I think Carcassonne is an ideal family game - nice and passive out of the box, but with the option for more conflict depending on which expansions are used.
My nine year old son and I decided to play using these expansions. Carcassonne + The River + Inns & Cathedrals + Traders & Builders + King + The Princess & The Dragon.
It was our first time using King and The Princess & The Dragon. The first of these was easy to understand and surprisingly added a lot of tension to the game. The second I was more concerned about. I was wary
about how the dragon would work with two players.
I won't go into too much detail. Needless to say the first castle we built was a big one, with both of us desperately trying to get the king. In the end I clinched it, but only just, and gained a lot of points in the process. My son was immediately disheartened; I was almost fifty points ahead at this early stage; but I knew that he had probably secured twenty points in barrels and ribbons.
I convinced him to carry on and then promptly took the longest road. He battled on regardless. Later he would retake the longest road and this raised his spirits immensely. I held the king with my original city and he kept hold of the robber.
We soon got the hang of the fairy and enjoyed the trickle of points she brought, then the dragon came out and we realised her power. We were slightly confused about claiming the fairy before moving the dragon. It seemed that every time a player drew a dragon tile they would simply not place a meeple and move the fairy on to their nearest 'under-threat' meeple. I'm sure with a more crowded board the dragon is more destructive but in our game he only ever removed two meeples. The princess tiles were only used in malice twice. My favourite part of this expansion is the teleport tiles. They added some good strategy and I actually felt we could have done with a few more of them.
We broke for bed and returned to the game in the morning with about 25 tiles left in the bag. The points were close and whilst I had more farmers in play my son had secured all the goods (well we were tied for wheat). The game ended with me ahead by a nose, by virtue of my farmers and pig. This is the one point in the game which often leads to adults gaining an advantage and it might be an idea to remove the farmers for a child friendly game.
My son could have taken the game had I not forced the final wheat bearing city to expand. If he had closed it off he would have won by 4 points.
A very tense game in which the balance of power shifted many times. I was wary of two player Carcassonne but now I'm keen to play again.
| ME | MY SON|
Scoreboard | 167 | 158 |
King | 24 | |
Robber | | 30 |
Barrels | | 10 |
Wheat | 10 | 10 |
Ribbon | | 10 |
Farmers | 95 | 76 |
Unfinished | | |
Castles | 10 | |
Roads | | 3 |
Cloisters | 14 | 7 |
Total | 320 | 304 |
nice session review.
Actually carcassonne is the game that brought me back to boardgames only a month ago.
Regarding the princess. We agreed that the princess could only be moved right before the turn ended.
The dragon moved first. After the dragon came the scoring.
This meant that the princess only could score points in a later round and not the same round.
This seamed logical to us because otherwise the player who drew the dragontiles would be in a big advantage. The princess was there to protect us. And in order to protect us she had to be with our meeple before the dragontile was picked and played.
We only played with the dragon and princess extension.
Either way it doesn't really matter by which rules you play. It is such a great game that some bending of rules doesn't hurt the experience.
One great house rule I read about is that you are allowed to hold three tiles. This to reduce the luck factor and to allow more strategic planning.
If you like evening out the odds to make it more childfriendly (e.g. make it possible to win for a child without holding back)this could be a really great option. You allow your son to play with one of the three tiles (two if he wins all the time) in his possesion (at the beginning of his turn he picks his tile but than has the choice to play that tile or one of the tiles he was holding, while you only play with the one you just picked to start your turn.
Hope you don't mind losing a couple of games.
With hindsight we should have played the fairy (you said princess, but I think you meant fairy) at the end of the turn. We'll definitely do that next time.
I like the idea of holding more than one card - we'll definitely try that next time. I also play with a six year old so this will work well.