Reviewed by Jonathan Edwards
Carcasonne is a game for 2-5 players, which involves placing different tiles and meeples to gain points. The tiles have different features on them: cities, roads, cloisters, fields or a combination of those features. You place your meeples on the features however each player is limited to eight meeples during the game so you have to think carefully about how and when to play them. If you complete one of the features that you’re building with a meeple on it e.g. a city, then you will earn points and get your meeple back. It is possible for the other players to stop you from completing a city or one of your features so your meeple is stuck and you don’t get points until the end of the game.
Carcasonne is quite a simple game and is quick to learn but it can also be very strategic so the complexity of it can vary depending on who you play with. This makes it quite interesting and fun. It is possible to ‘attack’ other plays in the game by trying to build into their city or road and share their points so that means you have to keep an eye on what the other players are doing with their meeples and tiles. Because you never know what the tile you are going to draw next will have on it, it is always a bit of a gamble as to whether you will finish what you have started which gives the game an element of risk. The game usually takes 30-45 minutes to play which makes it quite a nice game to play in amongst other games on a games night or as a standalone option. We spent a couple of nights playing 2 or 3 games of it in a row and we became familiar with it quite quickly.
This version of the game included the river expansion and the abbot expansion. You can use these expansions to provide a bit of variety to the game. The river expansion has 12 river tiles that are played in addition to the normal tiles. These are always played at the start of the game and will impact on where the other tiles can be played during the game. The abbot expansion includes five abbot playing pieces, one in each colour. You can play the abbot on a cloister, in the same way that you can a meeple, or on a garden. The difference is that if you choose not to place on a meeple on one of your other go’s, you can take the abbot off the cloister or garden before it is completed. You will then score the number of points that it is worth at the time of taking it off.
Carcasonne comes in a well-designed and sturdy box which has separate sections for the playing tiles and the meeples and abbots. If, like me, you like your games nice and ordered then you will like how the box is organised. The box contains 84 ordinary tiles and 12 river tiles, 40 meeples in 5 different colours, 5 abbots in 5 different colours, a scoreboard and a rulebook. The rulebook is very clearly laid out and explains the game well and simply. The tiles are all beautifully illustrated.
The scoreboard in the game goes up to 49 but the number of points you get throughout the game is usually always higher than this. We got around this by lying the meeple on its side to show we were onto point 51 and so on. It isn’t a hassle, but I don’t know why the game designers didn’t think about making the number higher.
I think Carcasonne is a game that we’ll play quite a lot because it is simple and quick. The fact that you can play it with just two players is a big plus for us as a lot of games need 4+ players.
Available to buy from Amazon here.