I can and not worry about how others are doing, but there is something about Carcassonne that brings out my competitive side (maybe because its the only game that begins with 'carcass').
I give it 3.5 stars for strategy. Strategizing isn't hard and there seems to be several styles of play that can lead to a victory which is cool to me. Due to the fact that something about the strategy in this games makes me be a little more competitive than I like to be and there isn't much thinking really required, it gets a lower score than others.
Set Up, Break Down
Man, I love this game just for the set up and break down aspects of it! The box is very well done and all you need to do is slide the meeples off the table into their spot and then slide the tiles into their slot. Thats about it! Very simple and quick. Taking it out is just as easy since everything basically stays sorted.
The only reason this games doesn't get 5 stars for set up an break down is because somewhere in the process of setting it up or taking it down, you have to shuffle the tiles. And I mentioned before that the tiles are slippery bastards so that makes the shuffling harder than it should be and kinda annoying. Other than that, it's one of the perfect games to put away because of it's ease!
Overall, I give this game which is pretty good. On the Board Game Geek rating system I gave it an 8. I definitely like this game. I will probably always recommend it for play since it's so easy and quick. It's also a good game to play with non-hardcore gamers. I believe that is called a 'gateway game'? I don't know, but it's good and I can see myself teaching my family to play. I think that almost all my family members would like it (except for my two anti-board game sisters...but I don't think they count...).
I definitely recommend this game to anyone who is looking for a quick game that plays 2-5 players easily. It gets a big thumbs up from me!