GS TABLE GAMES: Review Carcassonne

carcassonne-riverCarcassonne, named after the fortified French town, is a tile-placement game where player have to create a French-style landscape with fields, roads, cities, monasteries and in this edition rivers.  Each tile much be placed next to a similar tile, road to road, city to city, river to river etc.

The players then score points by placing little wooden men (meeples) into one of four roles, thief, knight, monk or farmer.  Meeples are scored once each area is complete and the game ends when all the tiles are placed.  Sound complicated and maybe a little dull? Well it isn’t – read on for my review!

A simple but clever tile laying game that brings new challenges with every turn. Winner of the Spiel des Jahres 2001 Develop the area around Carcassonne through tactical tile placement and deploy your followers in various locations around it to best control the landscape. Each turn the area becomes larger as the players expand and add roads, fields, cities and cloisters. The players may also deploy their followers as thieves, farmers, knights and monks to control and score points. As the players have only a few followers, the wise player will plan his moves carefully and deploy followers when and where he can earn the most points. Contents: 84 land tiles, 1 scoring track, 40 followers in 5 colours, 1 rule booklet. Age 8+, for 2 – 5 players, average game playing time 45mins.

What makes this game interesting is that you are limited to only eight meeples and one has to be used as your score marker and so you have to think about where the other seven are going to go.  You end up asking yourself “Is that city really worth a meeple?” or “Will this road piece mean that my opponent will get more points?”  The game can get a bit complicated and tense, especially when one’s husband places a road in the way of my city building plan!

The quality of the pieces is high with the tiles being made of thick cardboard and the meeples being wooden which gives it a feeling that this game will last.  It currently retails at £24.99 which I think is a reasonable price, especially as it comes with the river expansion (a 12 tile pack which add river tiles into the mix).  As sad as it is, I am a big fan of boxes which come with compartments to store pieces in, which this does in the form of a cardboard insert, meaning all my tiles are neatly lined up in the box and my meeples are in a separate compartment in a bag.  It’s the little things that make the difference for me.

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The game states that it is aimed at 13 years and older though I think most 10-11 year olds would not struggle.  It also says that each game should take between 30-45 minutes an estimate I would agree with.  It is what I would consider a short game with very little set up, which makes it great for after dinner or when you’ve got some time to kill.

I really enjoyed this game as it was relatively easy to learn and the summary sheet of scoring was a godsend.  My one bug-bear is that sometimes people can spend forever choosing what to do and I can imagine with 5 people this can really slow the game down but this can be the issue with many of these sort of games.  There are plenty of other expansions available which means that it is easy to keep the game fresh.  My sister is just getting into board games and likes to play a quick one when she stays with us, and this will definitely be one we play as it is so easy to learn but you can develop a level of skill in it.

Box Contains
72 x land tiles
12 x river expansion tiles
40 x followers in 5 colours
1 x scoring track, used to track players’ scores
1 x Rule booklet and summary sheet

Rating: 4.5/5

Source: Rio Grande Games
Reporter: Amy

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