Friday, October 10, 2014

Quick Review - Carcassonne

Designer: Klaus-Jürgen Wrede
Publisher: Z-Man Games
Quick Review - Carcassonne
So last weekend my son and I were supposed to spend the day at the NIU football game and then camp out there with our Cub Scout pack.  It would have been a ton of fun, with a movie being show on the jumbotron on the field in the evening after the game and all sorts of activities.  But my son wasn't feeling great and since it was a high of 44 and rainy we felt it would be best to remain indoors.  What does this have to do with Carcassonne you ask?  Well, while my sons crashed on the couch playing Minecraft and my wife practiced the violin and piano, I met a friend at the local game store and played a few 2-player games.  Carcassonne was the first game we played and it was my first time ever playing.  I was familiar with the game, even gave a copy (along with Love Letter) to friends of ours when they renewed their vows since we can't afford to send them on a real second honeymoon to France, but I had never played and I wanted to change that.

So we played a 2-player game of Carcassonne.  After just a little brushing up on the rules we were off and playing.  And I loved it.  For anyone not familiar with Carcassonne I'll cover the basics, but you don't really need to read them.  Instead I recommend going out and getting your hands on a copy right now.

In Carcassonne players take turns drawing and placing tiles to build the French countryside.  Each tile has two or more of a variety of features: fields, roads, cities, and monasteries.  After a player places a tile he may choose to put one worker (meeple) on the tile, if he has a worker available.  Thieves are placed on roads, knights in cities, monks in monasteries, and farmers are laid on their sides in the fields.  The catch is you can't place a worker in a place that is already occupied by another worker, i.e. if there is already a farmer in a field you can't place another farmer in the same field.  However, you can place a worker in a section that isn't connected and then connect it by placing tiles later.  Through this method players can actually have multiple workers in the same field, city, or road.  Scoring is done partially as the game is played and partially at the end.  Roads are scored when a segment between two intersections is completed, cities are scored when a wall surrounds the entire city, and monasteries are completed when they are surrounded by 9 tiles.  Once a section is scored the worker can be removed and used somewhere else.  Thus sometimes you can place a tile, place a worker, score pints, and remove that worker all in one turn.

You might notice that I didn't mention scoring farmers.  That's because farmers are scored at the end of the game.  This means that when you place a farmer it's a permanent placement.  You don't get that worker back.  So you have to place farmers with a lot of discretion.  This adds a component of long-term strategy and decision making to what is otherwise a short-term points scoring game.

Overall I absolutely loved Carcassonne.  I can't really think of anything bad about the game.  The rules are very straight forward.  The concepts are simple enough that even younger kids can pick them up pretty quickly.  And there is a depth to the game that can turn this into a very deep strategic game.  I ended up borrowing the game from my friend and then the next day I played it with my wife.  She also loved it.  Then my 8 year old son wanted in on a game, so we played another game with 3 players (he creamed both of us, nearly beating our combined score!) and it played just as well with 3 as it did with 2.  I believe the game can support up to 5 players and it should play just as well with 5 as it does with 2.  This is one of the few games out there that scales nicely from 2 to many players.  And one of the nice things about the game is that the length of the game is limited by the number of tiles in the game.  So it's going to take about an hour whether you have 2 players or 5 players because the game ends when the last tile is played.

This is definitely a game that will find its way into our collection, probably with a few expansions, too.  I'm going to keep my eye out for a Carcassonne Big Box sale somewhere because this is a game that will definitely get a lot of play time in our house.

Preliminary Rating: 10/10
No, those aren't farmers in the cities, they're just extra
meeples we used to easily count the completed cities.

Did you like this review?  Show your support by clicking the heart at Board Game Links , liking GJJ Games on Facebook , or following on Twitter .  And be sure to check out my games on  Tabletop Generation.

GJJG Game Reviews are independent, unpaid reviews of games I, George Jaros, have played with my family and friends.  Some of these games I own, some are owned by friends, some are borrowed, and some are print and play versions of games.  Where applicable I will indicate if games have been played with kids or adults or a mix (Family Play).  I won't go into extensive detail about how to play the game (there are plenty of other sources for that information and I'll occasionally link to those other sources), but I will give my impressions of the game and how my friends and family reacted to the game.  First Play Impression reviews will only get a single rating of 1-10 (low-high) based on my first impressions of the game during my first time playing.  Hopefully I'll get more chances to play the game and will be able to give it a full review soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment