Review: Carcassonne

Game Name: Carcassonne Published Year: 2000
Game Publisher: Z-Man Games Player Scale: 2 – 5
Game Designer: Klaus-Jürgen Wrede Run Time: 30 – 45 mins

 

Named and themed after the beautiful French city, Carcassonne has players in the role of a cartographer (almost), creating and managing the rolling southern French landscape.  Players will construct cities, piece by piece, connecting them with roads, to other cities and monasteries.  As they do this they will be placing their followers, and depending on where they are placed they become a Knights, Thieves, Monks or left in a field; a Farmer.  With these followers players will amass and fight for their share of southern France, and more importantly; victory points.  Scoretrack
Carcassonne is a very simple tile placement game; players take turns drawing a tile from a Carcassonne-stamped cloth bag and then place it on the playing space anywhere they choose as long as any connecting tile has a matched edge.  In this way cities, roads and, fields continue to grow with players scoring more and more points if they are able to finish the city – completely enclose it, or the road – so it has two definitive ends.  Monasteries, on the other hand, are considered completed once the Monastery tile is completely surrounded.  In all of these instances, once the City, Road or Monastery is completed the player retrieves their follower/s.  It is in this way that Carcassonne really brings any depth of strategy, as players have only a finite amount of followers, and their commitment to the board can be made or broken by your opponent’s choices and style of play (more on this in a moment).  Finally, Farmers; these guys earn a lot of points.  A lot, Bagbut that inherently comes with a cost; once you turn your follower into a Farmer, it stays in the field, permanently reducing your follower pool.

Carcassonne is a light weight game, with rules that are very, very easy to grasp and it is also a pretty quick one too, making it a great “Gateway Game” or a lighter filler game for the more experienced. That being said it is not without its own strategic kick, as a player will continually have to choose when placing a tile to either scupper their opponents or advance their own agendas.  Closing off their opponent’s city or road and keeping their score low, or creating a massive, sprawling hodge-podge construction that can never truly be completed, and thus disposing of their followers for the remainder of the game.  However; Carcassonne does easily open itself up for very aggressive play – which given the type, feel and look of the game doesn’t quite fit – you could build a road through a city, making it virtually impossible for an opponent to finish; but playing in this style feels more like you are stopping your opponent from winning, rather than trying to win yourself.Carcassonne In Play

There is a fair amount replay value in this little box, and there are a plethora of expansions to add to the game making it more fun and challenging by adding everything from the mini-expansions of wizards and witches to engineers and pigs.  The base game will serve you very well though, with a large assortment of tiles to randomly choose from, games will never be the exactly same, yet being essentially the same.

In short, this is a highly accessible, quick-to-table game, which will provide plenty of enjoyment over a pretty short run time.  It scales well, but I would argue it plays better with just two players, it is even a great addition to a game shelf for younger gamers.  Its compact size makes it a great game to travel with too. There is a chance that you may tire of this game though, even though it has a lot of replay ability, it has a limited amount of variety within.

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