I first heard about Carcassonne online. It seemed everyone had it on their must play lists. We were lucky enough to get a copy of it for Christmas.
At first, Carcassonne seemed like a complex game, but once we started playing, we found that it’s not hard to play at all. It has an element of strategy but not so much you spend the forever figuring out your move. It also has an equal amount of luck.
The object of the game is to get the most points. You earn points by choosing where to put your meeple–the coloured wooden men. Deciding what to claim is the strategy part.
To start the game, there is one tile that is marked specially. This is the starting tile. It is placed in the middle of the playing area. It has a road on it and an opening of a city. The other side of the tile is grass. All the other tiles are stacked, face down, off to the side.
On your turn, you choose a tile and choose where to put it and what to claim by placing one of your meeples on it.
What the tiles mean
If your tile has a road on it, you can place it so it connects to any road that is already placed. If you claim a road, each tile of the road will earn you one point. You can’t claim a road that someone else has already claimed.
If your tile has a city part on it, you can ad it to any city already down. A city is considered closed when it is surrounded by an outside wall. Each completed city piece is worth two points.
But there are special pieces that have coat of arms on them. These are worth 4 points each in a completed city.
You can’t claim a city that already has a meeple on it. But, if two cities merge together and are owned by two different people, then they both get the full points for the city. However, if one player has more meeples on the merged city, then she gets all the points and the other player gets no points.
If your tile has a monastery on it, you can place it along grass. If a monastery is fully surrounded, you earn 9 points.
Ending the game
When the last tile has been placed, the game is over.
Although scoring is done through out the game, the bulk of the scoring is done after the last tile is played. Scoring is similar with a few differences. Each road piece is worth one point. Each city piece is only worth one point. Similarly, each coat of arms in an uncompleted city is worth only two points. And each tile that touches a monastery is worth one point.
The player with the most points wins the game.
When you get comfortable playing, you can add the fields to your play. This adds to the strategy as you can only get one field for the game and it’s scored by how many closed cities are in the field.
What we liked
We love that, despite the original learning curve, Carcassonne is an easy to play game. We also like that the game takes the same amount of time to play every time. The box claims 35 minutes to play and it’s surprisingly how accurate that is. We’ve played a lot—with a variety of players and number of players— and it almost always finishes at the 35 minute mark. We also like that there are lots of expansion packs. We haven’t tried any yet but our box came with the expansions of the river and the Abbot. We’ve just started to play with the fields and are looking forward to adding the new challenges when we want to mix things up. We also liked that we’re all on a level playing field—everyone has had their chance to win.
The quality–all the pieces are made to last.
What we didn’t like
Without having played Carcassonne before, it was a little pricey. Now that we’ve played we know it was worth the money. The only other thing we didn’t like was that the instructions seemed complicated at first. It would have been so much better had we played it with someone who knew how to play first. This is definitely one of those games that you learn to play by simply playing.
Carcassonne is a great family game for grade school and up. It’s equal luck and light strategy makes it an easy to lay game that has lots of playability. We have played this game so many times and can say that this is for sure a favorite on our Family Game Shelf.
Pros: lots of playability, quality, expansions, easy, reliable play time
Cons: complicated to start
Mom: strategic thinking, critical thinking
To buy Carcassonne form Amazon, click here.
To check out all the expansion packs, click here.
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