FTW Staff Picks - Carcassonne
For The Win Board Game Cafe's Staff Picks is a weekly series where we take a quick look at some of the staff's favourite games, old and new.
Genre: Tile & Worker Placement
Designer: Klaus-Jürgen Wrede
Player Size: 2-5 Players
Game Length: 45 minutes
For fans of: CATAN, Ticket to Ride, Splendor
My first interaction with Carcassonne was years ago on the XBOX 360 when they gave away a digital version of the game. I had no idea it was a tabletop game and even less of an idea of how to play it. It was a confusing, but addictive process learning the ins-and-outs. It was my first interaction with a modern tabletop game, as before this I had been limited to games like Risk, Monopoly and Clue. To me it was just a fun, turn-based distraction from the fast-paced world of video games. Little did I know I would be enjoying Carcassonne years later in its board game incarnation.
In Carcassonne, players lay down tiles to collaboratively build a landscape of cities, monasteries, roads and farms. Players take turns drawing a single tile and then laying it down connected to the already existing land. Afterwards, they may place one of their meeples on one of the structures visible on the tile. If it connects to another structure already claimed by an opposing player, they may not place one on it. Meeples remain on the land until a structure is fully completed and points are awarded. When all of the tiles have been placed, any remaining meeples on the land will score partial points for incomplete structures. Farmers will score points for each completed structure their land touches. After all the points have been tallied, the player with the highest score is declared the winner.
Each player only has 7 meeples to use throughout the game. Because of this limitation, players have to carefully plot out their plans. Scoring opportunities will present themselves as the map grows, and having meeples stuck on incomplete structures will hinder players who use meeples too liberally. Farmers can score massive points, but you essentially sacrifice those meeples for the remainder of the game. Tricky tile placement can also help you share and steal points for structures that other players have been working on. It's a generally relaxing game, but there's room for some cutthroat plays.
Carcassonne is an excellent scaling game. It's often used as a gateway game for many couples who are newcomers to the hobby. Unlike CATAN or Ticket to Ride, the game feels interactive with as little as two players. It may be 17 years old at this point, but the Carcassonne has aged like a fine wine. And if you ever get bored with the vanilla experience, there are over 10 expansions that diversify the game in rather meaningful ways. We recommend trying out The Princess & The Dragon and Catapult!