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Subject: Carcassonne Review rss

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Brendan Slade
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Carcassonne was the first euro board game I bought and it was an excellent choice as it led me to buying many more. I really recommend that everyone has a go playing it.

What is it?

It is a little hard to relate Carcassonne to reality. You create a landscape full of roads and cities by placing tiles on a board. You can then populate this landscape with knights, monks, farmers and thieves which each give you points when they are completed. Once all the tiles have been placed whoever has the most points wins.

How many players?

The original set can be played with up to 5 players and one of the expansions allows you to play with a sixth. Playing with a lot of people creates a very different game to playing with 2. When playing with 2 people the game is a lot more strategic I think as you will place half the tiles on the board while playing with many people you will only be able to place say a 1/6th of the tiles and this makes it harder to follow a set plan and allows for a social dynamic where players who have few points can band together against the player who is winning.

Timing
The length of the game depends on how many expansions you have. I have 4 expansions and thus a game can take a couple of hours to finish.

I would also only play with a lot of people if everyone is capable of making quick decisions otherwise there can be a lot of downtime when one player takes 10 mins to decide where they will place each and every tile.

Difficulty

Carcassonne is very easy to play and very hard to master I believe which is why it is a great game. To play a piece just requires lining up the edges of two tiles. However where you place each tile can have a massive impact on your ability to complete roads, cities and cloisters. The longer the game goes the more options there are and the more strategic it becomes. You have to weigh up the risk of building something really big with having it stolen out from underneath you or potentially being unable to finish it. You have to decide whether it is better to build your own stuff or maybe just be a parasite on someone else's. You have to be able to think ahead and have a good idea of what tiles are likely to come up as some combinations are very rare. You only have a limited number of Meeple so you need to decide when is the best time to place them to avoid running out and not being able to do anything until you finish something.

Replayability

I have played this game dozens of times and never become more bored with it. There are always new strategies to try and other people play in different styles. Plus you can always add in more expansions which often change gameplay quite significantly.

Components

The tiles are a decent size and the artwork on them is bright and cheery. This is very much a family game that is very unobjectionable in that respect. Although the tiles only contain cities, roads and cloisters there are a lot of different tiles available. The tiles come in a bag which works well or can be stacked in a tower with the tower expansion which is a bit fiddly. I have played this game many times and have never had any damage to the tiles. The rulebook is very well written and you should not have many rules disputes when playing.

Expansions

Carcassonne has many expansions which each contain some extra tiles and new rules. I have bought the tower, princess and dragon, inns and cathedrals, traders and builders.

The expansion tiles all have a small icon on them so you can take them out of play however we always use all the tiles even if we are not using the expansion rules as they can be a bit overwhelming for new players to the game.

Tower- Allows you to imprison other player's Meeple. This changes the gameplay a lot as farmers are no longer safe to just plonk down and forget about. Some people I have played with though don't like having this risk to their precious farmers though.

Dragon and Princess- Princess is a bit of an odd mechanic where if a tile with a princess is added to a city with a knight then the knight disappears. (I guess he is spending all his time hanging out with the princess and can't concentrate on running the city or something?)

The dragon moves around the board and eats any Meeples it comes across. As the dragons moves are controlled by both players often the dragon doesn't end up eating anyone but it is always a threat and there is something remarkably cute about the tiny dragon token rampaging around the field. Similar to Tower Dragon and Princess allow you to remove Meeples and make the game more dynamic and competitive. There are also magic portals allowing you to place Meeple's on tiles that are already placed which can be super awesome or it can be mediocre.

These are particularly good when you don't want to win so much as beat a specific other person because they are your younger sibling and need to be crushed. If you are playing with people who take offence because you attacked them then maybe don't use these expansions.

Inns and Cathedrals allows you to play double or nothing when building roads and cities and is overall a great mechanic I think. Particularly when you force your opponent to finish their enormous city or receive zero points for the whole thing.

Traders and Builders allows you to trade resources by finishing cities with those resources in them. This provides more incentive for players to work together to finish cities as both players can get points. I have never really got my head around the builder rules and haven't tries them. You also get a pig allowing you to make a farm worth more which is cool.

Upsides

-Easy to learn
-Lots of strategic depth
-Lots of good expansions
-Everyone reaches the end of the game and winning or losing has no affect on your ability to play during the game (You can be behind by a hundred points and still place tiles and Meeples like crazy)

Downsides

-The game concept is fairly abstract and some people who are not into this style of gaming may find it hard to engage with
-Someone who knows what they are doing will tend to crush someone who has never played before. However the new player will likely enjoy losing this game a lot more then say losing a game of chess.
-Farmers can be a bit annoying as whoever goes first often tends to place a farmer and the rest of the game can be about who owns that one big farm (This can be alleviated by some of the expansions which allow you to remove Meeple)

Should you buy this game?

-If you like using tiles and Meeple
-If you are playing with people of a similar skill level
-If you have a lot of time and space
-If you like simple rules, complex strategies and not much luck
-If you like to expand your game with numerous expansions
-If you want something G rated where there is no sex, drugs or rock and roll
-If you think being a city planner in Medieval France would be pretty cool




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Mayor Jim
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Nice review. We got this for Christmas this year and are looking forward to giving it a go very soon.
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Bert Philippe
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Good review!
I own pretty much all expasions for Carcassonne (except The Catapult; the reviews are so bad, I didn't want to take a chance). This includes all the main expansions, mini expansions, promo and fan expansions. Needless to say I am a Carc fanatic
I have yet to play all expansions all together and even have many of them I never had the chance to play with but looking to do so. I am looking for players to make this experience,

The Builder give you an extra turn when you add a tile on to the feature it is on. You should try it. He definitely change how many tiles players will play in a game.

If you ever want to add a new expansion, I suggest Carcassonne: Abbey & Mayor.

To many more play of Carcassonne thumbsup
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Michael Frost

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Of course don't forget all the stand-alone Carcassonne editions.

The wonderful Reiner Knizia's 2-player only version, C: The Castle. As well as the beautiful to look at and play, C: The City. Too bad both are OOP.

But at least there is the Around the World series of stand-alones. C: South Seas is beautiful to look at and fun to play. C; Amazonas is gorgeous and adds the river "race"; can't wait to try it. (Never have played C: Gold Rush.)
 
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Bert Philippe
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MPMelanchthon wrote:
Of course don't forget all the stand-alone Carcassonne editions.

The wonderful Reiner Knizia's 2-player only version, C: The Castle. As well as the beautiful to look at and play, C: The City. Too bad both are OOP.

But at least there is the Around the World series of stand-alones. C: South Seas is beautiful to look at and fun to play. C; Amazonas is gorgeous and adds the river "race"; can't wait to try it. (Never have played C: Gold Rush.)


I never played the other stand alone. I am sure they are fun as well.
 
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